The Royal New South Wales Lancers

 
 
Boer War Pipes
 
 

Pipe smoking was a very common habit in 1899, when Australia became involved in the country's first ever war, the Boer War in South Africa.

Over 16,000 Australians volunteered to fight, out of a total population of only around 3 million at the turn of the twentieth century - a remarkable commitment for a war that is now often forgotten in Australia. Many of the Australian soldiers smoked pipes

Our Museum collection contains a number of Boer War tobacco pipes, many of them, like the one pictured, with the names of the battles in which their owners fought carved into them.

In 1899 the NSW Lancers were arguably the best known British Colonial Regiment in England. When they became the very first Colonial contingent to volunteer, land in South Africa and join the British forces, their fame only grew. The item on the right of the picture is also a tobacco pipe, made of clay and not wood and missing its stem.

The clay pipe was not used by a Lancer, but made in England as a period souvenir - again reflecting the reputation of the Lancers with the British public. In 2018, the pipe bowl was spotted by an eagle-eyed operative of an English public rubbish dump. He correctly interpreted the slouch hat with the letters "NSWLR" on the brim (concealed in the picture), as meaning that the pipe was depicting a soldier from the New South Wales Lancers Regiment. He found out that there was a Regimental Museum in Sydney, contacted us and mailed the pipe bowl to Parramatta, where it now proudly sits as part of the Museum collection.

The Museum has been professionally assessed as having the finest Boer War collection in Australia. Among this collection are a large number of unusual, many unique items that testify to the fame of the Lancers at the turn of, and well into the twentieth century. The Museum is a living Museum, because the Regiment continues today as the premier armoured regiment in the Australian Army Reserve. The Museum is located in Lancer Barracks Parramatta, mainland Australia's oldest military barracks built by Governor Lachlan Macquarie in 1820. The Regiment has called Lancer Barracks "Home" for over 120 years.

Ian Hawthorn, 2020


New South Wales Lancers Memorial Museum Incorporated ABN 94 630 140 881; Linden House, Lancer Barracks, 2 Smith Street, PARRAMATTA, AUSTRALIA
Postal Address: PO Box 7287, PENRITH SOUTH NSW 2750, AUSTRALIA; Telephone: +61 (0)405 482 814 Email:
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