The Sandbag Times Issue No: 19

sandbagtimes

The Veterans Magazine

GURKHAS

At one point, when his gun could no longer fire,

he resorted to battering one Taliban fighter, who

was trying to scale the wall to attack him, over the

head with the tripod of his machine gun.

Sgt Pun told how he was on guard duty at the

base, near Rahim Kalay in Helmand Province on

10th September 2010, when he heard a digging

sound in the darkness in front of him.

Grabbing two radios, a GPMG (general purpose

machine gun), his SA80 rifle, a grenade launcher

and an arsenal of hand-held grenades he climbed

onto the rooftop and opened fire.

With rocket propelled grenades and gun fire

flying over his head from all directions he

defended the position for more than 15 minutes,

killing three Taliban and forcing the others to flee.

At one point the diminutive soldier turned

around to see a “huge” Taliban fighter approaching

him on the rooftop a few feet away, having silently

scaled the wall, so he shot him.

While the mass of Taliban fired from an area of

open ground, another crept into the compound and

tried to climb the wall, but he spotted him.

“I tried to fire my SA80 but it wouldn’t work,”

he said. “I don’t know if there was an obstruction

or the magazine was finished. I threw my SA80

down and grabbed a sandbag but it wasn’t tied and

all the sand dropped out. As I tried to jump into

the sentry post I found a metal rod from the GPMG

tripod and pulled it round and hit him.”

As he ran towards the Taliban fighter he gave a

shout of “Marchu Talai” Nepalese for “I’m going

to kill you”.

When the firing eventually stopped he received

a tap on the shoulder and turned around fearing he

was under attack again but saw his company

commander Major Shaun Chandler behind him.

His brave action earned him the Conspicuous

Gallantry Cross which was presented by the Queen

at Buckingham Palace.

However, despite their proud history and

exemplary service to the crown, there has been a

bitterness over the rights of Gurkhas to reside in

the UK. Up until 2004, despite their loyal service,

they were not allowed a right of abode in the UK.

This basically meant as soon as their military

careers finished they were sent back to Nepal. A

lengthy campaign ensued, which was headed up in

2008 by actress Joanna Lumley who’s father had

served in 6th Bn Gurkha Rifles.

On 20th November 2008, Joanna Lumley led a

large all party group including Gurkhas, marching

from Parliament Square to 10 Downing Street with

a petition signed by 250,000 people.

In the following days, weeks and months many

changes were made to the way Gurkhas were

treated by the country they served so proudly.

Does this country need the Brigade of Gurkhas?

I think I speak for the vast majority when I say

“YES”. If nothing else, I am so glad they fight for

us and not against us.

I am proud that I served alongside them at one time and called them my friends,

eventhough at their Dasain celebrations their curry almost killed me (so incredibly

hot!!!). We need to ensure their future as soldiers of the British Army. Most of all we

need to honour the sacrifices they have made for the UK over 200 years of loyal

service. Long may they continue to serve the crown.

for more information on the brigade of Gurkhas click on this link

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