2nd King Edward VII's Own Gurkha Rifles (The Sirmoor Rifles)

2nd King Edward VII's Own Gurkha Rifles (The Sirmoor Rifles)

The 2nd King Edward VII's Own Gurkha Rifles (The Sirmoor Rifles) was a regiment of the British Indian Army before being transferred to the British Army on India's independence. The 4th Battalion joined the Indian Army as the 5th Battalion the 8th Gurkha Rifles(SIRMOOR RIFLES), where it exists to this day.

The beginning

The regiment was first raised in 1815 as The Sirmoor Battalion. This was the first Gurkha unit in the service of the East India Company to see action, during the 3rd Mahratta War in 1817. The regiment, by now named the 8th (Sirmoor) Local Battalion, gained its first battle honour at Bhurtpore in 1825. During the First Sikh War, the regiment fought at Bhudaiwal and Sobraon, as well as the Battle of Aliwal. They carried colours at the time, and the flagpole was broken by cannon fire. The colour itself was seized by the Sikhs but reclaimed by a small party of Gurkhas led by a Havildar who chopped their way into the densely packed enemy lines.

During the Indian Mutiny, the Sirmoor Battalion was one of the Indian regiments that remained loyal to Britain. It was during this that the regiment took part in the defence of Hindu Rao's House, near Delhi. For their part in the action, the Sirmoor Battalion was presented with the Queen's Truncheon, which became a replacement for the relinquished colours (from 1858, the regiment was classed as rifles). With the decision to number the Gurkha regiments in 1861, the Sirmoor Rifles became the 2nd Gurkha (Sirmoor Rifles) Regiment. In 1876, the regiment acquired a royal patron in the then Prince of Wales, becoming the 2nd (Prince of Wales' Own) Gurkha Regiment.

First World War

During the First World War, the 2nd Gurkhas (by now named the 2nd King Edward VII's Own Gurkha Rifles), along with the other regiments of the Gurkha Brigade, served initially in Flanders. In 1915, the 2nd Battalion moved to Egypt, before returning to India in 1916. The 1st Battalion went to Persia and Mesopotamia in 1916, assisting in the fall of Baghdad.

econd World War

The Second World War saw the 2nd Gurkhas serving in many different theatres; the 1st Battalion was initially in Cyprus before moving to North Africa as part of 7th Brigade, where it fought at El Alamein. Following this it took part in the invasion of Italy, taking part in the battle for Monte Cassino. The 2nd Battalion meanwhile spent much of the war as prisoners of the Japanese after being captured in Malaya. The third battalion (raised during the war) took part in the Chindit operations in Burma in 1943.

Indian Independence

In 1947, as part of India's independence, it was agreed that the Gurkha regiments would be split between the British and Indian armies - the British Army would take on four regiments, while the Indian Army would retain the rest. The 2nd Gurkhas became one of the four to transfer to the British Army. The 4th Battalion joined the Indian Army as 5th Battalion the 8th Gurkha Rifles(SIRMOOR RIFLES) where it exists to this day. This battalion has seen action in the 1965 (as part of 3(Independent) Armoured Brigade, 28 and 191 Infantry Brigades)where it stopped the advance of the Pakistani armour to Akhnur in the Battle of the Fatwal Ridge. In the 1971 war against Pakistan the battalion now as part of 68 Mountain Brigade, the corps reserves,once again saw fierce action in the defense of Chamb -Akhnur. It launched five successful counter attacks and recaptured Chamb village and the bridge over the Tawi river. A replica of the bridge exists as a trophy in the officers mess.It also fought in the Indian North east against the Naga insurgents and in the Doda district of Jammu and Kashmir. Here it distinguished itself by killing the Supreme Commander of the Hizbul Mujahideen, the leading Kashmiri insurgent group.It was awarded the Northern Army Commanders Citation in 1998.It was deployed in Sierra Leone as part of UNAMSIL and distinguished itself in OPERATION KHUKRI in which the Revolutionary United Front rebels were decisively defeated.

Post Indian Independence

Following this, the 2nd Gurkhas spent several years in the Far East, initially during the Malayan Emergency from 1948-1960. Following this, the regiment's two battalions alternated between Malaya, Borneo, Brunei and Hong Kong, before receiving a regimental depot at Church Crookham in Hampshire. In 1992, while serving in Hong Kong, the 1st and 2nd battalions amalgamated to form a single 1st Battalion. This was followed in 1994 by the regiment being amalgamated with the 6th Queen Elizabeth's Own Gurkha Rifles to form the 1st Battalion, Royal Gurkha Rifles.

Battle honours

The regiment was awarded the following battle honours:
*Bhurtpore, Aliwal, Sobraon, Delhi 1857, Kabul 1879, Kandahar 1880, Afghanistan 1878-80, Tirah, Punjab Frontier
*The Great War: La Bassée 1914, Festubert 1914 '15, Givenchy 1914, Neuve Chapelle, Aubers, Loos, France and Flanders 1914-15, Egypt 1915, Tigris 1916, Kut al Amara 1917, Baghdad, Mesopotamia 1916-18, Persia 1918, Baluchistan 1918
*Afghanistan 1919
*The Second World War: El Alamein, Mareth, Akarit, Djebel el Meida, Enfidaville, Tunis, North Africa 1942-43, Cassino I, Monastery Hill, Pian di Maggio, Gothic Line, Coriano, Poggio San Giovanni, Monte Reggiano, Italy 1944-45, Greece 1944-45, North Malaya, Jitra, Central Malaya, Kampar, Slim River, Johore, Singapore Island, Malaya 1941-42, North Arakan, Irrawaddy, Magwe, Sittang 1945, Point 1433, Arakan Beaches, Myebon, Tanbingon,Tamandu, Chindits 1943, Burma 1943-45

Victoria Crosses

*Lalbahadur Thapa
*Bhanbhagta Gurung


External links

* [http://www.regiments.org/regiments/southasia/gurkha/02GR.htm Details] at http://regiments.org

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