2nd Battalion, Royal Gurkha Rifles, Portrait Sittings

Working with the 2nd Battalion, Royal Gurkha Rifles, was one of the highlights of my Soldiery Project. Many civilians will know something about the Gurkhas. The Regiment carries no flag or pennant, but instead a battle honour is displayed on their chest belt. I was honoured to to capture their unique ceremonial staff, the Queen’s Truncheon, presented to the Regiment in 1863 for their loyalty and service to the Crown.

The Queen's Truncheon , 2nd Battalion Royal Gurkha Rifles (Rory Lewis Military Portrait Photographer)

The Queen's Truncheon, 2nd Battalion Royal Gurkha Rifles (Rory Lewis Military Portrait Photographer)

Gurkhas are closely associated with the Khukuri, a forward curving Nepalese knife, and have a well known reputation for fearless military prowess. I had the chance to examine a Khukuri up close, it is a formidable weapon, even used by soldiers in the recently conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. The former Indian Army Chief of Staff Field Marshal Sam Manekshaw, once stated:

“If a man says he is not afraid of dying, he is either lying or he is a Gurkha.” In fact, their motto is “Better to die than be a coward.”

The faces of each individual Gurkha soldier have incredible power. Originating from Nepal, they have come thousands of miles purely to serve in the British Army. An awe-inspiring 20,000 individuals present for selection each and every year, and only the top 200 make it through to gain a place in the Regiment.

Such incredible faces to photograph. British Gurkhas have earned a reputation for bravery, winning nine Victoria Crosses in the Second Word War alone.

The Gurkhas are based in Folkestone. On arrival, I was greeted by one the Adjutant who was able to speak fluent Nepalese. The Gurkhas are led by British Officers, who are all Nepalese speakers, having to spend their first months of duty learning the language in Nepal. Each soldier who posed held a proud yet solemn expression, with few of them needing much direction at all: each soldier proud to be serving in this iconic Regiment.