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Lancers' Despatch 28


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Lancers' Despatch

Bi Annual Journal of the
Royal New South Wales Lancers Association ABN 50 361 228 724
and
The New South Wales Lancers Memorial Museum Incorporated ABN 94 630 140 881
No 28 - February 2015

 Coming Events     The Regiment     The Museum    The Association    The Regiment January to July 1915  
 Beware of Stumps   Royal Wessex Yeomanry    Trooper Tom Morris' Grave    The Regiment’s Heritage Attacked  
 Messages from the DVA  Departed Comrades   Thank You  Help  
 RAACA NSW    Electronic Response Sheet    Download Response Sheet     Download Printable Newsletter   

Photos and text by the editor unless otherwise noted.

  Coming Events  

In this, the centenary year of the Regiment's participation in the Gallipoli Campaign, a number of significant events are coming up:

19 April 2015 - Screening of the film "The Waler", Parramatta. CLICK HERE for more detail.

21 April 2015 - ANZAC Eve Ceremony, Parramatta.
>1930 at Lancer Barracks, Association members should wear beret, medals and Regimental Tie.

23 April 2015 - See "The Crater", on TV. Be watching ABC1 at 21:30.

25 April 2015 - ANZAC Day parade, Sydney.
>Arrangements for World War 2 members should form up at 0900 in Hunter St near Pitt to move off soon after. Landrovers will be available, each veteran can be accompanied by one carer.
>As has been the case in the past few years post World War 2 members assemble 1030 at the corner of Bent and Phillip Streets. In 2013 and 2014, our post World War 2 Association contingent was the largest in the parade. In 2015 we should do proud the memory of those Lancers who died at Gallipoli.
>Beret, medals and Regimental tie to be worn.

9 - 17 May 2015 - Gallipoli Exhibition, Lancer Barracks Parramatta.
>Commemorating the centenary of the Regiment landing at Gallipoli on 12 May 1915, there will be a special exhibition "With the 1st Light Horse at Popes Post, Gallipoli and on to Palestine" staged at the Museum and Drill Hall at Lancer Barracks.

5 July 2015 - Reserve Forces Day, Sydney.

12 July 2015 - ACE's First Parade, Lancer Barracks Parramatta. Note that due to unforseen circumstances, this event has been postponed to a date yet to be advised.
>To mark 70 years since ACE took part in the Balikpappan campaign, ACE will roll into Lancer Barracks under its own power.

  The Regiment

Lieutenant Colonel Rob Lording (Commanding Officer)

The Regiment started 2014 with renewed determination following the arrival of our allocation of Bushmaster protected mobility vehicles in late 2013 and the anticipated transition to new unit establishments to achieve Plan Beersheba structures and outcomes. The training program was focused on the maintenance of Light Cavalry skills in offensive, defensive and rear area security operations (RASO) while continuing to train individual PMV crewmen and develop the Protected Lift capability. The unit also looked forward to the Centenary of ANZAC and the opportunity to commemorate the raising of the 1st Australian Light Horse Regiment for service in World War 1.

We welcomed the return of MAJ Andrew Bernie and W02 David Hooper as the new OC and SSM of B Sqn based at HMAS Harman in Queanbeyan. MAJ Gary Dougan joined the unit as the OPSO together with new members of the cadre staff - W02 Justin Ashwell (TRGWO), SGT Glen 'Chook' Tingle (TRGSGT) and SGT David Binstead (COORD SGT).

Following the mandated training and start of year governance and compliance obligations, the Regiment headed to Singleton Training Area in early March for Ex JERICHO to begin the process of familiarising members with the Bushmaster vehicles and revise the fundamentals of mounted combat. In the period since the unit handed over the fleet of M113AS 1 and converted to the Light Cavalry role, the knowledge of mounted tactics, techniques and procedures has diminished. As a result, the training focused on basic elements of PMV safety briefs, equipment and weapon stowage as well as the basics of marry up procedures. For most of the qualified crewman this was the first opportunity to drive a PMV since completing their qualification in the previous two years.

Bushmaster on PatrolRegrettably, the unit received notification that all of the Bushmaster vehicles were to be provided to 11 Bde for participation in Ex CRAWFORD at the Wide Bay Training Area in April as part of the enabling activities for certification during their force generation cycle. At the conclusion of the exercise, the vehicles were to be transported to Townsville for use by 11 Bde in Ex HAMEL 14. A small number of qualified PMV crewmen, led by W02 Stuart McKie, participated in each of the exercises but 11 Bde were unable to provide the additional crewmen needed to fully man the vehicles resulting in the capability being under utilised. As a consequence the training value for the crews was rather limited.

The Bushmaster vehicles did not return to the unit until late September 2014 which had a significant and detrimental impact on the unit's capacity to develop the nascent protected lift capability. An accident that involved one of the PMV's rolling over during a night move during Ex CRAWFORD, highlighted the risks associated with employing inexperienced crewmen without the benefit of sufficient training. Fortunately the crew and vehicle sustained little injuries or damage and important lessons were learned.

In the absence of the Bushmasters, the unit training program was re-adjusted to address dismounted Light Cavalry tasks because the fleet of IIMV had been withdrawn from service and the ageing RFSV cannot be adequately maintained by support agencies. The annual field firing activity, Ex LANCER THRUST, was conducted at Singleton and involved a dismounted Troop in a security position. The weapons handling, application and co-ordination of fire was of a generally good standard and set the conditions for a more complex night practice utlising 84mm illumination and night fighting equipment.

Ex NABLUS was conducted at Majura Training Area in July together with elements from 5 ER and 4/3 RNSWR in a RASO environment. This was the first time that elements of 5 Bde came together for an activity, and while the level of integration was modest, it was an invaluable opportunity to experience the complexity of working in an all arms setting. Ex JERUSALEM was conducted at the AFP village in Majura in September and exposed members to patrolling and basic building clearances within an urban environment. Light Cavalry Troops rotated through activities designed to revise RASO tasks including traffic control point, vehicle and personnel search.

The second half of the year became progressively busier with support to SUR for training blocks and preparations for audits by the Army Compliance and Assurance Agency. The unit also conducted a PMV Drivers Course at Puckapunyal in early September with assistance from Motorised Combat Wing who provide vehicles and access to their facilities. The course included instructors and students from 3/9 SAMR and has increased the pool of qualified drivers within the unit. However, the availability of positions being conducted by ALTC following the transition to RTW will be very limited and the unit will have to continue to run most of the courses internally. The effort of the entire cadre staff was greatly appreciated, but a special note of thanks to W02 Griffiths who has supported a number of unit and externally run PMV courses in the last 18 months.

On 30 August, 2014 the Regiment commemorated the raising of the 1st Australian Light Horse Regiment with a military parade through the streets of Parramatta. Event planning by members of the Royal NSW Lancer Memorial Museum began in early 2013. In recognition of the military presence during the early colonisation of NSW, and the association with the Regiment dating back to 1897, the Parramatta City Council subsequently took the lead in the conduct of the event. A civic reception was held at Parramatta Town Hall for the Governor General, General Sir Peter Cosgrove, who had accepted an invitation from the Council to be the reviewing officer. The reception hosted a small number of remaining members of the Regiment who served in WW2 together with political, military and civic dignitaries.

