The Royal New South Wales Lancers
|Lancers' Despatch 13|
Bi Annual Journal of the
Royal New South Wales Lancers Association
The New South Wales Lancers Memorial Museum Incorporated ABN 94 630 140 881
No 13 - August 2007
Editorial From the Commanding Officer's Desk The Regiment's New Vehicles Museum Matters Memories Ex Falaise Yeoman Church Parade Anzac Eve Anzac Day Descendents on Anzac Day Reserve Forces Day Boer War Memorial Departed Comrades Coming Events Thanks Please Help Regimental Bullion Badges RAACA Response Sheet .pdf Version
It has been quite a year for the Regiment, the Museum and the Association. The Regiment is now training with its "new" soft-skinned vehicles, as it did in 1936; at least this time the government owns the vehicles (when the Regiment was first "mechanised" in 1936, the vehicles were privately owned and leased to the Army). Let us hope that should the soldiers of the Regiment be again in harm's way, then as in 1942 the vehicles they ultimately see service in will have some protection.
The Association had a good showing at Anzac Day, and the best show ever at Reserve Forces Day. It would appear that all of the apparent opposition to and objections to reserve Forces Day as expressed by the Head of Reserve Policy's office and reported in January 2007 Lancers' Despatch has faded away. The Regiment gave its full support (consistent with training commitments); the parade was really something to be part of, and an opportunity to see old friends not to be missed.
The Museum has been continuing with the exhibition upgrade, while work on the vehicles continues. The refurbished Austin Champ is not far from completion.
October (Sunday 28 October 2007) will see a major Lancer reunion. The regimental association will conduct it at Lancer Barracks commencing 11:00 and finishing around 15:00. It will be an opportunity for those who marched on Anzac and Reserve Forces Day to meet again, and for those for whom a march is a bit onerous to join in. The Museum will be open, a barbeque luncheon will be provided at a small cost, and drinks will be at mess prices. Please use the response sheet to give us an idea of the numbers.
Thanks to this edition's contributors: John Blackberry, Captain David Brown from the UK, David Craven, Graham Stewart and Brian Walters; photographers Alan Hitchell, Mike Martin, Athol Samson, and Graham Stewart.
Lieutenant Colonel Graham Stewart (Commanding Officer 1/15RNSWL)
The first half of 2007 has seen the Regiment at its busiest for many years and the operational tempo shows no signs of abating. We hit the ground running providing support to a number of units as part of their deployment preparations and this in turn allowed us to validate some of the Light Cavalry training from the previous year. The complete restructure and re-organisation of two of our Squadrons has also provided a solid base for future success and reinvigoration of the Regiment. On average we are having new Light Cavalry Troop organisations coming on line every four months.
Our soldiers have also been busy on operations with SGT Murray Buesnel recently returning from OP ANODE in the Solomon Islands and our new Adjutant CAPT Jeremy Smith returning from the Middle East.
The Lancer Band remains as popular as ever, they have supported a wide range of ceremonial activities such as ANZAC Day and this year they did a sterling job in very poor weather conditions supporting the 3rd Battalion, the Royal Australian Regiment (Parachute) in commemorating the 56th anniversary of the Battle of Kapyong, which took place on the 24th April, 1951 during the Korean War.
In April we also had the opportunity to host two fine young officers Lieutenants Charlie Robinson and Alex Seys from 1st The Queens Dragoon Guards; they spent most of ANZAC Day with the Command Team and were immensely proud as the Lancer Band played their Regimental song, “The Redetzky March,” along George Street as part of the ANZAC Day March. The Adjutant’s liver is eternally grateful for their return to their home base in Germany.
May saw the successful completion of the first RAAC Light Cavalry Courses Camp conducted at Singleton with over 90 soldiers participating from GRES RAAC units from across Australia. In September this year the courses camp will be conducted at Puckapunyal with similar numbers expected.
In June, our soldiers also had the opportunity to participate in Exercise Talisman Sabre 07 at Shoalwater Bay; they were part of the largest land force exercise seen in recent years with over 27,000 service personnel from Australian and US forces participating.
In July, the Commanding Officer Lieutenant Colonel Graham Stewart and Regimental Sergeant Major Warrant Officer Class One Alby Chirichilli headed north to see the new M1A2 AIM SA tank fire at Mount Bundy Range as well the retirement from service of the venerable Leopard AS4 tank.
Our recruiting has gone from strength to strength thanks to the sterling efforts of the newly promoted Warrant Officer Class Two Chris Harvey; who has broken all records in ensuring the Lancers remain revitalised and refreshed with new recruits in all trades. Warrant Officer Harvey leaves us towards the end of the year to conduct specialist parachute rigger training in the United States and I wish Chris and his family all the very best in the future.
In addition to all the above tasks which we have been supporting, the unit continues to train on a demanding schedule of weekends and Tuesday nights. Our focus this year has been towards maintaining skill levels above basic proficiency, particularly in the area of weapons.
Looking forward, the 2008 training year will be an exciting one. Moves are afoot to train across a wider group of ranges in order to enhance soldier skills and experiences. We hope to be able to work with a wide range of other units as part of this program. Further as the requests for support continue to pour in, the good work of the Lancers will continue at strength.
Tenax in Fide
Some photos from the 1st Armoured Regiment Parade taken by the CO.
Most of us have been just imagining what the Regiment's new vehicles look like. The Reserve forces day parade gave us the first opportunity for a look. I am advised that a gun mount is also able to be fitted. However, as soon as the mount is fitted, then the vehicle is not able to travel on public roads. How M113s and the Museum's Ferrets can travel on public roads with their far more sinister gun mounts, and these vehicles cannot is a tad beyond me; my 1980s public sector qualifications and experience are now obviously out of date, there must be a new approach to bureaucracy beyond any mortal citizen's comprehension.
The Regiment's new Vehicles
Ross Brown and his Thursday crew continue apace with the exhibitions. The world war 2 exhibition is now complete and final touches are being made to exhibitions in the other rooms. When all is complete, we will consider an exhibition opening.
The vehicle conservation team are also working hard. The centurion was taken out to Menangle for a run, and the vehicles supported us in the Reserve Forces day parade.
Bruce Parks - Lieutenant NX 128656 - wrote an interesting account of his brief service with our Regiment. It came into my possession many years ago and has been filed until recent press and television reports about the Japanese abuse of female Internees and prisoners of war, described as "comfort women", reminded me of a mention in Bruce's' account which cuts across this sad subject.
