Better to Die than Live a Coward: My Life in the Gurkhas
By Colour-Sergeant Kailash Limbu
In Gurkha we hear, for the first time in two hundred years of service to the British crown, the authentic voice of a Gurkha soldier. Never before has a serving Gurkha written an account of his own life.
In the summer of 2006, Colour-Sargeant Kailash Khebang's platoon was sent to relieve and occupy a police compound in the town of Now Zad in Helmand. He was told to prepare for a forty-eight hour operation. In the end, he and his men were under siege for thirty-one days - one of the longest such sieges in the whole of the Afghan campaign.
Kailash Khebang recalls the terrifying and exciting details of those thirty-one days - in which they killed an estimated one hundred Taliban fighters - and intersperses them with the story of his own life as a villager from the Himalayas. He grew up in a place without roads or electricity and didn't see a car until he was fifteen.
Kailash's descriptions of Gurkha training and rituals - including how to use the lethal Kukri knife - are eye-opening and fascinating. They combine with the story of his time in Helmand to create a unique account of one man's life as a Gurkha.
Colour Sergeant Kailash Limbu was born in 1981 in Khebang village, one of the most remote in the whole of Nepal. He joined the 2nd Batallion Royal Gurkha Rifles in 1999 and undertook four tours of active service in Afghanistan. He has also been on operations in Bosnia and Sierra Leone. Married with two children, he is currently serving in the UK.
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- Publication date:
21 May 2015
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I was completely bowled over by Kailash's book and read it with a beating heart and dry mouth. I felt as though I was at his side, hearing the shells and bullets, enjoying the jokes and listening in the scary dead of night. The skill with which he has included his childhood and training is immense, always discovered with ease in the narrative: it actually felt as though I was watching, was IN a film with him. It brought me nearer than I have ever been not only to the mind of the universal soldier but to a hill boy of Nepal and a hugely impressive Gurkha. I raced through it and couldn't put it down: it reads like a thriller. If you want to know anything about the Gurkhas, read this book, and be prepared for a thrilling and dangerous trip — Joanna Lumley