The Royal New South Wales Lancers

Lancers' Despatch 36

Lancers' Despatch

Bi Annual Journal of the
Royal New South Wales Lancers Association
ABN 50 361 228 724
The New South Wales Lancers Memorial Museum Incorporated ABN 94 630 140 881
No 36 - February 2019

 President's Message    Coming Events    The Regiment    The Museum    Our Association    A Worthy Lancer  
 A Trooper in Palestine   A Lighthorseman Speaks   Moya Britten's Story    A Visit to Bovington    In the 1980s 
 Wars End   Departed Comrades   Thank You  Help    RAACA NSW    Online Response Sheet   
 Download Printable Newsletter     Download 2/14LH (QMI) Dec 18 Newsletter   

Photos and text by the editor unless historical, submitted to the editor without attribution or otherwise noted. Thanks very much to all contributors

 A Message From the President of our Association and Museum  

I usually don't provide a Presidents Report for the Dispatch as the Editor, John Howells does such an excellent job with the journal, there is no need for any extraneous comments by me. However it would be remiss of me by not publically acknowledging the efforts and dedication of the Museum Committee and The Lancer Association Committee. Further, also the efforts of the vehicle restoration crews and the guides should also be recognised.

We have had a busy year and through the efforts of the different teams we have achieved a great deal. So therefore I would like, on my behalf and your behalf thank these ex Lancers. Many committee members hold positions on both the Museum and Associations committees. I need to mention some particular committee members who have worked hard and served us well over the years. They include of course John Howells, Ian Hawthorn, Mike McGraw, Joe Tabone, Brian Staniland, Brain Walters, Bill Prosser, Ron Cable and John Palmer (Our Canberra Rep).

There are of course many vehicle crews members who have worked hard and long to keep our vehicles operational and presentable. These include Terry Boardman, Joe Tabone, George Glass, Dave Crisp, Brian Staniland, Ray Jones, Steve Lesley, Mike Watanabe, Athol Samson, Steve Hadfield, Noel Cook, Steve Deitman, Paul Martyn-Jones, Jeff Dark and Steve Dowset also two new members Tony Jenkins and Brian Hanlon. I have no doubt missed a few but I need to acknowledge their efforts and the efforts of our guides including, Isobel Twist, Tom Asher, John Anderson, Ansley Taylor, Chris Dawson , Steve Dowsett and George Baczocha. In addition I must thank our old stalwart Jack Best for his many years of service to the Museum and the Regiment.

I would also be remiss by not thanking our patron Colonel John Arnott for his continued support and guidance.

On another item, I would like recognise that the numbers of WW11 veterans marching on ANZAC day has finally dwindled to 1. This Lancer is Geoff Francis who, was a Matilda driver in Borneo. When I started marching with the veterans in 1992 there were 80 to 90. Lest we forget.

I wish you all a safe and healthy New Year. With many fond memories, Len Koles.

It is pleasing to note that a member of the Museum and Association committees, John Howells, was awarded an OAM in the 2019 Australia Day Honours List. The award was for his work for the National Boer War Memorial and a number of causes related to Australia's Military History, not just the Museum. Needless to say, the award reflects generously on the regard our Nation holds our Museum and the work by all Museum volunteers.

 Coming Events go to top of page

Expect the following in the next six months of 2019:

• Tuesday 5 March 2019 - Lancer Barracks, Parramatta 1930. Presentation of a bronze statue of a mounted trooper to the Lancer Museum by Colonel John Haynes AM (a former Adjutant of 1/15 RNSWL). The bronze statue is a half size of one of the mounted troopers that forms the section that is the National Boer War Memorial in Canberra.

• Thursday 28 March 2019 - Regimental Association and Museum Annual General Meetings - 1930 Lancer Barracks Parramatta.

• Anzac Day Thursday 25 April 2019 - Sydney; we will be marching with the RAAC Contingent SEE MAP for where to assemble. Form up 1000, estimated start time 1020.

• Early July - Regimental Dinner - All Association Members welcome - further details to follow.

 The Regiment go to top of page

The end of 2018 saw a change in command and honorary colonel. We wish Colonels Long and Francis well for the future and welcome their replacements Lieutenant Colonel Andrew White as Commanding Officer and Brigadier Philip Bridie AM as Honorary Colonel.

The New Commanding Officer was born is Sydney in 1978, Lieutenant Colonel White joined the Army Reserve in 1996, through Sydney University Regiment (SUR). He completed his final six weeks of officer training at the Royal Military College, before graduating as a 2nd Lieutenant in February 1998 to the Royal Australian Armoured Corps.

Lieutenant Colonel White's first posting was to the 1st/15th Royal New South Wales Lancers (1/15 RNSWL). Over the next several postings he served in every Squadron of the Regiment across a diverse range of roles from armoured reconnaissance Troop Leader to Squadron Executive Officer. This period also included promotion to Captain in 2003.

Lieutenant Colonel White was relocated interstate with his civilian work after this time, necessitating a transfer to the Inactive Reserve.

In 2006, Lieutenant Colonel White returned to Sydney and the Active Reserve, with a posting to a Formation HQ.

In 2009 Lieutenant Colonel White was posted to Army Personnel Agency, Sydney as a Staff Officer Grade Three Promotion and Selection, supporting selection boards and PACs. Lieutenant Colonel White was then posted back to the 1/15 RNSWL in 2011, serving in both Operations with RHQ and supporting A Squadron HQ. During this year he also served as the Brigade S33 on the 5th Brigade Combined Arms Training Activity.

