The famous kukri carried by Gurkha soldiers is a national weapon of Nepal and carried when the Gurkha is in civilian dress. It was generally 16 or 17 inches long, the blade being 12 to 13 inches. The haft is made of wood, buffalo horn, bone or ivory and is too short for most Western adult males to hold comfortably. The kukri carried by modern day Gurkhas (post World War 2) is smaller, being more a traditional part of the uniform than a practical tool and weapon. There are two small 'miniknives' in the sheath; one is for sharpening the blade the other is for skinning.

The Kukri was not used purely for fighting, it was used for clearing undergrowth, chopping firewood and various other chores. But as a weapon it was used with deadly effect. The cutting action was an upward diagonal swipe with the neck being the main target. The blade is thick on the outside edge making the wide part heavy like an axe. The kukri was never thrown. It is said that a Gurkha does not unsheath the knife without drawing blood but this is untrue, he would be covered in cuts otherwise.

There are many stories of the Gurkhas, their stealth and lack of fear. During World War 2, Rifleman Thaman Gurung used to go off alone at night stalking Germans and quietly beheading them. The effect on German morale was devastating. Many VCs were won by individuals over the years, most of them involved the deadly use of the kukri.

Gurkha Regiments

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by Stephen Luscombe