BETWEEN THE WARS
Having returned to Abbottabad in November 1919 the Battalion sent a draft of 3 Gurkha Officers and 200 men to 4/3 GR who were in action in Waziristan. In August 1920 it deployed to Kohat on the North West Frontier to join the Kohat-Kurram Force, relieving 1/11 GR. It is of interest to note that 1/11 GR was formed in 1918 from four existing companies, one from each of the regular battalions of the 5th Royal Gurkha Rifles (Frontier Force) and 6 GR. 1/11 GR played a distinguished part in the Third Afghan War. Before it disbanded in 1921 it presented to the 1st Battalion a Krupp mountain gun which had been captured from the Afghans by its original 1st Battalion company at the Battle of Bagh Springs in May 1919.
It is during this time that the name Captain W J Slim first appears in the records. Whilst a subaltern with the Royal Warwickshire Regiment at Gallipoli, Slim witnessed with admiration some of the deeds of 6 GR and resolved to try and serve with the Regiment. He joined the 1st Battalion soon after the First World War. On promotion to Lieutenant Colonel several years later he was transferred to command a battalion of the 7th Gurkha Rifles. This officer was destined to become the Commander of the 14th Army in Burma during the Second World War, Chief of the Imperial General Staff and Governor-General of Australia, without doubt the most distinguished member of the Regiment.
After various small actions the Battalion returned to Abbottabad in October 1921. It was at this time the Rifleman’s pay was increased from 11 to 16 Rupees per month plus 4 Rupees ‘batta’ when on active service. The Battalion’s stay in Abbottabad was interrupted by a month of Internal Security duties in Lahore. In November 1922 it marched to the Malakand where it was to spend the next two years on garrison duty.
On returning from the Malakand in 1924 the Commanding Officer, Lt Col G M Glynton, endowed a family hospital and welfare centre at Abbottabad in memory of his late wife Irene. The first of its kind, this centre was commemorated by a plaque in the Regiment’s Family Welfare Centre. In March 1926 Field Marshal the Lord Birdwood of Anzac was appointed Colonel of the Regiment, and in the same year Rifleman Aimansing Pun was awarded the Albert Medal for a most gallant attempt to save a drowning comrade in the Indus River. Today, Aimansing’s medal is on display in the Gurkha Museum in Winchester.
In 1927 the old Regimental Colours became too fragile for use and by special permission of the King Emperor they were replaced by replicas which were presented by the Colonel of the Regiment. In 1930 the Battalion was once against deployed to the North West Frontier, this time to Razmak in Waziristan. The minor actions which took place were marked by the issue of a clasp ‘NORTH WEST FRONTIER 1930’ to the Indian General Service Medal. The Battalion returned to Abbottabad in 1932. In 1934 His Highness Maharajah Sir Joodha Shamshere Jang Bahadur Rana, Prime Minister of Nepal , was appointed Honorary Colonel of all regiments in the Gurkha Brigade.
The Battalion was deployed to Waziristan again in February 1937 and was soon engaged in heavy fighting with the Pathans during which 3 Officers and 28 Other Ranks were killed and 45 wounded. After ten months on active service the Battalion returned to Abbottabad and then moved to the Malakand for another two year tour of garrison duty.
Having returned to Abbottabad one day after the 1st Battalion in November 1919, the Battalion reorganised to the post-war establishment. In October 1920 it was deployed in Waziristan to help deal with the considerable unrest left in the aftermath of the Third Afghan War. A number of sharp clashes with the tribesman followed during the next two and half years as a result of which ten decorations for gallantry were awarded to members of the Battalion.
In 1924 the Adjutant, Captain J G Bruce, and three young NCOs of the Battalion took part in the Mount Everest Expedition led by Brigadier General the Hon C G Bruce. The Regiment held the Olympic Medal awarded to Lance-Naik Tejbir Bura for his achievements on the Expedition. Captain Bruce also received the Olympic Gold Medal and McGregor Medal. Tejbir’s medal is now on display in the Gurkha Museum in Winchester.
In 1930 the Battalion was selected to provide the guards for the residences of the Viceroy and the Commander-in-Chief in Simla. The combined Pipes and Drums of both Battalions were in this detachment. Every year from 1934 to 1939 the 2nd Battalion won the Gurkha Brigade Hill Race. The silver trophy awarded for this race became British Officers’ Mess property and is now on display at the Gurkha Museum in Winchester.
The Battalion carried out a tour of duty in Razmak from 1934 to 1936 and was again deployed from Abbottabad to Waziristan in February 1937 together with the 1st Battalion. It was involved in operations there until the spring of 1938. Whilst in Waziristan it lost a young Non-Commissioned Officer in circumstances that mingled pride with sorrow. Lance-Naik Lilbahadur Gurung, whilst running down a hillside on withdrawing from a picket with his section, heard a grenade in his haversack ignite. He immediately moved away from his section and warned them of the danger. Whilst he was removing his pack the grenade exploded, killing him. He could have saved himself but at grave risk to the lives of others. He was posthumously awarded the IOM.
The Battalion’s return to Abbottabad was short-lived for it deployed to the North West Frontier yet again in August 1938, remaining there until April 1939. This was the last time it was to serve on the Frontier. The outbreak of the Second World War was now imminent.