Bruce died on the 2nd April 1999 - here is his story.
"C Squadron Heads For Morotai To Join The Rest Of The Unit
The regiment less C Squadron embarked in Brisbane headed for Morotai during May, 1945 and C Squadron, under the command of Major Sam Hordern, was left as the rear party to assemble and ship the balance of war stores and equipment needed for the impending campaign. Major Jack Ford had been seconded to the Tank Training Battalion at Puckapunyal as Officer in Charge but following his arrival in Victoria, LHQ ordered the battalion to be disbanded. I was already in the battalion as Chief Instructor to the Tank Tactics Training Wing and my tour of duty was extended to cover the time required to effect the disbandment. Consequently 1 became the Acting Adjutant during the last throes of the unit.
Major Ford heard that the regiment was on the move. Higher Command was persuaded to release him for return to the unit on being satisfied that the disbandment had been processed to a stage and that I would remain until all remaining personnel, equipment, stores and records were satisfactorily disposed of. The last act was obtaining a receipt for seven Aust Women's Army Services Personnel (1 sergeant, 2 corporals and 4 OR's)
Jack Ford met up with Sam Hordern on his way back to the unit and informed him that I would be following, so when I arrived early in June 45 the Major's greetings were "we have got work to do and on what Major Ford told me you have the experience to get it done". The ship loaded with the unit stores caught fire in Moreton Bay and is on its way back up the river. It has to be unloaded and the cargo checked. It is going to be our job to do most of the work once the wharfies clear the cargo and for the sake of the Regiment I would not want it any other way because time is important. Within two hours of my arrival we had an OC's conference with available officers and sergeants in attendance to make an appreciation of the situation. Basically the squadron personnel other than essential camp details were fixed into four main groups, well balanced with MT drivers. Each group was directly commanded by a sergeant and when possible a second sergeant was attached to assist. The SQMS formed a separate team to catalogue the unloaded stores on the wharf and to check replacement stores when delivered by ordnance. The officers and the SSM were detailed for 24 hour duty. From prior experience I suggested that Major Hordern make his presence felt at Northern Command and the Ordnance Depots to ensure that the Regiment had the undivided attention of all services involved in the provision of replacement stores when and as required.
The squadron groups were detailed to work 8 hour shifts with one group on standby in the camp area. My allocated task was coordinating and generally supervising the wharf operations and I must say that work done by the sergeants, drivers and men was of a particularly high standard. In fact the whole squadron performed with diligence and purpose and the motivation came, I believe, from the fact that Sam Hordern made it a point of taking time each day whilst the operations were under way to informally tell the troops exactly what was happening and what the immediate tasks would be. About the second or third day after the ship returned to the wharf I ran into trouble with the waterside workers. Our men detailed to stand guard and identify our regimental stores as they were being lifted out of the hold were armed with their pistols and some had been issued rifles. The work in the holds slowed down to a ridiculous pace and eventually the union representative turned up to order a strike. The objection was that Australian workers were working under armed Australian soldier supervision which gave rise to the presumption that the unionists were no better than POW's. The fact that ammunition had not been issued was of no consequence to him and unless the arms were removed work would stop immediately.
Some of the troops had earlier told me and our sergeant confirmed that during the morning some stores destined for medical services had been "accidentally broken open" in the hold. The stores were undergarments for female servicepersons. There had been much stripping and re-dressing and preparation to quit the hold for a smoko. I ordered my sergeant "Do not let anyone out of the holds". Then to the dispatch orderly "Ask an officer or sergeant down on the wharf to put a call out to the military and civilian police for assistance because of a suspicion of cargo stealing."" Then I turned back to the union fellow who immediately asked "what's going on?" I replied - "you heard what I have just ordered. It's my problem let's get to fixing your problem". He called to my messenger who looked to me for further direction and I had him wait. After some further talk which showed promise of settling the proposed strike action I allowed the union fellow to have a conference in the hold and he took a union steward down with him. While they were down there my sergeant suggested that the pistols were a nuisance anyway and the troops would be more than happy in not having to wear them. Although I insisted that the guards should be armed 1 realised the futility of unarmed pistols. I compromised when one of the troopers standing within hearing said as an aside "Give me a bayonet any day. I could do more damage with just a bayonet that with an unloaded rifle."
And so it was when the union fellows came out of the hold the dispute was settled on the basis that the senior rank, commissioned or N.C.O. could wear his pistol while troops under his command would wear side arms. From then on the union workers got the message that the troops were vigilant and most determined to get the stores and equipment dispatched to back up their mates who had already sailed. For my part in this my first task in the regiment I gained a sense of acceptance as being one of the team even though I only had played the shots the men called.
The Regiment's Final Months Of World War 11 Service
It is chronicled that the Regiment ceased active service in World War two during January 1946 except for men who comprised the Regimental rear party under command of Major Ford with me as his Second in Command. There were around 100 involved in the rear party. Other than Major Ford the composition of the rear party was made up of personnel who had the lowest points and most were saddened to see the lucky ones marched out on a "homer" leaving behind the tanks. However once all those destined for home were gone life settled down to a rather dull routine which consisted of vehicle maintenance. (A daily exercise using the tank and a can partly filled with petrol as a beer refrigerator), personal maintenance of gear and scanning the horizon with expectant hope for our ship to come. The camp area hygiene duties and cookhouse details were done by the Japanese under supervision.
Just before Christmas 1945 there was a mass exodus out of Balikpapan and since there was no shipping for tanks we just stayed. A redeeming factor was that the Major had to take charge of keys to wet and dry canteen supplies, the ration store and freezer, and the ordinance store all of which were well stocked. We had a good Christmas and saw the New Year in with special hospital fare and a daily beer issue.
This type of living supplanted bully beef and biscuits right through to the beginning of March when we received a warning order to be ready for transfer to Morotai so as to pick up transport home. Life suddenly became very pleasant. Everybody had a special Q issue of gear for going home so that when an order to move came all prepacked gear would be grabbed and we would be on our way. We had some frustration though in that the indigenous residents from across the bay visited the camp and notwithstanding man traps, electric and barbed wire and posted guards, they continued with their thieving practices. It is hard to re-call the number of re-issues of clothing that had to be made and I guess there were some well dressed and well-shod locals out in the villages across the bay for quite a long time. Then came the day when we embarked on LST's for Morotai in great expectancy for a short staging time.