The Parade showcased the history of the Regiment, from its inception in 1885 as part of the Sydney Volunteer Cavalry through service in the Boer War, WWI and WW2 as well as the CMF and Army Reserve. It featured re-enactment mounted troops in Lancer and Light Horse uniforms together with the Museum's collection of vehicles. The procession of vehicles included a Vickers MG mounted on a 1930's lorry, Bren Gun Carrier, Ferret Scout cars and the fully operational Centurion Tank which drove down Macquarie Street without causing any damage. Our sister Regiment 12/16 HRL also provided Bushmaster vehicles and crews for the day.

The regiment and band marched proudly through the streets with our guidons before returning to Lancer Barracks to host an open day. Many thousands of people flocked to the Barracks to see first hand the history of the longest continuously used military barracks in Australia, including the Museum which houses a large collection of regimental weapons and memorabilia. The Governor General inspected the Museum and visited the Sergeants’ Mess where his father had served as the RSM.

The Regiment, Museum and Association greatly appreciate the very generous support from the Parramatta City Council and especially the efforts of the Lord Mayor, The Right Worshipful John Chedid, in making the parade such a successful event. We also acknowledge the support from our local Federal Member, The Hon Julie Owens MP, in securing a grant from the centenary of ANZAC fund

The Band has had another very busy year supporting Regimental and other unit activities while continuing the important work of maintaining links with the Parramatta and local community. The band completed their annual Exercise HORNBLOWER at Holsworthy in mid April to qualify individual musicians and performance skills prior to their extensive Anzac Day support tasks. While the band was a central feature of the Parramatta Military Parade, other highlights included the Corps Dinner at Puckapunyal and the Frontline Services Dinner hosted by the Mayor of Parramatta where Musician Chris Hand was recognised with a Mateship Award.

The future of RAAC Regimental Bands remains uncertain but a decision was made by Chief of Army in April that they should be retained for the time being. The Lancer Band has a rich history and heritage dating back to 1898 and provides a tangible connection with the local community which are the foundation of service within the Regiment and other units within the Army Reserve. The Castle Hill RSL continues to be an active supporter and has extended a generous offer of financial support to ensure the Band will have the uniforms, instruments and equipment needed to continue to represent the Regiment and the Corps.

While much work had been completed in late 2013, the Unit Establishment Reviews did not progress within 2 Div and the unit will remain with extant personnel and equipment establishments until early in 2017. This will afford an opportunity to factor in any further changes streaming from the next Defence White Paper and the outcomes of Plan After Beersheba. It will be important to ensure that there is a clearly articulated role for the ARes RAAC which will inform the employment categorisation and that appropriate resources are made available to properly implement the protected lift capability within the Reserve.

With the unit now well into the Readying Cycle there remains much work to be done to generate the lift capability required by REINF BG Waratah for Ex HAMEL 15 and also generate Light Cavalry sections for employment with 2/14 LH in line with revised guidance from AHQ. This will be a challenging but attainable target for 2015 and will set the course for the unit until mid 2016.

At year's end the Regiment saw the departure of a number of key appointments, including the Executive Officer (MAJ Greg Barter), OC A (MAJ Alex Richards), ADJT (CAPT Nick Hornbuckle) and RSM (W01 Anthony Lynch). I would like to extend my appreciation for the significant contributions made by these members during their posting in the Regiment and wish them well for the future.

Tenax in Fide

Photo courtesy Army News.

  The Museum

A very active six months for the Museum. We have put on a parade through Parramatta to commemorate the formation of the 1st Light Horse (AIF), have upgraded the storage cabinets, had an object on display at the National Museum of Australia and have all but restored the World War 2 Matilda Tank ACE.  We would also like to thank Peter Sweeney, an infantryman who trained a cohort of the Regiment's officers at Bardia Barracks in the 1980s and 1990s.  Peter has joined our team as auditor.

As well as being the biggest thing in the 30 August parade, earlier in that same month, the Museum's Centurion spent time at Narellan where combat scenes for the ABC telemovie "The Crater" about the Vietnam War was filmed.  The Tank crewed by our museum volunteers played a starring role.  The movie will be shown for the first time on ABC1 in the evening of ANZAC Day 2015, make certain you are watching.

Some (well at least one) of the Museum's still photo collection were used in a documentary about the Waler horse, also made for the ABC.  We have a special 1½ hour (the TV version is only 45 minutes) showing of the film during the afternoon in Parramatta on Sunday 19 April.  If you have not experienced the Museum's upgraded exhibits for some time, why not visit the Museum and take in the movie. 

The Parade

Our Parade commemorated the raising of the 1st Light Horse (AIF) in August 1914, and the subsequent service and sacrifice of all those who volunteered and fought with the Regiment. However it also took the opportunity to remember and commemorate all those men and women who have volunteered to serve with what is now known as the 1st/15th Royal NSW Lancers, one of Australia’s oldest and most decorated surviving Regiments, in both peacetime and in war, from its gazetting in 1885 to the present day. Three surviving Regimental WW2 veterans were special guests of honour. What a parade. All of the Museum vehicles performed flawlessly as did the Regiment on its new steeds. We will be continually in the debit of His Excellency and Lady Cosgrove for lending their presence to the event. The attendance in the rain was quite amazing, and it is the first time we have had a queue across the full width of the parade ground to enter the Museum. A great effort by the Museum, the Regiment and the Parramatta community including all our politicians at all levels of government and political persuasion. The selection of photos below give an idea of what it was like to be at the parade (the last two are by Alan Hitchell). The first video has the ABC TV coverage of the parade, the second, longer features Ian Hawthorn's commentary. The longer video can be purchased in DVD form from the Museum shop.








 

The Cabinets

It is now a couple of years since the Museum was advised that our display cabinets needed replacement. Of particular concern was the Masonite used to back the cabinets. The natural lignin that holds the product together seeps out over time and can damage paper based materials. The new cabinets are made of metal framed glass, and have low IR and UV lighting.

The new display cabinets The new display cabinets

The Object

The National Museum of Australia, Canberra put on a temporary exhibition on the history of horses and humans in Australia. The Horse exhibition explores how interactions between humans and horses have shaped life in Australia and, in this context, the use of horses by the military is one of the areas of interest.

The National Museum of Australia asked if we could make a loan of the sheet music of the Cavalry Waltz by Mrs Dalton held by us.

The sheet music is of particular interest as it complemented the engraved pocket watch that was presented to Trumpet Major Charles Dalton (husband of the composer of the waltz) by A Troop of the NSW Cavalry in 1891 that is held by the National Museum of Australia.

After an amount of paperwork, the loan was arranged. Our collection is heritage listed. An item of such significance needed to have the Director Heritage Branch, New South Wales Department of Planning agree to it crossing into the ACT for 13 months.

John Palmer attended the exhibition launch.

National Museum of Australia John Palmer with our exhibit
Photos courtesy the National Museum of Australia

Project ACE

We are gradually getting there with ACE. Re-vitalising a piece of what was cutting-edge technology in 1937 has proven quite a challenge. The engine pack has now been installed and the pipes are hooked up. The target is to have the vehicle fully operational for the 70th Anniversary of the battle of Balikpappan, July 2015. The photos and video below tell the story of a lot of hard work.

