The Royal New South Wales Lancers

Lancers' Despatch 39

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 40 - February 2021

 Coming Events    The Regiment    The Museum and Association    Lancer Barracks Turns 200    The Queen's Tassel 
 The Handover 1943   Keith Grant Turns 100    Barry Hayston's Album    Departed Comrades   Thank You
 Help    RAACA NSW    Online Response Sheet     Download Printable Newsletter   

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

 Coming Events go to top of page

Expect the following:

• Sunday 7 March 2021 - Regimental Birthday Parade Lancer Barracks, Parramatta. Function is contingent on being allowed under the COVID restrictions at that time.

• Sunday 25 April 2021 - Anzac Day Do note that COVID-19 conditions applying at the time will dictate how Anzac Day 2021 is commemorated.

 The Regiment go to top of page

In November 2020 the Regiment's Commanding Officer, Lieutenant Colonel Andrew White was given the honour to tell the story of what the Regiment did in 2020 to the Defence Reserves Association National Conference. 2020, a year of natural disasters the like of which had never been seen before on our continent. A year in which the Governor General activated a provision in the Defence Act 1903 never used before. A year where the ADF was called and helped.

The DRA Conference was held online. This presentation was prepared and sent from the NSW/VIC border where the Regiment was deployed.

To summarise what Colonel White said:-


In November 2019 we were asked to conduct a call out exercise this was an opportunity for us to see how well we could execute a call out for a limited number of volunteers if that was ever required. It proved quite fortuitous in that we were able to iron out several of the kinks and bugs associated with us doing a general call out which would occur soon after.

I'm sure everyone will remember the devastating bushfires that started in southeast Queensland and continued down through New South Wales and Victoria from late 2019 into 2020. This was an unprecedented catastrophic event for the east coast and some other parts of Australia. The Commonwealth offered support via the ADF to help each of the states and territories as the lead agencies combat these devastating fires. For the fifth brigade and for the Lancers based at Holsworthy and Parramatta we commenced the launch of a response team in early January. The lancers were able to generate a cavalry squadron mounted in PMV which left round about 6 January and was in the field for about 28 days or so. That element was attached to the fifth engineer regiment and operated largely in southern New South Wales providing support to the RFS and New South Wales Police in bushfire response and later bushfire recovery. Our vehicles were good to go they were fully equipped, our radios and all of our stores were able to be assembled at short notice.

By the 8th and 9th of January that position changed and the 1st/15th was tasked with raising a second emergency support force element. This was a squadron size group to conduct general duties activities as the first element that had done under call for. The second team was raised within a matter of days and launched with the remaining PMVs that the regiment had plus some additional vehicles that we were able to get. This second team worked under the 2/17 task group so we had two groups one in the far north of New South Wales from basically Singleton up to Taree and then one in the south in the sort of Bega/Eden area. Not long after that the regimental headquarters came in and replaced the J5 cell so by early February we had most of the regiment committed with the exception of those who could not participate under the call out (key work commitments) or due to emergency services employment already working with the Police or Fire departments, incl RFS). This meant we had about 80 percent of the regiment on operations by early February which was an amazing achievement in itself.

By the 27 January we moved into a recovery mode. Largely they were doing route clearance as mentioned chainsaw work but in the north in particular we did kilometres of fencing putting up burnt or damaged fencing right across all sorts of areas based on request from local government authorities.

By about the end of February things started to wind down and we were able to catch our breath and we conducted retrograde activities. About that time we just started to hear about this word COVID-19. The viral infection had started to jump boundaries and the world was turning to pay attention. There wasn't yet confirmation of its pandemic status but we knew something big was happening, I remember joking in the headquarters with the bushfire team that I wondered if we were going to start switching soon from bushfires to a COVID-19 response.

Resuming training in March the Regiment had to start to innovate and think about new and better ways to connect to still conduct our training and mitigate the risk of the spread of this terrible disease. There were some really interesting thoughts and ways the regiment was able to conduct business, unfortunately during this time as well the cadet unit based at lancer barracks and the regimental museum were both shut down. The regiment moved largely to a virtual way of parading. We used a number of different video technologies different courses different ways of connecting all via online.

