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  #51  
Old 11-14-2019, 10:20 AM
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Originally Posted by Elendil's Heir View Post
An old one:

In Heaven, the British run the government, the French the brothels, the Italians the restaurants and the Germans the car-repair garages.

In Hell, the British run the restaurants, the French run the car-repair garages, the Italians the brothels and the Germans the government.
That's what I was thinking of, but the version I know goes:

In heaven, the police are British, the chefs are French, the mechanics are German, the lovers are Italian, and everything is run by the Swiss.

In hell, the police are German, the chefs are British, the mechanics are French, the lovers are Swiss, and everything is run by the Italians.
  #52  
Old 11-14-2019, 10:51 AM
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Heheh. Yours is better.
  #53  
Old 11-14-2019, 01:32 PM
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Originally Posted by lingyi View Post
I've known a former Gurkha and for all I know, may have met former SAS or Delta Force member. But I never want to meet Sonny Puzikas, former Spetnaz, even with how much he smiles! https://www.youtube.com/results?sear...=spetnaz+sonny
I think the thing is, an individual Gurkha is a formidable fighting man, due to various mental and societal factors. But the Gurkha battalions aren't trained, equipped or employed as elite units- they're typically serving alongside other regular line infantry units- that's how they deployed in the Falklands, for example. I haven't been able to find out much about their Iraq/Afghanistan deployments, but I'd wager it's the same sort of thing.

So Gurkhas themselves are some of the best individual fighting men on the planet, but the units they're in are regular light infantry units.
  #54  
Old 11-19-2019, 01:32 PM
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I think the thing is, an individual Gurkha is a formidable fighting man, due to various mental and societal factors. But the Gurkha battalions aren't trained, equipped or employed as elite units- they're typically serving alongside other regular line infantry units- that's how they deployed in the Falklands, for example. I haven't been able to find out much about their Iraq/Afghanistan deployments, but I'd wager it's the same sort of thing.

So Gurkhas themselves are some of the best individual fighting men on the planet, but the units they're in are regular light infantry units.
Even this is a wild generalization, IMO. The Gurkhas are essentially third world mercenaries recruited by the british army to fill the ranks, with a whole lot of historical window-dressing as their main distinguishing feature relative to all the other non-UK citizens who are also serving in the british army for exactly the same reason.

As far as I am aware there's nothing much to suggest that they are overall better or worse than other army units. Physically fitter and handier with a large knife, certainly. But there are many things a solder in a modern army needs to do and some of them many Gurkhas struggle with just as much as the average british-born squaddie struggles with running up mountains. Fundamentally, modern armies are about the organisation and the training, not the human raw material.
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Old 11-19-2019, 02:56 PM
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...The Gurkhas are essentially third world mercenaries....
They beg to differ: https://www.gurkhabde.com/gurkhas-an...erm-mercenary/

And they have big knives.
  #56  
Old 11-19-2019, 07:19 PM
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Fundamentally, modern armies are about the organisation and the training, not the human raw material.
HernŠn Cortťs would agree with you.
  #57  
Old 11-19-2019, 09:57 PM
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HernŠn Cortťs would agree with you.
  #58  
Old 11-21-2019, 12:35 PM
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Originally Posted by lingyi View Post
I've known a former Gurkha and for all I know, may have met former SAS or Delta Force member. But I never want to meet Sonny Puzikas, former Spetnaz, even with how much he smiles! https://www.youtube.com/results?sear...=spetnaz+sonny
Wasn't he that Czech interior decorator?
  #59  
Old 11-21-2019, 12:51 PM
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Wasn't he that Czech interior decorator?
The one whose room looked like shit?
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Old 11-21-2019, 01:10 PM
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Yup.

And washes his balls with snow.

Do Gurkha units train for that?

Last edited by Leo Bloom; 11-21-2019 at 01:12 PM.
  #61  
Old 11-21-2019, 01:35 PM
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Fundamentally, modern armies are about the organisation and the training, not the human raw material.
I think we're saying basically the same thing; Gurkhas themselves may be formidable raw material, but the units they serve in aren't anything particularly special, because they're not trained, equipped or intended to serve as special operations units.

Honestly, I'd guess one main reason to keep the Gurkha regiments around would be to have a force that they can send places without having much in the way of casualty repercussions back home. I mean, is your average Briton in some random Midlands town going to be as wound up about a Gurkha getting killed as he would if it was Tommy Atkins from the next town over?
  #62  
Old 11-21-2019, 10:58 PM
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One anecdote from the Korea war. My father was on the front lines in a foxhole one night and on watch. A knife at his throat, a pat on his helmet, and the whisper "yankee" and then vanished silently in the night. Next morning, all on the opposing line were dead with slit throats. Not a peep.