The refurbished Matilda power plant The refurbished Matilda power plant being installed
The refurbished Matilda power plant being installed The refurbished Matilda power plant being installed

The above video was prepared, and photos taken by Michael McGraw.

The Museum’s Artist

As a Museum, we are very lucky to have a fine group of talented volunteers each able to excel in their own field. One such is David Blackman. David served in the Regiment from the 1960s to the 1980s. He is now able to use his natural talent as an artist to bring that period to life. His latest works in acrylic house paint show the Regiment’s Centurions in the field at Puckapunyal.

 Centurions in the field - Puckapunyal 
David Blackman and his paintings A Centurion - Puckapunyal

Acquisitions

The Museum is pleased to announce that it has two new prized acquisitions.

A 106 mm RCL has been obtained on long term loan due to the hard lobbying of Ian Hawthorn and intercession of the state MP for Parramatta The Hon Dr Geoff Lee MP. The weapon was able to be mounted on the Museum’s fully restored SWB Landrover for the parade through Parramatta on 30 August. The RCL was used by the Regiment in the 1970s when there were problems with a suitable armoured fire support vehicle.

A 7.62mm SLR has been purchased. A culmination of two years’ negotiation led by Michael McGraw with the Australian Military Sales Office. The weapon was used by the Regimentt's Assault Troopers from the 1970s 'till the 1990s. The SLR, innox and secured will be on display shortly.

Dr Lee has already made representations for the Museum to obtain a member of the M113 family of vehicles, the Regiment’s steed 1970-2005. Do not expect the exhibit to materialise quickly. The bureaucratic minefield will take some time to negotiate, if it ever can be negotiated.

Congratulations to Ian and Michael; and thanks very much to Dr Lee.

All of the Museum’s volunteers deserve a pat on the back for what they have achieved. Special mention needs to be made to Ian Hawthorn for his work on the parade, Michael McGraw, the cabinets, Bill Prosser for keeping our vehicles operational and Joe Tabone ACE (our treasurer as well).

Memorabilia

You might note that Regimental polo shirts, black with the Regimental Badge embroided in full colour are now available on-line.

Now there are but few of the 1985 histories left, the price has been increased to reflect their value as a collector's item.

  The Association

Our Association has worked for the members, as it should in the past six months. Our Association differs from most. You join by serving in or having served in the Regiment. No application form or joining fee. No annual or other periodic fees. Simply activate your membership by getting on our database CLICK HERE, and contribute with your spare change when and if you can CLICK HERE. We do expect donations to receive Lancers’ Despatch by post (it costs us $2 to send out each one).

The RAAC Corporation Conference

Two years ago the RAAC Association of Australia was converted into a Corporation. A corporation is registered with ASIC (Australian Securities and Investments Commission), a Commonwealth body, incorporated associations are registered under state legislation. The RAACA had been registered in Victoria, this had proven problematic for a federal body.

The RAAC Corp AGM and conference was held in Albury in October. As secretary I represented our association at that conference. The administration was intriguing, the briefing on the state of the corps of great interest.

Two of the regular RAAC units are being organised into Armoured Cavalry Regiments (ACRs). An Armoured Cavalry Regiment consists of a Tank Squadron, a Cavalry Squadron and a Lift Squadron. 2 Cav has provided 1 AR with a cavalry squadron and moved to Townsville, 1 AR has provided 2 Cav a tank squadron. B Sqn 3/4 Cav have traded in their PMVs for M113s previously manned by 5/7 RAR, and now form the lift squadron for 2 Cav. The 1AR lift squadron has been raised in Adelaide. 2/14 LH is still fully equipped with ASLAVs and remains in Brisbane. The new ACRs are still working-up, in particular ironing out the problems of the logistics train required to support three incompatible vehicle platforms. Sadly the transition of B Sqn 3/4 Cav to a reserve sub-unit has been delayed until 2017; the guidons and museum artefacts have been secured at the Armoured Centre.

The reserve units are now mostly equipped with PMVs alongside their Landrovers. In spite of the success of trained A vehicle crewmen manning PMVs in Afghanistan, the management of the vehicles has been handed over to the Corps of Transport. Drivers get not much more than a soldier’s 5 to make the transition from a qualified truck driver; there is no separate ECN. There is no such thing as a PMV crew commander, simply a co-driver with no special training. The only ECN a reservist can gain that will provide a worthy pay rate is that of cavalry scout or assault trooper.

The saddest point made by the regulars at the conference, was that this is what they want, trained cavalry scouts. The problem is that supplying lowest common denominator trained soldiers to round-out regular units is a waste of the resource. The reserve is a pool of military trained citizens with intellect and business experience. It should be used as such.

There was a decision to hold the AGM next year in Sydney. If this happens, our Association will be involved in hosting the event, there will also be an opportunity for observers. It may not occur. Messages circulated after the event indicate Hanrahan is alive and well in the RAAC Corp executive. There is a concern that few would survive Sydney with the muggings and murders. Watch this space.

The Reunion

On Sunday 2 November 2014 we held our annual reunion at Lancer Barracks. Another great day as those of us who left the Regiment long ago were able to gather, renew old friendships and tell those stories again, and again. Photos by Alan Hitchell.

At the Reunion At the Reunion At the Reunion
At the Reunion At the Reunion At the Reunion
At the Reunion At the Reunion At the Reunion
At the Reunion At the Reunion At the Reunion
At the Reunion At the Reunion At the Reunion
At the Reunion At the Reunion At the Reunion

Welfare Work

Our thanks very much to the Association treasurer Brian Walters. Brian keeps his ear to the ground and where a Lancer is in difficulty, he is there to help. Brian was in communication with Tiny Townsend with an offer of some financial assistance before he passed away - the offer was eventually declined.

Make certain you check out the DVA welfare announcements later in Lancers’ Despatch.

The Tiger Colless Award

Every year the Association sponsors awards to be made to members of the Regiment whose proficiency shines. This year the Tiger Colless award for the most proficient senior NCO was presented by the Association Secretary John Howells to Warrant Officer Stewart Griffiths on the Regiment’s last parade for the year.

Global Footprint

Our Association has a global footprint. We have a couple of former Lancers who now live in Canada including Joe Borg, he writes:

"I thought you might find this photo of myself, taken during our 11 November Remembrance Day Services and Parade in London Ontario Canada. As a former Lancer, I proudly wear the Lancers badge on my Beret when I dress in the uniform of the Royal Canadian Legion, of which I am a member. I was always and still am, proud to have been a member of the 1/15 RNSWL in the early 1960's."

The War Memorial London Ontario Joe Borg 11 November 2014

  The Regiment January to July 1915

It is 100 years since the Regiment's initial involvement in World War 1. The Regiment's service was recorded by the young men who served in it in an account they prepared en-route back to Australia in 1919. The story here covers the period from the raising of the 1 LH from the ranks of NSW Militia Light Horse Regiments in August 1914 until the end of July 1915. The account was edited in 1960 by Philip Vernon (Hugh's son) and in 2014 for publication here.  The editor Lancers' Despatch intends in subsequent editions to serialise in bi-annual bites the actions of our Regimental forefathers in the Great War a century ago.

