THE sterling contribution that the Gurkhas have made to the storied military history of Great Britain has been once again recognised in the traditional way – 400 more of the famed fighters are to get their P.45 calibre thank-you notes.
It may not happen, of course. Even as we speak, Joanna Lumley has ordered her southern fleet to steam towards London, while the Daily Mail has mobilised four divisions around the Palace of Westminster. There’s hope for the plucky little blighters yet.
But if they do lose their jobs can they count on the same magnificent generosity extended by the British state to those other native militias deemed surplus to requirements as the sun set on the Empire? We’re talking, of course about the UDR and the RUC, all of whom got pay-outs in what TV game shows have started calling “life-changing” amounts.
You have to doubt it – Squinter’s not even sure they’ll be allowed into the UK once they get the beetle, much less be allowed to queue at the job centre.
Pondering all of this led Squinter to wonder why it was that the Gurkhas never wielded their kukris in service of Her Maj in in the rolling fields of South Armagh or the teeming estates of Belfast and Derry. Those fearsome curved knives of theirs – kukris, they’re called – would have put the wind up the Hucklebucks, never mind disaffected urchins like Squinter and his pals. Doubtless, given the acknowledged extent of collusion in the city of Belfast and further afield, even that regiment would soon have been up to its neck in all sorts of skullduggery and it could only have been a matter of time before, like every other part of the British war machine, they were turned into the, ah, Shoukris’ kukris.
The only reason that Squinter can think of for the failure to deploy this famous fighting force here is that there were enough small, violent men in British uniform in This Here Pravince in the form of the Black Watch – the original Poison Dwarves. Makes sense, you have to suppose – there’s no point in replacing like with like. Legend has it that the Gurkhas were able to fight and march on a per diem of a handful of rice and a thimble of water; but we were fully aware that the heavily tattooed and malnourished little fellas from the tough tenements subsisted on a daily ration of Wagon Wheels and dirty books. That’s low-maintenance whatever way you look at it; and if there was a significant amount of extra-barrackular activity in the form of quaffing McEwan’s at night in the unlit recesses of Blessed Oliver Plunkett Primary School, at least the wee men got off their faces with their own money. Bless.
Sadly, the Black Watch is no more, having been incorporated with four other Scots regiments into a new outfit – the Royal Regiment of Scotland. That new unit’s first real sniff of action came in 2009 when they were the spearhead of Pancha’i Palang (Operation Panther’s Claw), a co-ordinated air and land assault on Taliban strongholds in Afghanistan. Which reminds Squinter of the attack the Poison Dwarves launched on barricades in and around the upper Lenadoon area in 1973 – we seem to recall it was named Operation Fenian Bassa, the last two words of which the scrawny little tykes were already all too familiar with.