Monday, September 20, 1999 Published at 03:18 GMT 04:18 UK
British troops in vanguard of Timor force
Gurkha soldiers: East Timor is their latest mission
The first British troops have arrived in East Timor among the vanguard of the multinational force seeking to end atrocities by anti-independence militias.
The Marines are believed to be members of the elite Special Boat Squadron (SBS), the maritime equivalent of the SAS.
They will be joined later on Monday by about 250 Gurkhas.
Numerous Hercules planes have been landing at Dili and then returning to Darwin. About 2,000 international troops, arriving by air and sea, are expected in East Timor by the end of Monday.
Thousands are homeless
Thousands of Timorese were killed by the militias - who were composed of settlers from other parts of Indonesia - and more than 300,000 people driven from their homes.
One of the main jobs for the Gurkhas will be to secure UN buildings from further attacks by the militias.
The Gurkhas, who hail from Nepal, are a legendary fighting force and a legacy of the British Empire.
Apart from ordinary, modern weapons they carry the traditional kukri knife. In times past, it was said once a kukri had been drawn in battle, it must "taste blood" - if not, its owner has to cut himself before returning it to its sheath.
Now it is used mainly for cooking, but a Gurkha soldier in Macedonia told reporters recently: "When the ammunition runs out we still use them."
In the 185 years they have served in the British Army, they have won 26 Victoria Crosses, more than any other single group in the army.
In 1815 the British East India Company signed a peace deal with the stubbornly resisting Gurkhas, which allowed it to recruit from their midst.
Since then, the Gurkhas have loyally fought for the British all over the globe, and their British officers are taught the Gurkhali language.
For many years they were based in Hong Kong but when the colony was handed back to China in 1997 they moved to Church Crookham in Hampshire.