The 1st Light Horse Regiment of the Australian Imperial Force was formed at Rosebery Park, Sydney, from selected men of the active strength of light horse militia regiments together with men from the country districts who could ride. Major George Macarthur-Onslow was appointed to command, the administrative work being done at this time by Major Richard C Holman of the Administrative and Instructional Staff.

Unfortunately, in the middle of organising the regiment, Major Onslow had to relinquish command and undergo an operation for appendicitis, the command being taken over temporarily on 26 August 1914 by Major Hugh Vernon of the 7th Light Horse (NSW Lancers).

On 28 August Lieutenants Colonel John Meredith 6th Light Horse (Hunter River Lancers) was appointed to command the regiment. Although the personnel were all but assembled, there was little equipment suitable for active service. Every effort was made to train the men in mounted work but saddlery was short, especially stirrup-irons, and the Remount Department at this time was only in the early stages of organisation.

On 2 September the surplus men formed into a depot squadron under Lieutenant M Russell, from which the 1st Reinforcements were to be drawn. Lieutenant Frank Weir was selected to command the reinforcements.

Many years later the by then Major Weir recalled receiving a telegram at Dungalear Station, Walgett, where he was manager, in within a week of the declaration of war. Paraphrased it read: " Form local committee to enrol all suitable men in the light horse with a doctor's certificate report yourself in ten days. Holman Victoria Barracks." A further message instructed him to collect two truckloads of horses and consign them to the Remount Officer, Victoria Barracks.

Training and field firing continued at Roseberry and Long Bay Rifle Range until 25 September 1914, when the advance party of the regiment, consisting of one sergeant and 11 other ranks, embarked on the Clan Mc Corquodale at Woolloomooloo. Three days later these men and 66 horses were disembarked and the Clan Mc Corquodale, now known as A6, was not loaded again until 18 October when Lieutenant Butler and 26 other ranks embarked and 102 horses were loaded. The syndrome now referred to as "greatcoats on, greatcoats off" was as prevalent in 1914 as it is in the army of today.

On 19 October the regiment, numbering 24 officers and 484 other ranks with 461 horses as part of the 1st Australian Light Horse Brigade, embarked on the Star of Victoria (A 16) at Woolloomooloo for active service abroad. The regimental first line transport and machine guns were also loaded on A16. On 20 October the unit sailed out of Sydney Heads, not to return for over four years.

The following were commissioned officers, the militia regiments or specialist corps from whence they were seconded being shown where applicable in brackets:

Regimental Headquarters
Commanding Officer – Lieutenant Colonel John Meredith (HRL)*
Second-in-Command – Major Hugh Vernon (NSWL)*
Adjutant – Lieutenant Richard Dudley Holman (A and I Staff) (son of Major Richard C Holman)
Quartermaster – Lieutenant Albert Fitzpatrick (AASC)
Medical Officer – Captain Albert Fullarton (AAMC)*
Veterinary Officer – Captain Henry Oliver (AAVC)
Attached – Captain Tange Dunlop

Machine Gun Section
Lieutenant John Broadbent (PMF)

A Squadron
Major James Reid (NELH)
Captain Walter Lawry (NELH)
Lieutenant Arthur White (HRL)
Second Lieutenant Garnet Tinson (HRL)
Second Lieutenant Norman MacMillan (NELH)
Second Lieutenant Oswald Ryrie*

B Squadron
Major Thomas Irwin (AH)
Captain William Cox (NSWL)
Second Lieutenant Burdett Nettleton (NSWL)
Second Lieutenant Alfred Reid (AH)
Second Lieutenant Geoffrey Harris (AH)*
Second Lieutenant Edwin Sutton (NSWL)

C Squadron
Major Cecil Granville (HRL)*
Captain Donald Smith (NSWMR)
Lieutenant John Nicholl (NSWMR)
Lieutenant Sidney Edmonds (NSWMR)
Lieutenant Alfred Butler (NSWMR)
Lieutenant Reginald Wordsworth (NSWMR)

*Had seen service in South Africa 1899 – 1903.

Lieutenant Frank Weir (who had also seen service in South Africa) remained behind to have the camp area cleaned and to bring the 1st Reinforcements. At this time Lieutenant Russell and the 1st Reinforcements of the 1st Light Horse Regiment were drafted into the 6th Light Horse Regiment which was then being formed, and a new batch of men was selected out of the depot squadron as reinforcements for the 1st Light Horse.

The first few days at sea were spent in settling down and drying clothing and equipment, the weather having been very wet when the regiment marched out of Rosebery Camp. A piano, band instruments, gramophone and boxing gloves had been donated by the people of New South Wales and were fully appreciated by all ranks. Ordinary ship's routine and training, with ‘stables’ three times a day, were hard on the men at first, owing to the rough weather, but all had settled by 26 October, when the convoy anchored in King George Sound Western Australia. Here a run ashore was arranged for a very limited number of men. The health of the troops was good.

On 1 November the convoy sailed for Aden, and after five days it passed the mail steamer Osterley, which had a narrow escape from the German raider, Emden. Four days later the escort cruiser, HMAS Sydney, accounted for the Emden at Cocos Islands.

Crossing the equator on 12 November, the majority of the unit had their first experience of Father Neptune coming aboard, the officers taking their share in the operations. On the whole the health of the men and horses was OK. At this time the Orvieto was the flagship of the convoy, which consisted of four ships. From Colombo, the escort was a cruiser, HMS Hampshire, which was afterwards sunk with Lord Kitchener and his staff on board. From Aden, Lieutenant Butler returned to Australia on urgent private business. During the voyage through the Red Sea it was hot and 17 horses died of pneumonia.

Suez at the southern end of the canal was reached on 1 December, it was here the regiment received orders to disembark in Egypt and train there. Next day the canal was entered, and fatigue parties were employed in sandbagging the bridge and placing machine guns in position on the A16. Turkish patrols were approaching the canal’s eastern shore. The banks on each side were lined by English, Indian and Egyptian troops, who gave the convoy a hearty reception. Port Said and Alexandria were soon reached, the A16 anchoring at the latter for four days. On 8 December 1914 the regiment disembarked.

1 LH Training in EgyptThe 1st Australian Light Horse Brigade moved by rail to Cairo whence the 1st Regiment marched 16 kilometres to Maadi in the drizzling rain. The local British residents were very good to all ranks, and although the training was strenuous, a happy Christmas was spent there. The horses had now recovered from the voyage and mounted training was carried out daily. On 30 January 1915 the regiment moved to Heliopolis, about 10 kilometres out of Cairo. Chaplain Earnest Merrington, Church of England padre, was attached.

On 15 February No. 574 Trooper Eric Kater was given his commission and joined C Squadron as a second lieutenant. On the same day Lieutenant Frank Weir, OC 1st Reinforcements, with Second Lieutenant John MacMillan and 52 other ranks marched in from Abbassia and were taken on strength, having landed at Alexandria during the first week in February with horses and equipment. They had formed part of the convoy from Australia which brought the 2nd Light Horse Brigade.

In conjunction with the New Zealand Mounted Rifles Brigade, field days were held and field firing carried out on the Abbassia range, Cairo. The climate of Egypt and the training areas allotted were very suitable for cavalry work, and few days were lost through adverse weather. All ranks were very keen and took the utmost interest in the work. During this period there were rumours abroad in regard to the Dardanelles, and senior officers hinted that the unit would get its fill of fighting before long, but no one anticipated the long months in the trenches of Gallipoli.

