The Royal New South Wales Lancers

 
 
Vehicle Hiring Agreement
 
 

HOW WELL-PREPARED WAS AUSTRALIA FOR WW2?

Between WW's 1 and 2, sanity prevailed and it was decided there was no longer a role for the horse to play on the modern battlefield - mechanisation had arrived.

One, modest result of this was that in 1936 the NSW Lancers were de-horsed and formed into the British Empire's first Motorised Machine Gun Regiment. Mounted now on small, flat-bed trucks, the Lancers were equipped with the famous Vickers Medium Machine Gun.

However, Australia persisted with an Army "on the cheap". Just as when Lancers were mounted on horses, they had to provide their own horse, so when formed into a Motorised Machine Gun Regiment, someone had to provide the truck - the Government did not! The Government initially didn't even provide the paint for the motley collection of trucks to be painted a standard green.

An A.A.F.G. 10 was the document (Government provided) by which local businesses hired vehicles to the Army for military training purposes. The example we show here, the original of which is in the Museum collection, is between Hastings Deering Parramatta Branch and the First Light Horse Machine Gun Regiment (a.k.a. Royal NSW Lancers) for a Ford Truck, licence number L53.716. It is dated June 1939, a mere 3 months before the outbreak of war with Germany. We don't know what colour the Ford Truck would have been, but unlikely it would have been an easily concealed green.

From this, we'll leave you to judge how well Australia was prepared as it was about to enter WW2.

Back in the Museum, you can get up close and personal to a Vickers Machine Gun, view photos of the Lancers on exercise in their motley collection of trucks and view a battered, old sign that was hung over the truck drivers door, the only way of telling that the truck was an Army truck - for the day, at least.

Interestingly, in 1940 many members of the Regiment including 3 consecutive COs left to join the 2nd AIF. Most being trained mechanised machine-gunners joined the 2/2 Machine Gun Battalion (AIF) fighting in Egypt and Libya including the famed defence of Tobruk. Later they fought as dismounted machine-gunners in New Guinea.

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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