Unit History: Gurkha Rifles
The 1 Gurkha Rifles is a Regiment of the Indian Army and was transferred from the British Indian Army at the time of India’s independence in 1947.
The Gorkha War was fought between the Gorkha kings of Nepal and the British East India Company as a result of border tensions and ambitious expansionism especially into Kumaon, Garwhal and Kangra hills. The British east India army defeated the Gorkhas army lead by general Amar Singh Thapa but were impressed by its skills and courage during the siege of Malaun fort in Bilaspur. On April 24, 1815 at Subathu, East India Company formed a regiment with the survivors of Thapa’s army calling it the First Nusseree (or Nasiri)(friendly or loyal).
The Regiment soon saw its first battle when, in 1826, it took part in the Jat War where it helped in the conquest of Bharatpur, gaining it as a Battle Honour, the first Battle Honour awarded to the Gurkha units. In 1846 the First Anglo-Sikh War began and the Regiment was heavily involved in the conflict. It was awarded two Battle honours for its involvement in the war; at the Battle of Aliwal which saw the Sikh forces, who had invaded British India thus provoking the war, routed by the British forces and at Sobraon which saw the Sikh forces resoundingly defeated.
The Regiment experienced numerous names changes during the 1800s; one name change in 1850 saw it gain a new numerical designation to become the 66th Goorkha Regiment of Bengal Native Infantry after the original 66th had mutinied. The Regiment saw service during the Indian Mutiny which began in 1857. The following year Lieutenant John Adam Tytler won the Regiment’s first Victoria Cross (VC) for the Lieutenant’s actions against rebels at Choorpoorah.
In 1861 the Regiment gained its present numeral when it became the 1st Goorkha Regiment. In 1875 the Regiment was sent abroad for the first time, when it took part in the effort to quell a rebellion in Malaya during the Perak War. During the conflict Captain George Nicolas Channer was awarded the Victoria Cross for his valiant actions against the Malayans. The Regiment took part in the Second Afghan War in 1878 where they were part of the 2nd Infantry Brigade and won the Theatre Honour "Afghanistan 1878-80".
In 1886 the Regiment became the 1st Goorkha Light Infantry and a 2nd Battalion was raised in February. In 1891 the Regiment was designated a Rifle regiment when it became the 1st Gurkha (Rifle) Regiment and in consequence of this the Regiment’s Colours were laid up; Rifle regiments by tradition did not possess Colours. The Regiment took part in operations in Burma and the North-West Frontier campaigns in the 1890s; at Waziristan in 1894 and the Tirah campaign in 1897.
In 1901 its title was shortened when it became the 1st Gurkha Rifles and in 1903 its title was changed to the 1st Gurkha Rifles (The Malaun Regiment). This title had been adopted to commemorate due to the significance of Malaun to the Regiment; it was where the British had decisively beaten the Gurkhas in 1815 during the Anglo-Gurka War and subsequently recruited them into the Nusseree battalions. The Regiment suffered greatly during the Kangra earthquake that happened on 4 April 1905, the Regiment was located near Dharamsala when the earthquake occurred; the earthquake killed 370,000 people with the Regiment itself suffering over 60 fatalities.
In 1906 its title was changed to the 1st Prince of Wales’s Own Gurkha Rifles (The Malaun Regiment) in honour of HRH George, Prince of Wales (later King George V) who also became Colonel-in-Chief of the Regiment that year. In 1910 King George V ascended to the throne and in consequence the title of the regiment was changed to the 1st King George’s Own Gurkha Rifles (The Malaun Regiment), thus maintaining the Regiment’s links with King George