In 2012, Lieutenant Colonel White was posted back to SUR, on promotion as Officer Commanding Training Company. Over the following three years the Company planned and delivered the First Appointment Course Training Blocks Two to Four, as well as the Junior Leaders Course Modules One and Two. Lieutenant Colonel White acted as the Senior Instructor or Assistant Chief Instructor for over 30 courses, and saw the graduation of over 1,100 trainees. For this posting he was awarded a Divisional commendation for contributions to training within the 2nd Division.

In 2015 Lieutenant Colonel White was selected for and attended Australian Command and Staff College (Reserve). He placed second in the overall order of merit for the course based on performance across all modules.

By request he was posted back to 1/15 RNSWL as the Regimental Second in Command in 2016, before promotion to Lieutenant Colonel at the end of that year.

Following promotion, Lieutenant Colonel White was posted to Headquarters 5th Brigade, initially as the Staff Officer Grade One – Plans (SO1 Plans) and then SO1 Training. The following two years saw him work on development of the Brigade Operations Order, transformation between 8th Brigade and 5th Brigade, recruitment and support to individual and collective training, including preparation and certification of Battle Group Waratah for Hamel 2018 and 'Ready'.

On 1 January 2019 he was posted back to the 1/15 RNSWL as the Commanding Officer of the Regiment.

In his civilian career Andrew works in Human Resources for a large Telecommunications and Technology company, leading a team providing specialist reward advice to a global population. He also serves on the Board of a Not-For-Profit NGO, which provides health and education services to remote communities in Oro Province, Papua New Guinea.

He is married to Robyn, who is also a Lieutenant Colonel in the Army Reserve, serving as a Senior Medical Officer. They have two school age daughters. His hobbies include military history, ice hockey and skiing.

 Our Museum go to top of page

Our Museum featured strongly in Parramatta's commemoration of the Centenary of the Armistice. The barracks were opened for the visit of two schools on Friday 9 November 2018, and our vehicles took part in the parade to the memorial in Prince Alfred Park. Sadly RMS demanded that ACE not drive on the roadway, it took part in the parade on a low loader. In the open day that followed the commemoration, the engine compartment of our M113 was opened to the public for the first time, much cleaning by our volunteers was evident.

Photos courtesy Parramatta City Council.

Our consultants have drafted the Development Application for the overhead protection we need to conserve and display our heritage vehicles. It is with Parramatta Council, please help by crossing appropriate portions of your anatomy in the hope that we get approval. YOU can help by donating to the construction campaign DONATIONS to the Museum are appreciated, just use the link.

I went to the "All British" car show at Kings School on Sunday, 23 September 2018 as part of the Lancers' Museum contingent. We took two Ferrets and the Recoilless 106mm Land Rover. Saw two other old Lancers there - Jim Gellett with his vintage Daimler and like a blast from the past Guy (Gus) Graham from Young. Gus was a Lancer Centurion driver in the 1958-68 period and speaking as a one-time trade testing officer I rate him possibly the best cross country Centurion driver I ever saw with ground appreciation second to none and a bloke who could almost do all the daily servicing on his own. What a great day I had. Terry Boardman.


 Our Association go to top of page

The Reunion

The 2018 Lancers' Reunion was held on Sunday, 2nd November 2018.

The Reunion started around 1030 hrs at Lancer Barracks as the old and bold slowly started to make an appearance. There was the usual mixture of regulars and other faces that were not so familiar but are still part of the “family”.

Drinks were supplied from the officers' mess this year and still at good prices. The all-important barbeque was manned by Dave Crisp and a snag sanger could be had for a very reasonable $2; there was plenty of food to go around.

As usual, the Museum and vehicle compound were open as were a number of the Museum’s vehicles. The only representative of the current serving personnel was the new RSM.

The event wound up around 1500 with a number making their way to the ever popular Commercial Hotel for some more favoured beers!

Present were the following (apologies to those missed): John Anderson, David Blackman, Tony Blissett, Nick Brewer, Helen Clarke, David Crisp, Phil Culbert, Bob Gay, Jim Gellett, George Glass, Steve Hadfield, Alan Hitchell, Tim Jones, Len Koles, Marina Laverty, David McMurray, John McPhee, John Palmer, Greg (Druggie) Pedler, Rob Sepping, Tony Skinner, Brian Staniland, Chris "Stretch" Lawley, Brian Walters and Brian Western.

Text by Brian Walters, Photos Alan Hitchell.

Editor's Note: For those who were able to be at the 2008 Reunion (I was not there, I was in Paris preparing to guide a tour) it was nice to see Chris Lawley. Chris at approx 190 cm was nicknamed "Stretch", a fireman by profession. As a vehicle crewman, his hight required him to be rather flexible when moving about in an M113. He is not well. In response to the Lancers' Association Christmas message I sent out early December 2018, I received this reply:

"Dear John,

Many thanks and all the very best to you and family for Christmas & new year. Also, as my days are numbered with terminal cancer, I would like to take this opportunity thank you for all the work you have done for the Lancer Association and when you were my Officer Commanding all those years ago. I especially remember the 1978 Bourke Camp when you showed great leadership!

Kind Regards,
Chris Lawley


In 2018, the Royal Australian Armoured Corporation Annual General Meeting was held in Brisbane. The RAAC Corp is the peak body for Armoured Corps Associations in Australia. The Regimental Association was represented by the editor and RNSWLA Secretary John Howells don't be concerned, your donations were not used to get me there, the flights and accomodation were covered by a mixture of self funding (frequent flyers) and a DVA grant to RAAC Corp. Other New South Welshpersons present were Brian Walters (RAACA-NSW), Jim Gillett (12/16/24 LH, HRLA); Bill Cross, a member of the RAACA-NSW executive and a Queensland Resident was also present as an observer.

