Lancers' Despatch 16
Website of the Royal New South Wales Lancers Lancer Barracks and Museum
Editorial Museum Matters Lancers' Association News From the CO's Desk Beyond the Regiment Memories of the 1940s 4 Old Farts Visit Pukka Cambrai Dinner 2009 Regimental Reunion 2009 Harry C RFD RSM Steadfast in Faith Barracks Fire 1923 Fighting Charlie Tank Versus Tank Donaldson VC Departed Comrades Thanks Please Help Memorabilia Coming Events RAACA Electronic Response Sheet .pdf Response Sheet .pdf Version
It has been an interesting six months for the Museum, the Association and the Regiment. Thankfully we have reports from all three organisations, and some great articles. Rather sadly we find that those who served with the Regiment in World War 2 are passing away, and we are losing some slightly younger ones as well, including our Museum stalwart Bob Iverach. We have also enabled secure online payments for donations and memorabilia from this site using Pay Pal. Make certain that you check-out the coming events, the date for the Regimental Birthday celebrations in 2009 has been changed.
Many thanks to all contributors and photographers (all articles are by-lined other than those by the editor).
Your Regimental Museum is on the way to gaining formal recognition as having national heritage significance. This will be a major milestone in the life of the Museum and a tribute to all Lancers who have been a part of the Regiment’s history over the one hundred and twenty four years of its existence.
You might well ask what has happened and why the Museum Committee feels so confident in making this claim? The reason is because the Museum has been successful in what is a very highly competitive application process, in being awarded a federal Community Heritage Grant (CHG). CHG’s, which are funded by the Commonwealth government and administered by the National Library of Australia, are highly prized throughout the Australian community (i.e. non-government) museums and collections sector, as much for the status attached to a grant as for the grant’s purpose. All first time grant recipients are funded for what is called a Significance Assessment Study, carried out by professional museum consultants and designed to determine the entire collection’s heritage significance for Australia and identify the most important items.
Each year the grant applications, of which there are many hundreds, are assessed by a panel of experts drawn from the National Library of Australia, the National Archives, the National Museum of Australia and the National Film and Sound Archive. In deciding who will be awarded a grant, the panel assesses each application against an internationally accepted set of heritage significance criteria – historical, aesthetic, scientific/technical and social. The Lancers’ Museum application was given an A rating, the highest available, and was assessed to have potential national significance for Australia on all four primary significance criteria. Our significance assessment will be carried out in March or April and will hopefully well and truly put the Museum on Australia’s museum “map” – it will also give a huge boost to the marketing and promotion of the collection. However the grant amount is not large, given the size of the collection and work to be done. To make the best use of the assessors’ time, the Committee has been forced to completely redesign the Museum’s records data base – ANYONE WITH REASONABLE COMPUTER DATA ENTRY SKILLS, PARTICULARLY IF YOU HAVE KNOWLEDGE OF ACCESS DATA MANAGEMENT AND WHO COULD SPARE A FEW HOURS PER WEEK TO HELP OUT WOULD BE VERY WELCOME.
The next step in the Museum management process after a significance assessment is to complete what is known as a Preservation Needs Assessment, this time carried out by professional conservators. This focuses on the results of the significance assessment and identifies the most important and pressing conservation needs of the collection, if it is to be preserved in its optimum condition for the benefit of future generations. This study is becoming crucial for the Museum as the collection now spans over 120 years and the condition of many of the oldest and arguably rarest items, particularly those made of cloth or paper products are becoming in urgent need of proper conservation.
In a successful follow up to the CHG, the Museum has been awarded a grant from NSW Museums and Galleries to complete a preservation needs assessment, which will be completed as soon as the significance assessment is finished. 2009 will therefore be an extremely busy year for the Museum and will herald a major need for fundraising. It’s all well and good to have funding to complete significance and preservation needs studies, but those studies will inevitably identify important and expensive work that must be completed to protect collection items from further deterioration (for example how can we stop the Boer flag captured at Bloemfontein from disintegrating and disappearing before our very eyes?), while the maintenance needs of the Museum’s vintage vehicle fleet becomes ever more expensive!
Well, we have at least made a small start on these new preservation needs, thanks to the Department of Veteran Affairs. The DVA, through a program called Saluting their Service, has generously funded the purchase of a large cabinet freezer. Many people have asked, “What on earth does a Museum want with a freezer?” In short, periodically freezing cloth based items (can you imagine how many uniforms the Museum holds, some of which are well over 100 years old?) is vital to kill off any insects or bugs that would otherwise slowly eat away the fabric. Jack Best, who is rapidly becoming the freezer King of the Museum volunteers, would be delighted to have a few helping hands, any Thursday at Lancer Barracks!
Ross Baker joined the Committee of the Association in March 2008 and has since taken on the role of Minutes Secretary. Ross is an ex-member of the Regiment and served as a M113 crew commander with the rank of corporal around the years 1977 and 1978. He originally joined our brother regiment, the 12/16 Hunter River Lancers, in July 1973 before transferring to the Parramatta Lancers around the start of 1977. After completing his stint at Parramatta, he again transferred to the 177 Air Despatch Regiment at Richmond before resigning from the Army Reserve in December 1978. Ross has been a great help to the Association and again proved his worth by carrying the Lancers’ Standard at the launch of Reserve Forces Day 2009 in November (2008).
Lieutenant Colonel Eric Stevenson CO 1/15 RNSWL
Greetings to all for the New Year. The Lancers ended 2008 on a high, with an enviable reputation for being able to successfully complete all allocated and implied tasks. The average Unit strength for 2009 was 247, and growing. This figure is quite high considering that the majority of Combat Service Support elements (RAEME, Transport and Ordnance Corps) were removed under Project Focus. The main emphasis for the Regiment in 2008 was completing the development of our light cavalry individual skills and knowledge. In 2009 we will turn from a focus on individual training, to collective training - in particular providing formed patrols to work with other Units.
I am pleased to advise that the Chief of Army has extended our Honorary Colonel’s tenure. This will allow Major General Warren Glenny, AO, RFD, ED, to remain with us and be an integral part of the 125th Birthday Celebrations in 2010.
