11 Gorkha Rifles, which was re-raised at Independence, after a majority of Gorkha soldiers from various Gorkha Regiments opted to serve in the Indian Army, and have since then repeatedly fought with bravery and Loyalty to the Indian Flag and its army.
The 1st and 2nd Battalions of the 11 Gorkha Rifles (GR) were raised on May 18, 1918 and May 24, 1918, respectively, at Kut-el-Amara. The 3rd Battalion was raised at Baghdad on May 26, 1918 and the 4th at Palestine on May 24, 1918. In August 1918, the 1st, 2nd and 3rd Battalions left Mesopotamia for India and were stationed at Manmad in the Bombay Presidency. After World War I, all battalions were demobilised as part of general reduction of forces.
11 GR was re-raised after Independence on November 9, 1947, under the Tripartite Agreement between Governments of India, Nepal and Britain. As per this agreement, the 2nd, 6th, 7th and 10th GR were transferred to the British Army while the 1st, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 8th and 9th Gorkha Rifles remained with the Indian Army. Transfer of Gorkha troops to the British Army was on a purely voluntary basis. A referendum held in the presence of representatives of the Indian and Nepalese governments resulted in troops from the 7th and 10th GR opting against the transfer to the British Army in large numbers. 2/7 GR almost as a whole, opted against transfer to the British Army. Troops of the 7th and 10th GR hailed from Eastern Nepal. Since none of the Gorkha regiments in the Indian Army till then had troops from Eastern Nepal, and owing to the large number of non-optees, it was decided that another Gorkha regiment would be
In the re-raised 11 GR, one of the World War II awardees of the Victoria Cross (VC), Rifleman Ganju Lama, got posted from 1/7 GR. Despite being a recipient of the VC, Lama refused to go with 1/7 GR to England and thus became part of 11 GR, rising to the rank of Subedar Manjor and Honorary Captain. During War World II, Rifleman Ganju Lama, who was the number 1 Pilot (Infantry anti-tank rifle), showed exceptional bravery and valour. On seeing the forward platoon pinned down by the enemy tanks, Rifleman Lama immediately lunged forward and engaged enemy tanks. By this time, the enemy tanks had started heavy firing from their 37mm guns. However, Rifleman Lama managed to gain proximity with the enemy tanks, opened fire from 60 yards range and with his second bomb scored a direct hit on an enemy tank. The platoon was later recalled on orders from the company commander and Rifleman Lama remained behind covering the withdrawal with fire. He was awarded Victoria Cross for this. He was subsequently selected to serve as the ADC to the President of India and on retirement was appointed as Life ADC to the President. In recognition of his services to the nation, the Government of Sikkim conferred the title of Pema Dorjee upon him.
raised. That is how 11 GR came to be reraised. Nick-named the ‘Kirantis’, their motto is ‘Yatraham Vijaystatra’. In Hindi, this means ‘Main Jahan Vijay Wahan’, and in English, it is ‘We the Metaphor for Victory’.
On January 1, 1948, 11 Gorkha Rifles Regimental Centre was raised in Palampur, which was also hosing the 7 GR Regimental Centre. In 1948, as the number of non-optees increased, 3/11 GR, 4/11 GR and 5/11 GR were raised. Later, in 1960, 1/11 GR was raised and after the Sino Indian Conflict in 1962, 2/11 GR, 6/11 GR and 7/11 GR were raised.
11 GR has had the proud privilege of having most of its battalions taking part in almost all operations undertaken by the Indian Army since Independence, including the Police Action in Hyderabad, the first India-Pakistan war in Jammu & Kashmir in 1947-48, the second one in 1965, the third in 1971 and the regular skirmishes that continue to date.
In October 1967, when Chinese army upped the ante in Sikkim, 7/11 GR taught its attackers at Chola an unforgettable lesson with khukris. The Chinese company commander and the political commissar were staking claims to a boulder at the sentry post. Naib Subedar Gyan Bahadur Limbu was having a heated argument with his counterpart at the sentry post, while he rested his right foot on the disputed boulder. The Chinese kicked his foot away. In defiance, Gyan put his foot back. The Chinese soon escalated the situation and one of the Chinese soldiers bayoneted Gyan, wounding him in his arm. The JCO responded swiftly with his khukri, chopping both arms of his attacker. The Chinese then opened fire and both sides engaged in a firefight at close range. Lance Naik Krishna Bahadur, the post commander, then led a charge against the Chinese who were forming up for an assault. Although seriously injured, he continued to exhort his men forward. Rifleman Devi Prasad Limbu, who was directly behind Krishna Bahadur, was already engaged in a close quarter battle with the enemy. He accounted for five Chinese heads with his khukri, till he was felled by a direct hit. For his action, Rifleman Limbu was awarded a Vir Chakra, Posthumous. Lance Naik Krishna Bahadur’s body was later returned by the Chinese with full military honours. The Chinese officer who accompanied the remains to the Indian Army, reportedly praised the performance of the Indian troops, stating that “they fought like tigers”.
