Dilli was born in a remote village in east Nepal. In 1966, at the age of just 16 years old, he ran away from home in order to ‘earn some money and see the world’ so decided to join the British Army. After nine months of intensive training, he joined his Regiment 7th Duke of Edinburgh’s Own Gurkha Rifles. For the next ten years Dilli spent the majority of his time serving in Hong Kong but during a tour of Belize in 1982, conflict erupted in the Falkland Islands. His unit was ordered back to the UK to join the Battalion prior to deployment to the South Atlantic.
After a 21 day crossing by sea, the Regiment disembarked at St Carlos Bay and marched towards Goose Green. Dilli was stationed at Bluff Cove when his unit was the target of an Argentinian air strike. Dilli’s Company 2iC and two other Gurkhas were severely injured by shell fire, in a bombardment that killed 56 British servicemen. The following month, Dilli was a Platoon Sergeant for the Gurkha assault on Mount William. Upon hearing over the radio that the enemy had raised the white flag he says “It was a great victory; everyone was cheering but I remember feeling overwhelmed as it was a hard fought and intense battle.”
In the aftermath of the Falklands War, Dilli returned to Hong Kong where in 1984 he commissioned as a Queen’s Gurkha Officer. He retired from the Army in 1993 after 27 years of devoted service. He moved back to Nepal where he was employed by Headquarters British Gurkha Nepal as a Welfare Officer for local soldiers and their families. He later received an MBE in recognition of his outstanding work. It was presented to him by Her Majesty The Queen and he recalls “I felt over the moon; the two awards were a result of my hard work and determination and made me feel so very honoured and proud”.
‘The most touching moment of the trip was visiting the memorial to those who were killed during the conflict and to walk over the ground where we lived and fought.’
31 years after the end of the Falklands’ conflict, Dilli finally returned to the Islands with 24 other Gurkha veterans. This special trip was made possible by funding from The Soldiers’ Charity. We awarded a grant of over £34,000 to the Falklands Veteran Foundation which paid for group flights, local transport, battlefield tours and food during their stay. The pilgrimage allowed the group to revisit the places where they demonstrated such bravery, pay their respects to their fallen comrades, and for some, lay to rest the memories of traumatic events in which they experienced. Dilli says that ‘The most touching moment of the trip was visiting the memorial to those who were killed during the conflict and to walk over the ground where we lived and fought. It was a great experience that brought back many distant memories and I would like to express my sincere gratitude to The Soldiers’ Charity for making my dream of revisiting the Falklands come true’.
Derek ‘Smokey’ Cole, Chief Executive of the Falklands Veterans Foundation told us; ‘The Falklands Veterans Foundation, although a charity itself, do not have the funds to enable us to assist veterans with travel costs to visit the Falkland Islands. We give support during the visit but rely on The Soldiers’ Charity to assist our veterans with funding. For many, this is a very worthwhile and overdue visit to the battlefields where they fought and lost comrades; indeed it is a healing process that is very much required and one that would not happen without the generosity of the Soldiers’ Charity’.