Not every kukri-armed soldier was a Gurkha
The kukri is a traditional Nepalese weapon. It is most commonly associated with the Gurkha units serving with the Indian or British armies. However it was used, on a less official basis, by other Indian Army formations.
This particular kukri was the property of Subedar Khudadad Khan – the first native born Indian (and the first known Muslim) soldier to be awarded the Victoria Cross. Khan served with the 129th Duke of Connaught’s Own Baluchis (now 11th Battalion, The Baloch Regiment of Pakistan Army) and received his VC for actions when manning a machine-gun at Hollebeke, Belgium on 31 October 1914 during the Battle of Ypres.
He gave this kukri to an officer on the hospital ship in which he was repatriated to India and it is now in the Imperial War Museum.
Hollebeke, Belgium, 31 October 1914, Sepoy Khudadad Khan, 129th Duke of Connaught’s Own Baluchis, Indian Army.
On 31st October 1914, at Hollebeke, Belgium, the British Officer in charge of the detachment having been wounded, and the other gun put out of action by a shell, Sepoy Khudadad Khan, though himself wounded, remained working his gun until all the other five men of the gun detachment had been killed.
Khan’s VC group is on display in the Imperial War Museum’s Lord Ashcroft Gallery. I say group because he returned to service after his wounds healed, fought in Afghanistan in 1919 and remained with the Baluchis late in life, retiring as a Subidar Major.
Khan lived to a ripe old age (82) and died at the Military Hospital (MH) in Rawalpindi on 8 March 1971. He is buried in Rukhan Tehsil Village, in what is now Pakistan.
A statue of Khudadad Khan, with an Enfield but lacking his kukri or VC, is at the entrance of the Pakistan Army Museum in Rawalpindi and he is remembered as “Baba-i-Baloch Regiment” (The Father of Baloch Regiment), the second-oldest unit in the Pakistani Army after the Punjabs.