PUBLISHED: 11:49 30 October 2008 | UPDATED: 10:13 23 August 2010
SOME of the most highly respected soldiers in the British Army re-lived their stories of fighting on the frontline as part of Black History Month. Gurkha soldiers from the Queen Gurkha Engineers, part of the 36 Engineers Regiment based in Maidstone, vis
SOME of the most highly respected soldiers in the British Army
re-lived their stories of fighting on the frontline as part of Black History Month.
Gurkha soldiers from the Queen Gurkha Engineers, part of the 36 Engineers Regiment based in Maidstone, visited north Kent police station, Thamesway, Northfleet, last Friday.
Meet The Gurkhas was attended by council bosses and army veterans who heard stories of what it was like to serve with the Gurkhas, part of the British Army for the last 200 years.
Captain Devkumar Gurung, 40, is a troop commander with the Queen Gurkha Engineers. During service he was stationed in Hong Kong, Sierra Leone, Kosovo, Iraq, and most recently, the Helmand Province of Afghanistan.
Captain Gurung, who has served with the Gurkhas for the last 20 years, said: "It is a very diverse job, the situation you find yourselves in changes everyday.
"My most recent experience has been in the Helmand Province in Afghanistan. You plan and you train, but nothing really prepares you for it.
"It is such a different culture, you have to understand the people. We found that with the Afghan National Army, they trusted the Gurkhas, because of our colour and our background and that is essential. They listened to us."
The Gurkha soldiers are still selected from the young men in the foothills of Nepal, said to be the toughest selection process in the world. They have fought with the British Army since 1815, and have seen combat in both world wars.
Captain Gurung added: "We are made very welcome by the British soldiers, we are facing the same threat as they are, and we work side by side.
"The threat changes every day, very different to what we faced in the first and the second world wars. It is mentally tough, everything will be tested.
"The first time I had to fire my weapon in anger was in the Helmand Province in Afghanistan. I still remember the day, I will never forget it. We got engaged by the Taliban, from the rear, bullets were flying over my head, the maize corn was being cut down with the bullets.
"I took our patrol to the nearest hut, where we climbed on top to observe the ground. Then we got engaged by an RPG (rocket propelled grenade), the first one flew just 10ft above my head, and then the next one, it landed in front of us, and it destroyed the whole wall of the hut - fortunately there were no injuries, but we were still getting shot at. I had to keep firing my gun for my life, until a helicopter came in and supported us."
Also at the event was PC Santosh Ghale, currently training to be the first Gurkha police officer in Kent Police.
Mr Ghale served with the Gurkhas from Feburary 1982 until August 2005. He is due to pass out for Kent Police in January next year.
He said: "To join the Gurkhas is a great job for the Nepalese people. We work as a team, working together, eating together, living together, we are like a family.
"It is a challenging job, but one that I found was very interesting."
Area commander for North Kent, Paul Brandon, said: "It was an exceptional day, and was very well attended. There were some very poignant stories of their action on the frontline it is obvious they are held in very high esteem, and rightly so."