Better to Die than Live a Coward: My life with the Gurkhas
By Colour Sergeant Kailash Limbu
Published by Little Brown; Dist. by Hachette
RRP $ 35.00 in paperback
In the summer of 2006, Colour-Sargeant Kailash Khebang’s platoon was sent to relieve and occupy a police compound in the town of Now Zad in Helmand. He was told to prepare for a forty-eight hour operation. In the end, he and his men were under siege for thirty-one days – one of the longest such sieges in the whole of the Afghan campaign.
Kailash Khebang, who describes himself as an ordinary hill boy from Nepal whose ambition was always to be a Gurkha, recalls the terrifying and exciting details of those thirty-one days – in which they killed an estimated one hundred Taliban fighters – and intersperses them with the story of his own life as a villager from the Himalayas. He grew up in a place without roads or electricity and didn’t see a car until he was fifteen.
Kailash’s descriptions of Gurkha training and rituals – including how to use the lethal Kukri knife, which he initially learned as a young boy – are fascinating.