Where did the Gurkhas serve during WW2?

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The_Enigma
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Where did the Gurkhas serve during WW2?

Post by The_Enigma » 28 Apr 2009 17:50

I know that the Gurkhas fought practically everywhere the British Army did but am not sure about some places and times.

While i know that some fought during the latter stages of the North African Campaign did they serve in North Africa form near enough the beginning of the war? Also what about East Africa and the Middle East?

Again, i know that they fought in Italy but did any take part in the fighting in NW Europe? I have became somewhat familiar with the Normandy battles and some of the latter and i don’t personally think they did (the Gateshead Gurkhas don’t count as there just a bunch of Geordies of the Durham Light Infantry :P ).

Thanks for any help.

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Kingfish
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Re: Where did the Gurkhas serve during WW2?

Post by Kingfish » 29 Apr 2009 00:22

edit: nevermind, didn't read your post before replying.

gjkennedy
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Re: Where did the Gurkhas serve during WW2?

Post by gjkennedy » 30 Apr 2009 23:48

From my understanding, Gurkha Battalions would be found within Indian Army Divisions during WW2.

4th Indian Division served in North Africa from July 1941 to December 1943 (with a brief interlude in Palestine during May/June 1942), then in Italy from December 1943 to November 1944, before going to Greece and remaining there until the end of hostilities. Bit late to try and type up Bns and Bdes, but as an example 2/4th Gurkha Rifles and 2/3rd Gurkha Rifles are listed with 10th Indian Bde between July and August 1942, putting them firmly in North Africa. The bulk of the Gurkha units with the Division have dates of 1944, placing them in Italy and later Greece.

Several Indian Divisions served in Persia and Iraq (PAIFORCE) and also in Syria, all of which included some Gurkha troops. As you probably know the British habit of shifting Bns between Bdes, and sometimes Bdes between Divs makes it a hard job to pin down precisely who was where, and under what command!

There were no Gurkha Battalions within the formations of 21st Army Group in Northwest Europe (which was British and Canadian as far as Commonwealth representation, plus numerous Free European contingents of varying size). Italy by comparison looked like a UN peacekeeping force...

Hope that's some help. A Google on a term like Gurkha Rifles should bring up a fair few leads for Regimental histories I'm sure.

Gary

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phylo_roadking
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Re: Where did the Gurkhas serve during WW2?

Post by phylo_roadking » 01 May 2009 00:16

Talking of the Gurkhas and Italy, I can't help thinking of the famous anecdote about the Gurkha night patrol that came across three German privates sleeping in a huddle in a foxhole...

They very carefully and silently parted the heads of the outside two from their shoulders....then placed the severed heads back on the corpses' necks, to await Sleeping Beauty in the middle awakening next morning...

He's probably still screaming today..... 8O :lol:

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Re: Where did the Gurkhas serve during WW2?

Post by Vitesse » 02 May 2009 23:26

phylo_roadking wrote:Talking of the Gurkhas and Italy, I can't help thinking of the famous anecdote about the Gurkha night patrol that came across three German privates sleeping in a huddle in a foxhole...

They very carefully and silently parted the heads of the outside two from their shoulders....then placed the severed heads back on the corpses' necks, to await Sleeping Beauty in the middle awakening next morning...

He's probably still screaming today..... 8O :lol:
Not relevant to the original post, but I have a kukri which my father brought back from India in late '45. I've never tried shaving with it, but it's still bloody sharp and the blade shows no sign of rust or any other deterioration: whatever the grease/lubrication on it is it's still reasonably fluid and obviously still protecting the blade!

Richard Sands
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Re: Where did the Gurkhas serve during WW2?

Post by Richard Sands » 27 Jul 2018 13:32

Don't forget that they served in Burma too, winning several VC's!!!

aghart
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Re: Where did the Gurkhas serve during WW2?

Post by aghart » 29 Aug 2018 06:29

They were also present in Malaya 1941/42

santara
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Re: Where did the Gurkhas serve during WW2?

Post by santara » 29 Jul 2021 23:48

There were Gurkhas & Indian troops in with the 21st regiments, they brought the famine food or "muck" as my 96 year old grandfather described it to the various extermination camps surrounding Wolfsburg. He remembers the " Wee bagpipes" they had. He was greatful when he heard them coming as he knew the "muck" they had would save a few more of the DP's. They probably don't want to document this part of the commonwealth soldiers contributions as it highlights the necessity of developing famine food as it was the British governments fault as you have to re-feed victims carefully because it'll kill them if you give them proper food. He still remembers the stench of these camps yet

Gary Kennedy
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Re: Where did the Gurkhas serve during WW2?

Post by Gary Kennedy » 31 Jul 2021 12:01

That's my post from May 2009 (as gjkennedy) offering the opinion that there were no Ghurkha units or formations in 21 Army Group. I asked over on another forum, with a particular knowledge base on British and Commonwealth forces, to test my assertion. Likewise, no one had heard of troops from the India Army, which included the Gurkhas, being deployed under the auspices of 21 Army Group in Northwest Europe.

Assuming the above post is referring to Wolfsburg just northeast of Brunswick and east of Hanover, and home to the Volkswagen plant, that was liberated by US 9th Army in early April 1945.

https://www.wheelsjoint.com/75-years-ag ... and-canal/

Gary

wwilson
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Re: Where did the Gurkhas serve during WW2?

Post by wwilson » 01 Aug 2021 19:47

@Gary Kennedy

German Wikipedia bears out your comments re: Wolfsburg. Nearby Fallersleben was first occupied by U.S. troops on 12 April 1945, and Wolfsburg was taken on 14 April 1945.

https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wolfsburg#1945_bis_1970

So far as I know, no troops of Asian provenance in the NW Europe campaign other than some odds and ends in the German forces. I suppose one could add the Japanese-American infantry regiment, and, as a stretch, some troops in all of the Allied armies who may have had Asian ethnic heritage.

Cheers

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Re: Where did the Gurkhas serve during WW2?

Post by EwenS » 02 Aug 2021 07:44

There were 4 Indian Army mule companies with the BEF in France in 1939/40.

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