Since 1815 Britain has been recruiting tribesmen from the Nepalese Hills in South Asia to serve in our armed forces. Ghurkas have never failed. Their bravery is second to none. Each hopeful recruit has to run up a steep mountain for almost an hour carrying 70 pounds of rocks in a basket on his back.
Ghurkas prefer their razor-sharp double-edged Nepalese kukri swords to any automatic rifle. But, believe it or not, they have also developed an extraordinary reputation for peace-keeping. They are very good at it. Maybe because everyone else is so scared of them.
Now they are being used for two of Britain's most difficult military missions.
In this country we have grown strangely fond of the wooden products designed in Scandinavia and sold to us unassembled with a bag of screws and minimal instructions. If you have ever visited a furniture store called IKEA you will know exactly what I'm talking about.
IKEA's goods are made of simple materials and are remarkably cheap -- provided you can cope with putting the wretched things together. The British stores attract huge crowds. Recently there was a riot when a new one opened.
Now the boys from Nepal have come to the rescue. A small band of battle-hardened Ghurkas have been hired to keep the peace at IKEA's store in the central English city of Nottingham.
Now, Nottingham, once home to Robin Hood, is one of our most crime-ridden cities. It makes LA look like Salt Lake City. But just four grinning unarmed Ghurkas has stopped crime dead in its tracks. The authorities are so impressed that more Ghurkas are now being deployed on the city's buses, and they may get to patrol more public transport throughout the land.
What's so special about them?
Well, I simply cite the diary of one of our great military leaders, Field Marshal Viscount Slim, who commanded Britain's 14th army during the Second World War in Japan. "A Ghurka patrol returned from the jungle with a basket, from which they removed three neatly severed Japanese heads – what remained was freshly caught fish. 'Sir', they said, 'we have brought you your dinner.'"
by Ed Boyle