Lancers' Despatch 20
Website of the Royal New South Wales Lancers Lancer Barracks and Museum
A Regimental Day?
125 Birthday Parade
Crewmen Save Lives
Regimental Birthday Parade and Unveiling of WWI Plaque
This year the Regimental Birthday parade will be held at Lancer Barracks on Sunday 6 March 2011. The parade will include unveiling of a plaque in memory of the 224 members of the 1st Light Horse Regiment (AIF) who paid the ultimate price in World War I. We already have plaques for the Boer and Second World Wars, this completes the set. The parade will also see the retirement of Major-General Warren Glenny AO, RFD, ED as honorary colonel and his succession by Colonel Lee Long RFD.
Museum Annual General Meeting
The Annual General Meeting of the Museum will be held at Lancer Barracks at 19:30 on Wednesday 6 April 2011.
The traditional Regimental Anzac Eve celebration will be held at Lancer Barracks, 19:30 Tuesday 19 April 2011. 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 2011
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 65th time this year at the corner of Pitt and Hunter Streets at 09:00 so as to be ready to move off at about 09:20. 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. 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. The 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, to re-emphasise, 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).
Boer War Day
Once again the Museum will commemorate the signing of the treaty of Vereeniging ending the Boer War with a special exhibition and short service to commemorate the seven lost souls on the Sunday nearest the anniversary of the signing, Sunday 29 May 2011.
Reserve Forces Day
Reserve Forces Day 2010 will acknowledge the families of reservists. The parade in Sydney will be in the Domain on Sunday 3 July 2011. Reservists partners will be presented with a comemorative medallion to thank them for supporting their family member provided an application is made. You will need to visit the Reserve Forces Day website www.rfd.org.au to download the form (attached to the paper version of this newsletter). Make certain you read the instructions, and send it to the Association; and that you are an active Association member.
If you served as a commissioned officer in the Regiment, make certain you make it to these functions:
The point of contact for these events is the Deputy President of the Mess Committee (Designate), Major David Brown, who can be contacted on 0451 181 520 or via e-mail . If you need a Regimental Tie or Bow Tie, visit the Museum Shop.
Another eventful six months. The Regimental Birthday parade was something to see; a parade that was so flawless that it has sparked positive comment from around the world. The Staghound restoration is nearing completion, and a number of Association members visited sites around the world where Lancers lost their lives overseas. Thanks very much to contributors and photographers: David Brown, Wayne Clark, David Craven , Peter Giudas, Reg Gunn, Alan Hitchell, Chris Monsour, Arthur Standring, Joe Tabone. Note that items without a by-line are penned by the editor, and that the opinions are those of the Editor, not those of the Australian Department of Defence, the Regiment or of any other body. I trust you enjoy this edition of our newsletter.
Our thoughts are with victims of the "flooding rains" across the country.
Lieutenant Colonel Chris Monsour, Commanding Officer
"Cavalry is useful before, during, and after the battle." Napoleon Bonaparte (1769 - 1821)
Cavalry brings many capabilities to the field - not only in terms of vehicles and equipment, but also in terms of the character and innovation of the individual soldier. The latter has been borne out strongly over the last 12 months with a strong contingent deploying on OP ANODE and a starring role in the 5th Brigade Combined Arms Training Activity (CATA).
The Regiment saw its biggest ever overseas deployment since World War Two with a total of 26 soldiers taking part in Rotation 21 to the Solomon Islands. Although there were concerns by others that we did not have the same competencies as the infantry, our soldiers operated at the standard we expected them to meaning they demonstrated a higher level of skills and initiative than those around them. We were also proud - but not surprised - when the nominated CSM was replaced with our own W02 Damien Harrison.
With the deployments taking a large number of personnel away from the Regiment, a consolidation of manning within the squadrons was deemed necessary. As of September 2010, all personnel located at Lancer Barracks in Parramatta were assigned to A Squadron, while B Squadron consisted solely of the Goulburn/ Canberra based personnel. An ongoing priority for the Regiment is to deploy our soldiers in equal measure to our strength in the Brigade.
EX MORSHEAD RENASCENCE was the 5 Brigade CATA conducted during the period 3 - 18 July. The original concept required the two battalions of the brigade to form battle groups, with 1/15 RNSWL providing a reconnaissance troop to each plus a small OPFOR. As the planning progressed, it-became apparent that the regiment was in a much stronger position in terms of personnel and training to form and lead a battle group with one of the battalions providing the second combat team.
While Regimental HQ staff revised the SMAP and battle group processes, the squadrons conducted ISR techniques, with a focus on producing high quality products with a quick turn-around time. Having extremely detailed reconnaissance reports, complete with digital images of locations and approaches enabled the planning of operations during EX MORSHEAD RENASCENCE for both battle groups easier and more effective, and OC of A Squadron, Captain Mark Johnstone, soon became the most popular person in the Brigade. In addition, the light cavalry combat team proved itself an equal to its infantry counterparts and not only performed reconnaissance tasks but also supported the full spectrum of activities. It ultimately proved to be the most flexible and adaptable in the Brigade as it had the mobility, communications and training to react quickly to events. After years of trying to convince Brigade of our abilities in the reconnaissance role, it took the loss of our APC capability to bring to their attention the significant impact of timely and relevant information on the conduct of the battle. More importantly, it allowed our soldiers the latitude to try new concepts to enhance our status as a force multiplier. In addition to reconnaissance reports, we provided briefings to the infantry on the best approaches to the enemy locations; detailed field sketches showing locations of obstacles, crew served weapons and enemy admin areas; possible FUP sites; and providing pathfinder guides to ensure the infantry were in the correct locations at the correct times.