The Visit

The AGM is always located such that a visit can be made to an Armoured Unit's facilities. Sadly this time the 2/14 LH (QMI) ACR was on exercise at Shoalwater Bay; its depot would have been deserted. Alternately a visit to Victoria Barracks Brisbane was arranged on Friday12 October 2018. The visit was hosted by Captain Adelle Catts. Adelle spent many years with the Armoured Corps, and is now posted to the Army History Unit, with the role Museum Manager, Brisbane. The problem is that the Museum building in Victoria Barracks, Brisbane, the powder magazine in colonial times, is currently off limits. A crack has been found in the brickwork the building must remain unoccupied ‘till the foundations are fixed. Interesting, Adelle has found very old records that refer to the crack, it has not moved in 100 years, so it would appear the issue is a storm in a teacup (or plaster pot) nonetheless it is seen by those with “power” as a good excuse to be disruptive.

Without a museum building, Adelle and her group of stalwart volunteers mount exhibitions in what still serves as the Officers’ Mess, an original 1864 building with the odd extension. At the moment it hosts a very well curated exhibition of the Australian effort to win the great war in 1918 covering the effort as Germans were turned back at Villers-Bretonneau stopped at Dernancourt then driven back by the Australian Corps at Le Hamel, Amiens thence to Montbrehain. The Light Horse are not forgotten with a tribute to the successful charge at Tzemach on the shores of Lake Kinneret (Sea of Galilee) Israel the display including an artillery piece captured by 4 ALH Bde. The public only get to see the exhibition by being part of a Wednesday morning group tour. These tours are guided and get the sweetener of a Devonshire Tea in the Officers' Mess.

We were also taken on a tour of the barracks; magnificent buildings mostly from the colonial era interspersed with more recent structures each with their own story adding to the tapestry that tells the story of Brisbane's chapter in Australia's Military History.

The tour ended in the RUSI Room. A hall dating from the 1870s that has served a number of purposes. It is now where the Royal United Services Institution of Queensland hold their monthly lectures of great interest was the diorama of Rittmeister the Freiherr Manfred Von Richthofen visiting an air base in 1918.

Adelle spoke glowingly of the contribution by volunteers in curating, preserving and displaying of the collection whilst alluding to a past dispute where the collection was split, a dispute yet to be resolved. She also emphasised the problem of an aging volunteer group, a problem faced by many organisations including our Armoured Corps Associations.


The AGM took place next day at the Kedron-Wavell Services Club. Australia Armoured Corps Associations were either represented or sent a report to be read into the proceedings. The reports revealed our associations are beset by two problems, geography, and the need to remain relevant to the meeds of younger former and serving soldiers. Geography is a greater problem for the ARA unit associations where soldiers are gathered from all over the nation and tend to gravitate back to where they grew-up when they complete their service. Reserve units have a geographic base with associations also supporting WW2 veterans who were also recruited in specific areas. Soldiers join an association so they can find solace with the people with whom they served, spent their youth and sacrificed for their country. All are having a degree of difficulty with youth relationship. A young person is less than likely to associate with those as old as their grandparents.

A number of strategies to address these issues were discussed. An approach that removed perceived financial barriers to serving and recently separated soldiers and a friendly proactive approach to those who may be experiencing issues.

Changes within the corps, with the Regular Infantry being integrally mobilised utilising the M113AS4 and PMV fleet as a precursor to the arrival of the MICV, and the imminent arrival of the Boxer Cavalry Reconnaissance Vehicles (CRVs) were discussed. Infantry mobility is facing the same issue as it did when 5/7 RAR was mechanised in that the ECNs for Driver and Crew Commander do not form part of an Infantry soldier’s career progression, making it difficult to fill these roles. A problem that for outsiders, particularly those with an Armoured background that should either not exist, or given its presence, should be easily fixed. The new CRVs will come on line gradually, WO1 Peter Kirkman RSM 2/14 LH (QMI) ACR gave an outline of what is proposed. The members present were reassured that the Armoured Corps has this well in hand.

There was a degree of concern expressed about having a tank squadron in each ACR, former tank soldiers stated it would be better to concentrate the skill set and ensure the best tank squadron could be deployed when required.

Reserve units will continue with the dual role of training cavalry scouts and providing protected lift capacity to those elements of the infantry regular and reserve without integrated lift capability. The cavalry scouts will be pre-allocated to regular ACRs and deployed should the ACR be on either exercise, or a combat. Jim Gillett in his report indicated 12/16 LH (HRL) had split its training between squadrons with Caboolture squadron taking on the lift training role, the Hunter Valley Cav Scout training. The important point emphasised was that crews for PMVs used in lift and light vehicles used in Cav Scout training will be trained in the vehicle minor tactics essential for protection when moving vehicles in a combat situations; and effective vehicle husbandry to ensure resources are ready when needed.

Roger Powell gave a report on progress of a proposal for a mounted statue of General Chauvel in Melbourne. The statue to be sculpted by Louis Laumen who did the excellent work on the NBWM in Canberra.

At the conclusion of the meeting strong vote of thanks was given to Noel Mc Laughlin our chairman for organising and competently chairing the AGM, and Graeme Brown for arranging the venue par excellence.

The Dinner

The AGM concluded with a very pleasant dinner at the Kedron-Wavell Services Club.


It was resolved that the 2019 AGM will take place at Tamworth, NSW on 12 October 2019 and be hosted by the 12/16/24 LH, HRL Association.

Do note that any opinions expressed are those of John Howells, the author, not those of the RNSWLA, RAACA-NSW or RAAC Corp.

