Nepalese Gurkhas are the world’s most fearsome warriors and they have been for a long time. When the British Empire, arguably the world’s most powerful force, tried to conquer Nepal in 1815, the Gurkhas handed them their asses. The British wound up needing their own Gurkhas to win that war. Taking on the elite Nepalese warriors was such a good idea, they struck a deal that would see Gurkhas in the British Army for centuries.
Long Live The Gurkhas
Skilled Gurkha warriors later served in both World Wars and today take part in UN peacekeeping missions. If you find yourself betting on who would win in a fight between one Gurkha and 30 Taliban fighters or 40 thieves, better bet on the Gurkha, because both of those situations actually happened.
1. The selection process is intense.
Obviously, elite fighting forces don’t take just anyone into their ranks. Like all true elites, the Gurkhas have a rigorous way of weeding out the weaker applicants. They have all the usual personal interviews and exams, but once completed, the endurance tests begin.
The Gurkha school of warfare puts its initiates through grueling runs up Himalayan mountains, often carrying a good load of weight, the physical training program is so difficult that people fall out all day, every day, and out of 10,000 applicants, only 300 or so make it to being a Gurkha.
2. They live up to their badass motto.
When going into combat against an enemy force, knowing that their motto is “Better to die than be a coward” is enough to make you think twice about how badly you really want to fight them. And knowing the Gurkha history, you’d be right to just go around them.
In World War II, a team of Gurkhas became pinned down in a trench, facing some 200 Japanese soldiers. When they started lobbing grenades, Lachhiman Gurung began throwing them back — until one of them blew off his hand. When the Japanese charged his trench, he stood and fought, despite taking massive wounds to his body, leg and arm.
Gurung literally single-handedly fought off 31 Japanese soldiers and stalled the entire enemy advance.
3. The Kukri Knife
Just because you’ve disarmed a Gurkha, doesn’t mean you’ve won. All Gurkhas are trained with the Kukri knife, a distinctive, 18-inch inverted curve blade that is just as deadly in the hands of a Gurkha as any other weapon.
A Gurkha named Bhanubhakta Gurung — also in World War II — was charging a Japanese bunker in Burma. He had already shot a sniper out of a tree as he charged an enemy bunker/ Out of ammo, he cleared the bunker with just two smoke grenades and his Kukri knife. In Tunisia, at the Battle of Enfidaville, a team of Gurkhas charged a Nazi machine gun with just thier Kukri knives — and won.
4. They are fearless in taking care of their own.
Remember, this is the force that would rather die than be thought a coward. As if it wasn’t hard enough to kill a Gurkha, to finish one off, you have to fight through all the Gurkhas protecting their own wounded. They’ll do the same to retrieve a fallen comrade — and they will go through hell to do it.
When two of Capt. Rambahadur Limbu’s men were shot in Borneo by an enemy assault, Limbu fought the enemy back to their starting position with just a handful of grenades. He then ran back to his men to alert them to the enemy’s position. Then he ran back through a hail of machine gun fire to retrieve a wounded soldier. Then he ran back to retrieve the other one, who was killed in the initial attack.
5. They don’t care what weapons you have.
Did you notice a common thread in all these stories? Gurkhas can be outnumbered, out-gunned or bring a knife to a gun fight and there’s still a good chance they’ll come out on top. They charge machine gun nests, bunkers, tanks and anything else that stands between them and Gurkha glory.
If you come at the kings, you best not miss.