Frederick Young (1786 – 1874) a British soldier of fortune from Culdaff, County Donegal, Ireland, recruited the first Gurkha soldiers into British service in the year 1815.  Young left his native Donegal in 1799 and travelled to London where he was interviewed and accepted into the service of the East India Company.  After a two- month sea voyage to India he was signed up as an Ensign in the East India Company Army.  In 1814 he was with Major General Sir Robert (Rollo) Gillespie of Comber County Down, Ireland, when Gillespie was shot and killed leading an attack on the Gurkha forts in Northern India.  The following year, Young was leading another army to again attack the forts when they were ambushed and routed by the Gurkhas.  Young was left with a few others and surrounded.  A Gurkha asked why he had not run away like the rest and he is reported to have replied in the native tongue, “I have come too far to run away”, as he prepared to defend himself to the death.  This courage greatly impressed the Gurkhas who say it is better to die a hero than live the life of a coward.  Suffice to say, he was taken into their custody and allowed to live. During this time, he befriended his captors and recruited them into British Service that has extended through the generations to the present day.  Referring to the establishment of the Gurkha Regiment he said, “I came there one man; I came back three thousand”.




Frederick Young was young of age

When he left his native shore

Destined to fill a history page

Iron within his core


So as a boy he wandered far

By ocean, land and sea

Over him to shine a star

Preordained by destiny


The Gurkha soldier he did face

No fear did they detect

For them an enemy to embrace

Great courage to respect


And so, they rallied to his side

Three thousand men and more

I am an army now he cried

Back in those days of yore


There beneath an eastern sun

The living legend born

A partnership of blade and gun

Crossed kukris to adorn


Monty Alexander 5.12.2017



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