This year has also been one of consolidating our home, with an emphasis on making Lancer Barracks a better place to work. Project Focus removed our organic RAEME support much to the detriment of the fleet, and initial moves have been made to try and bring some of our ex-spanners back into the fold and/or find ways of working closer with the CSSB. The museum has given up its hold on some valuable workshop areas in the vehicle compound and removed a number of vehicle displays that were not in line with our history. In exchange for that, we now have a new vehicle display on either side of the museum building (being a Matilda and Centurion tank), with a plinth detailing the types of vehicles the regiment has been equipped with. Smaller jobs such as lighting for the vehicle compound, repainting of buildings, OHS improvements and a general tidy up mean that we now face the new year in a better position than we have been in for a while.
As 2010 dawns we find ourselves again with a heavy commitment from Brigade. Apart from having to impress a new Brigade Commander in the 2011 CATA, we have been tasked with running the Mission Readiness Activity for the next OP ANODE rotation, as well as supplying in excess of a section strength of soldiers and officers.
I'm sure Napoleon would understand.
Major David Brown
The Lancers have a rich and proud history. However, apart from the Regimental Birthday in March, I would argue that we do not tend to celebrate any other significant events in the Regiment’s history. Regimental Days are formal events in a unit’s calendar that commemorate actions in which they or their antecedents played a significant part. For example, 3rd Battalion, The Royal Australian Regiment (3 RAR) celebrate Kapyong Day in April each year with a formal Battalion parade. Whilst not advocating that the Lancers hold a second formal parade each year, it would be relatively easy to hold social events, such as a Dining In Night or Ball, to coincide with any Regimental Day.
The purpose of this article is to put forward some alternatives and stimulate discussion amongst the Regimental family, prior to potentially gaining approval from the Commanding Officer and RSM to submit a formal proposal to Army Headquarters for consideration.
The Regiment’s 125th Birthday parade unlike the 100th or 120th was not a mounted parade, and due to a controversial directive by the CGS, the soldiers were not permitted the black corps beret; nonetheless it was a magnificent display. We have had a video of the event on the internet since October, it has prompted positive comment from around the world. The parade also welcomed home those soldiers who had served overseas in the Solomon Islands on OPERATION ANODE, the first deployment of an element of the Regiment in harm’s way since Balikpapan in 1945.
The photographs show: The Regiment on parade; Harry Crampton, Mick Algie, Ross Baker, Jack Best; Jeff Darke, Bob Gay; the Band marches on; the Regiment marches on; Association President Len Koles presents the Tiger Collis perpetual trophy to the best performing senior NCO, WO2 D Harrison; the Regiment on parade; CGS agents checking to see no black betets were worn (actually new B Squadron recruits from Canberra); the Regimental Band; the Museum's Op Anode display; the soldiers on OPERATION ANODE in the Solomon Islands, in appropriate headgear:
(L to R) Front Row: TPR L Huang; CPL J Flack; CPL R Black; SGT S Arpa; WO2 D Harrison; CPL D Scott; LCPL S O'Brien; TPR A Johan
Second Row: TPR C Holland; TPR B Conoley; CPL L Haywood-Smith; TPR E Higgins; TPR T Kingston; TPR L Riles; TPR P Mai
Third Row: TPR T Temberley; TPR N Bund; TPR B Moore; TPR R Spencer; TPR A Zakrzewski; TPR J Laird; TPR O Patterson
Fourth Row: TPR C Reynolds; LCPL B Pearce.
Video of the 125th Birthday Parade.
Our Regimental Association; the Royal New South Wales Lancers’ Association (note that the Association adopts the “Royal” prefix from the title of the Regiment) has been through a number of iterations. By the rules adopted in the 1980s, all members and former members of the 1st/15th Royal New South Wales Lancers, along with former members of the Regiment’s antecedent units and attached troops are automatically members of the Association. To activate that membership, all you have to do is get yourself onto a list maintained by the Editor of Lancers’ Despatch, and copied regularly to the Secretary of the Association. This can be done by using a form available on the internet, or dropping a line to the Association. When a member of the association you are not expected to have short arms and deep pockets, regular donations, however small, are appreciated. The association makes annual awards to members of the Regiment, conducts reunions, marches on ANZAC Day and Reserve Forces Day, and publishes this newsletter in conjunction with the Regimental Museum. The New South Wales Lancers’ Memorial Museum Inc was originally an Association initiative in the early 1960s, the two bodies now have a symbiotic relationship.
