Ever wondered what the origins of the Gurkha regiments in the British Army are? Well as you might suspect, it’s all down to our invasion of Nepal.
We had already sent men on a mission into Nepal in 1767 under Captain Kinloch. It hadn’t been a success.
By 1814, with a border dispute between us and Nepal festering, we decided to try again. We planned an attack on two fronts, with two columns in each front. Three of the columns failed to make much headway in the face of tough terrain and tough opposition. But the last column under Major General Ochterlony managed to defeat Nepalese General Thapa on 9 May 1815. In 1816, Ochterlony was back with more men and more artillery, and made a bold move through a rarely used pass, which put the Nepalese defenders at a disadvantage. We were victorious in the fighting at Makwanpur in February and eventually the Nepalese were forced to agree to peace terms.
We took away a lot of their territory, but then later gave some back. In the progress of the war, we had been so impressed by the fighting spirit of the locals that in the period after the war we started recruiting locals into Gurkha units in the British army. And we still do today.