The Regiment has commenced training soldiers and officers to undertake light cavalry-type tasks with 51 Far North Queensland Regiment. This has required soldiers to undertake a number of specialist formal courses such as Patrolman, First Aid, Patrol Commander and Vehicle Commander, to prepare them for exercising with indigenous soldiers and communities in the often harsh North Queensland environment.
To help achieve the above activities, we have restructured the Regiment by moving many of the Officers and Non-commissioned Officers out of Regimental Headquarters into the Squadrons. This has left the Unit with a small, agile headquarters, capable of moving quickly to command and support a variety of Unit and Brigade activities.
A Squadron is in the final stages of moving back to Lancer Barracks. Vernon Lines will be handed back to the 5th Brigade and re-allocated to another Unit. B Squadron remains in Suvla Depot in Goulburn and is growing steadily. C Squadron currently has a complete headquarters and one troop, and has been tasked with growing a second troop by the end of the year. It is a line Squadron (again) in its own right, as opposed to a dedicated training squadron. Training Troop (sponsored directly by Regimental Headquarters) now averages about 20 soldiers completing initial employment skills training prior to them attending the Army Recruit Training Centre at Kapooka. When the soldiers return, they are allocated to one of the Squadrons. The Band remains at full strength and is already heavily committed to a number of musical engagements throughout Sydney and New South Wales.
There has been much speculation about the utility of our light cavalry vehicles. In order to support our growing number of tasks more effectively, we have commenced sending our vehicles in for rebuild. Two photos of the modifications can be found below.
As with previous years, each member of the Lancers will be very busy. The recruiters would have us believe we undertake one weekend per month and parade each Tuesday night. The reality is somewhat different. The majority of soldiers and officers will attend 16 weekends during the year undertaking Brigade, Regiment or Squadron activities. In 2009 each soldier is also expected to undertake one 14-day major Exercise, for example with 51 Far North Queensland Regiment or on the combined exercise, TALISMAN SABRE. Most will also need to complete one of 15 different career courses. Some will be asked to provide support to Brigade directed activities such as taking part in Reserve Response Force exercises, act as light cavalry course instructors, work with the 2nd Cavalry Regiment as cavalry scouts, act as firers on range instructor courses and support recruiting activities. Given that the average soldier paraded for 35 days in 2009, most of the key appointments will parade over 100 days, with all achieving a fine balance between their primary employment, family, having a life and professional service with the Lancers.
We live in interesting times. I am looking forward to leading the Lancers again this year and chatting with many of the Lancers’ Dispatch readers in due course.
We are pleased to be able to provide this note from past Commanding Officer Brigadier Philip Bridie about those who have gone on to greater things beyond the Regiment.
I had the honour of promoting Graham Stewart to Colonel on Tuesday 9th December 2008 at Army Personnel Agency – Sydney, Victoria Barracks. His lovely wife, Virginia, was present having been invited on the quiet by the Director, Colonel Peter Jones, thus surprising Graham when the occasion came, and she ably assisted front stage in the process. The promotion was witnessed by a number of Armoured Corps brethren including Majors Mark Gibson, Mark Dallacosta, Chris Monsour and WO1 Rick Young as well as Major Stefan Hreszczuk, a previous esteemed Spanner member of the Unit. It is particularly pleasing to see another Commanding Officer of the Regiment succeed post command and I wish him all the best as Assistant Commander 5th Brigade, a position from where he will be able to keep a watchful eye on the Lancers. For those who have watched Graham this past decade, it is a particularly fitting reward for his dedication and perseverance. I wish this fine and capable officer all the best in the future.
Also please be advised that effective Monday 15th December 2008, I have taken command of the 8th Brigade, from another of our Corps, Iain Spence, who is taking a well earned break in Headquarters Training Command – Army, essentially a job swap with myself. Iain was Commanding Officer of 12th/16th Hunter River Lancer’s at the time I took command of the Regiment. Iain has left the Brigade in excellent order and I look forward to continuing his exceptional efforts.
I am enthusiastically looking forward to the challenges that lie ahead including that of having our sister Regiment under my command. HRL is commanded by Lieutenant Colonel Ron Cox, who served with the Lancers for a short period in the mid 90’s as a Squadron Second in Command. He has long service in the Corps, having graduated from Portsea in early 1977 but has been in the Reserve since 1987. He has been all over NSW and Queensland and no doubt there are many in the Regiment who have served with or know of him.
On 14th May, 1940, aged 17, I joined the 1st Machine Gun Regiment at the drill hall in Carrington Rd, Randwick, was sworn in by Lieutenant Philip Vernon, and ordered to attend on Wednesday nights at 7.OOpm for training. A few weeks later I was kitted out with clothes to fit someone else and told to “put on, or take off weight if necessary”. We used to clump around the wooden floors in our big red boots, flop on the floor (“take Cover”) - when the whistle blew, get up (“advance”) — when the whistle blew and perform lots of other exciting things- when the whistle blew! We were shown — and allowed to touch — the 1914 Lewis Machine Gun — a simple infantry weapon with notches on the butt.
A week or so after I joined — enlisted, I mean, dangerous looking blokes like Jack Curtayne, David Craven and “Murgy” Hobbs joined up making us a force to be reckoned with! If only our boots would stop squeaking! Lieutenant Vernon kept up our interest by promising that we would be “going under canvas” very soon. That didn’t sound like a great threat to Hitler, I thought, who was thumbing his nose at the world according to Fox Movietone News, - including the 1st Machine Gun Regiment.
So, I decided urgent action was necessary, and as I was already half trained I would join the Air Force and hurry things up. I spent a whole day at the R.A.A.F Recruiting Depot at Woolloomooloo at the end of which 30 of us made contact with a bible by placing a finger on the shoulder of the bloke in front, who also had his finger on the shoulder of the bloke in front — who also had his finger That miniature pocket bible probably decided the fate of thousands who were eventually shipped off to Canada, England & Europe on a one-way trip.
Like most of the other wingless warriors I intended to be a “Spitfire” pilot The RAAF wallahs decided otherwise. My Intermediate level school certificate revealed some ability in the subjects of English, Mathematics, Geometry and Trigonometry with History, Geography and French best forgotten.
