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P.D. GRIFFIN
ENCYCLOPEDIA OF MODERN BRITISH ARMY REGIMENTS

Paras on Salisbury Plain on 16 Air Assault Brigade's exercise

Paras on Salisbury Plain on 16 Air Assault Brigade's exercise, 2003. (MoD)

A shortened version of Elgar's Pomp and Circumstance March No. 4 is the regimental slow march.

The three battalion bands formed in 1947-8 were amalgamated into one prior to the restructure of army bands in 1994.

TRADITIONS

Paras' are short on regimental history but unsurpassed in regimental pride. Recruits learn about early operations at Bruneval, Normandy and Arnhem, as well as the more recent Falkland Islands conflict, while undergoing infantry training, which extends to P Company, the harsh pre-parachute selection test devised in the 1940s to produce soldiers that will be equal to the particular dangers faced by the paratrooper.

Para training looks for courage, peak physical Fitness and a self-reliance that is unmatched by any other unit outside the airborne brotherhood. Soldiers who survive P Company are packed off to the RAF and Parachute Training School (motto Knowledge dispels fear) to qualify in their chosen role for the 'Maroon Machine'.

On Airborne Forces Day, veterans of the Parachute Regimental Association gather together. Individual battle anniversaries used to be observed within the battalions but representatives of the regiment are still sent to events on the Continent that commemorate wartime operations at the battle sites.

In 1955 the first of the regiment's Shetland pony mascots was adopted: Pegasus in 1 Para, Bruneval in 2 Para and Coed Goch Samswn in 3 Para.

THE GURKHA BRIGADE

The Gurkha Brigade is the collective term for the various Gurkha battalions and units that have been integrated into the British Army since four regiments of Gurkha Rifles (the 2nd, 6th, 7th and 10th) were transferred from the Indian Army after Indian independence in 1947.

Gurkhas come from the mountainous principality of Ghorka in Nepal. Their long relationship with the British Army began in northern India in 1813, when their warlike expansion into neighbouring lands clashed with British interests and a determined conflict ensued in which both sides grew to admire the other's bravery.

The army finally accepted the Gurkhas' offer of help in the Indian Mutiny and has sustained the bond ever since.

Brigade headquarters are at the airfield camp near Netheravon in Wiltshire.

DRESS DISTINCTIONS

The black Kilmarnock cap, adopted around 1860, is worn with No. l dress; the Kashmiri, a stiff-brimmed hat based on the slouch hat worn from 1901 in hot climes, is reserved for service dress. In working dress the beret is worn, green for the Royal Gurkha Rifles and blue for the support regiments.

Badges are designed around the Gurkhas' heavy knife that is carried on the back of the belt on all orders of dress. The kukri is a close combat weapon with a curved blade which broadens to a point. The badge of the Royal Gurkha Rifles (RGR) and the brigade band has two crossed kukris with a crown above. The Queen's Gurkha Engineers' kukris are embellished with the RE grenade and motto within the RE crowned wreath, the Queen's Gurkha Signals' kukris lie between the Royal Signals' figure of Mercury and the motto, and the Queen's Own Gurkha Logistic Regiment wear the star of the Royal Logistic Corps badge with the crossed kukris thereon. On the Kashmiri, RGR wear their badge pinned to a patch of Hunting Stuart tartan, a distinction of 10GR worn to mark their affiliation to the Royal Scots.

No. 1 dress is rifle green in the RGR and the band, and blue in the support regiments. 'Blues' are distinguished by trouser stripes that correspond to those on the uniforms of the associated corps, Royal Engineers, Royal Signals or Royal Logistic Corps.

Subaltern in RGR No. 1 dress with the Queen's Truncheon in 2000

Subaltern in RGR No. 1 dress with the Queen's Truncheon in 2000. Note the Royal Green Jackets' badge on his black belt. (Grenadier Publishing)

RGR uniform collars are underlined with scarlet piping, a peculiarity of 2GR worn to signify its special relationship with the King's Royal Rifle Corps, whose green jackets were regimentally coloured with scarlet facings. Belts and buttons conform to the Rifles' black pattern. The waist belt is worn over a black cummerbund in service dress. The black pouch belt, worn by officers across the shoulder, is ornamented with the badges of affiliated regiments: the Royal Green Jackets' on the front and the King's Royal Hussars' on the back pouch. The silver ram's head, from which hangs the whistle chain, commemorates the Sirmoor Battalion's assault on Fort Koonja in 1824.

The Royal Gurkha Rifles

Gurkha pipers date from the old days of Empire when Indian Army units liked to emulate the sounds of Scottish regiments stationed in India. Their uniforms are identified by tartans: McLecce in the Queen's Gurkha Engineers, Red Grant in the Queen's Gurkha Signals and McDuff in the Queen's Own Gurkha Logistic Regiment. Pipers of the Royal Gurkha Rifles wear the Douglas tartan of the Cameronians (Scottish Rifles), a legacy of tiieir affiliated regiment the 7GR, whose uniform was marked out by Douglas tartan trews.

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