 A Worthy Lancer go to top of page

Bombardier Stanley Francis Chippindale was a Lancer who fought and won the Distinguished Conduct Medal in World War 1 and died of pneumonia in the UK.

Stanley Francis Chippindale was born at Parramatta, NSW in 1894 to parents John Gabriel Chumstie and Alice Carrington Chippindale (nee Walton). Stan was listed as a student at St. Patrick’s School, Parramatta. Alice Chippindale, Stan’s mother, died on 16 July 1904. Stan lived in Boundary Street Parramatta and was a "shop assistant" in the employ of Mr Harry Quigley, mercer (a dealer in textile fabrics, especially silks, velvets, and other fine materials), of Parramatta.

In 1912 Stan enlisted in the Regiment at 18. From his photo in Lancer uniform with black cock’s plumes (not emu feathers) we can see that he trained as a signaller. He was 21 when on 4 August 1915 he joined the AIF as a trooper with 12 Light Horse, 6th Reinforcements.

Trooper Stanley Francis Chippindale embarked from Sydney, NSW on RMS Moldovia on 2 October 1915. He was too late to see service in Gallipoli. In training Stan rose in rank to acting sergeant but at that time, possible further deployment of the Light Horse was uncertain. Bright trained signallers were needed in the Artilllery; Stan, desperate for action forwent his stripes and secured a posting to the 13th Field Artillery Brigade (5 Div Fd Arty) at Moascar as a Gunner on 1 April, 1916. He shone in training and was promoted Bombardier on 17 April 1916.

Bombardier Stanley Chippindale embarked from Alexandria on 16 June 1916 on the Tunisian and disembarked at Marseilles in France on 23 June 1916. He was transferred to 25 Field Artillery Brigade on 9 July 1916.

In action at Fromelles 19 July 1916, he showed "conspicuous gallantry during operations as a telephone specialist. He worked incessantly under very heavy shell and rifle fire, maintaining communications between the trenches and the battery. He was buried by the explosion of a shell, but, on being rescued, at once restored the communications and maintained them till relieved." [DCM Citation]. For this he was awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal.

Soon after his recognised work Stanley was wounded in action, one of the 5,533 Australian casualties that fateful day. He was admitted to 1 Casualty Clearing Station on 20 July then transferred to No. 1 Ambulance Train. He was admitted to 13th General Hospital at Boulogne-sur-Mer, France on 21 July 1916 and embarked for England on 22 July on Hospital Ship St Dennis. He was admitted to 1 Northern General Hospital, Newcastle-on-Tyne, Northumberland, England on 23 July. In this hospital Stan caught pneumonia, he died on 17 August 1916.

A lancer whose competence, devotion to duty and sacrifice will always be remembered. His passing is noted on the Memorial at Prince Alfred Park, the AWM in Canberra and other local memorials. He is buried at St. Andrews and Jesmond Cemetery, Newcastle Upon Tyne, England.

Our thanks to Cathy Sedgwick Granville Historical Society for the research on which this article is based.

Grave Photo - Mike Berrell

 A Trooper in Palestine go to top of page

Trooper John Wesley Roy Gorrell 3538 1st Australian Light Horse

On Wednesday, 1 November 2017, the day after Australia held commemoration ceremonies to mark the centenary of the charge of the 4th Light Horse Brigade at Beersheba "The Australian" newspaper published a timely letter from Richard Gorrell of Killara in tribute to his father, John, who was in the 1st Australian Light Horse Regiment in the supporting action which would help clear the way for the Beersheba attack. The charge was made by the 4th and 12th Light Horse Regiments, its success vital in the strategy of the day and bravely won. It has been said that many Australians had never heard of Beersheba before this. Then what do they really know of the Light Horse Regiments?

Where were the other Light Horse Regiments on that day, especially the 1st Light Horse, our own? As John Gorrell told his father the 1st Light Horse with New Zealand mounted had taken high ground at Tel el Saba which was a necessary preliminary to the attack on Beersheba. 1st and 3rd Light Horse Brigades had been called into the action during the afternoon of 31 October 1917.

In correspondence after the publication of his letter, Richard Gorrell said, "My father did not talk much about the fighting and battles he would have seen, but he told us a lot of anecdotes I have tried to recall and record. I have a bee in my bonnet about the importance of the battle of Romani fought on 4 August 1916, as I think it was a brilliant use of terrain and the desert sun to gain a great advantage over an enemy force of Turks. It is remarkable that it occurred on the anniversary of the Boer War battle of Elands River also fought on 4 August. My father used to recite the poem 'Elands River' composed by George Essex Evans."

Elands River by George Evans

It was on the fourth of August, as five hundred of us lay In the camp at Eland’s River, came a shell from De La Rey – We were dreaming of home faces, Of the old familiar places, And the gum-trees and the sunny plains five thousand miles away – But the challenge woke and found us With four thousand rifles round us; And Death stood laughing at us at the breaking of the day.

Hell belched upon our borders, and the battle had begun.
Our Maxims jammed: we faced them with one muzzle-loading gun.
East, south and west and nor’ward
Their shells came screaming forward
As we threw the sconces round us in the first light of the sun.
The thin air shook with thunder
As they raked us fore and under,
And the cordon closed around us, as they held us – eight to one.

We got the Maxims going, and the field-gun into place
(She stilled the growling of a Krupp upon our southern face);
Round the crimson ring of battle
Swiftly ran the deadly rattle
As our rifles searched their fore-lines with a desperate menace;
Who would wish himself away
Fighting in our ranks that day
For the glory of Australia and our honour?