It was decided that my educational achievements earmarked me for training as a navigator! Bitterly disappointed, like many others, it was then revealed that because Australia had very few planes, very few camps, very few instructors etc’ etc, - we would continue with our present activities until they could sort things out. Groups of recruits were detailed for disappointing tasks. Several others and I were instructed to report to Rainbow St. Public School at Randwick at 630pm three nights each week for tuition in elementary map reading- like subjects and revision of mathematics etc, - already mostly forgotten from school days. Nothing about this syllabus resembled the thrilling aerial dog fights which I had imagined would stop Hitler’s aggression in Europe!.
“How do I get out of this?” After 6 or 7 weeks at Rainbow St. school with my long legs jammed under a school desk and having told my mates and four or five girlfriends — well, one girl anyway that I knew slightly, that “I have joined the Air Force to be a pilot” here I was carrying my old school case, riding on trams in mufti and not a Distinguished Flying Cross in sight! Then Eureka! A khaki coloured letter arrived commanding me to report to the Railway Transport Office at Central Railway Station with all my clobber including my battered “303 short magazine Lee Enfield Rifle, Mark 1 (1915)”
My father was delighted — he knew by the way things were going for me that it would be a long time before I would be locking horns with Hitler!
On arrival at Rooty Hill railway station about 20 or 30 of us were met by the dashing Lieutenant Cohn Southwell and loaded onto a variety of civilian trucks which had been taken over by the Army, on hire, in the absence of any khaki ones. Soon we were “under canvas” at last, the advance party having pitched them, complete with floorboards!
I discovered I was a member of No. 1 Troop “A” Squadron, with Lt Southwell as my Troop Leader, and Captain “Johnny” Lemon as the Squadron Leader. Our tents all had names for some reason. I was in “The Den” with Jack Curtayne, Murray Hobbs, Jimmy Horn, Ken and Harry Ricketts. Other tents were named “The Grange”, “The Nest”, “Guilwell Hall” and “The Chateau”.
In the months that followed our training was hard but interesting and well organised. We were fortunate to have good NCO instructors, fellows like Adrian Ferns, Frank Herford-Smith and Vie Musgrove who knew their job and did it well.
Halfway through this wonderful period, I was feeling fit and confidant — also my boots had stopped squeaking and were now turning from red to tan. After shifting a few buttons my service dress jacket fitted better and my “hat, fur felt, size 7” had been “aged” and I looked less like a new chum.
Then I got a letter from my father telling me that two Air Force fellows wearing ambands with “SP” printed on them had called to our house at Clovelly enquiring about my health. My dad sent them on their way saying “he doesn’t live here any more” — which, of course was true — I was living at Wallgrove, and enjoying it! My dad wouldn’t tell a lie.
But this worried me, I must admit, and I didn’t go home on leave when I had the opportunity. However, the situation worsened a few days later when I was “in the field” learning “concealment and cover” and crawling over bull-ant mounds towards a “bushy topped hill” or “rocky outcrop” while our Troop Leader sat in the shade enjoying a smoke and listing our mistakes or lack of “fieldcraft” such as allowing our backsides too much elevation. Next a “Don — R” appeared. (Army speak for a bloke on a motor bike). He delivered a verbal message from Regimental Second — in Charge, Major Frank Small requesting my presence yesterday! This was made possible, if not comfortable, by me hugging the Don-R like a koala bear while I endured a “pillion ride” on a BSA banger which didn’t have a pillion seat — or footrests. I should have applied for a pension. On arrival at camp (100 miles away?) I was delivered to the Orderly Room at RHQ — actually it was a tent — “the war,” you know. A snarling sergeant known far and wide as “Donga” Lovell barked something which propelled me inside where I saw to my dismay, not only the usually smiling Major Small — who was not smiling, but horror of horrors two very smart looking Air Force corporals wearing armbands saying “SP” indicating that they were Service Police. My experience (at that time anyway) with any sort of police was almost nil having being taught to steer clear or if that failed be polite — or run.
I had always liked Major Small — he was a WWl veteran with medal ribbons like my dad — but he wasn’t smiling today.
“Tell me Trooper” he said “Did you ever join the Air Force”? “Yes sir — I did” I replied “What do you want to be Trooper — a soldier or an Airman” “Oh, a soldier sir, I like being in the army” “You’re not thinking about joining the Navy are you”? “Oh no sir — I wouldn’t do that — I get seasick on boats”. (I had been shunted off to live with my grandparents in Tasmania from 1927 to 1931 and was seasick over and back).
I thought I saw Major Small smile then, but I may have been mistaken. Anyway he turned to the Air Force wallahs and said something like “he’s in the Army, he is not a deserter, and no offence has been committed. The Air Force fellows looked annoyed before they saluted and disappeared. “Go back to your troop — dismiss” the Major said. I gave him my best ever salute — (longest way up and shortest way down) then escaped and almost enjoyed another “pillion” ride back to my favourite “bushy topped hill”. The “fun” days!
A few months later our world changed on 7th December 1941. We suddenly had hundreds of new faces among us and camps followed at Orange, Rutherford, Dungog, Greta, Singleton and Caboolture and attacked Bribie Island on landing barges for days at a time. Veterans will have many memories of their service during World War 2 — some good, some bad, some happy, some sad.
I also have many memories but what I remember most are the 126 members of “A” Squadron, all ranks. There were (leaving out a few, of course) about 120 who I looked upon as brothers — yes brothers whose friendship has lasted a lifetime.
Today, of all those wonderful fellows only 22 are alive but I will treasure my friendship with all of them until my last parade.
What memories do you have?
Keep in touch
4 old farts circa 1960 recently made a visit to the Armoured Centre at Puckapunyal.
After a most enjoyable morning tea provided by the RSM WO1 Colin Geoghegan (WO1 Geoghegan, left the Regiment in the 1990s to serve in the ARA, he has just been posted RSM 1/15 RNSWL, a great achievement) in the Armoured Centre Sergeants' Mess, a visit was paid to the Tank Museum. At the Museum we were able to present some items to the curator on behalf of the Lancers' Museum, and spend a lot of time inspecting the exhibits.