The regiment visited Helouan, a winter resort that had been patronised by the German Kaiser, and received good practice in route marching in the congested traffic along the Helouan-Maadi Road, thence opening out in extended line across the Mokattam Hills. Napoleon's forts on the Suez Heads, known as No2 and No3 Towers, were topographical features often used in operation orders.

During the time the unit was away on these "stunts", there was a lot of stealing by the locals from the Aerodrome (Heliopolis) Camp, boots especially being taken. This pilfering continued during the later years in Palestine. No 219, Lance Corporal Walter Perkins died of pneumonia on 10 April. Generally speaking, the health of the men was excellent. The regiment's horses were all now branded "X" on the neck. This made it easy to pick out the few original horses left when the time came four years later to hand them back to the Remount Department.

On 10 April Lieutenants John Stewart and Douglas Campbell and 104 other ranks, comprising the Second and Third Reinforcements, arrived from Australia, without horses. During this month a troop of scouts was formed under Lieutenant Geoffrey Harris. The regiment's training included a sham fight against the 2nd Light Horse Brigade.

On 6 May 1915 orders were received to leave for the Gallipoli Peninsula, without horses, Major Hugh Vernon to command, Lieutenant Colonel John Meredith to remain as camp commandant with all the horses and such brigade personnel left behind. Lieutenant Frank Weir was appointed camp adjutant. Local Egyptians were employed at the rate of one man to three horses to assist in stables and to allow reinforcements to carry on their training.

The regiment embarked at Alexandria on 9 May: 25 officers and 447 other ranks on the Deoanha, one officer and 30 other ranks on the Kingstonian. All ranks were equipped as infantry, Officers wearing the same pattern tunic as the men so as not to be conspicuous to the enemy. Infantry packs were not obtainable in Egypt in sufficient numbers, so a khaki rucksack with shoulder straps was issued in lieu.

Landing at Gallipoli

The Gallipoli landing was carried out at 0600 on 12 May, at North Beach some two kilometres south of Fisherman's Hut, just where the ANZAC commemoration site is today. One soldier was wounded. The unit bivouacked south of Pope's Hill and at 1200 on 13 May 1915 took over the front line trenches at Pope's with the machine gun section of the 2nd Light Horse Regiment (Queenslanders). Casualties during the next two days were one killed and seven wounded.

At 0245 on 15 May the regiment provided covering fire for the attack from Quinn's Post on the enemy trenches, 50 to 150 metres away. The average ammunition expenditure was 12,000 rounds in 24 hours. The enemy's fire was continuous, night and day, but he did not expose himself nor charge; in fact, a lot of enemy rifle fire was done by simply raising the rifle in one hand and blindly firing over the parapet.

Up to 2400 on 16 May casualties were two killed and eight wounded. At 1200 on 17 May the post known as Pope's Hill was taken over, Lieutenant Colonel Frank Rowell, 3rd Light Horse Regiment, being permanent commandant, with Major Thomas Glasgow, 2nd Light Horse Regiment, as second in command and Lieutenant Burdett Nettleton, 1st Light Horse Regiment, as adjutant. At 2400 on 18 May the enemy made a demonstration, the fire lasting for an hour; the regiment was turned out and at 0350 on the 19 May 2015 "Jacko" attacked with loud cries of "Allah, Allah". About 100 Turks reached the Australian trench, but the attack was easily repulsed and those not killed outright were not seen to regain their own trenches. No prisoners were taken. The firing slackened about 0930, casualties being: killed, 11 other ranks; wounded, Second Lieutenants Sidney Edmonds and John Nicholl, and 15 other ranks; total, 28. At 1430 the 1st Light Horse Regiment were relieved by the 3rd, the 2nd Light Horse Regiment being on the right at Quinn's Post.

On 20 May the regiment bivouacked in Monash Valley where it was constantly sniped at, resulting in casualties, its strength further reduced by sickness. Fresh water was being brought from Malta and consequently was very scarce. Day and night men worked at improving the trenches and saps to the beach. All ranks were very fatigued, but morale was good. By 24 May the dead Turks in front of Walker's, Pope's and Quinn's were very thick and, as the weather was hot, the stench bad. An armistice from 0730 to 1630 was arranged to allow burial of the dead in no man’s land. On 26 May 1st Light Horse Regiment was "local reserve" to Pope's Post. By this date its casualties amounted to 71.

Popes and Monash

The Turks again attacked on 29 May. Before dawn sub-units of the regiment were sent to Pope's and to Quinn's. At the latter, No. 582 Lance Corporal Charles Grimson very gallantly took 11 or 12 prisoners from in front of his line and was awarded the DCM for his action. The unit's casualties in this attack were two killed and 15 wounded. Work on improving the defences was resumed at very high pressure.

At PopesDuring the next few days there was a normal succession of reliefs. Some steel loopholes, which were a great help, and bombs were issued, the bombs being jam-tins filled with scrap iron and explosives carrying time fuses. As the area was very congested, strict trench discipline was found to be necessary. The hill had been considerably weakened by saps, dugouts and tunnels, and one man became a casualty through earth falling on him during the night.

On 9 June the regiment, its strength now reduced to 24 officers and 327 other ranks, was relieved by the 3rd Light Horse Regiment (South Australians) and retired into the bivouac area which was then west of Pope's Post and below it. The next week was spent in digging a sap to join up Monash Valley with Hill Outpost and Walker's Ridge. This was known as No 4 Section. Through personal reconnaissance, Major Vernon suspected the existence of a Turkish post nearby, and in consequence the regiment sent out each night a voluntary party under an officer to try and capture it. On the 23 June the 1LH took over the front line trenches again from the 2LH. The Turks had been busy for some time improving their defence with overhead cover camouflage and sniper posts. Casualties were now averaging one or two per day. The 2LH had gone into local reserve in the valley recently occupied by the 1LH, and at about 2400 on 29 June the enemy fired on and bombed them in conjunction with a general attack on Walker's Ridge. The 1LH Regiment were able to get rifles and machine guns to bear on the attacking Turks from Pope's. Few of the enemy returned to their trenches and no prisoners were taken.

The regiment's next relief was on 30 June when the 3LH took over. The unit returned to the "Inner Line" defences in Monash Valley, B Squadron joined the other local reserves there. There were working parties day and night, casualties continued owing to constant enemy sniping. B Squadron under Major Irwin was posted on the right of Pope's on 7 July.

Lieutenant Edmonds returned from Egypt on 14 July with 115 other ranks, including eight original members of the regiment who had been wounded and were now recovered. The regiment's strength was now 20 officers and 417 other ranks. On the same day, the 1LH again took over the front line of Pope's Post from the 3LH.

All this time the portion of the brigade left in Egypt under Lieutenant Colonel Meredith was continuing to train at the Aerodrome Camp, Heliopolis, the horses keeping their condition. Drafts from Australia were received, inoculated, drilled and despatched to the peninsula when there was an opportunity.