The population of Morotai had been greatly reduced and our detachment was one of the largest contingents to take up a camp site. There was a medical detachment, some engineers, an ordinance detachment, a postal unit and some selected base installations the senior officer in the area was a full colonel in the postal unit and by rank he was designated the Area Commandant. In addition there was a POW camp right in the area that we were directed to occupy but that did not worry us because we were destined for home, as we thought. We were wrong because at the end of March, 1946 our supposed ship came and went without us. A directive had been given that troops from a combatant unit, preferably a unit that had battle experience, had to be held at Morotai for special duty. The commandant directed that our detachment take control of the POW camp because of our convenient location and we suspected no other detachment wanted or had the capacity for the job. It was no real task because the senior Japanese commander was an admiral and he had the compound under control. In fact it turned out to be a beneficial duty in that we controlled the availability of the POW work parties. Obviously, with our chaps exercising delegated authority, the unit needs were satisfied first and the requirement extended to include a "batman service" for any of our detachment who elected to use it. Most of the men used it without any qualm or aversion. However, if the detailed help doing camp chores tended to get near the tank park then there was a concerted uproar and the offending prisoner, petrified with fear, was hounded back to within acceptable bounds.
The Morotai staging area was, as most who passed through the island will recall, a flat peninsular which on one waterfront formed a fair sized bay which was a reasonable anchorage. On the peninsular the profuse jungle had been rolled back into a wall of natural debris to create a large base with an airstrip. Beyond the accumulated debris and right around the foreshores of the rest of the bay the jungle was virtually impenetrable but we were warned that across the bay in the distance there was a pocket of the enemy which was well isolated and, on reasonable assumption, must be near starving yet there was no attempt to surrender and there was no initiative to round them up. We could see the fires in the dark occasionally and we also figured that there was some fishing activity off shore which meant that whoever they were they had some form of watercraft. Hence all personnel in the area were warned to be alert against a possible visit, particularly under cover of darkness, seeking whatever could be thieved. About three to four weeks after our arrival there was a visit from across the bay by a type of rowing boat. The journey must have been commenced the night before because they were seen to hit our shore around 0430 hours. They ran their beaten up craft onto the beach whereupon two males offloaded 3 inert bodies and scrambled back into the craft as others started getting it water borne. Once they were all aboard they headed back across the bay keeping close to the jungle shoreline in the event that they were pursued. It was found that the three bodies were totally emaciated Japanese nurses in the near delivery stages of pregnancy. The medics were quickly at the beach but they found that two of the women were dead and that death had apparently occurred towards the end of the journey across the water. The third woman died whilst being taken to the medical aid centre. In each case the unborn child would have been stillborn if the mother had survived to be delivered of the infant. This event confirmed the prognosis that the "enemy still at large" were likely to die of starvation. Orders arrived that explained why we were held back from the ship at the end of March. A special squad, to be commanded by an officer had to be detailed without arms and be ready to move out under provost escort for an undisclosed destination at dawn. Major Ford detailed the members of the squad and he put me in charge. The squad was assembled late in the evening and were segregated to ensure readiness to move out without disturbing the camp and to allay unnecessary speculation as to the purpose of the mission. After the "Jap nurses" episode rumour had it that the squad was going out to round up the enemy across the bay but there was perplexity, firstly, at the smallness of the squad and secondly, that they were unarmed. Before they settled down to await orders to move. Major Ford spoke to the men and explained the nature of the mission whilst a Provost Corps officer briefed me on the drill to be enacted. The squad was an execution party giving effect to sentences handed down in war criminal trials. No member of the squad can say who actually shot a convicted war criminal because the weapons used were prepared by the provost men and it was not known which ones were loaded with blanks.
Then orders arrived to the effect that the tanks were to be inspected by ordinance and AEME personnel who would be engaged in classifying the tanks into grades 1 to 4. The added news was that only class 1 and 2 tanks would be returned to Australia. The classification was made and instructions received to send the class 3 and class 4 tanks across the coral into very deep water. Even better news was to hand that, because the class 1 and 2 tanks were few in number Ordinance would accept them at Morotai. So at last we had no heavy equipment to delay our return home. As one driver, whose tank was set to amble across the reef into the water, said "there she goes, she was a good girl, it is sad that she aged so quickly". It was so sad to see almost 40 Matildas make that final run but the men who had looked after them understood that the problem of freighting them back to Australia was too great in relation to the fact that they would most likely be committed to an ordinance vehicle park to rust. By the middle of May we were aboard the Duntroon carrying out our last wartime duty of escorting the Japanese POW's from Morotai to Port Moresby and then sailing on to Sydney, leave, family and demobilisation. The early morning entry through Sydney Harbour heads wiped out all memories of sitting on Sandhill's at Balikpapan or sweltering at Morotai waiting transport that never seemed to come. The units World War 11 service ended at Sydney showground on the 16th June, 1946 the day that Major Ford and I were demobilised. That was exactly one year after C Squadron under command of Major Sam Hordem sailed from Brisbane to join the main body of the Regiment at Balikpapan and ten months since the way ended on 15th August 1945."
Well known Doug Beardmore of "A" Squadron was one of the 13 men detailed for a firing squad with one to be balloted out later. Doug was that man and said he was pleased to be excused from duty.
Captain David Brown
Over 16-18 June 2007 one hundred members of all four TA Yeomanry Regiments (The Royal Yeomanry, Royal Wessex Yeomanry, Royal Mercian and Lancastrian Yeomanry and the Queens Own Yeomanry) traveled to Normandy in France for Ex FALAISE YEOMAN, a battlefield study of a key action of the Second World War, known as the Battle of the Falaise Gap (or Pocket).
Leaving Portsmouth on the Friday morning we arrived in Caen mid afternoon after a 5 ½ hour ferry trip and drove to our camping area near the Chateau d’Aubry, to the east of the small rural town of St Lambert Sur Dives.
On Saturday morning we commenced the Battlefield Study by riding bicycles (brought over with us from the UK) from Château d’Aubry to Foret De Grande Gouffern a large wood.