It was a very enjoyable three days had by all, much liquid refreshments consumed. a lovely trip with good mates.
If you have never been to a Cambrai dinner than make 2009 the first year you make it. The dinner commemorates the first successful power of mechanised armour at Cambrai in France, 1917. It is an all ranks affair and your chance to mix with the legends of the corps (like Colonel Tom Arrowsmith MV - see photo below).
Another great Regimental Reunion was held on Sunday 30 November 2008. Everyone adults and children who came had a really good time. Representation included WW2 veterans through to the present day with children and grandchildren. A fairly extensive gallery of pictures can be found below. Where your editor can identify the guilty parties names are noted. Please accept my apologies if I did not identify you. (Most of the photos are by Alan Hitchell.)
It is with pleasure that Lancers' Despatch notes Harry Crampton has been appointed as the Reserve Forces Day RSM. At least any of us who make an error on the parade this year will expect correction in a familiar voice.
At one time we had a medic attached to us as a medical orderly. Like us he had to attend a camp of continuous training to keep to be efficient. Unlike us he was unwell when he flew with us to Pucka in the RAAF Hercules . He was then sent to the camp hospital. We did not see him again to the last day of camp.
He was still unwell but when he turned-up at the end of camp, we were preoccupied, preparing the vehicles for the arrival of the second Squadron. Eventually I (a RAEME SGT) thought the man needed help so said "Get the Ambulance!". Two Tankies were seen to disappear, and when we arrived at the waiting Hercules the Medic was being uplifted on a stretcher portable FS by the Loadmaster on to a setup that bought him to a height just below a mans chin.
During the flight home there was talk indicating a civilian Ambulance had been ordered to take the Medic home from Richmond, but nothing was seen of this Ambulance on our arrival at the RAAF Base. One of the senior officers had come to the base to get a first hand report of the camp his vehicle was a Station Wagon with folding rear seats. They were lowered, and the Stretcher was slid in, with twenty or more centimetres to spare. The senior officer, accompanied by an offsider, took the medic home himself.
Could you find a better example of the of the Regiments Motto Tenax en Fide (Steadfast in Faith).
On 19 July 1923 there was a fire at Lancer Barracks. The day was saved by the swift action of Sergeant McDiarmid. The CO, Colonel Vernon wrote the letter below to thank him for his efforts.
The Regimental badge on the letterhead is interesting. At the time unit badges were not worn, only the rising sun of the 1st AIF. This badge with its 1 LH shield and wattle in lieu of waratahs made it on to some contemporary stationery and crockery, but was never worn.
Major General Charles Cox CB CMG DS0 VD, was born in the Pennant Hills district in 1863 and buried in the same area in 1944.
Eight of the relations of General Cox are buried at an obelisk in a hidden and private cemetery near Kay St (The cemetery next to Simpson reserve is now under the control of St Paul’s, Anglican Church Carlingford and previously Parramatta City Council.) spanning the years from 1888 to 1930.
After some research and fossicking in the ground, a headstone was found marked with name of General Cox, near the obelisk. This unremarkable grave site covered with growth, like much of the Cemetery, contains a small, difficult to read, headstone marked:
“In sacred memory of
Further research found that Cox (aka: “Fighting Charlie”), was born in Parramatta 2 May 1863, baptised 14 June 1863 at All Saint’s Church Parramatta and, married Minnie Gibbons at Parramatta in 1894. A daughter was their only child. His father, Frederick Charles Cox, was a local butcher and died in 1930 at the age of 90 years. His mother, Eliza, died in 1921 at the age of 76 years. Both are buried at the family obelisk.
In June l89l Cox joined K Troop of the Sydney Lancers, NSW Cavalry; a bright young soldier he rose through the ranks rather rapidly and was a Captain in November 1897. In 1899 he commanded a contingent of Lancers that went to the UK for training, it was this group that stopped at Capetown en route home, and became the first Australians to serve in the Boer War. When Lancer Squadron returned to Australia at the end of 1900, he returned to South Africa and was made a Lieutenant Colonel in the British Army in 1901. When he returned to Australia he commanded the NSW Lancers 1906/11.
In South Africa Lord Kitchener congratulated Colonel Cox for his work, skills and dedication which established himself as a gallant cavalry fighter and leader.
He was recognised for his Boer War service by award of the Queen’s Medal with 6 clasps, the King’s Medal with 2 clasps and a CB.
In the Great War he served in Gallipoli followed by command of the 6th Light Horse in Palestine. He then succeeded General Chauvel in command of the 1st Light Horse Brigade from 1915 to the end of the war.
After the war he commanded 1st Cavalry Division from 1921 to 1923 being placed on the retirement list, 1 March 1923, with the rank of honorary Major General.
He was elected a NSW Senator for the Nationals in 1919 and retired in 1937 due to failing health.
He died at Croydon in 1944 at the age of 81 years and was buried with full military honours at Carlingford Cemetery.
He was honorary Colonel of the New South Wales Lancers / Royal New South Wales Lancers (title "Royal" granted to the Regiment in 1935) from the death of Lord Carrington in 1928 until his own passing in 1944.
This storey of our War hero is saddened with the unremarkable burial site and headstone at the Cemetery, together with very little inscription of his deeds, wife, daughter or even burial date for a man who achieved so much.
You might recall the eyewitness account in the August 2008 Lancers' Despatch of the first Tank against Tank battle at Cachy in northern France on 24 April 1918. The editor had the privilege to stand on the same ground that the attack took place in November last year. The ground is fairly flat, and certainly does not have the mandatory fold every 1,000 metres that would make it what we now call "good tank country". It is incredibly green, the ground moist and boggy, difficult for the tanks of the time to navigate around shell holes.
The tour that I went on was rather incredible, I visited the sites where Australian soldiers fought along the Somme River in northern France, and Flanders in Belgium. Armistice Day was celebrated at the Australian National Memorial, Villers-Bretonneux (about 2 km from Cachy) where I ran into Lee Long, Lee was en route home from a work-related conference in London. As I was a tour guide, I had to refresh my memory about the battles before I set foot in France, and had the benefit of a confirmatory reconnaissance ahead of the tour guests arriving. A great experience.