An association of members, former members and friends of the New South Wales Lancers was first formed in 1900 when Lancer Squadron was serving in South Africa. The focus was initially on the welfare of those serving, then on helping those who returned and the families of those who did not. There was no RSL, Legacy or even a Department of Veterans’ Affairs, the Association filled that vacuum. A new body was formed in the 1920s by returned members of the 1st Light Horse Regiment (AIF), the focus being the welfare of those who had returned from the war to end all wars, the RSL and Legacy having complementing welfare roles.
The current Association was formed in 1947 by the men who had defended Australia. Membership covered the 1st Armoured Regiment (Royal New South Wales Lancers) and all its antecedent units (NSWL 1885 - 1903, 1 ALH (NSWL) 1903-1912, 7 ALH (NSWL) 1912-1920, 1 LH (AIF) 1914-1918, 1 LH (NSWL) 1920-1929, 1/21 LH (NSWL) 1929-1935, 1 MG Regt (RNSWL) 1936-1942, 1 ATB (RNSWL, AIF) 1942-1943, 1AR (RNSWL, AIF) 1943-1946 and attached units. With the reformation of the Regiment in 1948, its members became eligible to join. The role of this iteration of the association is to support all those who served, and the operation of the current regiment. "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)
The backbone of this body has been those who served in World War II; the men (the Regiment did not have female soldiers then) who saved Australia from foreign invasion and if the legend rings true, genocide. Until a few short years ago, the World War II veterans managed the association, as they pass this role is falling to those who served after the war in what was to be from 1948 to 1910 a peacetime unit. Many individuals used the skills gained in the Regiment to serve in Vietnam, Timor and elsewhere, but it was until 2010 that an element of the Regiment was again deployed in harm’s way.
The photos, mostly from an album maintained by the association tell the story of those whose shared experience of combat and training bring them together in comradeship and in support of their Regiment on an ongoing basis.
1947 and our Regimental Association is active. The Regiment's 62nd was celebrated at the Blue Tea Room, Rowe Street, Sydney on 3 March 1947 by an association of Boer War, World War I and World War II and peacetime veterans. Left to right, top to bottom, the camera captured: John Pye, Phil Vernon, Ev Hibble, Norman Bent, Don McFarlane; Haydon Ballard, Allan Howitt, Reg Gunn, Geoff Morris, John Pye; Ev Hibble Norman Bent, Don McFarlane; B: Ted Martin, David Donald, Norman Bent, Johnny Lemon, Frank Small, Noel Harrod, F:Jack Pateman, Neville Smith, Les Sommer; Ashley Whitney, Norman Bent, Sam Hordern, Bill Gubbins; Bill Hand, Lloyd Jones, Frank Nicholls; Norman Bent, Ralph Larkins, Max Starling. Ash Whitney who served in the regiment for a total of 36 years and 291 days was a veteran of the Boer War. Bill Gubbins was a Boer War veteran. John Pye a WWI veteran had commanded the Regiment from 1933 to 1937 then 1940 to 1942. He was noted in the latter period for having a dog called "Brwyan" and was the successful lobbyist for the Regiment gaining the "Royal" prefix in 1935. Colonel Pye's estate near Camden was bequeathed to Sydney University and is now the Sydney University Vetinary Farm, a road in the area, "Colonel Pye Drive" perpetuates his name. David Donald became treasurer of the Association in 1947 until he passed away in 2005; his generous financial support of the Museum has not been surpassed. The last photo shows the 1947 ANZAC Day March, with head of the 2nd AIF led by Lieutenant General Sir Leslie Morsehead followed by HQ 1 Corps Band (in black berets) then the Regimental association, at that stage we had no banner. A Lancer Ball in September, one shudders to think of how the instruction dress "optional" would be interpreted in 2011; as it was the "2nd" such ball, one can only presume there was one in late 1946 when most of the members of the Regiment had been repatriated (officially the Regiment vanished from the ORBAT of the Australian Army from 6 November 1946 until 1 July 1948).
1949 saw the Regiment operational, celebration of the 64th birthday took place at Lancer Barracks. Here we see association members with unidentified members of the newly re-formed Regiment in the Sergeants' Mess at Lancer Barracks. Left to right, top to bottom, the camera captured: Harold Mackel, Frank Smith, Bert Beavours, Hugh Tragenza; Bruce grinton, unidentified, unidentified, Bill Lysle; Ted Martin, Lloyd Buttsworth, David Donald; Micjhael Kartsoff, Norman Moss, Norman Bent. Norman Bent a pre war member of the Regiment and 2IC then OC B Sqn at Balikpappan re-joined the Regiment in 1948, he saw service as the president of the RAAC Association and the RNSWL Association for many years,and was awarded an MBE for his role therein. ANZAC Day 1949 saw the banner appear. It was the first of two banners and later presented to the OR's club. The photo shows the assembly area in Macquarie Street with from left Phil Vernon, Dick Sandry, Leo Clark. Phil Vernin had commanded the Governor General's guard at the Sydney Harbour Bridge opening in 1932 (the one DeGroot galloped in behind), he served throughout the war in the corps, then as Commanding Officer of the Regiment in 1951, 1952. Phil is credited with the establishment of the Regimental Museum in the 1960s, and was awarded an OBE for his role therein.
