7th Duke of Edinburgh's Own Gurkha Rifles

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7th Duke of Edinburgh's Own Gurkha Rifles
Cap badge of the 7 Gurkha Rifles
Active 1902–1994
Country  India
 United Kingdom
Branch British Army
Type Rifles
Role Light Infantry
Part of Bengal Army (to 1895)
Bengal Command
Garrison/HQ Folkestone and Brunei
Motto(s) It is better to die than be a coward
Colours Green; faced black
March Old Monmouthshire(Quick March)
Engagements Third Anglo-Burmese War
Afghan war
North Africa
Malayan Emergency
Indonesian Confrontation
Falkland War(1982)

- Field Marshal the Viscount Slim KG GCB GCMG GCVO GBE DSO MC -

- Lieutenant Colonel D O O'Leary OBE MC and bar -

- Brigadier Sir Miles Hunt-Davis GCVO CBE
Shoulder Flash Gurkha TRF.PNG
Abbreviation 7 GR

The 7th (Duke of Edinburgh's Own) Gurkha Rifles started as a rifle regiment of the Indian Army comprising Gurkha soldiers of Nepalese origin, before being transferred to the British Army following India's independence.


Founded at Thayetmyo in 1902 as the 8th Gurkha Rifles. The following year it became the 2nd Battalion of the 10th Gurkha Rifles (2/10 GR). Five years later, when the Nepal Durbar permitted the number of Gurkha corps in India's service to be increased, a reshuffling of units became necessary so that the ranks of the two battalions of a regiment should comprise the same classes. To achieve this 2/10 GR was divided and the two wings were recruited up to form the two battalions of a new 7th Gurkha Rifles.

Predecessor names[edit]

  • 1902: 8th Gurkha Rifles
  • 1903–1907: 2nd Battalion 10th Gurkha Rifles
  • 1907–1959: 7th Gurkha Rifles
  • 1959–1994: 7th Duke of Edinburgh's Own Gurkha Rifles

First and Second World Wars[edit]

During the First World War, the regiment served primarily in the Middle East. The 2nd Battalion was captured by the Ottoman Army at Kut-al-Amara in 1916, before being reformed in Mesopotamia the same year. Following the end of the war, the 1st Battalion saw service in the Iraq and Kurdistan campaigns, while the 2nd Battalion returned to India to fight in the Third Afghan War. During the Second World War, the regiment primarily saw service in North Africa, Italy and the Far East.

Post war[edit]

In 1948, following India's independence, the 7th Gurkha Rifles was one of four Gurkha regiments that became part of the British Army. However, a large number of its manpower chose (in 'the opt') not to follow the regiment into British service; the 3rd Battalion was transferred to the 5th Gurkha Rifles, while a large number of men formed the nucleus of the new 11th Gurkha Rifles. Also in 1948, the two remaining battalions were converted to artillery, forming the 101st and 102nd Field Regiments, Royal Artillery. They stayed in the artillery role for a year during service in Malaya, before reverting to infantry in 1949.

From 1949 to 1970, the regiment alternated, along with the other Gurkha units, among various postings in the Far East; Malaya, Borneo, Brunei, Hong Kong. It was during this period that the regiment was renamed as the 7th Duke of Edinburgh's Own Gurkha Rifles in honour of the Duke of Edinburgh. In 1970, the 2nd Battalion was amalgamated with the 1st, leaving the regiment with a single battalion. The following year, the regiment became the first Gurkha unit to mount the guard at Buckingham Palace.

In 1982, the 2nd Battalion was reformed in Hong Kong, while the 1st Battalion was deployed for war service in the Falklands War, its primary action being at Mount William. The 2nd Battalion was disbanded in 1987, while the 1st Battalion continued until it was amalgamated with the 2nd King Edward VII's Own Gurkha Rifles (The Sirmoor Rifles), 6th Queen Elizabeth's Own Gurkha Rifles and 10th Princess Mary's Own Gurkha Rifles to form the Royal Gurkha Rifles.

Battle honours[edit]

  • The Great War: Suez Canal, Egypt 1915, Megiddo, Sharon, Palestine 1918, Shaiba, Kut al Amara 1915 '17, Ctesiphon, Defence of Kut al Amara, Baghdad, Sharqat, Mesopotamia 1915-18
  • Afghanistan 1919
  • The Second World War: Tobruk 1942, North Africa 1942, Cassino I, Campriano, Poggio del Grillo, Tavoleto, Montebello-Scorticata Ridge, Italy 1944, Sittang 1942 '45, Pegu 1942, Kyaukse 1942, Shwegyin, Imphal, Bishenpur, Meiktila, Capture of Meiktila, Defence of Meiktila, Rangoon Road, Pyawbwe, Burma 1942-45
  • Falkland Islands 1982

Victoria Cross[edit]

  • Rifleman Ganju Lama MM of the 1st Battalion, Ningthoukhong, Burma, Second World War (1944).[1]

Colonels of the Regiment[edit]

  • Field Marshal The Earl Kitchener of Khartoum KG KP GCB OM GCSI GCMG GCIE PC
  • Major General N G Woodyatt CB CIE
  • Major General J H F Lakin CB CSI
  • Field Marshal The Viscount Slim of Burma KG GCB GCMG GCVO GBE DSO MC
  • Field Marshal Sir Gerald Templer KG GCB GCMG KBE DSO
  • General Sir Walter Walker KCB CBE DSO and two bars
  • Brigadier E D Smith CBE DSO
  • Brigadier J Whitehead MBE
  • Brigadier M G Hunt-Davies CBE until 30 June 1994 when the regiment was disbanded to form part of The Royal Gurkha Rifles.

Unusual Customs[edit]

In the Tropics British Army officers invariably wore white mess kit jackets when appropriate. 7th Gurkha Rifles however, wore black jackets. This was because the regiment went into mourning for the loss of Lord Kitchener, (see above) Secretary of State for War, on the 5th of June 1916, when HMS Hampshire struck a mine and sank. Lord Kitchener was travelling to Russia. It appears that the order for officers to wear black jackets in Tropical Mess Kit was never rescinded.

7th Gurkha Rifles had a unique stance for 'Regimental Stand Easy' - this entailed holding the barrel of the rifle in the left hand, whereas throughout the remainder of the British Army at 'Stand Easy', the rifle was held by the right hand - normally at or about the sights.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 36690. p. 4157. 5 September 1944. Retrieved 29 May 2009.


'India's Army' by Major Donovan Jackson - London Marston Low, Marston & Co., Ltd. 7th Duke of Edinburgh's Own Regimental Association. Major Henry Rokeby Bond, MBE.