Something that does strike you as you pass through Europe is the opulence, the motorways, fast trains, wind farms, atomic power stations, new houses in every village, etc where 60 years ago there was the devastation of war. You have to ask why given this as an example, the nations of the Eastern Mediterranean cannot resolve their differences, differences that are no greater than those that applied in Europe in 1944; and share the prosperity.
You too can have such a great experience, Military History Tours and Productions run tours to France and Belgium in April and November each year, the cost is quite reasonable. To check out what the tour was like, follow this link:
You can follow what happened on the tour on a day-by-day basis, or order the video and see what you can anticipate. To book a tour, consult the website http://www.militaryhistorytours.com.au/ or call 1300 364 671.
Courtesy Defence Media
The Chief of the Defence Force, Air Chief Marshal Angus Houston, on 16 January 2009 saluted Trooper Mark Donaldson of the Special Air Service Regiment as he became the first Australian in almost forty years to be awarded the Victoria Cross.
Air Chief Marshal Houston said the Victoria Cross for Australia was the nation's highest military honour and was presented only to those who displayed the most conspicuous gallantry in the face of the enemy.
"Today is a momentous day for the Australian Defence Force and for Trooper Donaldson," Air Chief Marshal Houston said.
"I ask you all to contemplate Trooper Donaldson's selfless and courageous act of mateship and loyalty - not only to his fellow Aussie comrades but to the Afghani interpreter whose life he undoubtedly saved.
"We in the Australian Defence Force stand united in our pride as one of our own is admitted into the most exclusive of military fraternities.
"Trooper Donaldson has been inducted into the ranks of those military personnel deemed to be the most gallant; the most heroic; the most devoted.
"He joins a band of brothers so admired for their valour that there are only ten surviving members in the world today."
Air Chief Marshal Houston said tradition held that even the most senior officer saluted a Victoria Cross recipient as a mark respect for their act of valour. "It will be my great honour from this day forth to salute Trooper Mark Donaldson, VC," Air Chief Marshal Houston said.
Chief of Army, Lieutenant General Ken Gillespie, congratulated Trooper Donaldson on behalf of all members of the Australian Army.
"Trooper Donaldson's actions, and those of the other members of his patrol, are fine examples of the very best in Australian soldiering. I'm very proud of them all," Lieutenant General Gillespie said.
Trooper Donaldson said he felt very privileged and overwhelmed at being awarded Australia's highest military honour.
"I don't see myself as a hero. I was in Afghanistan just doing my job. My training and my instincts took over on the day," Trooper Donaldson said.
"I am very proud but also keen to get back to work and be with my mates."
David Craven unless otherwise noted.
JIM BREAKWELL of Normanhurst, on 10.6.08, aged 86. Jim joined our Militia 1st Light Horse MG Regiment, in no. 1 Troop, A Squadron in 1940. He was at the 2nd Wallgrove camp in early 1941, and later on fulltime duty. With promotion to Sergeant, he was transferred to Regimental HQ, with administrative duties, and served in New Guinea but not in Borneo. Jim was on our roll and received newsletters, but has not been in contact for years. He may have attended early reunions.
In September 2008 the Association received this email from Jim's daughter:
"My name is Linda Dive, the middle daughter of James John Edwards Breakwell, a member of the Royal New South Wales Lancers.
Sadly, Dad passed away on 10 June 2008 aged 86. His birthday fell on Anzac Day each year, a fact of accident but one of great pride to him! He was a man of such honour and decency, such huge good humour and the teller of wonderful stories. He is so sadly missed by so many and by me.
I have, over the years, become the family historian so when the "Lancers' Despatch" arrived it was passed on to me. I have so enjoyed reading it and finding out all that your Association has been achieving. Dad also gave me your book, in which, surprisingly, I have found a photo of my father.
His years serving as a sergeant in New Guinea and Balikpapan were some of the happiest of his life despite contracting Malaria and Dengue Fever and having his appendix burst. His stories of days spent with mates have become legendary in our family. The Matilda tank he drove, a fond memory for him.
The Hornsby branch of the RSL did a wonderful job at his funeral and the Last Post and Reveille were moving. All the servicemen putting poppies on the coffin was a moment none of the young people, nor I, will ever forget. Truly lovely.
My mother is still alive but largely blind so cannot enjoy your magazine. I would very much like to go on receiving your "Despatch" if that is possible." (Linda has been added to the list of those who receive Lancers' Despatch - Editor.)
LESLIE COLEMAN of Melbourne who died on 22 November 2008. Colonel Coleman had a long career in the Australian Army, beginning with his graduation from RMC Duntroon in December 1938. When the l Armoured Division was formed in Western Australia, the then Captain Coleman was posted as Adjutant with the 2nd/l0th Regiment. Later after service in Australia, he was chosen to go to Britain where he was attached to various Armoured units, participating in the landing at Normandy on D-Day 6 June 1944. By the end of that year he had joined the Guards Armoured Division, then equipped with Churchill tanks, as they began to cross the Rhine River into Germany. After such European service Les returned to Australia and was posted as OC A Squadron 1st Armoured Regiment (Royal New South Wales Lancers) AIF. "On 17 July 1945 Major L. G. Coleman, Australian Staff Corps, who had served with British armour in the invasion of North-West Europe, arrived and took over command of A Squadron" - Regimental History (1885 - 1985) page 301 . After the Japanese surrender he returned to Australia, spending the next fourteen years as a Regular soldier. Upon resigning from the Regular Army Les joined up part time in 1960 and became CO of 4th /19th Prince of Wales' Light Horse, a position he held until 1962. Les eventually retired from the Army and was granted the rank of Colonel. (Courtesy The PWLH Association Journal "Plumes" December 2008 and Philip Bridie.)
RICHARD (DICK) BONNEFIN, of Eungai Creek, on 1.9.08, aged 88. Our advice came from Sydney Morning Herald. Since he was not on our service file and not remembered, we established from Army Records that he was NXl35396, a Sergeant in our 1st Army Tank Bn (AIF) and discharged at Singleton in 1943, so he didn’t have service with us in New Guinea or Borneo. Dick was on our mailing list for newsletters, so there was probably some contact at some time. It isn’t known if he attended any reunions, but being in the country it seems unlikely. Some reader may remember Dick.