ANZAC Day 1951 and we see a small party of the RAACA NSW, 5th from left is Jim McBean who commanded the 2/6th Armoured Regiment in New Guinea and is seen here leading the Corps Association. Leading the Regimental Association is Norman Bent, carrying the banner is left John Blackberry, right Neil Sharpe, holding cord is Neil Buttsworth. The 2/6th Armoured Regiment can be seen in rear. John Blackberry is today a member of the Association committee and regular contributor to Lancers' Despatch.
ANZAC Day 1961 front row: unidentified, Basil Green (carrying light coloured coat), Ron Singleton, Allan Greentree, David Donald, Philip Edwards, "Dusty" Rhodes, Frank Chong, Wal Gunn, Ron Rope, Allan Howitt, Frank "Bomber" Nicholls; carrying banner left: Neil McDonald; right: Bruce Grinton.
In 1962, Jack Ford who had commanded B squadron during the fighting at Balikpappan visited Sydney from his home in South Australia. Members of the wartime B squadron held a reunion at the Maitland and Morpeth Hotel in Sussex Street. The camers captured: Hugh Clark, "Dusty" Rhodes, Bruce Grinton, Archie Polie; Ewart Terry, Jack Mitchell, Jack Ford, Geoff Kerr, Ron Bornholt, Frank Grant, Frank Nicholls. Hugh Clark was president of the association in the 1980s.
ANZAC Day 1966. Leading left, carrying raincoat, Norman Bent; at right Jim Carson, banner bearer right "Bomber" Nicholls; front rank carring light raincoat David Donald, on his right: Les Holt, Bill Rokes. In rear 2/4th Armoured Regiment.
ANZAC Day reunion 1971, held at Lancer Barracks as it was a Sunday and the hotels were closed.
ANZAC Day 1981, Norman Bent leading. In the photo second from the bottom on the right the two gentlemen centre are Bruce Harrod and George Naghten, the one to the far right wearing an EM is Frank Westerland. Bruce Harrod was the first person your editor worked for after he left uni, George Naghten worked in a nearby section, Frank Westerland was in charge of the print shop in the same establishment, the several years defunct "Commonwealth Department of Supply". Frank was too young to serve in WWII, he had been part of BCOF (the post war occupation of Japan) and had seen later service in the citizen forces; the Regimental association adopted hin, and got their newsletters printed gratis. It was Bruce Harrod who first suggested your editor should join the Regiment. At that time, 1970, I was a young officer in the University of New South Wales Regiment who had recently been rejected as a volunteer for service in Vietnam, I did not see service with the Regiment as a possibility; oddly others did, and I was posted to 1/15 RNSWL in 1974.
ANZAC Day 1982, the first where berets were worn. The photo to the right shows the contingent leaders: Gordon Burdon, Norman Bent (beige jacket and beret), Jim Hartridge.
The Royal Australian Armoured Corps Association held a barbeque at Lancer Barracks in November 1982: "Murgy" Hobbs, Mrs Bartley, John Blackberry, Fred Bartley; Hugh Clark, Neil McDonald; John Blackberry, "Murgy" Hobbs, Ron Singleton. The last photo shows Norman Bent, at the Matilda tank display, Singleton February 1983.
In November 1983, members of the Association attended the Newcastle Cambrai Day Dinner. The photo left shows the OC 16 General Transport Company (successor to the 15 NRL) and right Bill Gilbert (2/7th Armoured Regiment Association), Bob Nelson (President Newcastle Sub-Branch RAACA) and David Craven. David Craven was secretary of the Lancers' Association, and editor of the newsletter that preceded Lancers' Despatch for over 30 years, he is still a stalwart contributor.
Association members at the parade 3 March 1985 when the Regiment received the freedom of the City of Sydney.
A visit to the restored Matilda Tank at Ray's Orchard Bilpin 12 November 1985, the picture to left shows: Ken Ireland, Hugh Clark, Dick Wier, Sorlie O'Brien, "Tiger" Collis, Peter Ray, Eric Hicks, Ralph Perrot, David Craven, Geoff Morris, John Blackberry, Norman Bent, Keith Burton, Alan Lawford.
On 31 October 1986 Mrs Heather Pearson, Norman Bent and David Craven can be seen here at the RAAC Museum Puckapunyal in front of one of the four Vickers medium tanks, the Australian Army's acquired in 1929, and the first tank with a 360o turret traverse. Heather's father Major Ted Hardie of the 3rd Australian Army Tank Battalion gained tank driver's licence No 1 when serving in the 1st Tank Section, Randwick in the 1930s. Heather presented the framed licence (held here by David) to the Museum. The photo at right shows the Vickers, a mock-up Mk5 and a Matilda.
