Professor Sir Ralph Lilley Turner, MC, who served with the 3rd Queen Alexandra’s Own Gurkha Rifles in the First World War of 1914-1918, wrote of Gurkhas:
“As I write these last words, my thoughts return to you who were my comrades, the stubborn and indomitable peasants of Nepal. Once more I hear the laughter with which you greeted every hardship. Once more I see you in your bivouacs or about your fires, on forced march or in the trenches, now shivering with wet and cold, now scorched by a pitiless and burning sun. Uncomplaining you endure hunger and thirst and wounds; and at the last your unwavering lines disappear into the smoke and wrath of battle. Bravest of the brave most generous of the generous, never had country more faithful friends than you.”
Many Gorkhas of Nepal traditionally returned to their homeland of Nepal following their military service, to resume a life of subsistence farming or labour. The country’s poor infrastructure and lack of welfare system led to a high number of ex-Gorkhas facing destitution. When the extent of their hardship came to light in the late 1960s, officers in the British Army established a charity – The Gurkha Welfare Trust – to ensure that all former soldiers would live out their retirement in dignity.