To check-out the limits we could go to, we held a video conference weekend with an element of the Royal Yeomanry based in London and some other yeomanry units from the British Army Royal Armoured Corps Reserve; this was a great example of the power of technology and how it can easily transcend boundaries. It also showed us what might be possible from a interoperability perspective with coalition partners.

COVID Response

On 30 March the call came for help. There was an overwhelming response from the regiment, within about four days we were able to generate all of the force elements that were required for our part of OP COVID-19 Assist. The lancers were required to conduct Port Compliance Management support across the four major commercial ports in New South Wales. The port of Eden, Port Kembla, Port Botany and port of Newcastle. We established a troop headquarters and element to look after all of the commercial shipping in each port for 28 days. As things happened the nice quiet port task that we'd hoped had suddenly shifted very quickly with the arrival of the MV Ruby Princess into Port Kembla. The politically sensitive issue, was well handled by the young troop leader who was managing Port Kembla.

The New South Wales ports task ended at the end of May. During that time we had looked after 1,155 different vessels across those four ports.

For two months we all went back to civil employment then on the 8 July, 500 ADF were required to move at best speed to the NSW/VIC border in order to occupy positions in support of the police in border control checkpoints. I remember distinctly at lunchtime on Monday 6 July the deputy commander and later the commander touched base and said what are you up to, do you think you could be in Albury tomorrow. Within 48 hours the entire regimental headquarters supplemented from the squadrons were en-route to the border to conduct this task. We were stretched from the Pacific Ocean at Eden all the way through to Mildura not that far from the South Australian border, 1,400 kilometres. July, middle of winter, very cold. Some of our checkpoints were in the police district of Monaro which is the southern end of the snowy mountains. In the days preceding our arrival the Barry Way checkpoint had the largest snowfall in the last 10 years.

It was the end of November before the Regiment was withdrawn. A great experience helping our fellow citizens in what is a new role for the ADF; a role well suited to the Reserve who can use their regional knowledge and release the Regulars for warfighting.

CO's short update January 2021

2021 will see a number of changes of key appointments, let me take this opportunity to farewell and welcome the following:

OPSO MAJ Tim Pearse is posted and will be replaced by MAJ Bryan Saunders
ADJT CAPT Rohan Mitchell is posted and will be replaced by CAPT Jerome Abdelmessih
OPSWO WO2 Bill Schaeffer-Steel is posted and will be replaced by WO2 Adam Keegan
RQ WO2 Ian Gibson is transitioning out of the ARA
COMD SPT CLK CPL Terry Field is posted and will be replaced by CPL Jessica Canly

OC MAJ Derek Hayles will return full time to HQ FORCOMD and MAJ Ian Goodwin will be taking over on promotion

2IC CAPT Will Kerr is posted and will be replaced by CAPT Pat Foxley on promotion
TRGWO WO2 Neil Hartigan is posted and will be replaced by WO2 Jan Van Der Waal

2IC CAPT Shane Abdoo is moving to VIC on promotion and will post to 4/19 PWLH

We also welcomed 3 brand new LTs recently graduated from the Part Time First Appointment Course at the end of 2020:
LT Michael Paton
LT Andrew Kennedy
LT Mitchell Waugh

The intent for 2021 is for the Regiment to return to foundation war fighting, with a focus on dismounted and mounted cavalry tasks. However, as with 2020, we remain capable to support a wider range of tasks if required.

 Our Museum and Association go to top of page

The COVID year of 2020 has seen the operation of our Association and Museum disrupted.

