Royal Gurkha Rifles

#1
I am considering a career as a British Officer in the RGR post university. I have done research on here and google but resources seem to be focussed on the Gurkha himself (quite rightly!)

I was wonderign what to expect; i presume it is quite unlike a line Infantry Battalion. What are the blokes like; are they all goign to out-run the Paras or are they more likely to keep plodding all day everyday...

I was after some specific knowledge. In particular firstly an experience of the recruitment process and what they are looking for? Is it your background, performance at Sandhurst (top third?), or what qualities. Are they after supermen or just above average fitness, etc. And what is the interest like; is it a hard unit to get into at Sandhurst etc.

Thanks
 
#2
Recruitment for officers is pretty much the same as for any capbadge.

Some Gurkhas are murderously fit, especially the young ones, but some arent so. In fact they are pretty much your normal cut of Army stereotypes.

Just remember you WILL serve in Brunei for a bit, in the jungle and you will be senton a language course to learn Nepali. From what I saw of the their officers there is not specific fitness or othe rrequiremsnt.
 
#3
I know a guy (now in his 3rd tear at uni) who is sponsored by them, he wears their capbadge at OTC and he's a complete tosser. If he's anything to go by if you're educated at a minor public school, tell a good war story in in the student bar, not very fit, but with an unjustifiably high option of your own ability based on your time in the CCF you will fit in well.

That said I also know a couple of former Gurkha officers from the Malaya and Indonesian confrontation era and they are a completely different kettle of fish.

I do wonder if their day has passed.
 
#4
I'd imagine that your 'tosser' wont last too long. Either thorugh de-selection at RMAS or when he gets to the Bn
 
#6
Somewhat different attitude to life when I was attached to them in Johor Bahru in 1955. Their CO got ambushed and killed by the Chinese insurgents and the whole bloody lot of the Ghurkas up sticks and headed of into the jungle to catch them. Had to have a barracks guard provided for a few days.
Never heard officially whether they caught up with the bad guys and no bodies were produced but there was a lot of grinning Ghurka faces.
 
#7
I'm feeling lazy, so I'll regurgitate my 2p from a different thread: http://www.arrse.co.uk/gurkhas/60791-commissioned-into-rgr.html

"How hard is it to get into the RGR"

Sorry to dispell the mystique... but there's no secret to the process - its similar in most ways to joining any popular / smart infantry regiment. I know a handful of Gurkha Officers quite well, and would answer your questions as follows:

"How many officers per term get commissioned?"

As with every regiment - depends. On how many have joined recently, how many have left etc. Bear in mind though that many officers in the 2 Battalions are LE ( Late Entry ) Nepali officers - see other posts on this forum for details, and an awareness of the politics surrounding the British / Nepali officer mix.

"I am assuming they would need to have a very good report from Sandhurst, and be at the top of the in take...is this correct?"

Nah, not really. None of my friends were.

"I suppose it helps if you have an appitude for languages too..."

Nah, not really. None of my friends did, and they didn't have to pass an MLAT test to judge their aptitude.

What matters - as with every regiment - is that

a) You learn as much as possible about them and understand their ethos - there are a wealth of books about them. Bear in mind, though, that many books are shoddy SF-type juvenalia, and most memoirs hark back to colonial days. Like the remainder of the British Army the RGR have changed markedly in the last 6 years, let alone the last sixty.

I would, however, strongly urge you to buy "Bugles and a Tiger" & "The Road Past Mandalay" by John Masters. They are certainly not a useful practical guide to the RGR now, but they are marvellous books and capture the regiment's spirit. If you can appreciate a regiment's collective memory - including cold war pub fights, NI tours and Imperial Nostalgia - you can appreciate it's soul.

b) You express interest as early as possible

c) You visit them to gauge whether the atmosphere of the Regiment, Officers' mess and their respective roles suit you - and they look you up and down too

As for RGR-specific traits I'd say their officers are

a) Generally although not exclusively from private schools, although not necessarily rich backgrounds
b) "Characters" - never met a boring one. Although, in my experience, very few Infantry Officers are either!

As to whether they're brilliant / lazy troops - well, that's for another thread. A long and quite bitter argument raged on this forum - search for it.

For my two-penneth - my RGR friends and I have discussed it at length, and they served with British regiments also, including mine.

They're great light infantry. After all - like the Paras - its all they've ever done, so they bloody well should be! British Infantry Battalions can be as good, and sometimes better, but suffer from more pronounced variation due to re-roling, individual circumstances etc.

A fine regiment with great traditions (as have we all), a very respectable record in recent ops (as have we all) and a unique character. This last quality makes them a high ideal to aspire to join.

Life as an RGR subaltern can be very lonely, and especially difficult, compared to the Blankshires. But I think few of us don't have a sneaking regret that we haven't served alongside Johnny G.

Best of luck!
There is a "Regular Officer Recruiting" thread for you to use, and also a search function, so consider yourself duly ticked off.

Hope your AOSB and choice of arm go well - my only note of caution would be to have a good plan B, not just because the RGR tend to be popular at RMAS, but also because their future doesn't look too bright to this outsider.