Never officially in Korea...but take that anecdote for what it's worth.
  #63  
Old 11-22-2019, 01:04 AM
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Never officially in Korea...but take that anecdote for what it's worth.
Who was never officially in Korea? Your father?
  #64  
Old 11-23-2019, 01:42 AM
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Who was never officially in Korea? Your father?
Gurkhas. Father was US Army
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Old 11-23-2019, 08:16 AM
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If these silent without a trace killers were so effective, it makes you wonder why they werenít just used all along the line in Korea... or why they were "never officially in Korea."
  #66  
Old 11-23-2019, 10:35 AM
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If these silent without a trace killers were so effective, it makes you wonder why they weren’t just used all along the line in Korea... or why they were "never officially in Korea."
Brits had other obligations at the time besides Korea. The Malayan Emergency was in full swing then, and required a lot of troops. Including, per the wiki, seven partial Gurkha battalions(!), the rebuilding of the Special Air Service, and it still wasn't enough men. https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Malayan_Emergency

It sounds like China Guy's dad may have been asleep. Not the first time that happened on night watch. Or the Gurkha in question may have been a Hollywood ninja, who knows?

They're trained infantry who come from a martial culture, they are well led, they have an experienced cadre to teach them how to be a soldier vs being a warrior, and they benefit from a rigorous selection process. Of course they're going to be better infantry than an infantry unit that doesn't have those benefits. Does that make them 'the best'? To which I again ask, "The best at what?"

Last edited by Gray Ghost; 11-23-2019 at 10:37 AM. Reason: Got the story wrong at first.
  #67  
Old 11-23-2019, 11:14 AM
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The Gurkha anecdote I know, almost certainly apocryphal, involves a general asking for volunteers for a dangerous mission. The Gurkhas immediately raise their hands.

General: “You’ll be outnumbered.”

Gurkhas: “Fine.”

General: “You’ll have to jump from an airplane.”

Gurkhas: “Fine.”

General:”OK then, how many parachutes?”

Gurkhas: “We get parachutes?”
  #68  
Old 11-23-2019, 12:34 PM
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Brits had other obligations at the time besides Korea. The Malayan Emergency was in full swing then, and required a lot of troops. Including, per the wiki, seven partial Gurkha battalions(!), the rebuilding of the Special Air Service, and it still wasn't enough men. https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Malayan_Emergency

It sounds like China Guy's dad may have been asleep. Not the first time that happened on night watch. Or the Gurkha in question may have been a Hollywood ninja, who knows?
I’m not asking why Gurkhas were or were not in Korea (even though the Brits most definitely were). I’m trying to suss out details of this story, because it really sounds apocryphal and I hate seeing this kind of "friend of a friend" or even just "friend/uncle/dad/whoever said" second-hand story go unchallenged. Not that I doubt China Guy is relaying the story as he received it accurately, but the elements that I find troubling are:

1) Some unit (which hasn’t even been specifically identified as Gurkhas, but this is a thread about Gurkhas...) managed to wipe out a whole bunch of North Korean or communist Chinese troops. Silently. At night.

2) They did this without it being connected to any greater purpose. No offensive, no breakthrough. They just did it because... they just felt like killing?

3) Whoever these people were, they were never officially in Korea.

Who were these secret killers, what possible reason could there have been for keeping their presence in Korea a longstanding (to the present day) secret? And if they’re so darn effective, why did the war end in a stalemate? Why didn’t these stealthy killers get deployed as part of a concerted effort the end the stalemate, either locally or generally?

*deep breaths*

I get it. There is a mythos around the Gurkhas. It’s probably part of the reason we have this thread. As I’ve indicated before, I don’t see any reason to buy into that mythos. But, if the story China Guy relates was true and (as I’ve inferred from it being posted in this thread, otherwise I’m really scratching my head) about Gurkhas, then, hey, maybes there’s something to that mythos. I just want to better understand the details of the claim, so I can evaluate it properly.

Last edited by ASL v2.0; 11-23-2019 at 12:38 PM.
  #69  
Old 11-23-2019, 01:07 PM
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Originally Posted by ASL v2.0 View Post
Iím not asking why Gurkhas were or were not in Korea (even though the Brits most definitely were). Iím trying to suss out details of this story, because it really sounds apocryphal and I hate seeing this kind of "friend of a friend" or even just "friend/uncle/dad/whoever said" second-hand story go unchallenged. Not that I doubt China Guy is relaying the story as he received it accurately, but the elements that I find troubling are:

1) Some unit (which hasnít even been specifically identified as Gurkhas, but this is a thread about Gurkhas...) managed to wipe out a whole bunch of North Korean or communist Chinese troops. Silently. At night.

2) They did this without it being connected to any greater purpose. No offensive, no breakthrough. They just did it because... they just felt like killing?

3) Whoever these people were, they were never officially in Korea.

Who were these secret killers, what possible reason could there have been for keeping their presence in Korea a longstanding (to the present day) secret? And if theyíre so darn effective, why did the war end in a stalemate? Why didnít these stealthy killers get deployed as part of a concerted effort the end the stalemate, either locally or generally?