Association members were not permitted to gather for the march in Sydney on ANZAC Day nor for the usual reunion in December. The AGM was virtual, as was the Association’s participation in the RAAC Corp AGM. A report on the RAAC Corp AGM can be accessed using THIS LINK. Similarly, the Australian Defence Reserves Association conference was virtual. THIS LINK takes you to the virtual presentations at the DRA conference. The vestigial Reserve Forces Day Council did put on a Luncheon at Parliament House, Sydney on 8 October. Due to COVID, it was a much-subdued affair with strict social distancing. THIS LINK takes you to a report on what happened.

The Museum was directed to close in March, not opening fully 'till July. Since than we have taken every step to ensure we are COVID Safe and able to stay open. The Museum now has online visit book and pay, onsite contactless payment, and all visitors are required to register their presence with the Service NSW database. Continuous changes have been necessary to stay ahead of the constantly moving web of rules and requirements. Some costs too; we recently had to buy a tablet to be able to access the Service NSW concierge form at Museum Reception.

Museum has been well patronised except for a few windy and rainy days, in November 2020 we were able to host visits by two Probus clubs and there was another in January 2021.

Bella Vista Probus Club members enjoy an ACE demonstration.

Work on the Museum displays and the vehicle fleet has not suffered. A team of dedicated volunteers has been on-site every Thursday and Sunday, hard at work, except for the few times a hard shut down has been ordered. The Centurion has been the main project for the vehicle crew, email reports arriving every Sunday evening detailing what has and has not been achieved.

 Lancer Barracks Turns 200 go to top of page

The year 2020 saw 200 years since Lancer Barracks were first used as a Military Depot. The Regiment has called the barracks home since 1891, so the now 1st/15th Royal New South Wales Lancers planned a grand celebration, a parade through the streets of Parramatta and the population of Sydney invited to our barracks. This had to be scaled back due to COVID requirements only 100 to be on-site. The Regiment could not parade every soldier. Everyone who got to the parade at 1000 on 21 November 2020 apart from a very few dignitaries, had a job to do.

The video below is for all that could not be there, and posterity.

When the disreputable New South Wales Corps landed in Parramatta, November 1788, to keep the convict and indigenous population under control, they occupied a redoubt or defensive location and slept in “bivouacs” cut branches and leaves that provided some protection from the elements. Nowhere near as salubrious as the shelters built by the original inhabitants they displaced. 1791 saw a timber structure near Queen's Wharf to house the redcoats.

By the time Governor Macquarie arrived at the head of his Regiment displacing the rebellious NSW corpsmen, the barracks adjacent Queen's Wharf was falling apart. His Excellency asked the imperial government for the funds to build a substantial structure fitting a future nation. Construction began in 1818. The architect was Lieutenant John Watts one of the Governor’s aides. Watts was good value; he also designed the towers for St John's and fixed Parramatta's water supply.

1820 saw the barracks finished to the point where they were operational, three main buildings, a single story commander's office and quarters, a two story soldiers' barrack, a single story officers' office and quarters arranged in a horse shoe with support structures. 1824 the barracks were complete, a guard house on Macquarie street and a circular drive having been added.

By 1860 the redcoats departed, the barracks came under the control of the New South Wales Police. They became a bit derelict, the Police only occupied one room, the rest was made available for public purpose on application to the Police Commissioner.

In 1891 Parramatta luminaries formed a troop (K Troop) of the Sydney Lancers at Parramatta Police (soon to become Lancer) Barracks. The barracks land had been depleted to the north by Parramatta Public School, to the south by the railway. A cavalry parade ground was needed, one of the three main buildings burned down and had to be demolished. 1898 saw one of the founders, James Burns rise to command what was then known as the New South Wales Lancers.

Colonel Burns moved the headquarters to Parramatta, it was close to where he lived. Over the next few years a Staff Officer’s House, a Staff Sergeant’s Cottage and a Drill Hall were constructed. The kitchen structure that had supported the two story barrack was converted into stables for the full time soldiers, the militiamen kept their horses at home.

In the 1930s the Regiment was mechanised, a vehicle hangar was built as was an art deco officers mess north of the old CO’s office and quarters, now Called “Bobs Hall”. This building (the Officers' Mess) was not well constructed, the foundations failed, in the late 1880s it was demolished.