From the forward slopes of the Foret De Grande Gouffern we could look north across the valley towards Saint-Lambert-sur-Dives and Mont Ormel 10 kilometres away. Here we were given an initial Situation brief before riding onto another Stand on the northern slopes of the Foret to conduct a Ground Brief. We were unaware at that stage that we were actually being asked to consider the same problem confronted by German Forces trapped in the Falaise Pocket in August 1944. Tens of thousands of Germans attempted to lay up during the day in the Foret De Grande Gouffern in order to avoid Allied air attack. It was quite surreal in hindsight thinking that so many Germans had attempted to hide in such a small area and we began to think what sort of ordeal it would be to cross the valley to our north.
Two subsequent stands asked participants to think about formations for cross country movement toward Saint-Lambert-sur-Dives as well as the conduct of a Reserve Demolition on the bridge into the Town itself. At the time we were not made aware of the bridge’s significance. A small two lane bridge across a stream, it was one of only two crossing points over the River Dives which German forces could use to escape Allied encirclement.
We then proceeded on to the 4th Canadian Armoured Division Memorial located on a prominent hill to the north east of Saint-Lambert-sur-Dives. It was here that Major David Currie of the South Albert Regiment won the Victoria Cross leading a small Battlegroup in action capturing the town and closing off one of the last escape routes for German forces out of the Falaise Pocket.
Currie’s battlegroup consisted of 175 men and 16 Sherman tanks from the 5th Anti-Tank Regiment (The Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders of Canada) and South Alberta Regiment (now the South Alberta Light Horse).
The only officer left in his Squadron, Currie was constantly in action for 3 days. On being told that his Squadron had been relieved by another unit he collapsed on his feet from sheer exhaustion.
Currie’s VC was the only one awarded to a Canadian during the Normandy Campaign and the only VC awarded to a member of the Royal Canadian Armoured Corps (RCAC). The South Alberta Regiment, and its parent formation the 4th Canadian Armoured Division, was inexperienced and had only been in action for just over two weeks. Together with the other division of 2nd Canadian Corps, the 1st Polish Armoured Division, they were ordered by General Montgomery to seal off the Falaise Gap ‘at all costs’.
Whilst the Canadians had British equipment they followed a doctrine that emphasised dismounted skills. Currie used his soldiers in both mounted and dismounted operations, even leaving their vehicles in hides to attack German positions on foot. Currie’s small force killed or captured over 3,000 Germans and seized a vital crossing point over the Dives. At one point Currie called in artillery close to his tank only to subsequently find out that Medium Artillery was in support. It had the desired effect on the Germans, but was a very close shave indeed!
Maj David Currie VC (third from left holding a pistol) in Saint-Lambert-sur-Dives, following its capture, 19 August 1944. The German Officer (fourth from right) disappeared following the battle and is thought to have been killed by the Canadians. Currie shunned publicity and returned to running a petrol station after the war.
Stopping in Moissy at midday, our attention was drawn to a small ford close by our lunch area. Not thinking much of it, we walked across it and were then told of its true significance. This was the second crossing point over the River Dives which the Germans managed to successfully keep open despite being under constant air attack. Again it was another surreal moment. The crossing today is largely unchanged to that which existed in 1944. A narrow metalled track leads to it and it is fordable with water up to your waist.
Half a kilometre north of the ford at Moissy is a small country laneway. This was called the ‘Todesgang’ or ‘Death Road’ by the Germans and was the scene of absolute carnage, with almost 3 kilometres of road choked with dead horses and bodies. The RAF 2nd Tactical Air Force and USAAF 9th Air Force caught many ill disciplined and desperate German units in the open during the day and wreaked havoc from above. The French refer to the lane as the ‘le Couloir de la mort’ or ‘Corridor of Death’ and the Postal Service still use it today as a street name. General Eisenhower, touring the area two days after the battle, encountered ‘scenes that could only be described by Dante’.
The Todesgang or ‘Death Road’ north of Moissy
We completed our bicycle tour by riding on to Mont Ormel, also known as ‘Hill 262’ or ‘the Mace’ by the Poles. It was here that General Maczek’s 1st Polish Armoured Division took up positions with 87 Sherman tanks to the east of the Canadians, in order to prevent any German counter-attack from to trying to rescue those attempting to escape out of the pocket. Unsurprisingly, the Poles were subjected to ferocious attack by the crack II SS Panzer Corps, losing 325 dead and over 1,000 wounded. Later supported by elements of the 22nd Canadian Armoured Regiment (Canadian Grenadier Guards) they killed over 2,000 Germans, destroyed 359 vehicles and took 5,000 prisoners. This stoic defence by the Poles sealed the fate of the 50,000 Germans who remained inside the rapidly shrinking pocket. The Canadians had also suffered losing 18,000 dead and wounded during the Normandy campaign. Today there is a large Polish, Canadian and French monument on Mont Ormel with commanding views back across the valley towards the Foret De Grande Gouffern.
On Saturday afternoon we returned to the campsite at Château d’Aubry, changed into fresh clothes and drove into Argentan for dinner at the Hostellerie de la Renaissance.
Leaving the campsite early Sunday morning we drove on to the British War Cemetery at Bayeux for a short Church Service led by the Padre of the Royal Yeomanry. Hopping on to the ferry we returned to Portsmouth mid afternoon for dispersal to our TA Centres and subsequent dismissal.
Overall it was a great weekend, even with intermittent rain. I had scant knowledge of the Battle of the Falaise beforehand but now have a better understanding of the key role that the Canadians and Poles played in the battle for Normandy.
In WW1, after the 8 months campaign at Gallipoli, Australian Troops entered the trenches of France and Belgium. Three years later over 52,000 were dead. In 1918, on 24/25 April, Australian Troops recaptured the Village of Villers-Bretonneux, and forced a German withdrawal. The significance of this battle was not lost on our Allies. The troops who retook Villers-Bretonneux, were part of the 5 Australian Divisions urgently brought by rail from Belgium to prevent a German breakthrough. The German Armies had been reinforced by troops from the Russian Front. Russia had withdrawn from the war.
The German High Command had determined that if they could capture Amiens, the major city in The Somme, then drive to the coast, they would split the Allied Forces. They saw this as an opportunity to finish the war in their favour. Australian and British troops halted the German advance, and on 24/25 April, 1918, Australian troops recaptured Villers-Bretonneux and forced a German withdrawal.