*deep breaths*

I get it. There is a mythos around the Gurkhas. Itís probably part of the reason we have this thread. As Iíve indicated before, I donít see any reason to buy into that mythos. But, if the story China Guy relates was true and (as Iíve inferred from it being posted in this thread, otherwise Iím really scratching my head) about Gurkhas, then, hey, maybes thereís something to that mythos. I just want to better understand the details of the claim, so I can evaluate it properly.
Yep, it's apocryphal---this whole subject really doesn't belong in GQ---and as I wrote, I think the most likely explanation is that CG's pop fell asleep or micro-dozed, only to wake up to some patrolling infantryman accosting him. Aside, patrolling like that, at night, amidst dug-in, twitchy soldiers, is a fantastic way to get shot by your own side. A frequent order back in WW2 or Korea, when dug in at night, lacking night vision, and facing an enemy that had the rep for trying to infiltrate lines, was "If it's outside your hole and scurrying around, shoot it." Hard on the locals, and local wildlife though.

My further guess is that the guy who shook up CG's dad, was lost himself.

As for wiping out a group of enemy at night, 'silently', it happens. To the US---thinking of that four or so Army sniper team in Iraq that managed to get themselves killed in their hide site---and to other countries' people. Part of the infantry's job is to see what's out there. To do that, they need to patrol. Night helps conceal movements. Night induces fatigued or poorly trained men to sleep instead of watch. Ambushing sleeping men can often be done with no losses to the ambusher, and if using knives, clubs, e-tools, the odd angry shot, what have you, the fight might not be overheard and comprehended by other enemy.

So a group of well trained infantry with the initiative, trying to patrol as part of a greater effort to win the reconnaissance fight, might quietly and entirely kill a group of hostiles. As to whether they were Gurkhas or not, I don't know. Certainly there were a multitude of nationalities fighting for the UN. It was dark and the observer was rattled. It's not like they compared military IDs at a checkpoint under lights. He might have mistaken some other Central Asiatic fighter for a Nepalese. Maybe the Gurkha was on TDY? I dunno.

As to the last point, consider the Wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. I would count the men of the 75th Ranger Regiment to be in actuality, what the Gurkhas are in myth. (Minus the kukris and enemy mutilation.) They train to be among the best possible at small unit, direct action raiding, and individual Ranger teams are able to infiltrate enemy lines, identify isolated/unwary enemy personnel, and kill them if the mission requires it.

Wars aren't won that way. They are won when the enemy loses the will to keep fighting. Doing all of the above things helps with that---and may convince other enemy on the line, who've just woken up to seeing their dead buddies in the adjacent hole, to quit and be somewhere else---but it doesn't go towards convincing enemy decision makers to stop fighting.
  #70  
Old 11-23-2019, 01:21 PM
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GG, thatís all fine, but to the extent Iím interested in evaluating the... historicity of the event, Iíd be most interested to get China Guyís impression, as he is the most proximate source.

I doubt doubt anything youíve said. I tend to kind of go that way myself, but again, Iím interested in China Guyís impressions before I settle on ďprobably apocryphal.Ē Call it a useful exercise.
  #71  
Old 11-23-2019, 11:33 PM
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That was it in a nut shell. Father's story to son a couple of times around the campfire on the 3-4 times he ever talked about combat (Philippines at the end of WW2 and Korean War). Had flashbacks and un-diagnosed PTSD. Visited me a few years back in Seattle, and still woke up with combat nightmares. He might have been asleep, but was certain that whomever it was identified him by the helmet. And equally certain that the opposing enemy were dead with slit throats and he didn't hear a thing. He was sure they were Gurkhas FWIW.

I worked with a retired Japanese translator at UBS in the early 1990's in Tokyo. He grew up in the US until he was 16, then went to Japan. Witnessed the Dolittle raid from the ground in Tokyo. Fought the British in Burma as an officer in the Imperial Guards. When I knew him, still wore an Omega watch he took off a dead British officer after a battle. Joked about how the other 3 survivors of a battle tried to wash with the British soap, and he educated them that it wasn't soap but cheese rations. Marched overland for weeks from Burma to Thailand to surrender at the end of the war. Was the last Japanese soldier repatriated at the end of the war because he was bilingual Japanese English. He came to my wedding in Tokyo. It's been a while, and while I don't know for a fact, I'm sure he has passed. I loved that man. RIP Ito-san.

He ran up against the Gurkhas in Burma, who he found formidable. His words: "They blood their kukris if drawn. We didn't like to go up against them."

FYI, Mr. Ito and my father had lunch one time in Tokyo when I worked there for UBS in the 1990's. I was nervous but they got along famously well as one old war horse to another, and kept up an irregular but comradery correspondence for a few years.
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Old 11-25-2019, 12:51 AM
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The "Ghurka" in Korea might have been a Turk, who were in Korea.
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