Charlie
 
#8
Really? I know they've been hit by the cuts but presumed it would be a brave man to terminate the British Army's history with the Gurkhas entirely!

I didn't imagine you'd be able to receive sponsorship from RGR before Sandhurst, but hey.

Any advice much appreciated; i believe they do 5 day fam visits!
 
#9
Somewhat different attitude to life when I was attached to them in Johor Bahru in 1955. Their CO got ambushed and killed by the Chinese insurgents and the whole bloody lot of the Ghurkas up sticks and headed of into the jungle to catch them. Had to have a barracks guard provided for a few days.
Never heard officially whether they caught up with the bad guys and no bodies were produced but there was a lot of grinning Ghurka faces.

The Gurkha CO killed in an ambush would surely have been Lt Col Forestier-Walker. It happened in Negri Sembilan, which is south of KL, Feb 2nd 1954.
This is from one of his obituaries, a revered soldier by all accounts.

That Alan Forestier-Walker should have been killed by bandits must have been a grievious blow to operations in Malaya-for he was an expert in these matters-as it is indeed a sorrow to those who knew and loved him. For Alan was, with all that it implies, a fine Christian soldier.

We who knew him in the dark days of Japanese captivity in Thailand, where the true links of friendship were forged, do not forget his constancy and his unfailing comradeship, his enthusiam and his loyalty. The East, which he loved and made others to love also, has now claimed him. Perhaps Alan would have wished it thus, for he was at heart a sincere and adventurous crusader for what he knew was right and just.
 
#10
As an ex-Gurkha Officer, I feel compelled to respond to some of the ill-informed comments made in this thread.

The selection process to become a Commissioned Officer in the Royal Gurkha Rifles (RGR) is at first glance similar to that of other regiments. It is important, however, for potential officers to form a close link with RGR before attending the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst (RMAS). This can be achieved through familiarization visits and attachments. These will provide a potential officer with an excellent opportunity to interact with Gurkha Soldiers and Officers and to gain an invaluable look at life in RGR to decide if he will enjoy what is often a very different culture and environment to that of a 'regular' regiment. It will also allow the Regiment to look at the potential officer and to determine if his character and qualities compliment those of Gurkha Soldiers and Officers of RGR and the Brigade of Gurkhas more broadly.

'Regular' regiments have a predominantly British officer corps. In RGR, however, only approximately a third of officers are British with the remainder being Gurkha soldiers who have progressed through the ranks and commissioned as Late Entry Officers - these used to be referred to as Queen's Gurkha Officers (QGOs) although this differentiation from their British counterparts no longer exists - all are Gurkha Officers. As a result only one or two commissions into RGR are awarded per intake at RMAS. The number of applicants per place is high and the regimental interview stage at RMAS can, therefore, afford to be significantly more robust than some 'regular' regiments. RGR attracts a variety of types, there is no stereotypical Gurkha Officer. There is a healthy mix from public and state schools, rugby players and chess masters, absurdly fit tri-athletes and very fit mortals. It doesn't matter what type of person you are or background you come from, one must have a passion and an innate ability to serve with Gurkha soldiers.

Once commissioned, young Gurkha Officers take command of Gurkha Soldiers and the selection process continues. Friendly, hard-working, faithful and brave ... Gurkha Soldiers are. Forgiving of incompetence, the 'wrong attitude' and a lack of respect ...they are not. If a young Gurkha Officer does not gain the respect and loyalty of Gurkha Soldiers he will be faced with an unenviably uncomfortable time and inevitable transfer to a 'regular' regiment. Again, it doesn't matter how good a young officer is - it should be a given that he is amongst the best of his peers at RMAS - one must have a passion and an innate ability to serve with Gurkha soldiers.

With regards to the future of RGR and the Brigade of Gurkhas, it is in the hands of the Ministry of Defence and the Strategic Defence Review. At a time when 'regular' regiments are struggling to retain soldiers, however, RGR and the Brigade of Gurkhas retains its soldiers for a minimum of 15 years and is significantly over-subscribed for each place - 28,000 applicants for 230 places in 2010. The major units of the Brigade today are the Royal Gurkha Rifles (two battalions), Queen's Gurkha Engineers (2 squadrons), Queen's Gurkha Signals (3 squadrons) and Queen's Own Gurkha Logistics Regiment. In addition there are two independent companies - Gurkha Company (Sittang) at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst and Gurkha Company (Mandalay) at the Infantry Battle School, Brecon - not to mention other smaller units and formed infantry companies reinforcing 'regular' regiments due to a manning shortfall.

Those who have provided less than positive comments about RGR and Gurkha Officers should show respect for one of the finest Regiments in the British Army and its Soldiers and Officers. Jai Gurkha!
 
#11
Bit off topic, but I am interested in the RGR and am in my final year at a public school, as a rule of thumb are the majority of the officers mess public school or state educated?
 
#12
As an ex-Gurkha Officer, I feel compelled to respond to some of the ill-informed comments made in this thread.