It is significant that in spite of the fierce fighting that Australians suffered at places such as Pozieres, Bullecourt, Mont St Quentin, Le Hamel and countless other sites, the major Australian Memorial is at Villers-Bretonneux. The size and solitude of the Memorial is overwhelming. Etched into the walls below the 32m high tower which dominates the area around for miles, is the names of over 11,000 Australian soldiers who have no known grave in France.
On April 25, 2008, it is the 90th Anniversary of the Battle of Amiens, as it is known to the locals in The Somme. There are museums in Villers-Bretonneux, Bullecourt and Peronne that are dedicated to the diggers of WW1. The Victoria School in Villers-Bretonneux carries the sign in English "Do Not Forget Australia". The Australian Government will host this historical event.
YOU CAN BE THERE.
Simply call TBS Travel 02 9319 3007 or visit www.militaryhistorytours.com.au.
The annual Church Parade was held at Lancer Barracks on the first Sunday in March. As was to be expected it was a fine, sunny day with high humidity, just perfect for standing on parade! The Regiment marched from Lancer Barracks down to St John’s Cathedral as has been done many times in the past by the different generations of Lancers.
The Lancers’ Association was invited to take part in the parade and was led on the day by the President, Major Len Koles RFD. Also present in the contingent were Ross Brown, David Crisp, Christopher Dawson, Bob Gay, Gordon Muddle and Joe Tabone; Brian Walters joined the contingent later.
After a traditional church service, the Regiment marched back to the Barracks and formed up on the parade ground for the usual round of promotions, medals and awards. It was particularly pleasing to see the number of Australian Defence Medals presented to serving members who will hopefully be encouraged to stick-it-out for their long service medals.
The Association on Parade at the Church Parade
The Regiment on Parade through Parramatta
The Lancer Association Awards were presented at the same time as the others, once again, by Major Koles. Some of the names of the awards have changed slightly to reflect the changing nature of the roles in the Regiment. The first group of four winners each received a traditional engraved pewter mug:
Best Soldier TPR J.L. Buxton,
Best Musician MUSN B.W. North,
Best Junior N.C.O. LCPL S. King,
Best Specialist PTE T.M. Price.
The winner of the “Tiger Colliss Award” receives a trophy of model Matilda tank mounted on a wooden plinth and his or her name is also engraved on the perpetual trophy held in the Sergeants’ Mess. This trophy is for the best warrant officer or senior NCO in the Regiment. The winner this year was Sergeant M.J. Buesnel who is away on active service at present – the trophy was accepted on his behalf by the RSM, Warrant Officer Class 1 Alby Chirichilli.
The winner of the “David Donald Award” receives an engraved plaque in the armoured corps colour of black and silver. This award is for the outstanding junior officer in the Regiment with the winner this year being Captain A.R. Richards who was present to receive his award.
The Honorary Colonel MAJGEN Glenny and Commanding Officer LTCOL Stewart present the Tiger Colliss and David Donald Awards
There was a very good number of family and friends present on the day that were able to enjoy the hospitality of all the messes and the fine weather.
This ceremony was held at Lancer Barracks on Tuesday, April 24. Due to the weather, it was transferred to the Drill Hall and commenced around 1930 hours. It was very well attended, despite the weather, by both members and friends of the Regiment.
The past members and friends who attended included Ross Brown, Denis Comber, Dave Crisp, Phil Culbert, Don Deakin-Bell, Allan Hinchell, John Howells, Bob Iverach, Peter Knowland, Len Koles, Joe Tabone, Tom Larkin, Amjad Lotfi and Brian Walters. It was very pleasing to see so many of these people wearing the new Australian Defence Medal and to see current serving members doing the same. There were no World War 2 members in attendance.
The formal part of the ceremony was fairly informal because of the change to the venue but very well conducted. As part of the ceremony, several wreaths laid by the following:
The Regiment: LTCOL Graham Stewart,
Lancers' Association: MAJ Len Koles,
World War 2 Veterans: Brian Walters
Widows: SGT Judy Spadaro.
Special thanks go to the CO, Lieutenant Colonel Graham Stewart and the RSM, WO1 Alby Chirichilli, for organising the ceremony.
As in recent years, all the messes were open for the rest of the evening. Special thanks must go to the catering staff for their work in preparing a terrific buffet meal that was much appreciated by those present
John Blackberry and Brian Walters
World War II Contingent
We assembled under leaden skies again this year - our 61st march since 1946. We were lucky, the Dawn Service was drenched and those marching later than us got a good soaking also - could be a "Milne Bay" for us next year?
Our contingent was led by Bill Halliday in the absence of Ted Martin who was recovering from a fall. He is fit again now and expects to lead us next year by popular choice.
Veterans present, either at the march or later were:- Doug Beardmore, John Blackberry, Arthur Bulgin, Rod Button, Allan Chanter, (Graham Clarke, David Craven, Geoff Francis, Bill Halliday, Allan Howitt, John Keamey, Neville Kingcott, Jack Lamb, Bill Lynch, John McManus, Alien Stewart, Ernie Syratt.
Also present were David Craven's daughter Julie Brooking and grandson Ben Kincaid, Neville Kingcott's grandson whose name escapes me but whose King's School image does not, also young Chris Hall, grandson of Mick Wilson with us again for many years now.
At the assembly point David Craven met Mrs Jeanette Moss, widow of Captain Norman Moss of Walgrove days. Early Lancers will recall him as a very good wrestler who organised boxing and wrestling tournaments in the 1940 camps.
The large group of post-war Lancers included Len Koles, Brian Walters, David Crisp and many familiar faces whose names are not so familiar. My memory bank gets overloaded on Anzac Day, apologies to anyone I have overlooked.
Veterans present this year but not last were:- Allan Chanter, Graham Clarke, Allan Howitt, John Keamey, Neville Kingcott, Jack Lamb, Alien Stewart & Ernie Syratt.
Present last year but not this were:- Ted Martin, Bert Castellari, Doug Clift, Bob Forrest, Ken Lowe, Dan Tesoriero, Bernie Temby.
So, if everyone had turned up there would have been 24 - let's see you all in 2008. Once again thank you to the Lancers Band and our well turned out banner party, you are very much appreciated.
Post War Contingent
The Reserve Forces again took part in the Sydney Anzac Day March with the Honorary Colonel of the Regiment, Major General Warren Glenny, leading the reserve forces contingent.
