Unit History: 10th Gurkha Rifles
The 10th Princess Mary's Own Gurkha Rifles was originally an infantry regiment of the British Indian Army. The regiment was first formed in 1890, taking its lineage from a police unit and over the course of its existence it had a number of changes in designation and composition. It fought during the a number of campaigns on the Indian frontiers during the 19th and early 20th centuries, before taking part in the First World War, the Third Anglo-Afghan War and the Second World War. Following India's independence in 1947, the regiment was one of four Gurkha regiments to be transferred to the British Army. In the 1960s the regiment took part in the Malayan Emergency and Indonesian Confrontation. In 1994 it was amalgamated with the other three British Gurkha regiments to form the Royal Gurkha Rifles.
At the end of the Third Burmese War in 1887, it was decided to withdraw the regular army battalions and replace them with a freshly recruited military police force. Recruited in India, it was intended that the military police would be a temporary force which would establish order in districts of upper Burma and then hand over those districts to the civil police. The military police would then be used to form additional regular battalions of the Indian Army. The Kubo (Kabaw) Valley Military Police were raised on 9 April 1887 by Sir F.B. Norman (OC Eastern Frontier Brigade) at Manipur in India and was composed in equal portions of Gurkha recruits and Assam hillmen. The first commander was Lieutenant C.W. Harris. The battalion moved to Burma and was initially stationed at Tamu.
In 1890, it was decided to convert the Kubo Valley Military Police Battalion in Burma into a new battalion with the title of 10th Madras Infantry. The 10th Madras Infantry, one of the oldest battalions in the Indian Army, had recently been disbanded. The new battalion had no association with the old except for the name. The relics of the battalion were eventually taken back to India.
The 10th Madras Infantry was formed from the Kubo Valley Military Police on 1 June 1890 under the command of Major Macgregor at the Mandalay Palace. The battalion did not inherit the precedence or honours of the 10th Madras Infantry at that time by decision of the army authorities. Their reasoning being that it would be incorrect to give such a new battalion the precedence and honours of one of the oldest battalions in India. But it was also true that the composition of the 10th Madras Infantry had been through similar drastic changes. For example, after the Mahratta wars, its composition was changed from Northern Indian to Southern Indian.
The initial strength of the battalion was three British officers, eight Indian officers and 277 other ranks. It was not at first exclusively Gurkha in composition. The battalion was initially composed of Gurkha parties of recruits from the 42nd, 43rd and 44th Gurkha Rifles, an equal number of men from the hill-tribes of Assam including Jhurwahs, small numbers of Dogras and a few Hindustanis. The non-Gurkhas were gradually wasted out of the regiment.
In its first few years of existence, the regiment was referred to by two different names in the Indian Army Lists. In 1890 it was called the 10th (Burma) Regiment of Madras Infantry and the following year it was called the 10th Regiment (1st Burma Battalion) of Madras Infantry. But in reality, the second name was the one used by the battalion until 1892.
It became the 10th Regiment (1st Burma Rifles) of Madras Infantry on 9 February 1892 at Maymyo in Burma. It was at this time, with the conversion of the unit to a Rifle Regiment, that the old colours of the 10th Madras were taken back to India (rifle regiments do not carry colours) and laid up at the Church of St. John in the fort at Vellore near to where the earliest predecessor of the 10th Madras Infantry had been raised in 1766. On 3 May 1895 the name of the regiment was again changed to 10th Regiment (1st Burma Gurkha Rifles) of Madras Infantry to reflect its now all-Gurkha composition.
On 13 September 1901 as part of a broad reorganisation of the Indian Army it became the 10th Gurkha Rifles and the regiment maintained its assigned recruiting areas in the Limbu and Rai tribal areas of eastern Nepal. In 1903 a 2nd Battalion was formed though it became the 1st Battalion, 7th Gurkha Rifles in 1907. A new 2nd Battalion of the 10th Gurkha Rifles was formed in 1908. From 1903 to 1912 the first battalion was stationed in Maymyo Burma as almost a ceremonial unit. In the winter months of 1912–1913 the 1st Battalion was sent into the Kachin Hills to guard against a potential uprising that did not occur.
On 1st July 1994 at a parade at Gallipoli Lines, Hong Kong, the Regiment was re-badged as 3rd Battalion The Royal Gurkha Rifles, on amalgamation with 2nd, 6th and 7th Gurkha Rifles. It finally lost the number Ten, in which it had taken pride for 223 years. The Regiment is now represented in the British Army by The Royal Gurkha Rifles, currently at a strength of two battalions, who maintain and build upon the strengths and traditions of the Tenth and the other constituent Gurkha regiments.