On 25 July Lieutenant Sutton and 20 other ranks were wounded, and one killed in the Reserve Gully where the regiment had been moved on the 21st. On 29 July Major Hugh Vernon was evacuated sick from ANZAC, the name now applied to this part of the Gallipoli Peninsula

The regiment was soon to return to Pope’s for its most fateful day. More about this in the August 2015 edition of Lancers’ Despatch as we serialise the account of the Regiment in the Great War 100 years later.  If you would like to join me at the site of the Battle of the Bloody Angle on 7 August 2015, exactly 100 years on from the battle, CLICK HERE for details.

  Beware of Stumps

Terry Boardman

In 1960 Terry Boardman OAM qualified to drive Centurion tanks and over subsequent years instructed and tested others in the skills. On one memorable occasion Terry was asked if a tank would knock a certain stump out of the ground. He decided to demonstrate but his choice was poor - the stump was just the wrong height and the tank rode up and became stuck without dislodging it. Four photos depict the situation and two Terry now and then.

Tank on a Stump Tank on a Stump
Tank on a Stump Tank on a Stump
 Terry Boardman now and then

Terry did not learn a lesson because he still rushes to get a drive whenever the Centurion at the Royal New South Wales Lancers' Museum moves.

Photos by Ian Primrose and Bill Prosser with some supplied by John Dennis.

  A Visit to the Royal Wessex Yeomanry

Colonel Lee Long RFD, Honorary Colonel (text and photos)

The two Honorary ColonelsThe Royal Wessex Yeomanry invited Armoured Reservists to a symposium in Bovington, Devon UK over the weekend 18-19 October. The Regimental Honorary Colonel accepted the offer and participated in the symposium. He was one of two Australian participants; the other was BRIG Bill Sowry the Head of Australian Defence Services in the Australian High Commission in London.

Presentations were given by Armoured Reservists for the UK, Canada, the US, Australia and Sweden. The symposium was very educational as we all identified the various issues and challenges facing Armoured Reservists. It was interesting to note that we all have similar challenges.

During the symposium the Hon Col met the UK Land Comd LTGEN James Everard CBE and his assistant MAJGEN Ranald Munro CBE, TD (a reservist), he also met numerous one star officers from the UK and the US. During a formal dinner on the 18 Oct the Hon Col presented a copy of the 1/15 RNSWL history and plaque to the Royal Wessex Yeomanry’s Royal Hon Col Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex KG, GCVO, ADC.

After the symposium the group was provided with the opportunity to witness members of the Royal Wessex training. The role of the Royal Wessex is to provide armoured crewmen support to the Royal Tank Regiments. Currently they train drivers, gunners and loaders on Challenger II MBT. The regiment has been tasked to provide five full crews and the CO intends to provide full sub units within 5 years.

Royal Wessex Yeomanry Regiment comprises five squadrons each bearing the name of a previous Yeomanry regiment and at the formal dinner the officers all wore different mess dresses in honour of their individual squadrons. The Royal Wessex does not have a unique mess dress yet and only received a regimental badge, which they wear on their brown berets in Jul 2014.

The CO of the Royal Wessex and the Royal Yeomanry, who the Hon Col also met, is a full time officer. Very few units of the reserve are commanded by reservists and none of the brigades or divisions are commanded by reservists.

Some of the simulators used by the Royal Wessex were quite old and some new. The simulators available enabled physical loader training (the Challenger II uses three piece ammunition), gunnery training (both main and coax chain gun). They also had the ability to train full crews using laptops up to half squadron level (though the loaders cannot benefit from this level of training) this helps develop crew communication skills and drills. The group were shown a very interesting moving map which is essentially an animated sand map. The map can display AOs and enable sophisticated planning prior to operations, it can also show dead ground.

The group were also permitted to inspect one of the unit's Challenger II tanks.

The RWYs Challengers The RWYs Challengers
The RWYs Challengers The RWYs Challengers
The RWYs Challengers The RWYs Challengers
The RWYs Challenger Simulator

Finally due to being alerted by The Regimental association the Hon Col managed to meet with Colonel Richmond, a former CO of the QDG and gain a guided tour of the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst. Colonel Richmond subsequently visited the Regiment and Museum at Parramatta.

  Trooper Tom Morris' Grave

Tom Morris was the first Australian and only Lancer nominated for the Victoria Cross. This was for an action near Arundel, South Africa. He rescued a comrade, Trooper Harrison whose horse had been shot from under him. To do this he had to ride back into a hail of Boer Mauser fire, an act of great bravery.

Tom survived the war and eventually wound up as a police sergeant in the town of Corowa near the Victorian border. His bravery proven again and again in actions against lawbreakers. Tom died in 1955, and is buried in Corowa. His grave is in the Corowa Pioneer Cemetery, Federation Avenue, see the red square below.

Tom Morris Grave Tom Morris Grave

The editor visited Corowa whilst attending the RAAC Corp Conference in October but did not at that time have full details on the grave location. In early February he will again be in the area and intends to find the grave.

Your editor will be in Wagga to attend the graduation at 1 Recruit Training Battalion of Damian Croxford. Damian is the son of Tony Beechey and Narda Croxford (formerly Beechey), both Lancers’ Association members. Why the lad wishes to be an infantryman is hard to understand, he is a good shot with the rifle, and will if he follows in the footsteps of his Mum and Dad, make a great soldier.

  The Regiment’s Heritage Attacked

There is something almost incomprehensible afoot within a cabal of so-called "military historians" intent on destroying our heritage. They contend that Australia’s previous military history relies too much on the mythology of the citizen soldier. Frankly from these people’s point of view there were no truly professional and competent soldiers until the modern era ie circa 1990. Gifted amateurs perhaps who learnt on the job but nothing like we have today. This includes Korea and Vietnam. The group includes Stanley, Manera, Pratten (Australian Battalion Commanders is a notorious example) and Wilcox.  Almost anyone writing history on Australian Military subjects takes their lead from this philosophy (there are exceptions Peter Pederson is one). Few if any were soldiers but academics with a talent to reference their work and push a philosophical barrow; rewriting our history in a way that would have done Joseph Goebbels proud.

The specific attack on our Regiment’s heritage is by Craig Wilcox in his recent book "A Kind of Victory – Captain Charles Cox and his Australian Cavalrymen". Wilcox, described as "a military historian who has worked at the Australian War Memorial and had fellowships at the National Museum of Australia and the Menzies Centre for Australian Studies in London" is a dreamer, who has never been a soldier. His dreams are not nightmares as such, more vexatious propaganda. He describes our regimental forebears as "The men who went to war with Cox failed to shine either as trained cavalry or as wily frontiersmen. Worse still, a few were led by their captain into the killing of an unarmed African civilian, an act that put them all in the witness dock in a murder case that deserves as much attention as we like to give the trial of Breaker Morant." There is no justification for the description of the members of Lancer Squadron as "failing to shine"; they did. The accounts of their effectiveness in combat engagements, great bravery like that of Morris and Dooley, and even the prison escape of Ford and Whittington stand testament. The killing of the civilian was a very unfortunate incident of a kind that can happen in wartime. People die in war, and not all that are killed wear uniforms. There was a dispute when searching a Boer farmhouse that resulted in miscommunication between Cox and an accompanying South African Police detachment. An innocent young man, an African farm hand loyal to the Boer family he worked for, lost his life. You would have to say Wilcox expresses the incident in sensational terms.