Those present in the Lancers’ contingent included: John Anderson, Dave Crisp, Bob Gay, Helen Clarke, Neil Colquhoun, Rod Dixon, Peter Knowland, Tom Larkin, Athol Sanson, Wal Smith, Joe Tabone, Charlie Zarb and Kevin Smith (12/16 HRL). Once again, a special mention for some of the past commanding officers - these were COL John Arnott and COL Lee Long. The contingent was lead by LTCOL John Howells and MAJ Len Koles and assisted by the Association Secretary, Brian Walters.
Once again, many thanks must go to the serving members of the Regiment who carried the banner or marched in the ranks. Unfortunately I don’t have a full list of those who participated but there were a total of about 27. Particular thanks go to RSM Alby Chirichilli for ensuring that these troops were available on the day. Also included were some of the members of the 203rd Cadet Unit from Lancer Barracks – so thanks to them as well.
A colourful feature of the contingent was the 15 pennons of the Australian light regiments carried by the serving soldiers. Included in these were the individual pennons of the 1st and the 15th regiments; and as it will be the 90th anniversary of the charge at Beersheba in October, the 4th and the 12th regiments should also be mentioned. These last four regiments are still operating today. The pennons were provided by the Reserve Forces Day Council of NSW and will be carried again on Reserve Forces Day in July.
The step off was delayed by the wet weather until about 1230 hours. The contingent proceeded along the usual route down Martin Place, past the Cenotaph and left wheeled into George Street. The very wet weather made for an uncomfortable march and the dispersal in Elizabeth Street was very welcome.
After the march, the majority of people made their way to the Civic Hotel as this has become the armoured corps reunion venue. It was crowded but thankfully dry and very noisy, especially when the bagpipes and the drums started to ‘entertain’ those present! Again thanks go to the RAAC who provided a subsidised snack on the day. Others still go to the NSW Leagues Club but this also gets very crowded on Anzac Day.
RAAC and Post War Regimental ANZAC Day contingents
In conclusion, the number of marchers was down this year probably as a result of the weather but all will be welcome again next year.
Brian Walters - Secretary/Treasurer Royal NSW Lancers' Association
The popularity of the annual Anzac Day March has been increasing over recent years, particularly among younger people. This has lead to a desire for people who are neither veteran nor have a military background to actually take part in the March. This is tolerated by many veterans but, to use an old cliché, it’s a privilege and not a right!
The committee members of the Lancers’ Association get involved in vetting such people on the actual day of the March and there have been a number of problems over the past two years. This has been unpleasant for all involved and spoilt the occasions for the WWII veterans. The experience is echoed in many negative comments about the March being ‘taken-over’ - particularly from those who watch the ABC live telecast.
To reiterate a couple of points that have made already in regard to the March:
- The Anzac Day March is run and controlled by the NSW Branch of the RSL. As such, our Association and all other participants have to follow the rules and regulations of that organisation
- The only people allowed to participate in the march are people who are eligible for membership of the RSL, that is, they have the pre-requisite military service
- Participants have to be suitably attired and follow all the instructions of the march marshals
- In regard to relatives of deceased veterans who are not members of the RSL, there are a few specific rules to follow:- there can only be ONE person to represent the deceased or disabled veteran
- they MUST be wearing the medals of the relevant veteran on the right-hand breast
- the wearing of military head-dress (such as a beret or slouch hat) is forbidden
- they must get permission to march with the relevant association or group.
The RSL has sanctioned the formation of a group called ‘Descendants of World War Two Veterans’ to take part in the March but well down the order and close to the end. This group participated in 2007 but will have a more active role next year. Their formation follows on that of a similar group who are descendants of World War One veterans.
For those who want to take part in the March and who don’t wish to conform to the reasonable requirements above – this is the place for them. The current feeling and mood is that all descendants of veterans will be directed to join the groups at the end and leave the March to the real veterans. This direction may be in force by 2008 but that remains to be seen.
The committee is seeking to help rather than hinder people who have a genuine desire to honour the memory of their veteran relatives. However, problems such as have been experienced in the last two years will not be tolerated. After all, this is a day for the real veterans to enjoy.
The parade was reviewed by Her Excellency the Governor of New South Wales, Professor Marie Bashir AC, CVO and the Vice Chief of the Defence Force Lieutenant General Ken Gillespie, AO, DSC, CSM, The Hon Bronwyn Bishop MP represented the Prime Minister.
The parade featured the Light Horse, with 15 horses carrying pennants with the colours of the 15 Regiments that fought in World War 1, and a further group of horses totalling 90, the number of years since the successful charge at Beersheba. A display by the Armoured Vehicle Collectors Society, the New South Wales Lancers Museum and serving members of the 1st/15th Royal New South Wales Lancers covered all aspects of the mechanised light horse. The Guidons of the 1st 12th and 15th Light Horse Regiments were paraded, with members of the Royal New South Wales Lancers Association, 12th/16th/24th Regimental Association (who had travelled down from New England), and one member of the Prince of Wales’ Light Horse Association addressed by Her Excellency.
Lance Corporal Johnson Beharry VC and Warrant Officer (Retired) Keith Payne VC were special guests of honour as were the last of the World War 2 veterans who trained as lighthorsemen.
The Regiment gave the association excellent support at the parade, with the Regimental Band and Guidon party present. There were 70 lancers on parade, our best showing for post war Association Members for Anzac or Reserve Forces Day. We had attendees from Tumut, the Gold Coast and Darwin; wonderful support. Things would have even been better if the notice had included the date (my fault (Editor - John Howells) not Len Koles - though there were quite a few who checked the draft).
The Association and Guidons on parade
After the parade, all adjourned to the Royal Automobile Club for an excellent reunion.
Those Present included: Gordon Ayre, Brian Algie, John Andersen, Ross Baker, Stan Bendall, Jack Best, David Blackman, Terry Boardman, Brian Brackenridge, Nick Brewer, Bruce Brien, Ross Brown, John Burlison, Phil Colbert, Harry Crampton, Dave Crisp, Merv Cummings, Jeff Darke, Chris Dawson, Don Deacon-Bell, Ross Denny, Pat Donovan, Frank Fitzpatrick, Raymond Gabriel, Bob Gay, Jim Gellett, Gabriel Gewargis, Owen Graham, John Haines, Jim Hamilton, Ken Hickey, Bernie Hill, Alan Hitchell, Barry Hodgson, John Howells, Bob Johns, Peter King, Peter Knowland, Len Koles, Jack Lamb, Tom Larkin, Dennis Lees, Peter Leslie, Steve Leslie, Mick Lewins, Sam Lind, Lee Long, Bill Manyweathers, Ivan McCauley, Terry McKenna, John McPhee, Gordon Muddle, Brian O'Donovan, John Palmer, Mike Phillips, Doug Pollard, Jeff Randell, Ron Roberts, Greg Smith, Wal Smith, Arthur Standring, Bob Stenhouse, Mark Swadling, Joe Tabone, Brian Walters, David Wood, Eric Zakulis.