Today's association presents a series of awards to the current serving members of the Regiment on an annual basis, participates in the Sydney ANZAC Day march, Reserve Forces Day and runs an annual reunion at Lancer Barracks. As it has done since the time of the Boer War, the Association focuses on the welfare of those serving, and those who have served in the Regiment. The photos show the association's participation in the 2010 Reserve Forces Day parade, Les Perry, Phil Culbert ... and Ron Brettle at the 2008 Association reunion, and at the 125th Birthday Parade, Lancer Barracks, October 2010: Ross Baker (Secretary), Nic Brewer, Ian Hawthorn, Joe Tabone, Bob Gay, Jeff Darke, Len Koles (President), Brian Walters (Treasurer), Gordon Muddle, Brian Dudley, Mark Luke, Peter Luke, David Crisp.
If you served in the Regiment you are already a member, all you have to do is activate your membership.
I am pleased to be able to report that the Staghound Armoured Car is almost operational. It has been a bit of a long hard road, however, Joe Tabone and his group of dedicated workers have all but made it.
The photo shows installation of the turret basket. Once the staghoung project is complete, apart from essential vehicle maintenance, focus for the vehicle troop will then be exclusively on the restoration of ACE. The Regiment has been working for some time on the provision of hard stand either side of the Museum so that Linden House could be flanked by the two examples we have of tanks the Regiment has been equipped with. The slabs were completed in early September, then came the requirement to position the vehicles. The Centurion was not much of a problem, it can be driven, and with careful control it was not too hard to position it without the parade ground needing too much repair. The immobile matilda Adonis, was another matter. It is usually dragged, the effect on the parade ground with the birthday parade imminent would have been devastating. Enter Museum volunteer Steve Dietmann and his tilt tray.
The Museum also now proudly displays its State Heritage Register listing certificate. Congratulations again to Ian Hawthorn for his hard work in the obtaining this listing for the Museum.
It would appear that our government and that of the United States on the advice of their own senior soldiers have been reluctant to deploy tanks to the conflict in Afghanistan. The reason given is that in the close conflict areas where our forces are deployed tanks would give no advantage; and to deploy such resources would be seen as an escalation of the conflict. Canada and Denmark do have tanks deployed, albeit in more open parts of the country. They can report that the armoured protection, and the shock and awe effect saves soldiers’ lives. The enemy are already known to be wary of ASLAVs. We should also note that the so-called strategists counselled against the life saving deployment of tanks in New Guinea and Vietnam on the basis that the ground was not suitable.
Already we know how well trained vehicle crewmen can help save lives. Crewmen from 1st Armoured Regiment deployed to support the Special Operations Task Group in Afganistan have and deployed several rotations. Their Commanding Officer is very proud of their achievements and the reports that he gets back from Afghanistan continue to impress. In fact, we can all be proud of the Armoured Corps attributes that are making these soldiers successful: superb vehicle craft, excellent communications skills both by voice and data, superior vehicle husbandry and the keen desire for situational awareness. We take all of these traits for granted, but apparently they aren't necessarily common throughout the rest of Army.
Would it not be more rational to concentrate on saving lives and deploy the resources we have otherwise languishing on our shores.
It would appear, however, our defence hierarchy would prefer to concentrate on headgear and the fact that a beret offers limited sun protection. Tanks can save lives now; melanomas often never develop as those of us with Celtic skin who spent many hours in the sun in a black beret, yet still live in old age can attest. For us the Beret has since the corps inception in the late 1920s marked us as soldiers with special skills, skills that can save lives, just as it marks special forces currently exempted from the "sun smart" edict of 2010. Intriguingly when challenged on the policy, rather than accept the reasonable nature of arguements to retain this symbol that draws our corps together the CGS indicated he is also considering removal of special forces exemption.
In the past year or so, we had three inveterate tourists abroad visiting sites where menbers of the Regiment fought and died. Peter Giudes visited the battlefields of France, and found the out of place grave of a 1st Lighthorseman, Wayne Clark visited Beersheba, and your editor guided a tour to Gallipoli.
Tour of WW1 Northern France Battlefields – October 2009
In October 2009 I was in London with work and took the opportunity to spend a week in the battlefields of World War 1 covering the areas from Bullecourt in France, north through Albert, Fromelles, Cambrai, Villers-Brettoneux and into Ypres in Belgium. While I had no family or Regimental ties with the area, obviously the ANZAC legend and recent public interest brought about by the discovery of a mass grave at Fromelles peaked my interest.
In October, the first light of dawn in the Northern area of France comes late. At 50 degrees North, Arras (the base for my visits) is further North than Hobart is South and at 7:45am the first light of dawn showed how flat and devoid of natural landmarks this region generally is. Arras is an historic town and is centrally located to many battlefields where the 2nd Division fought from 1916 to 1918. As a result it makes an excellent home base for such a visit. Hardly any English is spoken, even in traditional tourist haunts such as restaurants and pubs. Roadsigns in the town mimic names etched into Australian memorials scattered through New South Wales : names such as Pozieres, Bapaume, Menin Road, Polygon Wood, Passchendaele, Hamel, Albert, Mont St Quentin and Bullecourt.
The town itself suffered greatly during the great war with several battles for Arras taking place. On the outskirts of town lies a memorial to the Battle of Vimy Ridge where the Canadians fought as an Army of their own.
