Raja Lal Singh, who led Sikh forces against the British during the First Anglo-Sikh War of 1846

Raja Lal Singh, who led Sikh forces against the British during the First Anglo-Sikh War of 1846
c/o Wikimedia

The Gurkhas (then referred to as 'Goorkhas') of the Nasiri and Sirmoor battalions fought in the two Anglo-Sikh wars in which the fearsome Sikh army was eventually defeated, allowing the British to gain control of Punjab (part of Modern Pakistan). The Sikhs, under the leadership of Ranjit Singh, had been been recruiting European mercenaries as well as Gurkhas from Nepal for many years. Their army was well-equipped and equally well-discplined. After Ranjit Singh's death in 1839, the Punjab underwent several political upheavals but it continued to expand its army which was becoming an increasing threat to the British. The First and Second Anglo-Sikh Wars were bloody and hard-fought with both sides proving their courage in battle, ultimately, however, the British Indian Army prevailed.

...the hardihood and bravery with which our two battalions of Goorkahs, the Sirmoor and Nusseree, met the Sikhs... Soldiers of small stature but indomitable spirit, they vied in ardent courage in the charge with the Grenadiers... and, armed with the short weapon of their mountains, were a terror to the Sikhs throughout this great combat

Commander-in-Chief Sir Hugh Gough, c.1849

Once the British were established in Lahore, they continued Ranjit Singh's tradition of recruiting and training Gurkhas there. See the Timeline entry 'Company Soldiers Become 'Lahoreys''.

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