As for Major General Charles Cox CB, CMG, DSO, VD, I would simply quote from the 2/14 LH (QMI) history:

"23 December 1916 - Early afternoon, after little progress had been made, Chauvel decided to break off the attack and withdraw, but General Cox of the 1st Brigade was about to launch a bayonet charge when the signal arrived. Demonstrating his well-earned nickname ‘Fighting Charlie’, he barked, ‘Take that damned thing away and let me see it for the first time in half an hour’. The 1st Brigade and the Camel Brigade literally raced towards a redoubt and the first Turks surrendered. Sensing victory the men poured into Maghdaba from every direction."

Charlie Cox gave a lifetime of service to his nation, as a soldier and politician. He was holding the post of Honorary Colonel of the Regiment when he passed away in late 1944. The soldiers he led in two wars performed competently and courageously. It is without honour for re-writers of history with a warped agenda to denigrate them.  It would almost seem that these accounts by the cabal members are attempts to be noticed by making sensational, one might say outrageous claims citing questionable sources.  Who better to make sensational claims about than someone who is dead and cannot defend themselves.

I am rather glad my military career did not amount to much.  At least my great grandchildren will not have to be embarrassed by such claptrap in 100 years' time.

The above article is the personal opinion of John Howells, editor of Lancers' Despatch.

  Messages from the DVA

New ADF Post Discharge Health Assessment

All former members of the Australian Defence Force (ADF) can now access a comprehensive post-discharge health assessment from their GP. This assessment is available to all former serving personnel, including former members of either the permanent or reserve forces.

A key objective is to help GPs identify and diagnose the early signs of physical and/or mental health problems.

The Department of Veterans' Affairs has funded the development of a specifically designed assessment tool to assist the GP to assess their patient's current physical and psychological wellbeing. The tool includes questions to assess factors such as physical activity, chronic pain, sleep, any alcohol and substance use, psychological health and sexual health.

Talk to your GP,tell them you have served inthe ADF and ask them about this health assessment. A Medicare rebate is available.

Cutting red tape for claims

Current serving ADF members including Reservists who hold a purple ADF ID card will benefit from a new DVA and Defence move to reduce red tape in the claims application process.

From 1 September, ADF members can use their purple ADF ID Card to prove their identity for the purposes of making a DVA claim at any On Base Advisory Service (OBAS), DVA Veteran’s Access Network (VAN) Office or one of DVA’s co-located Centrelink Veterans’ Information Service (VIS) offices.

Streamlining the current 100 point identity verification process, the new arrangement means that, when dealing with DVA for the first time, a current serving member will no longer have to provide documents which may not readily be at hand, such as a birth certificate or passport. This will speed up the process for accessing any entitlements from DVA.

While this streamlined arrangement has commenced, there may be exceptional circumstances where further information from a new client is required to establish proof of identity.

This is one of many actions DVA is taking to reduce the time taken to process claims.

More information on new proof of identity arrangements is available on the DVA website at www.dva.gov.au.

Long Tan Bursary now open for applications

Children of Vietnam veterans can now apply for funding assistance to help with the cost of following their chosen career path.

The Long Tan Bursary Scheme is named after the Battle of Long Tan, the well-known battle fought by Australians during the Vietnam War. Each bursary has a total value of up to $9,000 over three years to help cover costs such as enrolment, course fees and textbooks.

This year, 41 students from across the country received bursaries assisting them to study a wide-range of disciplines including nursing and other health sciences through to education, commerce and law.

The Scheme is administered by the Australian Veterans' Children Assistance Trust in partnership with DVA. Applications for each academic year open on Vietnam Veterans’ Day, 18 August, and close on 31 October.

For more information on the Long Tan Bursary Scheme or to apply visit the DVA website www.dva.gov.au/grants.

  Departed Comrades

Les Chipperfield 1943Les Chipperfield 2014LESLIE CHIPPERFIELD 9 October 1918 – 14 October 2014. My friendship with Les commenced in World War 2. In 1942 we were members of the 1st Machine Gun Regiment (Royal New South Wales Lancers). Sergeant Chipperfield was our vehicle driving instructor. I know on occasion he was very frustrated when I was at the wheel.

We served together in the 1st Tank Battalion (Royal New South Wales Lancers) in New Guinea, then in the 1st Armoured Regiment (Royal New South Wales Lancers) at Balikpappan in Borneo (Kalimantan) in July 1945 where Les was the CO, Lieutenant Colonel Derek Glasgow’s Matilda crew commander.

After discharge Les and I lost contact renewing it when I moved to live on the Gold Coast three years ago.

On 9 October I happily celebrated his 96th birthday at the Raffles Aged Care Facility. He sadly passed away in the early morning five days’ later. Thanks for the great memories Les.

Les is survived by his loving wife Gwen, daughter Dawn two grand daughters and four grand sons.. His two sons predeceased him, Russell in 2010 and John in 2012. (Reg Gunn)

WILLIAM CUNYNGHAME: NX1452357. Bill died on 11 August 2014, aged 91. He was serving in the 2nd Tank Battalion before becoming part of the transfer of troops from the 2nd and 3rd Tank Battalions which brought the 1st Tank Battalion up to strength when it became a 2nd AIF unit. He was posted to 3 Troop, A Squadron, as a tank crew loader/operator. On 5 July 1945, Bill was in Sergeant Murgy Hobbs’ tank 'Apache' when 3 Troop was attacked by what had been a concealed Japanese 120 mm naval gun at Manggar in Borneo. The tanks were knocked out and Bill was one of six wounded.

After the war Bill returned to his home town, Mittagong. He married and raised a family of four children. He worked for some years in the family grocery and produce business. The business was sold in 1970 and Bill joined the Mittagong Shire Council for the rest of his working life. He grew dahlias and entered exhibits in many shows, including the Royal Easter Show, and won many championships.

Bill’s son, Alan, said that Bill was devoted to his family which includes eight grand children. He was member of Mittagong’s RSL, took part in Anzac Day parades and was 'a proud Australian who had served his country'. (Bert Castellari)

STEPHEN MUTER: Stephen of Avoca Beach passed away at home early September 2014 with his family by his side aged 58. I’ve Known Stephen since we were at school and were members of the Northmead High School Cadet Unit. Stephen served as a RAAF Service Police Officer in the late seventies followed by 2-3 years with the Regiment in the early eighties. He was posted to B SQN and we were in the same troop for the AFX at Bourke. Stephen was an adventurous down to earth bloke who enjoyed life and a good mate. My sincere condolences to his wife Marie and his children Jason, Rebecca, Robert and David. His wake was attended by Steven and Peter Leslie. (Steve Lesley)

Bourke 2 1982
Bourke 2, 1982 Stephen in the back 2nd from the left.

JOHN PLOWMAN: late of Calwell ACT passed away 27 December 2014 aged 79. Following national service and a time with SUR, John served in Recce Troop from 1956 to 1961 (approx). A solicitor, he was a founding member of the NSW branch of the Riding for the Disabled Association serving as president from 1980 to 1986.

John moved around a bit during his lifetime, Sydney, Hobart, Newcastle and finally to Canberra; he remained an active member of the association, always advising of his location and email address churn. Our condolences to his children Stuart, Lexie and Meredith. (Thanks to John’s son Stuart for advice of his passing.)