After leaving Arras, one site can best describe the geography of the region. At “The Windmill” (Pozieres) (also home to the Cambrai memorial remembering where the first tanks went into battle on 15 September 1916) one can almost see every site where fighting took place in the period between 23 July 1916 and 2 September 1918. This is not because this piece of land is so high, but because the battlefields are so close to each other and the land is so flat.
The ground is largely clay which forms a boggy quagmire at the first sign of rain which in one letter home was described as 'not mud, not sloppy mud, but an octopus of sucking clay, 3, 4 and 5 feet deep'. When not raining, the mud would build up layer upon layer as you walked. Not far from here tales were told of men falling from duckboard walkways and simply disappearing.
Apart from the mud, the other noticeable geographic feature is the almost total lack of high ground. The smallest rise in the ground would take on strategic importance offering perfect positions for machine guns that provided grazing fire across their fronts.
Still standing in the same place I noticed the weather. Wind and rain swept across the flat landscape. With nothing to stop the wind it came in hard from the North Sea, drove rain across the clay such that you can hear it approaching well before it arrived. It’s a cold driving rain that cut through everything. The thumping of rain on clay reflected the total lack of cover and exposure to machine gun fire that attacking troops would have faced. It was a haunting parallel.
I continued on to Fromelles which is now quite famous for the recently discovered mass grave. At the time I was there it was still a forensic site with the new graveyard yet to be built. The old mass grave was within 200m of the village church and once the grave was discovered the locals made it quite clear they wanted the bodies to remain with the village. One local told me that for years the dead soldiers had been part of the village, they had witnessed marriages and deaths, all the goings on in the town. It would be a matter of pride for them that the new graveyard would be built next to the Fromelles church.
The battlefield of Fromelles is a text book study of machine gun placement and the value of grazing enfilade fire. The ground from VC Corner (no man’s land) attacking to the location where Cobbers statue now stands (the first row of the main German trenches) was dominated by a low feature (rising probably less than 2 metres from the surrounding mud) called the Sugarloaf Salient. It was the machine guns on the salient that did so much damage to the attacking Australians. It was here largely at the hands of these guns than in just a few hours 5,500 Australian diggers lay dead.
Heading North into Belgium, just a few kilometres short of Ypres (Ieper) I stumbled across the grave of a 1st Australian Light Horse officer, Lt Hector McIntyre at The Huts cemetery near Dikkebus. Records I’ve been able to find about Lt McIntyre appear inconsistent with the details observed on his grave. But the records and grave agree that he died on 1 October 1917 at age 40. As is traditional, the graveyard lies close to a string of huts (hence its name) used by the Field Ambulance during a series of allied assaults in 1917.
Not far from The Huts is Hill 60, recently made famous by the movie of the same name. A memorial is erected to the engineers who performed this remarkable feat. Tunnelling deep under German lines they laid so much explosive the blast was heard back in London.
At Tyne Cot lies the largest cemetery for commonwealth troops anywhere in the world including the graves of 1,353 Australians. Some lie in multiple graves where the soldiers fell with their bodies intermingled such that separation of the remains was impossible. Yet other graves contain the bodies of VC winners including Captain Clarence Smith Jeffries, an Australian who led an assault party and rushed one of the strong points at the First Battle of Passchendaele on 12 October 1917, capturing four machine guns and thirty five prisoners, before running his company forward again. He was planning another attack when he was killed by an enemy gunner.
On my last day in Arras I walked out of town, past several small cemeteries, some in the town and others in the surrounding fields. Many cemeteries are small containing just a few bodies. But without exception, every cemetery and every grave is perfectly well tendered, tidy and clean. The Commonwealth War Graves Commission and French people can be rightly proud of their achievements and we can be comforted knowing our dead continue to be afforded a level of respect and care befitting of their sacrifice.
Many of the battlefields I visited are recorded on the battle honours of the 2nd Division. One such battlefield just south of Arras is Bullecourt. In the spring of 1917 the 2nd Division was in support during the First Battle of Bullecourt. Once the first attempt on Bullecourt had failed, the 2nd Division relieved the Australian 4th Division from in front of Bullecourt (a front of approximately 2,510 metres on the 13th of April.
On 3 May the Second Battle of Bullecourt commenced with the 2nd Division attacking the two trench lines east of Bullecourt - seizing parts of both trench lines. Counter attacks forced the troops out of the second trench line, and out of most of the captured first line. Further attacks were conducted on the 4 May and 6 May by brigades of the Australian 1st Division that were attached to the 2nd Division, supported by the troops of the 2nd Division, resulted in the capture of most of the first line of trenches. After repulsing a total of 6 German counter attacks, the 2nd Division was relieved by the Australian 5th Division on the 8th/9 May, having experienced 3,898 casualties.
The Australian Department of Verterans’ Affairs states that “World War I, 1914-1918, was the 'Great War', the 'war to end all wars'. In that conflict, the most important battleground was the 'Western Front' in France and Belgium where great battles were fought with names that were once household words in Australia - Fromelles, the Somme, Bullecourt, Messines, Passcshendaele, Dernancourt and Villers-Bretonneux. Of the more than 290,000 Australians who served in this theatre of war 46,000 were either killed in action or died of their wounds. Dotted across the landscape of France and Belgium are hundreds of war cemeteries and memorials where these soldiers lie buried or where their names are listed among those thousands who have 'no known grave, the 'missing'.”
