The latest Commando releases from DC Thomson, on sale today in all good newsagents and via various digital outlets (7th May 2015), include the re-releasing of two special edition books to support Gurkha 200, commemorating 200 years of outstanding service and loyalty to the Crown in 2015.
Since its formation, Gurkhas have conducted themselves with distinction in numerous conflicts alongside their British colleagues and the re-released stories, “Lone Gurkha” and “Gurkhas to the Rescue” pay tribute to the outstanding service to the Crown by the United Kingdom’s Brigade of Gurkhas.
The Commando books will be given to guests at The Queen’s Gurkha Engineers Dinner at The Tower of London later this month.
“While Commando is a fiction series, the stories are set against an authentic background based in solid fact,” notes the book’s editor, Calum Laird. “That’s a problem with Gurkha tales as their true feats are so much more astonishing than anything we could make up in fiction.”
Speaking for the Gurkhas, Captain Charlie Hardaker from 70 Gurkha Field Squadron, The Queen’s Gurkha Engineers said, “This year, the Brigade of Gurkhas commemorates 200 years of outstanding service and loyalty. Gurkhas have served in every major conflict and have conducted themselves with unparalleled distinction alongside their British counterparts.
“Today, Gurkhas are renowned for their graciousness, loyalty and courage. As reserved and mild-mannered in daily life as they are fearless and tenacious in battle, they are dignified people and excellent soldiers.”
“These stories are testament to the exceptional dedication the Gurkha brigades give to the British Army,” says Calum.
Gurkhas were first recruited into British service in 1815, following the closely-fought Anglo-Nepal wars between the East India Trading Company and the recently-unified Kingdom of Nepal. Soldiers are traditionally recruited from hill villages across Nepal and each year thousands of applicants compete in a gruelling selection for the chance to become part of the British Army. Amongst stringent academic and fitness tests the most infamous part of the selection is the ‘Doko Race’ which involves a 5km uphill run, carrying 25kg in a basket secured around the head.
Gurkha soldiers are world-renowned for their fitness, discipline, courage and the curved ‘kukri’ knife which they carry. The Brigade’s motto is ‘It is better to die than live a coward’ and they have won 26 Victoria Crosses; of these 13 have been awarded to British Officers and 13 have been awarded to Nepali soldiers (who only became eligible for the award in 1911).
The first regular Gurkha units of the British Army distinguished themselves fighting for the East India Trading Company and the Crown; and during the Indian Mutiny remained loyal and fought alongside British soldiers to successfully quell the rebellion. For their part in this, the Sirmoor Regiment were permitted to adopt the traditions and dress of the British light infantry and later awarded the Queen’s Truncheon. The Truncheon replaced the existing Colours and is accorded the honours due to a Queen’s Colour; it is unique within the British Army and continues to be carried by the Royal Gurkha Rifles.
By the First World War, there were ten full-strength Gurkha regiments in the British Indian Army and the 100,000 men who served with them between 1914 and 1918 saw action in France, Flanders, Mesopotamia, Persia, Egypt, Palestine, Salonika, and Gallipoli.
In the Second World War there were no fewer than 40 Gurkha battalions in British service and the whole of the Nepali Army was put at the disposal of the United Kingdom. Gurkha battalions fought in Italy and North Africa and a number of regiments were part of the ‘Forgotten’ XIVth Army in Burma, often employed on Chindit operations.
Following Partition in 1947, four Gurkha battalions of the British Indian Army were transferred to the British Army’s Gurkha Brigade and moved to the Far East where they became expert in jungle warfare and served with distinction in various campaigns. After the Handover of Hong Kong the Brigade relocated to the United Kingdom. One battalion of the Royal Gurkha Rifles is permanently stationed in Brunei.
Today the Brigade of Gurkhas consists of around 3000 soldiers in two battalions of the Royal Gurkha Rifles, the Queen’s Gurkha Signals, Queen’s Gurkha Engineers, Queen’s Own Gurkha Logistic Regiment, Gurkha Staff and Personnel Support Company, the Band of the Brigade of Gurkhas and Headquarters Brigade of Gurkhas. Since the Second World War, Gurkha units have deployed to Malaysia, The Falklands, Bosnia and Kosovo, Sierra Leone, Macedonia, East Timor, Iraq and Afghanistan; both as formed units, and to reinforce other units of the British Army. The Nepalese Army and the Indian Army also employ Gurkhas.
Commando No 4807 – The Eagles Ride
Story: Ferg Handley Art: Keith Page Cover: Keith Page
In the late 1700s, Ensign Francis Allingham, of the Wessex Dragoons, and his friend, junior naval Lieutenant John Harker, joined forces to help rescue French aristocrats from the “Reign of Terror” — a dark period in history when the rulers of the new republic executed any who stood against them.
Despite the risks, Francis’ special cavalry unit undertook many rescue missions across the Channel. While dodging the French, though, he was unaware that danger lurked closer to home. His senior Sergeant, Silas Carrick, was not to be trusted…
“With only a few notable exceptions — The Bomb Gang, the Convict Commandos, Ramsey’s Raiders — recurring characters have been rare on Commando’s pages. Self-contained stories are our speciality,” notes Scott Montgomery, Deputy Editor. “Knowing how much you, our readers, liked the characters mentioned above, we reckoned you might like a slightly different series that carried the story over more than one issue. With Ferg Handley recruited to do the scripting, we decided that a historical saga spanning many generations would hit the spot.
“Episode Eight of this series sees the continuing story of three — entirely fictional —inter-linked families move on to the bloody aftermath of the French Revolution and the “Reign Of Terror” that followed. Two of our three main characters are committed to saving fleeing French aristocrats from almost certain death, while the third has another, more self-centred agenda all of his own.
“We hope you enjoy this story and the journey to come.”
Commando No 4808 – Gurkhas To The Rescue
Story: Bernard Gregg Art: Llops Cover: Ian Kennedy
A figure moved silently in the darkness of the jungle clearing…then another — and moments later two sentries fell unconscious without a sound. Swiftly the intruders stepped over the inert bodies and through the door of the now unguarded hut. But these attackers wore the same uniform as the sentries and they were in the same army. What on earth was going on?
Believe it or not, it all started when the night express to Glasgow crashed in November 1922…
Commando No 4809 – The Danger Zone
Story: George Low Art: John Ridgway Cover: John Ridgway
They were very different, were Lieutenants Gregor MacBeth and Adam Wiley. Gregor was an action man, a fearless Commando, ever in danger’s way. Adam was a thinker, an intelligence man with an eye for detail that made him a priceless asset behind the scenes.
Then, one fateful night, Adam landed in danger the like of which even Gregor had second thoughts about diving into. But it was his job to get his friend out of… THE DANGER ZONE…
Commando No 4810 – Lone Gurkha
Story: Alan Hemus Art: C.T. Rigby Cover: Phil Gascoine
Sam Hollis, a gunner, was no stranger to war. He had seen a lot of action, but even he had never come across anything like this — a solitary Gurkha by the name of Ganju Pun preparing to hold off a heavy Japanese assault…
It made more sense to turn and run and it certainly would be no disgrace, but Ganju Pun did not even consider retreat. He came from a family of warriors, after all, and now it was his turn to prove that he was a worthy owner of his razor-sharp kukri…
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