JOHN DOWNES of Camden. Listed in November/December issue of RSL “Reveille”; the date of death is not known, probably around early or mid 08, and he would thus have been aged 91. He enlisted at Camden, served in our C Squadron, becoming commissioned in mid 1940, and later was promoted to Captain and 2IC of C Squadron, as deputy to Major Sam Hordern. John was much involved in the in the New Guinea operations at Finschhafen - Sattelberg area, in October - December 1943, until relieved by A Squadron. He did not serve in Borneo. A notable, and sad occasion, was in May 43, during the training exercises at Bribie Island, when he gallantly but unsuccessfully attempted to rescue tank driver Lloyd Greenham, whose tank was to practice wading off an LCM, when it drove into deep water and sank in the mud, resulting in drowning. John Downes was very well regarded by all in C Squadron, and also by many in other squadrons.
BOB IVERACH of Springwood on 15 August 2008 aged 74, after a long illness.
Bob commanded the regiment from 29th May 1982 until his 50th birthday in April 1985, having previously served in the Royal New South Wales Regiment, the 4th/19th Prince of Wales’ Light Horse, 2 Training Group and the Regiment as 2IC. Bob also did a combat experience tour of Vietnam.
When he retired from the Army, he continued to serve as president of the Regimental Museum committee, and latterly as a very hard working Museum Volunteer. His last major contribution was to conduct a series of oral history interviews with surviving past COs, a source that will be most valuable when the Regimental History is updated. (Editor)
Lieutenant Colonel Iverach was very keen on fostering links with former members of the Regiment, and members of the regimental association will remember him as most understanding and co-operative. Bob became well known to veteran association members. In the 1970s, after moving our annual Anzac Day reunions from Lancer Barracks to the NSW Leagues Club, it became our custom to invite the CO as principal guest, with some others of the lst/l5th. The CO would usually briefly tell of the activities of the Regiment, and in 1983 it was Bob’s turn. Then again in 1984, and for the first time before or since he invited a group of veterans to join the Regiment for a weekend at the training camp of October 1984 at Singleton - well known to our members from time there in 1942-43. All 16 who attended agreed that it was a very interesting time and great experience, conceived and planned by Bob Iverach, who kept in contact. Afterwards the word of it was spread widely among mates, and all spoke highly of Bob.
The Regimental Centenary of 1985 was a special time, with many events involving Bob Iverach, who was responsible for much of the planning and organisation of most of them. Of special interest to veteran members was the Freedom of Entry Parade in Sydney, on Sunday 3rd March 1985 - 100 years to the day since the first parade. Bob led the 200 members of the Regiment in the march, followed by about 120 of our veterans, led by Norman Bent. All were filled with pride in taking part and having Bob Iverach as our Commanding Officer. Another special time was on April 9th for the consecrating at Lancer Barracks of the Memorial to the 15 members who died on service in WW2. It was unveiled by Mrs Arley Glasgow, the widow of our wartime CO, Derek Glasgow. A big attendance of veteran members appreciated the historic occasion under the command of Bob Iverach. He later attended some of our Anzac Day reunions at Balmain Bowling Club, along with others of the post war group, and was always warmly welcomed by members.
Bob Iverach was highly regarded by wartime members of the Lancers Association, and he will certainly be well remembered. (David Craven)
Bob was an interesting commander to work for, his vision was as incredible as it was often difficult to achieve. The editor recalls planning for the water training at Lake Liddel near Singleton during the camp described by David Craven, above. Bob wanted us to carry assault troopers across the lake in an APC. A shiver went down my back when the plan was announced. I recalled standing on the beach at Brighton, Botany Bay in 1977 when ballast shifted during a deep water entry and an APC complete with driver went to the bottom. The bay was only three metres deep, and the APC righted itself when it landed on the bottom; the driver (the then) Trooper Woodward was able to escape. Lake Liddel was 70 metres deep ... The water training went off well.
I joined the Commonwealth Bank some time after Bob had left the organisation. There were still those who remembered him including one quite senior manager I worked with who described a particularly military dressing down he had received from Bob for what he regarded as a minor misdemeanour.
Bob was a great tradesman. On a visit to his house at Springwood, I was aghast at the quality of Bob's work around the house. Using mostly recycled materials he achieved magnificent results.
Bob's funeral at Christ Church Springwood was very well attended by association members. Both Brian Walters and I attempted to gather names but eventually gave up. A perusal of the photos below show many who were there. They included Greg McIntyre who succeeded Bob in command of the Regiment and is now unfortunately confined to a wheelchair. The numbers present were a great tribute to Bob and what he had achieved.
Our thoughts are with Bob's wife Agnes and his family.
The following messages of condolence were received by the association:
Peter Quilty (Fr) – Former Regimental Chaplain. A good man has gone to his rest – may he rest in peace. He and his family will be in my prayers & Masses. I was pleased to be serving with Bob when he was 2 IC, they were good times.
Mike Phillips – Formerly 4/19 PWLH. I knew Bob very well at 4/19th and valued his friendship and wise advice.
Warne Higgins – Former Regimental CO. My sincere regrets but I will be on duty in Townsville.
David Mercer – Secretary South Australian Mounted Rifles Association. Unfortunately the tyranny of distance restricts my attendance, my condolences to the family.
Frank Holles – Former Regimental CO. I was sorry to hear that Bob has died . I must confess that the last time I saw him, he looked less than well . I am in Sydney at the moment ,however regrettably I have an unavoidable commitment in the North Sydney CBD between 10 o’clock and about 11.30 am so there is little or no chance of making the funeral..
Geoff Moran – Former Regimental 2IC. Thanks for advice re Bob Iverach, the ranks are thinning. Unfortunately I will not be able to attend his funeral.
