Tag Archives: Fourth Gorkha Rifles

Just Extra Mags and a Kukri

A small-framed soldier of the 4th Battalion, 4th Prince of Wales’s Own (PWO) Gurkha Rifles, engaged in house-to-house fighting in a Burmese village, CBI Theatre, 1945.

Raised in 1941, 4/4 saw WWII service in India’s border areas in Nagaland, Manipur, and Mizoram, and the Far East. One of the Gurkha regiments that was partitioned to the Indian Army in 1947, the motto of what is today the Fourth Gorkha Rifles is “Kayar Hunu Bhanda Marnu Ramro” (Better to die than live like a coward) (National Army Museum UK/One of 11 photos collected by Company Sergeant Major G R C Willis, 2nd Battalion Royal Berkshire Regiment. NAM. 1989-10-67-4.)

Note the Sten Mk 3 sub-machine gun and the kukri in the belt at the Gurkha’s back. Due to the local conditions, the Gurkha has whittled down most of his ’37 Webbing to just a pair of basic pouches– which could carry either two BREN magazines, a half-dozen Thompson/STEN mags, four grenades, or boxes of 303– and a utility pouch, normally carried on the chest, worn to the back while what looks like the mouth of a canteen is poking up from his right. Still, with as many as 13 32-round mags, this skinny little guy could have over 400 rounds of ammo at the ready– an aspect oft-forgotten by those who poo-poo the use of SMGs on the battlefield. 

The 4/4 used beasts of burden for everything else.

Troops of 4/4th Gurkha Rifles crossing the River Irrawaddy in Burma. Each man carries his own weapon and essential supplies, while the ever-present mules shoulder the burden of extra ammunition, food, and water. NAM. 1989-10-67-5 by Sergeant Major G R C Willis, 2nd Battalion Royal Berkshire Regiment.

The hardy soldiers from Nepal were well represented in the CBI in 1944-45 as 3rd Battalion/6th Gurkha Rifles; 3rd Battalion/4th Gurkha Rifles and the 3rd and 4th Battalions, 9th Gurkha Rifles, all took part in the Second Chindit Expedition of 1944. Other Gurkha battalions fought in the swamps and forests of the Arakan.

In lighter notes, the STEN has always been my favorite burp gun and one that is absolutely just the most enjoyable to fire. We’ve already talked about my kukri obsession several times…