But our horse-lines soon were shambles, and our cattle lying dead
(When twelve guns rake two acres there is little room to tread)
All day long we heard the drumming
Of the Mauser bullets humming,
And at night their guns, day-sighted, rained fierce havoc overhead.
Twelve long days and nights together,
Through cold and bitter weather,
We lay grim behind the sconces and returned them lead for lead.

They called us to surrender and they let their cannon lag;
They offered us our freedom for the striking of the flag –
Army stores were there in mounds,
Worth a hundred thousand pounds,
And we lay battered round them behind trench and sconce and crag.
But we sent the answer in,
They could take what they could win –
We hadn't come five thousand miles to fly the coward’s rag.

We saw the guns of Carrington come on and fall away;
We saw the ranks of Kitchener across the kopje grey –
For the sun was shining then
Upon twenty thousand men –
And we laughed, because we knew, in spite of hell-fire and delay,
On Australia's page for ever
We had written Eland’s River –
We had written it for ever and a day.

In a piece headed "Decoy Horses – Prelude to Beersheba" Richard Gorrell writes: "The Allies pushed back the Turks from the Suez Canal slowly at first, not surprising as the Turks had better supply lines and the Sinai Desert formed a secure barrier to protect them, making supply lines across the barren desert difficult for the Allies. General Allenby steadily improved supply running both a pipeline for water and a railway across the desert. One innovation was to lay down wire netting (more usually employed as rabbit proof fencing) to stop vehicles being bogged in the sand to quickly form serviceable roads across the soft dunes.

In preparation for the great push to Damascus Allenby took great pains to imply that he was planning to attack northwards up the coastal plain. The Turkish High Command would be very aware that course would provide the easiest going for an army. In addition the supremacy of the British Navy on the Mediterranean Sea would make it simple to supply a successful Allied advance along the Mediterranean coast.

General Allenby realised that the Turks had erected strong defences against such an assault along the coast and so planned to attack the less defended eastern front line (through Beersheba) but needed to make many diversions to add to the Turks’ conviction that he would make the expected attack up the coast. Both sides were using aircraft surveillance. Initially, Allenby concentrated his forces near the coast but followed three chief strategies to mislead the enemy air crews.

First, he had the troops build long lines of dummy horses – four timber legs and a crude frame over which was thrown a blanket. These were primitive shapes. Close photographs reveal it was very easy to see they were decoys from even nearby, but entirely effective in misleading unsuspecting spotter planes – if they did not come too close.

Second, Allenby had teams drag logs fastened at both ends by traces back to a single horse. The logs acted like a grader blade on the gravel roads and raised large clouds of dust which at a distance appeared similar to the billows of choking dust raised by columns of Light Horse regiments on the march. Thus, a very small number of horses could emulate an army.

Third, at the last minute, he moved the highly mobile Light Horse regiments by night from near the coast inland to the eastern flank where they would attack on arrival. In the meantime the road making teams remained behind to continue creating misleading dust clouds giving the impression of major troop movements threatening the west just where the Turks expected to be attacked along the coast. Old camp fires were kept alight.

In the midst of all this preparation John, who was also known as Wes, had his photo taken while he was riding a donkey. He wrote in pencil on the back of the photo "Ready for a donkey ride. I wonder could he buck or bolt?" Wes was a highly experienced rider having learnt as a child on his father's dairy farm, riding his pony to school, then, along with his brothers, competing and winning prizes in the local agricultural shows. His enlistment form notes he had two years experience as a "weekend warrior" with the 28th Australian Light Horse where a local unit met on a parade ground in nearby Unanderra before entering the training camp at Ingleburn for intensive training for active service in Palestine. Wes was such a good shot with a .303 rifle that he was promoted to train other light horsemen in "musketry", a quaint term still used by the military in the early 1900s.

Mules are said to be more surefooted than horses. The regiment had a wireless for communication, a fragile device in the first world war, and for safe keeping this was packed on a mule when they marched. In one particular attack made by the light horse at night (it may have been the Es Salt raid) they had to traverse a narrow track on the steep side of a hill in the dark. At some stages the track became so treacherous they were forced to dismount and lead the horses. If any slipped they would go over the edge and be killed. It showed just how dangerous the track was when the mule carrying the wireless was lost over the side into the dark abyss."

Richard recounts some of the hardship of the desert war: "The Allies under General Allenby fought the Turks from where they had first threatened the Suez Canal forcing their army back across the Sinai Desert to the northern rim of the Jordan Valley. The summer descended turning the valley into a simmering hell. In the hottest months of the year it was just too hot to support troops fighting in Jordan. Even the heat tolerant Arabs left. Heat, dust, flies and disease become the common enemies for both sides and the (mainly British) High Command were considering retreating out of the valley hoping that the Turks would not re-occupy the ground.

The Australians had already fought twice for Gaza and prepared to face the terrible rigours of surviving three months of hell in a dusty cauldron than the worse option of having to dislodge the Turks yet again. After the first, almost successful battle for Gaza the Turks stiffened their defences reinforcing the weak points revealed by the first fight making the second battle more costly. The Australians did not want to make that mistake again. That was how the 1st Australian Light Horse Regiment came to sizzle and burn in the Jordan Valley in the summer of 1917. Despite the acknowledged expertise of the regimental doctors many of the occupying troops came down with malaria including Trooper Gorrell. The medical officer appraised him unfit to fight but fit enough to ride his horse back to the hospital possibly the 14th AGH located on the Suez Canal, a considerable distance away. There was another trooper from the same regiment who was given the same assessment. The medical officer asked Trooper Gorrell to look out for the other chap as they rode together as the other man was the most ill. Could he care for him?

