After 1945, Gurkhas engaged in combat duties throughout Asia. Their main Depot was in Hong Kong where they are garrisoned until that unique colony was given back to the People’s Republic of China in 1996 (Editors note: the first HQ of the Brigade of Gurkhas after Indian Independence in 1947 was in Malaya from 1948 onwwards, see link, p. 10 for list and info). Gurkhas saw intense action in Malaysia and Borneo in the ‘50s and ‘60s. They also act as border guards in other countries. The British and Indian Army had come to an agreement that on 1 January 1948, the Gurkha Regiments were split with the 2nd, 6th, 7th and 10th GR going over to the British Army and the remaining units staying in India. In 1949, a Gurkha contingent was raised to become the Singapore Police; it remains so to the present. A security force of ex-service Gurkhas began in the early ‘70s and in 1981 became The Gurkha Reserve Unit serving in Brunei.
Indian Military Kukri knives from WW2 and post WW2.
In 1951, the Wilkinson Sword Company was contracted to make a kukri based on the K series and designated the Mark III (see below). Although excellently made and beautifully finished, the new kukri never was fully accepted by the Gurkha soldiers. One theory is they felt the knife was too nice for rough use. The other idea was this new model didn’t “feel” right and was discarded. Whatever the reason, it made this knife extremely rare as only 1,400 were made and many lost over the last 52 years. The Mark or Model III is clearly marked with the numerals 51 over the letters WSC at the ricasso. The karda and chakmak are also marked while no marks appear on the scabbard or frog. Fakes abound.
Images of the Wilkinson Sword Company (WSC) Kukri, 1951.
Left: The handle made of British Birch. JP collection.
Top: Essentially based on the WW2 issue MK 3 Kukri with some modifications.
Right: The WSC Kukri with Karda, Chakmak and Scabbard.
Far right: The stampof Wilkinson Sword Company, 1951. Approx. 1400 pieces were made.
All images SirKukri unless otherwise specified.
The kukri adopted in the ‘50s by the Indian Army varies from the new kukris now being carried by the British Gurkha Regiments. The well made Indian issue has a single fullered and sharply angled blade, scaled horn grips held with two or three rivets, a black leather over wood sheath and two adjustable carrying straps attached to a nicely cut, laced-up frog that fits over a ridge built into the scabbard similar to the original World War I style. There are models with and without a black model chape. Some models have a kards and chakmak with blades of thick steel tucked between the frog and scabbard, but none have the extra pocket for a tinder pouch. Later models have replaced the thicker blades of the small knives with very thin steel to the point of being flimsy. The kukri itself and the smaller blades have a very standardized cho.
Post WW 2 Kothimora Kukri knives with regimental insignia of the 10th Princess Mary´s Own Gurkha Rifles. A high degree of workmanship on the scababrds is found over the 1950 till early 1970´s.
Stamped: Dharan, Nepal 1987.
The Official Standard Issue for British Gurkhas from sometime in the 1950´s till today. The design has somewhat changed over the years but remains largely the same. Pieces from the late 1960´s till 1980´s are orften stamped with "ORDEP" and date.
The British model is smaller and lighter than the previous warhorses of past conflicts and has a highly polished and less angled blade. The overall length is different at 15.5” compared to 17.5” of the typical WW II MK II. It too has a single, fairly shallow fuller and one-piece horn grip with a brass bolster and buttcap of varying thickness. The scabbard is black leather over a wood frame and the frog can be of one piece or a lace-up version with two adjustable carrying straps. There are separate space for a karda and chakmak, but no provision for carrying the tinder pouch of ancient times.
(to be continued)
A finer version of the Standard Post WW2 British Gurkhas Kukri, plaque on scabbard engraved with: Sgt. Kirby, Hong Kong Garrison 1982."
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