'Better to die than to live and be a coward!'
It is better to die than to live and be a coward.
Said by the Gurkhali, the mentality behind the call is true to it’s vocabulary.
In 1815, the Gurkhas were established in Nepal after the East Indian Company attempted an expansion into Nepal. The legends are countless as to exactly how the British Army went about it, but the recurring theme is that the strength and battle ethic of the Nepali mountain warriors was attractive to the British. For a number of years, the British pushed with all of the might of their empire but it was futile. For every Nepali that they killed, 50 British would be as well. The two sides made remarkable allies.
The battle for Gorkha is the prime example of the fierceness that the British grew to admire in the little Nepali warriors.
During the Anglo-Nepali War of 1814, 20000 British foot soldiers were sent to the kingdom like town of Gorkha, of which they wished to capture and coerce into a business relationship.
Gorkha is set high on a hill top, steeply laden with trees and rocks. When the British arrived, they were met first with the previously mentioned problem. The next was that they weren’t knowledgeable of their enemy. The Gurkhas were a surprise. The battle lasted weeks and when it came down to hand to hand situations, the British retreated on numerous accounts. Only a few hours before the battle was concluded, a British soldier wrote, “Out of the fog of our dreary battle came a Nepali man running; his hands grasping his cheek. The man had been shot in the face and appeared to be surrendering as our medical men treated his wounds upon the young warrior’s request. But to our surprise, the Gurkha up and left our battle lines, returning to his own to resume combat.”
When all was said and over with, the British lost over 5000 of their own. The Gurkhas; 400. The Gurkhas abandoned their city, but by no means was it a victory for the Europeans.
After the British botched attempt to expand their company into Nepal, they extended their hand to the Gurkha community. The British were attracted to the Gurkha fierceness.
Throughout history, numerous Gurkha’s have been the recipient of the Victoria Cross and other commendations. The Gurkha’s were utilized heavily on the battlefields of World War One, World War Two, Vietnam. They were first into Kosovo during the 1999 conflict. They took part Falklands conflict in the 1980’s.
Today, to be a member of the Gurkhali is the ultimate honor in Nepal. It means being the strongest of many, most fearless, and hold a large amount of loyalty to their masters in both Nepal and the UK.
The training pipeline is revered as arguably the hardest to endure, with an attrition rate of over 97 percent.
Once selected for Gurkha training, they are sent to Britain for 42 weeks of rigorous combat and scenario training. They are then sent to the front lines where their battle cries can be heard from miles away.
Once a Gurkha has completed 4 years of service, they are granted citizenship in the UK, along with that of their families as well where they can benefit from western offerings.
The motto, “Better to die than to be a coward!” has been traced back for decades and remains true today.
It is also said that where Gurkhas go, peace shortly follows. During times of war, those can be lifted by their battle cry. Others will run.
“Here come the Gurkhas”