This skirmish, along with the Indian retaliation with artillery at Nathu La, within the same month-October — exactly five years after the humiliating defeat in 1962 owing to politicobureaucratic ignorance and callousness compounded by some very flawed policies and decisions were very significant and impactful. While the Indian casualties reportedly were 88 killed and 163 wounded, Chinese casualties were 300 killed and 450 wounded in Nathu La and 40 killed in Chola. Since then, not a bullet has been exchanged between the two countries till date and in 1975 India annexed Sikkim.
In the 1971 Indo-Pak war fought in Western, Northern and Eastern theatres, which resulted in the liberation of Bangladesh, 2/11 GR won the Battle Honour ‘Shingo River Valley’, and theatre honour ‘J&K’ for its action in Kargil; 5/11 GR was awarded ‘Bogra’ and theater honour ‘East Pakistan’; 7/11 GR was awarded Theatre Honour ‘J&K’, for its Steadfast action in Chicken’s Neck area of J&K. Rifleman Dhan Bahadur Rai was awarded VrC for shooting down a Pakistani aircraft with his LMG and the regiment won many other awards.
1/11 GR, 5/11 GR and 7/11, all did exceptionally well when deployed for Operation Meghdoot in Northern and Central Glaciers of Siachen. In Operation Pawan, fought in Sri Lanka, 1/11 GR and 3/11 GR participated and got numerous awards.
All battalions of the regiment were deployed for counter insurgency operations in North East at some stage or the other. 1/11 GR was awarded the COAS’ unit citation for excellent performance during Operations Bajrang and Rhino in Assam in the early 1990s. 2/11 GR was awarded COAS unit citation for excellent performance in the Kashmir valley in 1989-92.
During Operation Rakshak in J & K, 2/Lt Puneet Dutt of 1/11 GR was awarded ‘Ashoka Chakra’ (posthumously) for exceptional bravery in 1997. On 20 Jul 1997, while in a cordon and search operation in Kashmir Valley, a group of foreign terrorists had fortified themselves in a three storied house which dominated the area around and afforded excellent field of fire. The militants skillfully used the house and the protection it afforded to thwart all attempts by the army, until 2nd Lieutenant Puneet Dutt, daunted by the heavy terrorist fire, leaped across the boundary wall, charged through a hail of bullets, placed and exploded pole charges, thus creating an entry into the house. Dutt had by now killed three hardcore foreign terrorists single handedly and was fatally injured in this gallant action. He was awarded Ashok Chakara posthumously.
During Operation Vijay mid-1999 at Kargil, 1/11 GR performed with utmost dedication and devotion, and carved a niche for itself in the annals of the history of Indian Army. Capt Manoj Kumar Pandey was awarded PVC posthumously for exceptional gallantry. On the night of 2/3 July, 1/11 GR’s progress in the Kargil Sector was halted by a determined enemy. Sizing up the situation, Captain Pandey led his platoon along a narrow ridge and in a display of rare courage charged at the enemy through a hail of bullets. He was wounded in the shoulder and leg and yet he pressed on with grim determination till he closed in a ferocious hand to hand combat and cleared the first bunker. Inspired by his spontaneous valor, the troops he was leading charged at the remaining enemy. Unmindful of his grievous wounds, Capt Pandey rushed from bunker to bunker to clear them, till he finally succumbed to his injuries. He was awarded Param Vir Chakra posthumously.
1/11 GR was awarded COAS Unit Citation for the second time and the Battle Honour ‘Batalik’ and ‘Theatre Honour Kargil’ for various acts of gallantry. Eventually, 1/11 GR has also been conferred with the title of ‘Bravest of the Brave’.
11 GR participated in two overseas missions- twice in Lebanon in 2002-03 and 2009-10 and in Congo in 2006-07. At present, four battalions — 1/11 GR, 5/11 GR, 6/11 GR & 7/11 GR — of the regiment are in peace station while 2/11 GR is serving in Siachin Glacier (Op Meghdoot), 3/11 GR is in Kargil. Wherever the battle field the Regiment has carved a niche for itself and acquitted itself honourably in keeping with its motto “We the metaphor for Victory”. The 1st Battalion Sikkim Scouts was raised at 11 GRRC and moved to its permanent location under Eastern Command.
1. 2/11 GR – SHINGO
2. 5/11 GR – BOGRA
3. 1/11 GR – BATALIK
1. 2/11 GR – J&K 1971
2. 5/11 GR – EAST PAKISTAN 1971
3. 7/11 GR – J&K 1971
4. 1/11 GR – KARGIL 1999
—By Col Anil Bhat, VSM, with inputs from 11GR