Russ TownsendRUSS TOWNSEND of Wagga Aged 51. Russ attended Grantham High School at Seven Hills with other members of the Regiment. After school he got a job as a bank teller in Canberra. His military career began there where he joined 4/3 Battalion of the Royal New South Wales Regiment.

After a while he left the bank and returned to Toongabbie and transferred into the Assault Troop of A SQN in mid-1986.

He trained as a driver and was posted to be my M577 ACV Driver in SHQ TP A SQN at Kingswood. Because he was two metres tall and of solid build it was literally the only vehicle he could fit into. He drove in greens because the Q system never found a tanksuit big enough.

Russ had a good reputation in SHQ TP, known for looking after the vehicle before himself, smoko and food. He did the servicing by the schedule, on time, completed the paperwork and helped other crews out especially when someone was absent.

Russ Townsend's Funeral noticeRuss could lower, raise and drag the generator by himself. He was notorious for snoring louder than it at full throttle. In later years he was diagnosed with Sleep Apnoea.

Russ actually enjoyed cooking (drivers job) for all our crew and regular SHQ blowins especially making Jaffles 2 at a time when we had bread. He was good on the radios when stationary as an Operator, and was cool under pressure no matter how sleep deprived.

Russ consumed little alcohol and was regularly the Barman at the combined ranks Bar at Kingswood. He drank mostly Coke until switching to Diet Coke in later years. On at least one occasion be bought and consumed a 21 piece barrel of KFC at Camden for Sunday lunch when we stopped on our way home to Kingswood from a weekend at Holsworthy.

Russ was run over before 1992. Typically he explained he was lying underneath a vehicle servicing it with his torso and legs exposed when it happened. After being discharged and poorly compensated in the mid 1990s he bought an urban block in tiny Marrar whereupon he installed a kit home and adjacent metal shed that functioned as a double garage. The bath was deleted to facilitate an oversized shower and the shower space reused as a widened toilet. Unfortunately his uninsured house burnt down a few years ago and he rented in Ashmont a suburb of Wagga thereafter.

Russ never realised his dream of driving harvesters or grain trucks. He was on the Disability Support Pension for most of the last two decades. Unbelievably Centrelink downgraded him to Newstart at one stage until the Regimental Association found out and arranged for an Advocate to help him lodge an appeal successfully. He did three months paid work experience in the Commonwealth government offices in Wagga at this time.

Russ successfully completed a TAFE Course in Wagga caring for the Elderly. Unfortunately nobody was prepared to employ this gentle giant afterwards.

Russ was too big to travel by bus from Marrar to Wagga so a car was a necessity. For either ANZAC Day 2008 or 9 he caught the XPT up to Sydney. When I met him at Strathfield he could not talk until after he had smoked half a packet next to my car. He did not realise he could not smoke for 6.5 hrs. That's why his sister Lynden drove him 5+ hrs both ways on 2 November 2014 to the reunion. As a nurse living on a farm at Marrar, Lynden helped him with his medical issues for 20 years. The DVA never gave him a White Card. I know he had around 20 operations picking up MRSA and VRE and was battling Ulcers on his legs. A new pair of Surgical Stockings were custom made in Germany each year at DVA expense.

Russ always said you had to have one poison in life, smoking cigarettes being his. Just over 12 months ago his GP recognised the Lung Cancer symptoms that led to Chemo and Radiotherapy. His hair on his head fell out but he retained the bushranger beard gone grey until the end.

Russ did more than 15 years in the SES for which he was awarded the National Medal in addition to his ADM from the ARes. On Monday nights until recently he looked after the Wagga SES store.

He was affectionately known by most as Tiny. (Chris Gardiner)

The Lancers who attended Russ' funeral were Chris Gardiner, Kevin Hobbs, Kevin Jenkins, Danny Marriott, John Morgan, John Palmer, Rob Sepping, and myself. He was buried in the little town of Marrmar where he had lived after his army accident. He served with the Wagga Wagga SES for many years as a radio operator. During the Wagga floods several years ago, he stayed at his post for 3 days and nights to maintain coms and issue critical sitreps. His time in A Sqn SHQ had served him well. The local police blocked off the streets in Wagga for his cortege and the SES provided a ten vehicle escort and a twenty person honour guard at the church and cemetery.

I was glad to see that Tiny got his sister to drive him to Parramatta in November this year for the Lancer Reunion. He mixed with his fellow Lancers and shared an ale or three. After everyone had left ,Tiny and I sat on the veranda of Bobs Hall until 1800 hrs waiting for his sister to pick him up. We talked about the good times and the sad times we shared together. He was still the same humble man I served with many years ago. He never spoke ill of anyone and I will miss him greatly. (Len Koles)

  Thank You

Thank you all very much for your assistance in supporting the Museum and Association financially in the 2014/15 financial year. Our records (and they may not be perfect, human data entry has been involved) show the following supported by donation, the Association:

Lawrence Anthoney, John Bartlett, Graham Bell, Dave Blackman, Terry Boardman, Joseph Camilleri, Merv Cummings, Jeffrey Darke, Paul Degiorgio, Ian Frost, Bob Gay, Jim Gellett, George Glass, Reg Gunn, Alan Hitchell, Paul Jankovics, Jon Laird, Steve Leslie, Lee Long, Don Morris, Jack Rolfe, Arthur Standring, Brian Turner, Mick Visinko, Roy Young.

and the following the Museum:

Lawrence Anthoney, John Arnott, Max Bell, Dave Blackman, Terry Boardman, Botany RSL Sub Branch, John Burlison, Joseph Camilleri, Alan Chapman, Merv Cummings, Geoff Cuthbert, Jeffrey Darke, Glenn Darlington, Paul Degiorgio, Bruce Fisk, Ian Frost, Bob Gay, Jim Gellett, Reg Gunn, Bruce Gurton, Hewitt and J Amery, Alan Hitchell, Peter Knowland, Jon Laird, Mary Lamb, Lee Long, Albert Martin, Brian McEvilly, John McPhee, Don Morris, Bill Philip, Michael Pope, Jack Rolfe, Arthur Standring, Bob Stenhouse, Norma Swadling, Brian Turner, John Ward, Gloria Warham, Roy Young.

  HELP!

Yes we really do need your financial assistance. 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:

Click Here to go to the donation page. Donations to the Museum are tax deductible.

Don't forget your memorabilia, the online shop now includes Regimental Polo Shirts and has secure payment facilities using your credit card or PayPal account.

Click Here for the Museum Shop.

  RAACA NSW

Membership of the RAACA NSW is free to all applicants over 75. 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 visit the website: www.raacansw.org.au.

   

"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)

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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, john.howells@lancers.org.au  Tel: +61 (0)405 482 814, Fax: +61 (0)2 4733 3951.

 

© New South Wales Lancers Memorial Museum Incorporated
ABN 94 630 140 881 - - - Site Updated January 2017
Lancer Barracks, 2 Smith Street, Parramatta NSW 2150, Australia
Telephone +61 (0)405 482 814, Facsimile +61 (0)2 4733 3951 E-mail: enquiries@lancers.org.au
For Regimental enquiries call: +61 (0)2 9635 7822