History

THE BRITISH GURKHA VETERANS ASSOCIATION

STATUTE – 2009

Preamble

The Gurkhas have been an integral part of the British Army with a famous motto “Better to die than be a coward”. They are renowned for their professionalism, loyalty and bravery. They have a long, steadfast and distinguished association with the United Kingdom, serving the British Crown and the Country since 1815. Robert Clive’s decisive victory at the Battle of Plassey in 1757 firmly established British supremacy in India hereby opening the door for expansion of the Honorable East India Company. Some 10 years after Plassey the British started to come into contact with a unique and vigorous power on the northern borders of its newly won territories in Bengal and Bihar. This power was the city-state of Gorkha led by its dynamic King Prithvi Narayan Shah. Gorkha was a feudal hill village in what is now western Nepal, the village from which the Gurkha takes its name. King Prithvi Narayan Shah and his successors grew so powerful that they overran the whole of the hill country from the Kashmir border in the west to Bhutan in the east. Eventually, as a result of boundary disputes and repeated raids by Gurkha columns into British territory, the Governor General declared war on Nepal in 1814. After two long and bloody campaigns a Peace Treaty was signed at Sugauli in 1816, which allowed it to recruit from the ranks of the former enemy.

Since then, the Gurkhas have loyally fighting alongside the British counterparts on both world wars, confrontations and recent operations all around the world winning total of 13 Victoria Crosses.

More than 200,000 fought in the two world wars, and in the past 50 years they have served in Hong Kong, Malaysia, Borneo, Cyprus, the Falklands, Kosovo and now in Iraq and Afghanistan. During the two world wars over 43,000 men lost their lives.

Following the handover of Hong Kong to the Chinese Government in 1997, the UK has become the home of the Serving Gurkhas. In October 2004, the new HM Forces Immigration Rule meant that all Gurkhas who retired on or after 1 July 1997 were entitled to live and work in the UK. As a result, a significant number of retired Gurkhas and their dependants arrived in the UK for settlement.  Later in May 2009, following a high-profile campaign led by Actress Joanna Lumley the Home Office announced that Gurkhas who served between 1948 and 1997 would also be allowed to settle in the UK.

There are now a large number of retired Gurkhas and their dependants settling in the UK. Significant Gurkha families have also settled in Nuneaton and Bedford areas as the Borough Council and the local publics have open-heartedly welcomed them.

In a diverse and multicultural society of the UK, Gurkha families aspire not only to preserve and promote their culture and traditions but also to respect the same of the other societies. With this in mind, the British Gurkha Veterans Association (BGVA) was founded in 2009.