Wes recalled it was a dreadful ride. He was delirious, swaying dangerously in the saddle, almost toppling off many times. However, his sense of responsibility for his compatriot kept him going. If he was feeling so atrocious then he must make the effort to look after that other chap who must be faring even worse. How did that fellow continue on?

When the two ill and exhausted horsemen eventually got to the hospital the doctor was amazed that Dad had completed the journey on horseback at all. He was by far the most ill of the two. I wonder whether he would have made it through without that sense of commitment for the other rider."

In his book "The Desert Column" published in 1932 the writer Ion Idriess drew on notes he recorded constantly during his service as a sniper in the 5th Light Horse. Lieutenant General Sir Harry Chauvel described the book as "viewed entirely from the private soldier's point of view." Idriess vividly described the action of the time: "Away to the west the New Zealand Mounted Rifles were having a hard fight to take the Tel el Saba redoubts. The machine gun fire just roared, our artillery all all along the line were thundering at the German machine gun nests. As the afternoon wore on the 1st Light Horse Brigade were fighting their way around the flank of a redoubt - Taubes (German aircraft) were roaring all over the fortifications, the plain, the wadi and the ridges, their heavy bombs exploding we saw that grim work would soon be doing on Tel el Saba as the 3rd Brigade came galloping up to support the New Zealanders."

Bert Castellari, Photos Wikipedia Commons

 A Lighthorseman Speaks go to top of page

Martin John Balsarini was 19 in 1915. He had already served two years in the cadets and a further two years in the light horse militia. He worked as a labourer was from Chiltern Victoria and knew his comrades were fighting on the traitor hills, Gallipoli. He joined the AIF on 21 July 1915.

He arrived in Egypt as part of the 12th Reinforcement draft for the 4th Light Horse Regiment. Taken on the strength of the 4 LH on 15 January 1916, he was too late to serve at Gallipoli. Many of the 4 LH’s old hands were sent to France, not so Trooper Balsarini, his destiny was with the 4 LH in Palestine. As an already well trained soldier, he was made a machine gunner, he fought through until he made it back to Australia on 25 July 1919 gradually rising to the rank of Acting Sergeant.

Here Martin tells his story focussing on his part in the charge on 31 October 1917, then on his later work as a machine gunner including a time when he was wounded.

After the war Martin became a farmer.

The interview was conducted by Mike Hamilton who holds copyright to that part of the video.

I know it is not a Lancer's story, but it tells of a time when our Regimental forebears fought and is fascinating.

 Moya Esme Britten's Story go to top of page

Moya Esme Britten (NF444739): Families have always been an important part of the lives of members and former members of the units covered by the Lancers Association particularly in the years since the end of World War 2. Moya was married for 66 years to Harry Britten of A Squadron, 1st Armoured Regiment, whose passing we wrote of in 2012.

Moya too served in the army. As Moya Esme Constance, aged 19, she joined the Australian Women's Army Service (AWAS) on 3 December 1942, at Kameruka on the NSW south coast. As Private Constance, Moya had a busy career until discharge on 26 July 1946.

The AWAS was a non-medical service raised on 13 August, 1941 to "release men from certain duties for employment in fighting units." A total of 24,026 women enlisted. Maximum strength was 20,051 in January 1944. They filled various roles including administration, driving, catering, signals and intelligence. They were "paid wages equal to two-thirds that of their male equivalents".

Moya died on 16 July 2017, aged 94. She had six daughters and a son, 17 grandchildren, and nine great grandchildren. Her son, David, read the eulogy at her funeral. The family all contributed to the writing of it.

To quote from the eulogy: " My Mum Moya was born in Cooma on 13 June 1923, the eldest child of Leslie Vincent Constance and Katie Bollard. The family lived in Dalgety where Leslie was a public school teacher. As a teacher Mum's father had a keen interest in history in the making and made sure he took her as a small child to the opening of Parliament House in Canberra. She remembered him lifting her up to sit in the speaker's chair. The family also went to Sydney for the opening of the Sydney Harbour Bridge (1932) they walked across the bridge with the crowds. The family moved to several small country towns where Leslie taught, eventually settling in Tathra on the south coast (country public school teachers had to contend with frequent relocations in those days).

Mum spent some time at boarding school, OLMC in Goulburn, and some time in Bega. After leaving school Mum received a scholarship to do a Commercial Arts course which she didn't take up but she completed a bookkeeping, shorthand and typing course at Candelo for which she achieved high marks of 100%, 98% and 93%. Before joining the army she worked at the Bega Co-op.

Joining the army was a big step for her and opened up her life to new opportunities. She was assigned to 2nd Army Headquarters in Parramatta where she did clerical work and typing.

Mum was present in Sydney when Sydney Harbour was attacked by the Japanese mini submarines. Immediately after the Cowra Outbreak in August 1944, when 231 Japanese POWS were killed and 107 wounded trying to escape (four Australians also died), she was transferred along with her battalion as reinforcements to Cowra. She arrived only a couple of days after the breakout.

After Cowra Moya was assigned to Greta where she was demobilisation clerk processing the paperwork required to enable service men and women to return to civil life. There she met Sergeant Harry Britten. Both Mum and Dad related stories and memories about this time, it was something about 'apricot' coloured hair, skipping down steps, lining up to buy the morning newspaper, a certain clerk putting certain paperwork at the bottom of the pile, and a certain sergeant asking a "beaut sheila" to go on a first date.

