A memorial statue to honour the commitment and bravery of the Gurkhas has been unveiled in the Princes Gardens, Aldershot.
Gurkhas have served the British Crown for more than 205 years, notably in both world wars, Malaya, Borneo and the Falkland Islands and have also deployed on operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as other conflicts around the world.
Many have settled in Aldershot so the Greater Rushmoor Nepali Community group decided to establish a memorial for both veterans and those serving, in tribute to those who have made the ultimate sacrifice.
The Gurkha Memorial has been erected in Princes Gardens and is dedicated to the first Gurkha to win the Victoria Cross, Kulbir Thapa VC.
Kulbir was born in Nepal in 1889 and enlisted as a Rifleman (Rfn) in 1907 in the 1st Battalion, 3rd Queen’s Alexandra’s Own Gurkha Rifles, transferring to the 2nd Battalion at the outbreak of World War One. On 25 September 1915 at Mauquissart in France Rfn Thapa, having been wounded himself, found a badly injured soldier from the Leicestershire Regiment behind the first line German trench and stayed with him throughout the night.
Early the next day, he carried the soldier through German wire, taking him to a place of comparative safety and then returned to bring in two wounded Gurkhas. Eventually, he went back in broad daylight to retrieve the British soldier and complete the rescue under enemy fire.
The statue, designed and sculpted by Amy Goodman who also made the Parachute Regiment memorial that also resides in the Gardens, is a life-sized sculpture of Kulbir carrying the wounded British soldier on his shoulder and has been placed on a plinth with an abbreviated history of the Brigade of Gurkhas and Kulbir’s VC citation.
Minister for Defence People and Veterans Leo Docherty MP, was particularly honoured to unveil the statue as he is also the MP for Rushmoor and has represented the Aldershot constituency since 2017. In his speech he said, “The statue is a beautiful work of art with a deep and resonant message about the values we all of us hold dear - courage, comradeship, compassion, and bravery in the face of danger and the indomitable fighting spirit of the Gurkhas. We are rightly proud of our military heritage and the values of this statue, furthermore we should be very proud that it symbolises the comradeship forged in war between a British soldier and a Gurkha.”