The selection process to become a Commissioned Officer in the Royal Gurkha Rifles (RGR) is at first glance similar to that of other regiments. It is important, however, for potential officers to form a close link with RGR before attending the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst (RMAS). This can be achieved through familiarization visits and attachments. These will provide a potential officer with an excellent opportunity to interact with Gurkha Soldiers and Officers and to gain an invaluable look at life in RGR to decide if he will enjoy what is often a very different culture and environment to that of a 'regular' regiment. It will also allow the Regiment to look at the potential officer and to determine if his character and qualities compliment those of Gurkha Soldiers and Officers of RGR and the Brigade of Gurkhas more broadly.

'Regular' regiments have a predominantly British officer corps. In RGR, however, only approximately a third of officers are British with the remainder being Gurkha soldiers who have progressed through the ranks and commissioned as Late Entry Officers - these used to be referred to as Queen's Gurkha Officers (QGOs) although this differentiation from their British counterparts no longer exists - all are Gurkha Officers. As a result only one or two commissions into RGR are awarded per intake at RMAS. The number of applicants per place is high and the regimental interview stage at RMAS can, therefore, afford to be significantly more robust than some 'regular' regiments. RGR attracts a variety of types, there is no stereotypical Gurkha Officer. There is a healthy mix from public and state schools, rugby players and chess masters, absurdly fit tri-athletes and very fit mortals. It doesn't matter what type of person you are or background you come from, one must have a passion and an innate ability to serve with Gurkha soldiers.

Once commissioned, young Gurkha Officers take command of Gurkha Soldiers and the selection process continues. Friendly, hard-working, faithful and brave ... Gurkha Soldiers are. Forgiving of incompetence, the 'wrong attitude' and a lack of respect ...they are not. If a young Gurkha Officer does not gain the respect and loyalty of Gurkha Soldiers he will be faced with an unenviably uncomfortable time and inevitable transfer to a 'regular' regiment. Again, it doesn't matter how good a young officer is - it should be a given that he is amongst the best of his peers at RMAS - one must have a passion and an innate ability to serve with Gurkha soldiers.

With regards to the future of RGR and the Brigade of Gurkhas, it is in the hands of the Ministry of Defence and the Strategic Defence Review. At a time when 'regular' regiments are struggling to retain soldiers, however, RGR and the Brigade of Gurkhas retains its soldiers for a minimum of 15 years and is significantly over-subscribed for each place - 28,000 applicants for 230 places in 2010. The major units of the Brigade today are the Royal Gurkha Rifles (two battalions), Queen's Gurkha Engineers (2 squadrons), Queen's Gurkha Signals (3 squadrons) and Queen's Own Gurkha Logistics Regiment. In addition there are two independent companies - Gurkha Company (Sittang) at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst and Gurkha Company (Mandalay) at the Infantry Battle School, Brecon - not to mention other smaller units and formed infantry companies reinforcing 'regular' regiments due to a manning shortfall.

Those who have provided less than positive comments about RGR and Gurkha Officers should show respect for one of the finest Regiments in the British Army and its Soldiers and Officers. Jai Gurkha!
Yes. I was a director of a company that employed more than a thousand Gurkhas back in the nineties.

They are unique but not infallible and their devotion to duty is second to none.

I'll tell the story of how one Gurkha retired officer saved my life in Angola one day. Another time
 

ugly

LE
Moderator
#15
Frankly not that impressed with them, worked with them on ops and on courses, not massively motivated and strangely introvert. The Corps persons were distinctly c*ntish and jack to the extreme!
We had a young officer in our Bn in 1982 who wasn't great at man management and the Regiment managed to lend him permanently to 6GR as apparently he wouldn't be upset by the blokes talking about him out loud as if he wasn't there which our lot managed to do!
 
#16
The topic is being much discussed elsewhere on arrse, but if, if, Comrade JC becomes PM in 2020 I would not give much for the future of RGR. Just an opinion for what it is worth though.
 

ugly

LE
Moderator
#17
The topic is being much discussed elsewhere on arrse, but if, if, Comrade JC becomes PM in 2020 I would not give much for the future of RGR. Just an opinion for what it is worth though.
Frankly the fact that we have separate Gurkha units surviving at all surprises me!
 
#18
Frankly the fact that we have separate Gurkha units surviving at all surprises me!
Can you imagine the frothy outrage from the Daily Mail readers if they were binned?
 
#19
Frankly the fact that we have separate Gurkha units surviving at all surprises me!
Couldn't resist!

In the current economic climate about to descend on Defence (the army in particular) there is now a third element* to add to survival of the Brigade: track record.
The amount of backfilling provided to units going on HERRICK was impressive IIRC, on top of at least 9 deployments by the 2bns, there were 30+ subunit and below reinforcements.
Add to that praise for their work on The EUTM in Mali means that They are off the top of the list (in fact have also just had the UK Bn moved to 16AA)




Recruitment and Retention
 

ugly

LE
Moderator
#20
Its a desirable job for a Nepali but pound for pound UK Bns are cheaper to run!
 

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