We are of course lucky to have Alan Hitchell as a member of our association. He put together a great set of photos of us and the march. If you were there, I am sure you will find There 107, the slides change automatically, if you want one of the pics, hit the pause button and download it. Click Here and enjoy.
For More photos of the Association on parade, visit the Reserve Forces Day web site www.rfd.org.au
We have a memorial to the Boer War in Parramatta, and in most capital cities and towns; but no memorial to the Nation's first major conflict in the national capital, Canberra.
On 1 March 2007 the Canberra National Memorials Committee (CNMC) chaired by the Prime Minister approved the proposal by the Royal Australian Armoured Corps Association for Section 41 Reid on Anzac Parade be set aside for the construction of a suitable memorial subject to design approval by the CNMC.
A Boer War Memorial Committee has been formed, it now has to raise the funds, organise for a national design competition (details of which will be announced on this site shortly) and have the monument constructed.
Our Regiment first went into combat and were the first Australian troops in combat in South Africa. We have a strong stake in the construction of the memorial. For further details visit the Boer War Memorial web site: www.bwm.org.au or send a cheque to: The BWM Committee at Building 96 Victoria Barracks Paddington NSW 2021; all donations over $2 are tax deductible.
David Craven, and John Howells
DOUGLAS JASPRIZZA of Tuross Head, in early January 07, aged 83. Doug came with the intake from 3rd Tank Bn in February 43. He joined our HQ Squadron in Intelligence Section as a qualified radio operator, and served in New Guinea and Borneo. He used to attend reunions at the NSW Leagues Club, but not in recent years. At times I saw him when visiting daughter in Bodalla. Word of his death came from John McManus and Geoff Morris. Doug was a regular donor to the Association and Museum, thanks Doug.
ALLAN HOAD of Walcha NSW. Reported in RSL Reveille of May-June 07, and date of death unknown. He was on our roll and received newsletters, but we have no known personal contact. He joined the AIF at 17 and was soon discharged as under age. Re-joining on turning 18 in December 42, he eventually came to us from a Training Battalion as a reinforcement in May 45 and served in B Squadron in Borneo as a tank loader-operator, so service in the Lancers was not long. Maybe B Squadron veterans will remember Allan. LLOYD JONES - also reported in Reveille. He was not on our roll, nor was he listed in our Service Record file, indicating he didn't serve in Borneo but was probably in New Guinea. Our unofficial manning chart shows he was a member of 5 Troop B Squadron. We have no other information.
ALAN (Occer) KEYS of Port Macquarie aged 69. Allan died on Tuesday 27 March 2007 in hospital from cancer, 4 days after his 69th birthday on 23March 2007. His funeral was held on Friday 30/03/2007 at Port Macquarie and the Regiment was represented by Bob and Shirley Dickson, Sid and Kit Lewis and Gordon Ayre.
REG SWADLING of West Ryde aged 79 on 4 April 2007. Reg and his son Mark both served in the Regiment. Reg rose to the rank of Warrant Officer Class 2, and all of us who came in contact with him regarded him as the epitome of an SSM.
Reg at Puckapunyal in the 1960s, and Water Training in the 1970s
His funeral was held at Northern Suburbs Crematorium, there were 30 Lancers present from Colonel (Colonel Lee Long RFD) to Trooper. The eulogy was given by Terry Boardman. Terry remembered a particular incident when Reg was SSM C Squadron at Puckapunyal. Reg arrived with A echelon to refuel a troop, with refuelling of the Centurions in progress, Reg moved to a nearby tree to relieve himself. Partway through the process, a spark ignited the motor spirit. Reg interrupted his business, rushed to the vehicles and directed the fire fighting. The vehicles were saved and there were no casualties, however, Reg always maintained that the interrupted relief had left liquid in his body that was never purged, and was thus the source of all manner of problems. Reg was a museum volunteer, though his attendance at servicing weekends had dropped off of late. Mark brought Reg along to our February weekend, we all thank Mark for a chance to say goodbye to an old friend and experience again that look, always politely followed by sir, etc; the one we all were on the receiving end of as young officers and NCOs.
The 30 Lancers at Reg Swadling's Funeral
Great to have known you Reg, thanks for your service to the nation.
PHILLIP WRIGHT of Bathurst, 25 May 2007 and aged 85. Word came from Geoff Morris and his wife Betty. Geoff said Phillip was a Trooper "Don-R" in HQ Squadron, and served in New Guinea, but not in Borneo. He is therefore not in our Service Record File, but was on our roll, he received newsletters and travelled quite regularly to our Anzac Day Reunions, the last one being in 2000. Betty indicated that a grandson marched for him this year and will do so in the future.
Lancer Reunion 28 October 2007
October (Sunday 28 October 2007) will see a major Lancer reunion. The regimental association will conduct it at Lancer Barracks commencing 11:00 and finishing around 15:00. It will be an opportunity for those who marched on Anzac and Reserve Forces Day and their families to meet again, and for those for whom a march is a bit onerous to join in. The Museum will be open, a barbeque luncheon will be provided at a small cost, and drinks will be at mess prices. Please use the response sheet to give us an idea of the numbers.
90 Years Since Beersheba 2007 in Armidale
It is the intent of 12/16 Hunter River Lancers to commemorate the 90th Anniversary of the Charge and Battle of Beersheba on 31 October 2007, in Armidale NSW.
The 12th Light Horse Regiment AIF, from which the 12/16 Hunter River Lancers descends and takes battle honours, played the key role in the capture of the town and its wells on 31st October 1917, thereby opening the way for British victory in Palestine during World War I. The 12th accounted for 'a large number of enemy killed or wounded' and 738 prisoners, 90 guns, three machine guns, rolling stock, vehicles and animals captured. Of 14 decorations awarded, eight were to 12th Regiment officers and men, most of whom came from the New England, Gwydir, Upper Hunter and Western Districts.