David Taylor - Reserve Forces Day Council. I first met Bob Iverach at Narrandera in the Riverina in 1956. Bob worked in the Commonwealth Bank and was a Sergeant in the local CMF unit 31 Coy RAASC located at Leeton. Bob was attending courses in Wagga and Sydney and later that year he was commissioned. I enlisted in the CMF in October 1956 aged seventeen and shortly after my joining the unit changed from RAASC to 4th Infantry Btn Australian Rifles. I went into National Service in 1958 and Bob had his second “pip” when I came home. I traveled with Bob as a pillion passenger on his motor bike to many Parades at Leeton and we had a strong friendship. Bob was transferred to Goulburn in the bank in 1959 and I did not see him again until the first Reserve Forces Day march in 1998. He is fondly remembered by many Riverina CMF and National Servicemen.
Fred Goode - Reserve Forces Day Council - Parkes. Thank you for the advice on Lt Col Iverach he will be sorely missed
Lee Long – Former Regimental CO. Thanks very sad
Pat Donovan - Former Regimental 2IC. John, this is very sad news indeed. I am about to leave for an overseas trip, and regret that I will miss the funeral. If possible, would you pass on my condolences to Agnes.
John Moore – Reserve Forces Day Council. Thanks for letting me know. He was an early helper in RFDC.
Mark Gibson – Former Regimental 2IC. I'm terribly sorry but I can't make it up there today (I put work in on my Sam Browne last night too). Can you please pass on my regrets for not making it and my sincere condolences to Agnes. (Editor)
ALFRED RUSSELL KNIGHT, formerly of The Entrance, date of death is not known. Date of birth was 28.9.19, and probably 88. He was listed in RSL “Reveille” of July/August 08, and is not on our roll or service file. John Blackberry has records which indicate that Albert joined our Militia 1st Machine Gun Regt on 9.7.40, became AIF with the Regiment in Feb 43, with the rank of corporal. He did not serve in New Guinea, having been granted compassionate leave. After returning to the Regiment he reverted to trooper at his request, and was posted to Noel Rossiter’s no. 5 Troop B Squadron as a wireless operator, where he served in Borneo. He was known to friends as “Rusty”. We have no record of any post war contact.
KEN LOWE, of Wollongong, on 15.9.08, aged 85. Word came from his son Phillip, who said Ken died in Wollongong Hospital of a cardiac condition. He had a defibrillator in his chest for many years. Ken joined our regiment at Rutherford with the intake in December 41. He served in A Squadron as a jeep driver, in New Guinea and Borneo. Ken was a well known and well liked identity, both on war service and post war, when he trained for and became a successful plumber in Wollongong, with the new hospital there, where he died, being one of his big contracts. Some years ago he came on our committee briefly, but unfortunately could not continue. He regularly came to Anzac Day Marches, usually in the front rank, and to reunions following. Old mate and good member Doug Clift represented us as the only Lancer present at Ken’s large funeral — a sad sign of the times, with so few left now.
JON LATIMER of Wales on 9 January 2009 aged 44. Jon served with the Regiment as a Lieutenant during the time he spent in Australia in the early 1990s working as an oceanographer. He was a military historian and writer of some note, his books included Operation Compass 1940 (Osprey, 2000), Tobruk 1941 (Osprey, 2001), Deception in War (John Murray, 2001), Alamein (John Murray, 2002), Burma: The Forgotten War (John Murray, 2004) and 1812: War with America (Harvard University Press, 2007) which won a Distinguished Book Award from the Society for Military History and was short listed for the George Washington Book Prize.
Born in Prestatyn, Wales Jon was educated at Christleton County High School, Chester. He studied for a geography degree at University College Swansea but switched course to graduate in oceanography. He worked as an oceanographer until becoming a full-time writer in 1997. In 2003 he became an honorary research fellow at his alma mater (by this time Swansea University) and was appointed as a part-time lecturer in History at on the BA (Hons) degree scheme 'War and Society'. He was also a guest lecturer at the Joint Services Command and Staff College at Shrivenham.
Jon Latimer was an enthusiastic reservist, he enlisted as a sapper in the Royal Monmouthshire (Militia) RE but was commissioned in the 3rd Battalion Royal Welch Fusiliers, Territorial Army, in 1986. He served an attachment with the regular 1st Battalion RWF in Northern Ireland for six months in 1989, with the Australian 1st/15th Royal New South Wales Lancers, 1991-92, and as the intelligence officer of the 4th Battalion The Royal Regiment of Wales 1992-93. He also worked as a tour guide in France, conducting tours for my colleagues at Military History Tours.
He never married, his facebook profile indicating he was still looking for the right woman.
He died suddenly following a heart attack. (Editor - Detail courtesy "The Times")
STEWART, T D NX104217 Tpr 2/1 Armd Regt. there was no unit called 2/1 Armd Regt. This could be an error. There has apparently been no post war contact. If any reader him, please contact John Blackberry (02)9534 2353 or David craven (03)6249 3579. (RSL “Reveille” of November—December 08)
WRIGHT, N R NX128427 L/Sgt 1 Aust Armd Regt Sig Tp. It seems likely that he was in 4th Armoured Brigade Signal Troop, and was attached to us. There has apparently been no post war contact. (RSL “Reveille” of November—December 08)
Thanks very much to the following who made a donation to the NSW Lancers Museum in the past six months:
Brian Algie, Bill Balchin, Patricia Barnes, Gwyn Bent, John Booth, Joseph Camilleri, Alan Chanter, Alan Chapman, Margaret Clark, David Craven, John Creswick, Phil Culbert, Jeffrey Darke, Tony Fryer, Guy Colin Graham, Ian Hawthorn, Jim Heine, Norma Jamieson, John Kearney, Jack Lamb, Sammy Lind, Lee Long, Keiran Macrae, Joan McDonald, Danny McKenna, John McPhee, Reginald Niddrie, George Pennicook, Eddie Polley, Mike Ribot de Bressac, Jenny Southwell, William Wallington, Dot Watkins, Wilma Wilson, E Wright.
Thanks very much to the following who made a donation to the Royal New South Wales Lancers Association in the past six months:
Brian Algie, Harry Anderson, Gwyn Bent, Joseph Camilleri, Alan Chapman, John Creswick, Jeffrey Darke, Ted Dobson, Guy Graham, Chris Guest, Alan Howitt, Norma Jamieson, Keiran Macrae, Danny McKenna, John McPhee, Reginald Niddrie, William Wallington, Wilma Wilson. .