Married in 1946 they spent the early days of their marriage based in Molong. They lived with Dad's parents and initially Mum would stay behind when Dad was out travelling with his boring plant. Mum made the decision to venture into the isolated western districts of NSW so she, Dad and the children could all be together. They lived in a homemade caravan, built by Jack, Harry's brother, and travelled around living on the different properties where Dad was drilling at the time. With baby and toddler in tow, no fridge, washing machine, electricity, air conditioning, stove, corner store and all the things we take for granted. Dad passed on the skills Mum needed for campfire cooking with a camp oven and billy. Hot showers were made possible by laying a hose filled with water in the sun until hot then connected to a makeshift shower. Their entertainment at night was the general knowledge quizzes they made up themselves – capital cities of the world etc.

Moving on after the boring plant days they ran the punt across the Darling River at Louth, and had the publican licence for the Tilpa pub. Louise was born around this time. With the family growing and big floods occurring on the Darling River they decided to apply for a settler soldier's block. Here they put down roots and expanded the family. Margaret was born followed several years later by David and Lesley. Having only a tin hut, a modest fibro house was built and many trees planted and watered by hand. It was a large rough block around 1,100 hectares bordering the Lachlan River; it managed to support them and their six children (Moya's last daughter, Elizabeth, had died shortly after birth) from the mid 1950s until the early 1970s.

Mum worked hard raising the children and learnt to put together a tasty meal from whatever she had on hand. She had home-preserved fruits, jam, ginger and even some homemade beer and wine. At one stage she reared piglets resulting in home grown pork from six pigs named after each of the six children. We will never forget when we "killed" Genevieve.

When the family moved to Canberra early in 1973 Mum took over the Downer post mistress role and competently carried that out for several years until retirement.

Moya belonged to the Canberra Ex-Service Women's Association for many years, regularly attended monthly meetings and supported its actions. Following the inevitable decline in membership the association disbanded; surviving members now just meet for lunch.

Mum and Dad loved spending time with their children, grandchildren and great grandchildren, and enjoyed travelling in Australia and overseas. Mum had a wonderful sense of humour and a real zest for life and took great pleasure and interest in all the world around her. Her family were the centre of her life and without a doubt she was the heart and soul of it."

Bert Castellari

 A Visit to Bovington go to top of page

As part of my volunteer work as a tour guide, I have been able to take groups to exotic Tank Museums at Tempe in South Africa and Latrun in Israel. A visit to the Tank Museum at Bovington near Wool in the south of England was a place I just wanted to go to myself. It costs about $100 for a train journey to Wool from Waterloo Station, London and return, you have to be careful, the train splits along the way, you have to be in the correct carriage. From there it is a 6 km walk to Bovington Army Camp, site of the Tank Museum, there is no public transport, the alternative is a taxi. It costs another $50 or so to visit the Museum; the ticket does last 12 months so if you are in a position to travel 17,000 km every month or so, you could get great value for money.

The Tank Museum has all the facilities you would really like to see. All exhibits, including those being restored or conserved are or can be under cover. There is a great open air display area where there are regular events. The museum itself is a place you can be almost lost forever, at least until it is time for another 6 km walk to Wool for the last train back to London. Waiting for the train was an experience. There were RPs on the station for security reasons requiring youngsters heading to London for leave over the weekend to cover all signs that they were soldiers. Sad to see a young gentleman have to wear a jacket over this Household Cavalry sports shirt. An RP sergeant looked quizzically at my Lancers' Museum cap for a while, then not recognising the badge and looking at the facial lines, simply walked away.

The images below are not identified, to read the sign boards, when next you visit London you will need to make a pilgrimage of 350 km round trip to Bovington. If there is a place in the world you should visit before you cark it, you have a choice, Lancers' Museum Parramatta, or the Tank Museum, Bovington.

 Back in the 1980s go to top of page

Back in the 1980s, a time of black berets.

Left to right, top to bottom from top left:

1. Parade at Victoria Barracks C1980, Tony Fryer is right of the file.
2. A Sqn Assault Troop, Merriwa circa C1986. Back row: P Skinner, S Powe, R Williams, B Parker, ?; Front row: T Skinner, Lamb.
3. 30/50 gunnery course, C1981.
4. The guidons mounted on an M113 for Church Parade C1989.
5. 76mm Gunnery Course C1981.
6. 76mm Gunnery Course Puckapunyal, Seated: Rick Colefax, Kevin Hobbs and Tony Beechey; Standing: Jerry Arfanis, Brian Auchterlone, Graham Carmichael and John Van Gelderan.
7. Exercise Silver City, Broken Hill
8. Lotsa M113s - 4 Cav Ex Droughtmaster, Bourke October 1980. I was there as an SO2 on 1 Div HQ.

Photos Jerry Arfanis, Bob Gay, Stern Strauss and unknown

 Wars End go to top of page

2018 marked the 100th anniversary of the end of World War 1, and the 73rd anniversary of the end of World War 2.

In November the RUSI of NSW held a seminar on the war's end and its aftermath. Of particular interest to us was a talk by David Deasey on what happened in what was once the Ottoman empire. So if you have 23 minutes and 7 seconds to spare, press the play button below, sit back, enjoy and learn.

David's presentation included two images that he had organised to be colourised and paid for the work. They are the essence of his presentation. The first shows Lieutenant General Chauvel with his staff, the other a line of Australian manned Armoured cars heading for Aleppo toward the war's conclusion. I was reading online a couple of foreign accounts recently where the  tactical and command genius shown by Monash and Chauvel were attributed solely to Rawlinson and Allenby. The effectiveness of Australian soldiers and commanders air-brushed from history; no mention of our Nation in the list of troops involved.  You do have to worry about how the new connected generation driven to content that pays to be highlighted may lose sight of what our military forebears achieved when they pick up on the latest "Wonder Woman" film. We also sometimes forget that Egypt and Palestine (now Israel and Syria) was where the motorised forces, genesis of our Armoured Corps were first deployed, with great success.

