Gurkhas and the Falklands War

Gurkhas and the Falklands War

Argentinian troops invaded the Falkland Islands on 2nd April 1982. The British Government reacted quickly and assembled a Naval Task Force which set sail on 5th April containing elements of 3 Commando Brigade.

At the time the1st Battalion of the 7th Duke of Edinburgh’s Own Gurkha Rifles (1/7th Gurkhas) was stationed in the UK as part of 5 Infantry Brigade, which was added to the Task Force Order of Battle for what was codenamed Operation CORPORATE, the retaking of the Falklands. By the 12th May most pre-deployment training had been carried out and 1/7th Gurkhas embarked with four members of 541 Troop, Queen’s Gurkha Signals in the liner Queen Elizabeth 2 at Southampton. By 21st May, as the QE2 neared the Ascension Islands, British forces of 3rd Commando Brigade had already begun landing at San Carlos Bay. 1/7th Gurkhas followed, landing on 1st June having previously transferred to the P&O Ferry Norland.

Once ashore they occupied Goose Green and the area of Lafonia to the south of East Falkland. Goose Green had been the scene of a previous battle to capture it from the Argentinians, during which action the commanding Officer of 2nd Battalion The Parachute Regiment, Lieutenant Colonel “H” Jones had been killed.  He was subsequently awarded a posthumous Victoria Cross (one of two awarded for the campaign). With 5 Infantry Brigade’s movement east, 1/7th Gurkhas followed, moving forward towards Port Stanley.

During the final battles of the war on the mountains surrounding Port Stanley, 1/7th Gurkhas were detailed to take Mount William. During a 24-hour delay in the attack, heavy Argentinian artillery fire caused several injuries amongst the Gurkhas.  When the attack commenced on 14th June, to the disappointment of 1/7th Gurkhas, the Argentinian forces opposing them began to surrender to the nearby Scots Guards in large numbers. It is believed that the Gurkhas reputation had caused panic in the enemy when they realised who they were facing.  All Argentinian forces on the Falklands surrendered later that day

Sadly, L/Cpl Budhaprasad Limbu was to be killed on 24th June in an ordnance explosion whilst filling in enemy trenches near Goose Green, ten days after the Argentine surrender. He and Corporal Krishnakumar Rai of the Queen’s Gurkha Engineers, who was also killed during ordnance-clearing operations later in the year, were the only fatal Gurkha casualties of the conflict. Returning to the UK on the SS Uganda, 1/7th Gurkhas marched through Fleet in Hampshire on 9th August, ninety days after they had left Southampton on the QE2.

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