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 PayPal account credit card, single cheque or money order. Donations to the Museum are tax deductible. Filling in and sending the response sheet or using the PayPal option 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.
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.
Click Here to go to the Museum Shop.
The Museum has some great memorabilia including Regimental items. Payment can now be made securely using Pay Pal.
Regimental Officers' Dinner 2009
The Annual Dinner is normally held on the first weekend in March as part of the Regt Birthday activities. In 2009, Brigade has programmed a compulsory TEWT on that weekend.
The Regiment has therefore moved the Regt Birthday celebrations to the weekend 7-8 Mar 09. The 2009 Annual Dinner will therefore be on Fri 6 Mar in the Drill Hall at Lancer Barracks. The Adjutant commenced sending out the invitations in December. If you served as an officer and did not get one, then you should either consider yourself "on the outer" and take some anti-depressants, or contact the Regiment (9635 7822) and get one.
It is trusted someone has explained to the brigadier the nature of his sacrilegious act in staging a TEWT on the Regimental birthday weekend. Tut tut, let us hope the sky does not fall; it very well could.
Regimental Church Parade
Thus the Regimental Church Parade will be held on Sunday 8 March 2009 arrive at 09:30 for the parade to commence at 10:00. Association members are invited to participate, simply turn up in beret, tie (Regimental of course) jacket and medals; you will march in the parade. If you have not got a tie, you can order one securely on-line from the Museum Shop, a steal at $20.
Lancers Association AGM 2009
The Annual General Meeting of the Royal New South Wales Lancers’ Association will be held at Lancer Barracks, Parramatta, on Sunday, 15th March 2009 commencing at 10:00 hours. At the conclusion of the meeting, the regular Committee Meeting will be held.
Lancers Museum AGM
The Lancers' Museum AGM will be held at Lancer Barracks, 19:30, Wednesday 8 April 2009.
The traditional Regimental Anzac Eve celebration will be held at Lancer Barracks, 19:30 Tuesday 21 April 2009. Association members wishing to go on parade with the Regiment should wear beret, tie (Regimental of course) jacket and medals. If you have not got a tie, you can order one securely on-line from the Museum Shop, or use the form attached to your paper copy of Despatch, a steal at $20.
Anzac Day 2009
The NSW Branch of the RSL, as the organiser and controlling body for the Sydney Anzac Day March, has directed that a continuing emphasis be given to the World War 2 veterans so that they get the recognition that they have earned and deserve. The number of veterans is decreasing year by year and we need to respect this directive while they can still take part in the March. There were numerous complaints made to the RSL about last year’s March where the veterans were swamped by relatives and other participants who should not have been there at all!
There will be no change for the World War 2 veterans from last year. They will assemble for the 63rd time this year at the corner of Pitt & Hunter Streets at 09:00 so as to be ready to move off at about 09:20. Last year, there were about 18 veterans taking part and most of them finished the March. Veterans can have a carer to help them take part in the March but this should be restricted to one relative (preferably).
Other people will NOT be able to join this contingent. This includes relatives or descendants of veterans and the post war members of the Regiment – both of these groups have designated places later in the march. The veterans are quite capable of choosing who will march with them if they need any assistance.
The veterans will get together after the march for a reunion on the first floor of the NSW Leagues Club in Phillip Street.
Post war members of the Regiment will be able to join the Reserve contingent that is now an accepted part of the march. Once again, the whole contingent will be lead by Major-General Glenny AO, RFD, ED, the Honorary Colonel of the Lancers’ Regiment. The forming up point will be the same time and place as last year, that is, the corner of Philip and Bent Streets at around 11:00 – this group moves off around 11:30. The contingent has its own distinctive blue banner which will be carried again by the members of the 203rd Cumberland Cadet Unit (based in Lancer Barracks). Dress should be to a high standard including jacket, tie, beret and medals. Descendants of veterans, relatives of veterans or relatives of other members of the Regiment will NOT be allowed to join this contingent. Their reunion after the March will be with the veterans at the NSW Leagues Club or the Civic Hotel – the latter is official venue for the NSW Branch of the RAAC and has become very popular over recent years.
Descendants or relatives of World War 2 veterans will be able to join an official contingent that will be participating for the second time under their own banner. This contingent
precedes the Allied contingents in the March. The forming-up point will be the corner of Pitt and Market Streets in the pedestrian mall. Participants should assemble around 11:30 and be ready to move off around 12:00. There are a number of directives to follow:
- only ONE descendant or relative is to represent a veteran
For all three contingents, one of the rules of the RSL is that NO children are allowed to take part in the March. Also, people should avoid taking part in the March more than once as has happened in recent years – the organisers are trying to keep the March as short as possible.
Dress for association members is beret, tie (Regimental of course) jacket and medals. If you have not got a tie, you can order one securely on-line from the Museum Shop, or use the form attached to your paper copy of Despatch, a steal at $20.
Please indicate in the response sheet if you will be there to let us know to look out for you - do not forget a donation for the Association and/or the Museum (Click Here for online submission Click Here for .pdf download to fax or post).
Reserve Forces Day
The Reserve Forces Day celebration 2009 will be held on Sunday 5 July 2009 in the Sydney Domain, and will be followed by drinks at the Royal Automobile Club. Your editor has been appointed deputy commander to the 5 brigade contingent on the day. I do trust we do not have to stand still for too long, at the Launch on 29 November 2008 I discovered what heart control drugs can do to you if you have to stand on parade for a while. When I was a young soldier, red blotches used to appear, now all the scenery fades to white; a great visual effect.
The theme this year will be the 39ers, those who were serving in the Reserve in 1939, then went to fight in World War 2.
I will be writing to those on our former members of the Regiment list two weeks before the event.
Cambrai Dinner 2009
Late November 2009 at the Royal Automobile Club Sydney. Exact details are to be advised. Join the RAACA below, and you will get an invitation.
Membership of the RAACA is free to all applicants over 75, and only $25 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.
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ABN 94 630 140 881 - - - Site Updated December 2018
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For Regimental enquiries call: +61 (0)2 9635 7822