Nepali Times
Unsung heroes


BROTHERS-IN-ARMS: Bill Jenkins remembers the forgotten Gurkhas in Dharan
To the tune of a bagpipe, he bows his head low and then salutes, raising his right hand to his forehead. In this way, Bill Jenkins of Liverpool, UK remembers the Gurkha soldiers who lost their lives in World War I and II at the cemetry of the Gurkha soldiers, in the premises of BP Koirala Medical Science Academy in Dharan.

"I want to remember them," he says, simply.

Seventy-five-year-old Jenkins, father of three children, says he came to Dharan from halfway around the world to remember the forgotten Gurkhas. He recalls the name of Rit Bahadur Rai of Gairi Gaun, son of Nara Bahadur Rai and Durga Laxmi, who was killed on 27 July, 1941 during a battle in Iraq at the tender age of 16. Rai is among 47,000 Gurkhas who died in the two World Wars. A further 150,000 Gurkhas were also wounded.

Jenkins says, "I read his name at the Basra Cremation Memorial in Iraq in 2003, but it isn't on official record in the UK defence ministry." He is now in Nepal to help set the record straight. Like Rai, the names of many Gurkhas who died in these wars aren't officially recorded. Jenkins, who served in the Royal Marines, started collecting the names of these unsung heroes in 2003. He obtained names from the Commonwealth War Graves commission and by visiting various places in Nepal.

Jenkins has been trying to find Rai's house but can't locate Gairi Gaun. "I don't have a formal education, but have brains enough to now that something has to be done," he explains. "By taking the names of some Gurkhas, I am remembering all Gurkha veterans who lost their lives in World War I and II for the British crown. The British government shouldn't overlook those who die in its service."

He says he has submitted a list of 43,000 names to the Indian and British embassies, and believes these governments can't contrive an excuse to ignore them for much longer. He also directs ire at the Nepali Government, which he says celebrates the achievements of the Gurkhas only in speeches.

"I am not associated with any political party, religion or Gurkha organisation. I will be raising the issues of Gurkhas all my life. The British Government has failed to recognise them but I am proud of the Gurkhas," he says.

1. Patriot
a very endearing story.

2. May
May your tribe increase, Bill Jenkins. Thank you for your great work to remember the bravest of the brave.

3. Sargam
True friends don't stay for the good times. They help tide you through your bad times.

4. Tashi Gurung
Sharam Dharam bhaye ko manche yesto hooncha! Bill Jenkins, you are a man with great humanity and gratitude, I salute you for your good heart and humanity!

5. D.Rai
Dear Mr. Jenkins, It is in deed wonderful to see you paying tribute to our grandfathers, fathers, uncles, and brothers who lost their lives in WW I, & WWII. One of my uncles from who was only 18 years old died in WWII and as per my mother they don't even know where he died. As our parents and grand parents were not educated or had the benefits of today's technology and computer world they could not locate his cemetery or the place of death. So, by your kind gesture you have at least given my mother's family some peace. Once again, thank you very much and a hearty Gurkhali namaskar to you and the fellow WWII veterans of UK.

6. Roshan Rai
Huge thanks to Mr Jenkins for recognizing the unsong heros.

7. Santosh
Thank you!

8. Anuj
Small things matter ! Mr. Jenkin's empathy towards Gurkha really touched me. Lord Buddha bless us all.

9. Bill Jenkins
Nemaste, Two days before leaving Nepal for the UK (November 2009), I had some information and offers of help from the people of east Nepal. I am now certain that the village of my 'forgotten Gurkha' is near OKHALDUNGA. So once again I will be returning to Nepal to find his family. Perhaps we may have a wee get together in either GARIGAON or OKHALDUNGA and at last I will be able to keep the promise I made in Iraq in 1941 - to pay tribute in my own way. Bill Jenkins Liverpool UK

10. bishnu
My head bow to Mr Jenkin. you are true hero on unforgotton gurkhas. your hard work should be granted by nepalese government and honored you.they should learn from you. Mr Jenkin we solute you! nepali people solute you and most importantly Brave men and women of gurkhas solute you. bishnu p kapri kenmore ny

(11 JAN 2013 - 17 JAN 2013)