British officers and their Indian sepoys encounter Nepal’s first line of defence: the malaria mosquito and then have to contend with the ‘martial spirit of an indomitable foe’. Impressed by their courage and discipline, the British start recruiting the soldiers they were fighting even before the end of the war: forcing Nepalis to fight Nepalis defending their forts in Garhwal and Kumaon.
The book that is being released this month is compellingly written with illustration by Ken Howard, and follows ‘the light-hearted and gallant soldiers’ in battles of Empire: from the North-West Frontier through two World Wars to the Falklands. Ironically, after fighting alongside the British in Helmand Province in 1847, the Nepalis are back in Helmand as part of NATO forces where they have won more than 100 medals for gallantry but at the cost of many lives.
General Duffell has seen the Gurkhas in action up close and personal, and vividly recounts some of his own experiences with the soldiers from Nepal – having commanded them at every level from Subaltern to General in the battlefield and in peacetime since 1960. Peter Duffell was awarded the Military Cross after leading the Gurkhas under his command in jungle guerrilla warfare in Borneo in 1960. He served as General Commanding British Forces in Hong Kong between 1989 and 1992, in charge of the Gurkha brigade there just before the handover.
Fluent in Nepali, he has got to understand the soldiers under his command well, which gives the book added authenticity.