The greatest tribute we can pay these men is to remember them, to walk the ground that was stained with their blood, to stop at their graves and whisper a few words of respect for their deeds or simply to say thanks. But most of all, to remember.
Wayne undertook a "grand tour" of the European and West Asian battlefields this year. He came across these graves in Beershaba. Wayne with his long service in 12/12 HRL was drawn there to walk the ground where the 12 LH charged. Though not in the charge, the 1st was there too, and if some historical time lines are to be believed had actually entered the town before the time of the charge; some members of the Regiment paid the ultimate price.
In August your editor had the interesting task of guiding a tour to Gallipoli. The tour was for those wishing to swim the Dardanelles. Every yer as a celebretion of Victory Day on 30 August, the Turkish Government closes the Dardanelles to shipping enabling a swimming race across the famous waterway. Prior to the race, we conduct a tour of the battlefields, the tour is necessarily short so that those athletic enough to swim can prepare; this time even more truncated as there was an opportunity to take part in the swimming event at only the second surf carnival conducted in Turkey as part of the lead-up to the Gallipoli 100 surf boat race in 2015.
Illustrations show the route of the race, and the carnival at Kum on the Agean, not much surf I know, but a balmy 35° in the middle of August makes the trip worthwhile.
Visits were restricted to Chanuk Bair, Gaba Tepe Museum, ANZAC Cove, North Beach, Lone Pine and the Nek. A glance across at Popes, the Chessboard and the Cup was possible, though there was not the the time to explore the place of the Regiment's black day 7 August 1915 in detail. B Squadron lost all of its officers and the Regiment (A and B Squadrons) suffered 147 casualties (49 of the 119 who paid the ultimate price at Gallipoli, died that day) on that ill-feted and inconsequential attempt to facilitate British landings at Suvla Bay. Nonetheless there was time to check out the names of the fallen on the Lone Pine memorial and talk in detail of two Lancers 2LT Nettleton and SGT Green who lost their lives that day.
An interesting point for me was that the platoon sergeant on my University of New South Wales Regiment recruits course in 1964, George Webster was a tour participant, and a swimmer. George came 55th overall and second in the 66-70 age group.
The tour will run again in 2011. It is great for those who wish to make a short, and thus inexpensive visit to the battlefields; you do not necessarily have to spend the next six months training for the swim, you get to follow the race from the deck of a ferry. This year the tour will take in Istanbul, Troy and Bursa, as well as the battlefields and the swimming race, as we will have some more time, I will ensure there is a visit to Pope's, the Chessboard, where at the edge of what is now a carpark, you can still see the Turkish trenches where B Squadron had their three hour grenade fight; and take the short walk through bushland to the cup, the objective never attained on that fateful day in 1915. For details visit the Military History Tours website.
And in 2012 - South Africa
For those interested in the history of the Regiment, and the founding stones of our nation's military heritage this tour is a must. The average tour of the battlefields of South Africa concentrates on the area east of Johannesburg where the Zulu wars, and Boer war battles took place that involved few Australians and no Lancers. The proposed tour will cover Belmont, Kimberly, Mafeking and most of the areas the Regiment and other Australians fought. We will visit the site where Fred Kilpatrick was wounded and visit his grave on the slope above Slingersfontein Farm, the site where Tom Morris' heroic action had him nominated for the VC, Sunnyside where the first Australian died in battle, and Wilmansrust where a defeat suffered by the 5th Victorian Mounted Rifles ultimately led to there being no death penalty in the Australian Army. You will be at Vereeniging to commemorate the 110th anniversary of the signing of the treaty that ended the war. For full details visit the Military History Tours website.
EDGAR ROY FOGDEN (NX135069) of Taren Point on 3 September 2010 aged 88. He served with No 2 Troop B Squadron 1 Armoured Regiment (AIF). His serving comrades would remember him as Roy, the name he preferred. He was involved in action at Balikpappan, Borneo in July 1945 as a tank crew member (loader operator) under troop leader Lieutenant Alan Aynsley. Previously he was with the squadron which was on call in New Guinea, but not required for action. Roy is survived by his wife Margaret, children and grandchildren. - Reg Gunn.
