Gayanenda Rai: 'I nearly died for this country'

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The Independent Online

I was serving in the Falklands War when I was wounded at Bluff Cove. We were hit by artillery fire. The left side of my back was torn out by shrapnel, I tried to crawl but could not move. I was convinced I was going to die. I cannot describe the pain. It was unbearable. But, I noticed that neither my men nor I were screaming or shouting. We had accepted, that as Gurkhas, we were going to die honourably on the battlefield.

The British Army surgeons who operated on me were the finest in the world. They had to work on terrible injuries. Despite the battlefield situation, they did everything to save my life and the lives of my comrades dying around me.

When I had to leave the army, my wife was pregnant and we were not allowed to stay at the Regimental Barracks in Hong Kong. I had to return to my remote village in Nepal, with no pension or income. Shortly afterwards she gave birth to our child, but she became ill. We had no medical facilities in our village and I carried her for six hours to a clinic. She died on the way.

I was turned down twice for settlement in the UK. They seemed to have forgotten that I nearly died for this country. But after the change in the law last year I was allowed into Britain. I have remarried and my new wife and six children are still in Nepal. It will cost me £10,000 in visa fees – that is a lot of money and it seems unfair. But I shall struggle on and hope we can live together again.

The writer was a Lance Corporal in the 1st Battalion 7th Duke of Edinburgh's Gurkha Rifles