In Collaboration With Charles Griffin


Brief History
Kashmir Gate
The last of the 4 Gurkha battalions raised in 1815 was known as the Kemaon Battalion. It's men were not all pure Gurkhas but men from Nepaul's feudatory districts such as Kumaon and Garhwal who had lost heart in the Gurkha cause. The battalion was to police the Nepalese border for 40 years before their arduous march to Delhi and their assault on the Kashmir Gate during the Mutiny of 1857.

After the Mutiny they were counted as one of the Bengal line regiments - the 18th Regiment of Bengal Native Infantry, but in 1864 they became 3rd Goorkha (The Kemaon) Regiment. A year later they went on campaign to Bhutan for a year where they suffered much hardship and disease but gained no battle honour.

Ahmed Khel
Their next action was in the Second Afghan War. The 3rd entered Afghanistan through Quetta. Their march to Kandahar became extremely difficult when the rough terrain caused the gun-bullocks to break down leaving the Gurkhas to man-handle the 40 pounders themselves. On reaching Kandahar, they were ordered back to India via Kabul. It was on this journey that they were attacked at Ahmed Khel by a determined force of Afghan tribesmen. The 3rd formed squares and managed to frustrate the onslaught, which, despite the use of case-shot, looked unstoppable.

The second battalion was ordered to be raised in 1887 but difficulties arose because of Lord Roberts's insistance on Garhwalis only. The battalion finally got under way but it became clear that both battalions could not be stationed at Almora so the 2nd went to a new cantonment in Garhwal called Kalananda which became Lansdowne when it was named after the then Viceroy. They became the 39th Garhwalis in Jan 1891.

Bara Hoti
In 1889 relations with Tibet were strained and intellegence reports stated that the Tibetans were building fortifications on the Indian side of the border. A composite double company of 100 men from each battalion was sent to investigate. The march to Bara Hoti took them over the Mirchauk Pass, 18,000 ft high - probably the greatest height ever reached by a disciplined group of soldiers. As it turned out the 'fortifications' were a camping-ground wall erected to give shelter from the strong winds to travellers on the trade route. Both battalions were engaged in the Tirah and the Punjab Frontier campaigns of 1897. The 1st battalion achieved fame for their part in the storming of the Heights of Dargai with 2nd Gurkhas, 3rd Sikhs, the Gordons , KOSB, the Dorsets and the Derbys.

While the Indian regiments were undergoing a reshuffle and number change in 1903, the 3rd Gurkhas remained unchanged, but in 1907 the King gave them the title of The Queen's Own. The Queen herself, however, felt that there were enough Queen's Own regiments belonging to various other queens, so in 1908 the name was changed to the 3rd Queen Alexandra's Own Gurkha Rifles.

World War I
Two VCs were won by the 3rd in this war. Rifleman Kulbir Thapa, the first Gurkha to be so honoured, won his during the battle of Loos on 25th Sept 1915. Having been wounded, he lay for a day and a night with a badly wounded British soldier behind the first line of German trenches. The British soldier kept urging him to save himself but he refused. At dawn, the mist gave him enough cover to bring the soldier to a safer place, then he went back to help two of his fellow Gurkhas, bringing them to safety one by one. He returned to the British soldier and carried him in broad daylight to the Allied trenches under enemy fire.

The second VC was won in Palestine on 10th April 1918. During an attack, Rifleman Karanbahadur Rana with a few other men, succeeded under intense enemy fire, in creeping forward with a Lewis gun in order to subdue an enemy machine gun which had caused severe damage during previous attempts to knock it out. The leader of this party was shot dead as soon as he opened fire with the Lewis. Without any hesitation, Karanbahadur pushed the dead man off the gun and in spite of grenades and heavy flanking fire, managed to put the enemy gun out of action. The Lewis stopped firing at one point but he cooly repaired the fault and continued to silence the rifle fire. Our hero continued fighting throughout the day, at one point rescuing his Company Commander. The official report described the award as being 'for most conspicuous bravery... and utter contempt for danger'.

A detachment from the 3rd battalion served under Lawrence of Arabia, riding camels in their pursuit of the Turks.

It seems that the 3rd Gurkhas took on an extra battalion, the 4th, in 1916, by mistake. Due to a clerical error, the 4th Gurkhas did not have a third battalion as 3/4 was written as 4/3 on the order.

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Map
Map
Tribal Areas
Soldiers
Post-Mutiny
Equipment
Kukri
Pouchbelts
Post-Mutiny
Uniforms
Post Mutiny
Principal Campaigns and Battles
Delhi
1878 - 80 Afghanistan
1880 Ahmed Khel
1885 - 87 Burma
Chitral
Punjab Frontier
Tirah
Predecessor Units
Kamaon Battalion
(1815 - 1826)
Kamaon Local Battalion
(1826 - 1860)
Kamaon Battalion
(1860 - 1861)
18th Bengal Native Infantry
(1861 - 1864)
3rd (Kamaon) Gurkha Regiment
(1864 - 1901)
3rd Gurkha Rifles
(1901 - 1907)
Successor Units
3rd Queen's Own Gurkha Rifles
(1907 - 1908)
3rd Queen Alexandra's Own Gurkha Rifles
(1908 - 1947)
Post-Independence Fate
To India
Suggested Reading
India's Army
by Donovan Jackson

Regiments and Corps of the British Army:
A Critical Bibliography

by Roger Perkins

Sons of John Company
by John Gaylor

Armies of India
Painted by Lovett, Text by Macmunn

The Indian Army
by Boris Mollo

Forces of the British Empire
by E. Nevins and B. Chandler

Indian Army Uniforms - Infantry
by W. Y. Carman


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by Stephen Luscombe