Beersheba is one of Australia's greatest victorious Battle Honours and its 90th commemoration is an occasion of significance to the nation. The focus of this commemoration in NSW fittingly, will be the home of the 12th Regiment and its heirs, the Hunter River Lancers. A Squadron of the Regiment is stationed at Armidale and that City is also home to our Memorial and Museum.
The Regiment was granted Freedom of Entry to the City of Armidale by the City Council on 23rd March 1986. The Regiment will request leave to exercise this Freedom and commemorate Beersheba with a mounted parade through the City of Armidale, Guidons flying and band playing, from 12 noon on Saturday, 3rd November 2007. 12th/16th Hunter River Lancers, vehicles will be on parade. A light horse re-enactment troop of riders would also take part as would old comrades, mounted in historic vehicles or dismounted at the viewing point will be descendants of those who took part in the charge.
Plan your visit to the celebrations now. More information will be published in later newsletters.
2 Training Group Reunion 2008
Those who either served in or trained at 2 Training Group, Bardia Barracks, Ingleburn in the 1970s, 80s and 90s might be interested in the Bardia Reunion on 15 March 2008. The function will be in the evening at Ingleburn RSL. For more information email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thanks to the Following who gave donations to the Lancers Museum in the six months 1 January 2007, until 30 June 2007. Official receipts were posted out in June. Please note that the Museum is a tax exempt gift recipient; thus your donations are tax deductible.
Brian Algie, John Arnott, Allan Aynsley, Allan Aynsley, Bill Balchin, Gwyn Bent, Valerie Boyton, Jeff Brownlow, John Burlison, Stan Butler, Lisa Cameron, Joy Canham, Jim Caradus, John Carruthers, Bert Castellari, Alan Chanter, Les Chipperfield, Doug Clift, David Craven, John Creswick, Trevor Darby, Ted Fallowfield, Bob Gay, David Gendle, Bruce Gurton, Eric Holland, Therese Holles, John Howells, Alan Howitt, Hector Howlett, Ingleburn RSL Sub-Branch, Jim Heine, Norma Jamieson, John Kearney, Jack Lamb, Lee Long, Gordon Mackay, Albert Martin, Joan McDonald, John McManus, Geoff Moran, Don Morris, Marcia Newton, Parramatta RSL Sub Branch, Bill Philip, Doug Pinnington, Doug Pollard, Eddie Polley, Kevin Regan, John Rodwell, Jack Rolfe, Ron Rope, Ross Runge, Bob Stenhouse, Graham Stewart, Norma Swadling, Dan Tesoriero, Grant Troup, Don Watson, Col Williamson, Philip Wright.
Thank you all very much. Without this assistance, the Museum cannot continue to preserve and display the history of the Regiment and the Corps.
Thanks to the Following who gave donations to the Lancers Association in the six months 1 January 2007, until 30 June 2007.
First Last, Brian Algie, Allan Aynsley, Allan Aynsley, Bill Balchin, David Brown, John Burlison, Rod Button, John Carruthers, Bert Castellari, Alan Chanter, Les Chipperfield, Doug Clift, David Craven, John Creswick, Horrie Cross, Ron Cullen, Jack Curran, Trevor Darby, Ted Fallowfield, Bob Gay , Reg Gunn, Bruce Gurton, Eric Holland, Alan Howitt, Hector Howlett, Norma Jamieson, John Kearney, Jack Lamb, Lee Long, Ken Lowe, Gordon Mackay, Albert Martin, Joan McDonald, John McManus, Bill Philip, Doug Pinnington, Doug Pollard, Jack Rolfe, Ron Rope, Bob Stenhouse, Reg Swadling, Dan Tesoriero, Don Watson, Philip Wright.
The Royal NSW Lancers Association and the NSW Lancers Museum operate because of your generosity. Please take the time to make a donation (Click Here for online submission Click Here for .pdf download to fax or post) and make a donation to the Association and/or Museum. Payment can be made by credit card, single cheque or money order. Donations to the Museum are tax deductible. Filling in and sending the response sheet also keeps your details current in our records.
We also need volunteers, in particular tour guides. There are working bees every Thursday, and the second Sunday of each month. Simply turn up, join up and you will be put to work.
By popular demand, the Museum has sourced bullion blazer badges. Hand crafted, at $20 each including postage these are a bargain.
The Museum also has a new stock of regimental ties available at an affordable price, only $20. The ties are good quality and the colour match is excellent. If you have always wanted a Regimental tie, now is your chance to get one you can afford.
Click Here to go to the Museum Shop.
Do not forget that we have a range of other memorabilia available Orders placed online or by facsimile will be in the post within 24 hours of the validation of your credit card details. I do regret that posted orders will take a little longer, due to family and work commitments, the editor (who fulfils the orders) only picks up the snail mail once a month.
Membership of the RAACA is free to all applicants over 75, and only $10 per annum for those who are younger. The RAACA NSW newsletter complements Lancers' Despatch, providing news of events in the wider corps community. If you wish to join the RAACA and receive the newsletter, drop a line to the association at Building 96, Victoria Barracks, Paddington NSW 2071, or eMail email@example.com.
"A regiment is not solely the men who presently comprise its strength. It is an entity stretching back in time to its beginnings. It is all the men who have served in its ranks, with their traditions and achievements. The serving unit, like the tip of an iceberg, may be the only part you see, but underneath, supporting it, there is a great deal more." (These words, often quoted, were introduced by our Patron, Major General Warren Glenny, AO RFD ED, during his term as 2IC of 1st/15th Royal NSW Lancers in the 1960s)
Lancers' Despatch is Published in February and August each year by the New South Wales Lancers Memorial Museum Incorporated ABN 94 630 140 881 and the Royal New South Wales Lancers Association. All material is copyright. John Howells - Editor, New South Wales Lancers Memorial Museum Incorporated, Linden House, Lancer Barracks, 2 Smith Street, PARRAMATTA NSW 2150, AUSTRALIA, firstname.lastname@example.org Tel: +61 (0)405 482 814, Fax: +61 (0)2 4733 3951.
© New South Wales Lancers Memorial Museum Incorporated ABN 94 630 140 881;
Linden House, Lancer Barracks, 2 Smith Street, PARRAMATTA, AUSTRALIA