A historic day. A memorial was unveiled honouring Aldershot’s Gurkha history. Fuel is running out in the UK!
I woke up early at 7 am and started to get ready for the unveiling of the historic statue of the first Nepali Gurkha soldier to win the Victoria Cross, Kulbir Thapa Magar, in Princes gardens in Aldershot.
Statue of the winner of the first Victoria Cross (VC) Kulbir Thapa Magar
The weather was cool with patchy rain in the early morning but it soon disappeared and the day was beautiful during the programme. Very many people travelled from faraway for this opening ceremony.
As a part of the executive team of Greater Rushmoor Nepali community UK , I went to help prepare the venue before the opening ceremony began. Kulbir Thapa Magar became the first Nepalese Gurkha recipient of the Victoria Cross out of 13 VCs.
The bronze statue, commissioned by the Greater Rushmoor Nepali Community, depicts Kulbir Thapa Magar carrying a wounded soldier from the Leicestershire regiment off the battlefield during World War One.
Wreaths were laid at the foot of the statue to commemorate the service and sacrifice of the Gurkhas and the ceremony also included prayers of dedication. It highlighted a bond between Nepal and the UK dating back more than two centuries.
The whole idea for the statue came from the Greater Rushmoor Nepali Community and the statue was funded entirely by private donations. My husband Shree Prasad Mabo and I also contributed to this fund. The names of all the donors are carved around the statue.
As a part of the community, I felt very proud to see that most of the donors were actually the Gurkha veterans and their families. As secretary of the GRNC, I also felt very proud, at this moment, to be part of the Gurkha family (Nepali).
The Lama and the priest presiding and reading religious texts at the unveiling ceremony.
Over 1 million Gurkhas were enlisted and over 150,00 Gurkhas died for Britain during the first and second world wars as well as in modern wars such as in Iraq , Afghanistan and Iran.
The campaign that Joanna Lumley brought to the attention of the media in the early 2000’s , concerned the Gurkhas not being able to become British citizens and not being able to claim equal pensions.
The Gurkha soldiers in the British Army were prejudiced and segregated from day one. They were compensated 1800% – 2000% less in pay and pension compared to any British soldier. This was completely unfair.
Since the enlistment of the Gurkhas in the British Army , the British government have decorated the Gurkha soldiers with various battle honours ( the Victoria Cross being the highest), Gurkha soldiers winning 13 VCs in all. But Britain has a shameful secret which is hidden from the British public and the wider world.
Many friends and staff members from work and the community have asked me about my ethnicity. I have explained to them about the Gurkhas (Nepali), and that I am part of it. They are concerned about the Gurkha Lives Matter and they question themselves. “ Why did we not have an opportunity to study history about the Gurkhas at school, college or university? It has gone on for more than 200 years. This is stupid !” My feeling is that the history of the Gurkhas is important and should be included in the school curriculum because it is part of British history. They fought and helped to colonise so many nations throughout the world. So many people died defending Great Britain and their contribution should never be forgotten.
In fact, many members of British army veteran and the publics supporting the Gurkha lives matter movement and a number of them came to encourage them during their protests and hunger strikes. My hope is that the history of the Gurkha soldiers will also be recognised as being an integral part of British history and education.
Back to everyday life ! I saw a very long queue at Tesco supermarket on the way to the programme so didn’t bother to stay in the queue but decided to go back later in the evening.
I went to work straight after the end of the programme and was quite busy. All the staff were rushing to go home after work and after talking to my co-workers about the petrol situation I dashed to the petrol station. I couldn’t get any fuel even though I went to many places.
Unfortunately, I couldn’t manage to go to work next day so I contacted my work and explained about the difficulty in getting fuel.
This is the very first time I heard of petrol and diesel fuel running out in the UK .
Today was a truly memorable day for me not only of because of the wonderful ceremony but also because of the problems of getting fuel !
Good night diary