Armed Forces Minister inspects new Gurkha soldiers

Photo by Sergeant Jamie Peters RLC.

Minister for the Armed Forces Mark Lancaster inspected Gurkha recruits as they completed their military training at the Infantry Training Centre (ITC) in Catterick today

In autumn last year, these recruits were among thousands who applied to join the British Army.

Five thousand of the applicants took part in a rigorous selection in Nepal and 270 of them were successful and started at ITC in February this year.

Marching proudly onto the parade square at Helles Barracks, the recruits of the Gurkha Company – part of 2nd Infantry Training Battalion – marked the finish of their 39-week infantry training course in front of hundreds of friends and family.

Mr Lancaster inspected the troops and took the salute from the dais as the new Gurkha soldiers marched past.

“I’m delighted to congratulate the Gurkha recruits on the completion of their infantry training and on their passing out parade today,” said the Armed Forces Minister, who is a former Queen’s Gurkha Engineer

“It was marvellous to see so many friends and family attend and great to see the next generation of Gurkhas continue their historic link with the British Army.”

In his speech to the new Gurkha soldiers and their families he said:

“You are fiercely proud of your history and your roots. We are fiercely proud of that common heritage that we are now celebrating between Nepal and the United Kingdom in its 201st year. Please remember your roots they are so important to you as you move forward in your career in the British Army.”

Following the parade, the Minister met recruits and staff at the School of Infantry headquarters of which ITC is a part, gaining an insight into the organisation which is the British Army’s main infantry training establishment.

He also had the opportunity to see the Gurkhas perform a Khukuri dance, a Taekwondo display and an informal farewell parade in Bhanbhagta VC Square.

ITC Catterick trains almost 2,000 recruits each year and has been open since 1 May 1995 when it took over the responsibility for Infantry training from the three Army Infantry Training Battalions then based at Catterick, Strensall and Ouston.

As well as all the initial training for the Infantry for both Regular and Reserves, ITC also conducts phase 3 training for the Infantry Corp of Drums, Pipes and Drums and All Arms Drill courses with the School of Ceremonial. It also runs Pre-Parachute Selection courses for trainee soldiers joining the Parachute Regiment and for volunteers for 16 Air Assault Brigade.