National Armed Forces Day 2019 - We interviewed Damar, former Gurkha soldier

Erica Boiano Erica Boiano Friday, 28 Jun 2019

The word ‘Gurkha’ is derived from the name of a historic place of western Nepal ‘Gorkha’, now a name of one of the 75 districts in Nepal. The word ‘Gurkhas’ refers to the indigenous people mainly from mid-western and eastern hill parts of Nepal, who are well known for their bravery.


During Anglo-Nepalese War (1814 - 1816), the British were impressed by the Gurkha soldiers’ strength and loyalty, and had recognised the potential of Nepalese soldiers in British service. As a result, the British started recruiting the Gurkhas in the British Indian force. Even after Indian Independence, the British government continued to recruit the Nepalese Gurkhas in their army.


We interviewed Damar, CIS Security Officer and former Gurkha and asked him a few questions about his life in the British Army and why he chose to become a Gurkha.


Tell us about your time serving as Gurkha

I’ve always wanted to prove my worth in the British Army serving as Gurkha. My brother had joined the British Army and he inspired me to apply. I knew the selection would be highly competitive and the training very hard, but I was very motivated to give my best. I joined when I was just a boy, at 18 and left at 35, after serving 17 years as rifleman based in Hong Kong.


Was the training hard?

Yes, it was very challenging, both physically and mentally.

Competition to join the Gurkhas is fierce and those that make it are considered to be the best soldiers Nepal can offer. Applicants have to perform a number of tasks, an example being running uphill for 40 minutes with a wicker basket full of rocks on our back. Out of thousands of applicants, only a few will get to become Gurkhas. I’m happy to say I made it!


Tell us what you enjoyed the most about being a Gurkha

There is a wide range of activities involved with being part of the Gurkha army! I enjoyed taking part into ceremonial parades, shooting exercises in the jungle and sports. There was never a dull moment, that’s for sure!


 What was your life like after the Army? Did you know what you wanted to do afterwards?

After the Army, I enjoyed my family life. Career wise, I moved abroad and worked as a Security Officer in Hong Kong, Macau and then back in Nepal. Being a Gurkha teaches you how to develop deep focus, endurance, cultural awareness and physical fitness, which are transferable skills to the security industry.


Would you do it again? 

Absolutely! Once you become a Gurkha the sense of pride of being part of such an elite unit stays with you forever. The selection and training are hard, but the rewards are priceless. This is also a piece of advice I’m giving to any Nepalese young boy or girl willing to be join the British Army as Gurkha. If you have the ambition to be part of something meaningful and are ready to work towards that goal, then becoming a Gurkha is the most rewarding choice.