ROY JESSUP of Wagga, on 3 October 2010, aged 89. Roy was in the group of 130 from 3rd Tank Bn who transferred to us in February 43, to bring us up to strength, having become AIF. He was posted to C Squadron as a tank gunner, and served in New Guinea operations, including the action at Sattelberg. Ted Fallowfie1d recalls that Roy was later in the group of 24 who remained at Southport to await modification of six tanks after the main body of the regiment left for Borneo. As noted in our history, they were then sent to Bougainville in July 45 and attached to 4th Armoured Regt, with war ending soon after. On return to Australia he was discharged in June 46. Post war Roy worked with Wagga County Council doing electrical work. He had a private funeral. Our sympathy is conveyed to his wife Ruby. - David Craven
RALPH JOHNSON of Cherrybrook, 23 August 2010. It is with great sadness to report the passing of my father Ralph Johnson. He passed away on the 23 August 1910 at the age of 90 years in his sleep at Woodlands Nursing Home in Cherrybrook. He had been in poor health for the past 12 months with cancer on the lungs. The serves was held at Rookwood Gardens with a large gathering of family and friends also representatives from the 2/6th Armoured Regiment and the RSL. Thank you for allowing my father to be involved in the association, he spoke to me often of his great times in the Lancers and was very proud to be part of it. - Malcolm Johnson
SAM (Samuel August Morris) LIND of Old Bar, on the 22 October 2010, aged 78. Sam was a very popular and respected member of the LAD/Tech Spt Sqn during the middle 60’s and up to the late 80’s. He attained the rank of Sergeant and there was many a night that we enjoyed in the mess after the Tuesday night parades, also the great times we had at our Annual Camps.
Sam was born at Taree on the 26 January 1932 ( An easy Birthday to remember, being Australia Day). His Father died when Sam was 11 years old and soon after his death the Family moved to Sydney.
Sam was a Fitter & Turner and most of his working life was spent working for the Maritime Services Board. When Sam retired in the early 90’s he and his wife Elsie moved from Seven Hills to Old Bar to enjoy their retirement years.
Unfortunately, Elsie passed away on the 22 January 2001 and it is notable that Sam died on the 22 October 2010. Sam and Elsie were married for 48 years and had 5 Daughters. Sam remarried in 2004. He married Jan, a lovely lady whom I had the pleasure of meeting a couple of years ago. He had 12 Grandchildren and 5 Great Grandchildren and with his extended Family another 3 Grandchildren.
On Tuesday 19 Oct 10 Sam entered the Mayo Private Hospital at Taree for knee replacement surgery. The knee replacements were a success, however whilst Sam was recuperating he complained of chest pains. An ECG was taken and it confirmed that he was having a heart attack.
The Private Hospital did not have the necessary equipment to deal with Sam’s condition so he was transferred to Manning Base Hospital which had the equipment that could help him. He appeared to becoming along fine but his condition began to deteriorate and eventually he passed away.
At his funeral eulogies were given by two of his Grandchildren, his wife Jan and Minister Father Keith Jones. Jan’s eulogy to Sam was an inspiring and heartfelt account of her six years with a wonderful man. His funeral was well attended with over 100 people at the Church service. After the service Sam’s farewell and committal was held at Manning Great Lakes Memorial Gardens Chapel. Sam will be sadly missed by his Family, extended Family, Friends and Mates, may he rest in peace.
The Lancers who were able to attend his Funeral were Bob Dickson, Perce Denton, Ray Jones, Chris Corcoran and Arthur Standring.
The illistrations show: Cover of Sam’s service held at Saint John’s Anglican Church, Taree Led by Father Keith Dean Jones, on Thursday 28 October 2010 at 14:00; and Arthur and Sam at Taree Railway Station on the 7 July 2006. Sam had come in from Old Bar to meet the XPT on my way home to Queensland From Reserve Forces day. It was over ten years since I had seen him. - Arthur Standring
JIM LOUGHRY of Neutral Bay October 2010. I had word from Geoff Morris that one of the WWII vets has died around Oct 2010 - his name was Jim LOUGHRY from Neutral Bay. - Brian Walters
Please note that the report of the passing on Bill Cunninghame in issue 19 of Lancers Despatch was in error, Bill is alive and well and living in Mittagong. Any hurt or inconvenience is sincerely regretted.
Thank you very much to those who made a donation to the Association and Museum in the past six months. Records show we received donations from:
For the Museum: Bill Balchin, Brian Bourke, John Cook, David Craven, John Creswick, Rod Dixon, Ern Flint, Trevor Forward, Tony Fryer, Roger Gillett, Brett Haddock, Terry Hennessy, John Howells, Blair James, Norma Jamieson, Jack Lamb, Gordon Mackay, Alfred (Snow) McEwan, Geoff Pascoe, Eddie Polley, Joyce Sharpe, Arthur Standring, Dan Tesoriero, Gloria Warham, Don Watson, Roy Young, Albert Zehetner.
For the Association: Bill Balchin, Brian Bourke, David Craven, John Creswick, Ern Flint, Trevor Forward, Terry Hennessy, Norma Jamieson, Jack Lamb, Alfred (Snow) McEwan, Geoff Pascoe, Arthur Standring, Dan Tesoriero, Don Watson, Roy Young.
Those who made donations to the Museum will receive an offical tax receipt either with this copy of Lancers' Despatch, or in the mail shortly.
Yes we really do need your financial assistance. In particular the Museum, where running costs are biting heavily into our pockets. No amount too large, no amount too small.
Donations to the Museum and association are now possible securely using PayPal from your credit card or PayPal account:
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If you have time, the Museum also needs volunteers, any skill or skill level. Turn-up any Sunday after 10:00, and you will be put to work.
Membership of the RAACA is free to all applicants over 75, and only $20 per annum or $50 for THREE years 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 May 2018
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