In Collaboration With Charles Griffin

Brief History
The first three regiments of Gurkhas date from 1815 but the 4th was raised in July 1857 at Pithoragarh. They were to hold the Kumaon Hills during the Mutiny. They were first numbered the 19th when taken into the Bengal line and under the authority of the British Crown, but a few months later became the 4th Gurkha Rifles.
The Umbeyla Campaign
A force under Sir Neville Chamberlain was ordered, in 1868, to supress a group of Pathans called the Sitana Fanatics who had harboured mutineers in 1857 and who were still causing trouble for the British a decade later. The centre of the fanatics was a place called Malka, north of the Mahaban mountain.. The only way to Malka was through a pass controlled by the Bunerwal tribesmen who were enemies of the fanatics. Chamberlain and his force of 9000 took it for granted that the Bunerwal would let them through without asking if it was alright with them. This proved to be a serious error and it wasn't long before the fanatics and the Bunerwal joined forces against the British.

The 4th Gurkhas were part of the force and heavily involved early on in the campaign. The British were stuck in the pass with their line of communication cut off. They were on a small plateau flanked by two heights, one of which was called the Crag. On the 13th November, it was captured by the enemy and briefly regained. By the 20th, it was again in the hands of the ememy and Chamberlain himself led the 4th Gurkhas and 71st Highland Light Infantry in a successful attempt, causing the loss of 27 men and 110 wounded, including Chamberlain himself. During the campaign, the 4th had a British Sergeant-Major, unusual for an Indian or Gurkha regiment which were invariably staffed by native NCOs.

The Second Afghan War
They covered much ground in this war, starting with Ali Masjid under Sam Browne, then on the Kyber line, the Bazar Valley, then Jalalabad. Later they fought at Kabul and marched with Roberts in his famous trek to Kandahar.
The Second Battalion
The 1st battalion served in France during WW1, showing great courage at Givenchy and Neuve Chapelle. They performed countless feats of bravery at Ypres, most of which went unrecorded in the confusion. The 2nd went to Mesopotamia where they served with General Maude in his drive to force the Turks out of Kut. The 2/4th carried the attack on Dahra Bend and were allowed to proceed alone in their enthusiasm. They returned with 400 prisoners including 3 regimental commanders. They were amongst the first to enter Baghdad and remained there to keep order.

A third battalion was not raised at this time due to a clerical error. What should have been written as 3/4th was wrongly written as 4/3rd. so the 3rd Gurkhas were given a battalion more than they should have done while the 4th went without.

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.

Tribal Areas
Post Mutiny
Principal Campaigns and Battles
1878 - 80 Afghanistan
1878 Ali Masjid
1879 Kabul
1880 Kandahar
Punjab Frontier
1900 China
Predecessor Units
Extra Gurkha Battalion
(1857 - 1861)
19th Bengal Native Infantry
4th Gurkha Regiment
(1861 - 1891)
4th Gurkha (Rifle) Regiment
(1891 - 1901)
4th Gurkha Rifles
(1901 - 1907)
Successor Units
4th Prince of Wales's Own Gurkha Rifles
(1924 - 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