After the Japanese surrendered in August 1945, the Regiment's headquarters received this message


Brigadier D. Macarthur Onslow
Comd., 4 Armd Bde, A.I.F.
H.Q. 4 Armd Bde,
1 Oct 45


Today, as we of the Armd Corps component of the AIF make ready to relinquish our arms and proceed on our several ways after six years of war, I cannot let the occasion pass without bidding you all “au revoir” and at the same time thanking you all for the loyalty that you have accorded me at all times without hesitation or demur.

Your keenness and enthusiasm have been boundless, your efficiency and training have been of the highest order; in numerous instances, despite many setbacks and bitter disappointments, you have consistently maintained a high standard of discipline and morale. You have been ready at all times to show your mettle and, in the face of any situation or emergency, have never been found wanting.

You may indeed rest well content in the knowledge that you have achieved all that which you set out to accomplish. You have justified and made worthwhile the sacrifices of our comrades who fell, and have worthily upheld and enhanced those splendid traditions of the Australian Light Horse so proudly passed to you as their successors. You may return to the ways of peace secure in the knowledge that your record is untarnished, a monument to your high ideals and steadfastness in the service of our Country.

It will ever be my most proud and cherished memory that I have had the privilege of commanding and directing your efforts for the past three and a half years. At the parting of the ways accept my sincere thanks for your constant comradeship, confidence and co-operation and I shall look forward to a close association and many happy reunions in the years to come.

May your road in the future be paved with happiness, health and security.


Please convey to all ranks of the Aust Armd Corps and attached troops my congratulations on the maintenance of their uniformly high standards and unselfish devotion to duty that has been displayed by them through long years of unspectacular roles during this war.

AUSTRALIA understands and is just as proud of them as I am. Remember “They also serve who only stand and wait.”, whilst those members of the Corps who have had an opportunity of facing the foe have shown a degree of determination, personal courage and initiative that reflects great credit upon the Corps as a whole.

It will remain one of my proud memories that I had the privilege of commanding 1 Aust Armd Div through the critical months of the JAPANESE war when invasion of the Homeland appeared imminent.

May you all rest content in the knowledge of duty well done, remembering that the peace has still to be won, and for the solution of this problem, AUSTRALIA expects you to render such service as is within your power.

I send good wishes for your happiness and prosperity in the years that lie ahead.

Typed from photocopied original from RAACA (Vic) files 7 Feb 2013 by MAJ John Baines RFD, RAAC Historian

 Departed Comrades go to top of page

MARK BROUGH served with the Regiment as a medic for 10 years. He died in a car accident at Mareeba on 18 November 2018. Mark's death was untimely, he was only 41. Mark did not activate his Association membership.

JOHN DAVIES who mostly served in Admin Troop C Squadron during the 1960's, died last September in Barcaldine Queensland. John was a bit of a character and would be well remembered by C Squadron members from those days. He was always known as "JC" as we also had another Davies in C Squadron at the same time - Bill (known as "WH"). Mark did not activate his Association membership.

KEVIN MAHONEY was vice president of Bass Hill RSL sub-branch when he died. He served with 1/15 RNSWL from his posting to the Regiment on 10 May 1971 until his transfer to the inactive list (could have resigned) on 11 May 1972 as a Lieutenant. He did not activate his Regimental Association Membership. Kevin's funeral was held on Thursday 22 November 2018 at 1230 at Mother of Mercy Chapel Catholic Crematorium Rookwood. Lancer Association members were there.

Major General GORDON Lindsay MAITLAND AO OBE RFD ED (1926 – 2018). General Maitland passed away on the evening of 17/18 October 2018, he did not serve with the Regiment, A junior officer when he completed his World War 2 service, he continued in the Army post war commanding 4RNSWR then GOC 2 Div. As the Divisional Commander, the Regiment fell within the scope of his command. CLICK HERE to read about General Maitland's service.

 Thank You go to top of page

Thank you all very much for your assistance in supporting the Museum and Association financially in the 2018/19 Financial Year to date. Our records (and they may not be perfect, human data entry has been involved) show the following supported by donation, the Association:

Douglas Black, Tony Blissett, John Carruthers, Kel Warham.

and the following the Museum:

Douglas Black, Tony Blissett, David Brown, John Carruthers, Mary Lamb, Terry Lynch, Danny Marriott, Kevin Regan, Kel Warham.

  HELP! go to top of page

Yes we really do need your financial assistance. No amount too large, no amount too small.

Donations to the Museum (the Museum is registered with the charity tick) and Association are possible securely using PayPal from your credit card (Visa, Mastercard, AMEX) or from your 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 has Regimental Centenary Beret Badges for sale; we have secure payment facilities available using your credit card (now including AMEX)  or your PayPal account.  Click Here for the Museum Shop.

 RAACA NSW go to top of page

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:

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"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, AUSTRALIA, (Postal Address: PO Box 7287, PENRITH SOUTH NSW 2750, AUSTRALIA) Click to contact  Tel: +61 (0)405 482 814.

© New South Wales Lancers Memorial Museum Incorporated ABN 94 630 140 881; Linden House, Lancer Barracks, 2 Smith Street, PARRAMATTA, AUSTRALIA
Postal Address: PO Box 7287, PENRITH SOUTH NSW 2750, AUSTRALIA; Telephone: +61 (0)405 482 814 Email:
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