In 1964 an 1829 building that had been situated at 130 Macquarie Street was obtained by the Lancers’ Association to house the growing Regimental Museum collection. The building owner, the AMP society delivered the numbered stones to the future site at no cost. The Association raised £16,000 ($32,000 from 14 February 1966) to raise the structure. Completed in 1965, it now displays a great collection of artefacts.

The Regiment, Sydney University Regiment detachment and Cadets all still operate from the Barracks. The Museum with its expanding collection is still housed in the grand building on site that the Museum owns. The Museum opens Sundays and at other times by appointment; it is staffed evtirely by volunteers, mostly past members of the Regiment.

A copy of the CO, Lieutenant Colonel White's address to the celebration parade can be downloaded HERE.

A copy of the Vice President of the Lancers' Museum, Ian Hawthorn's address to the celebration parade can be downloaded HERE.

The video below was produced by the City of Parramatta to commemorate the bicentenary of Lancer Barracks. Great performances by Ian Hawthorn, Colonel Andrew White and of-course, Lancer Barracks and Museum.

 The Queen's Tassel go to top of page

In 1893 the Regiment sent a team to England to compete in the the British Army cavalry tournament. This tournament was organised to provide a focus for peacetime training allowing soldiers to show their individual and corporate skill. It was not the first time cavalrymen from the Australian colonies had taken part. In 1891 a team from the Victorian Mounted Rifles had acquitted themselves well.

Seated L-R: Sergeant Crouch, Trooper Catt, Warrant Officer Thompson, Sergeant-Major Weston, Troopers Wood, James and Grady.
Standing: Corporal Gollan, Troopers Riley and Livingstone,
Sergeant Baracluff, Trooper Charker, Sergeant Daley, Corporal Sery and Sergeant Blencowe.
Rear: Corporals Coe and Robson.

The expedition was organised by the Regiment, the New South Wales Government all but prohibiting the endeavour, all costs were covered by members and supporters. Captain Dodds, later CO of the Regiment for a brief stint 1 Jan 1894 - 27 Apr 1894, was in command. The contingent consisted of 18 including Captain Dodds and Warrant Officer Thompson. They left for their antipodal destination on 11 March 1893. In England the expedition was quartered with the 17th Lancers, generously the Imperial Government brought down accommodation costs.

In the tournament, eight first places were gained. Sergeant Barraclough of the Sydney troop gained second place in "tilting at the ring".

Before returning home, the team were given the honour to escort Queen Victoria at the opening of the Imperial Institute on 10 May 1893.

It was during this event that the expert ring tilter struck. As can be seen from the painting above where members of the Regiment can plainly be identified as part of the Queen's escort as she leaves the Institute, Her Majesty's landau was black. As Victoria had been a widow for 32 years the tassels decorating the rim were also black. Sergeant Barraclough souvenired (detached and stuffed into his pocket) a tassel from the coach. He brought it home with him. The tassel is on display in our Museum today.

The tassel in the Museum's collection

Now comes the interesting part. The Queen gave all those who won prizes in the competitions a framed 'photo of herself. The one given to Sergeant Barraclough can be seen at the right on display in the Museum’s collection. It would seem that Her Majesty gave a present to a thief!

I understand that when Prince Charles visited Lancer Barracks in 1983, the hub-caps on his car were still firmly affixed when it glided smoothly out of the barracks (the speed troughs having been filled-in just for the visit).

References: Regimental History (1985) pp 18-20 and Ian Hawthorn, Notes for Museum Guides.
Images from the Sydney Mail and Wikipaedia commons.

 The Handover December 1943 go to top of page

1943 saw the 1st Tank Battalion (Royal New South Wales Lancers) group deployed to Milne bay in New Guinea the Regimental group (designated a battalion in accord with a short lived concept to distinguish tank units equipped and deployed to support infantry) consisted of:-

1 Tank Battalion.
209 Light Aid Detachment.
1 Tank Battalion Signal Maintenance Troop.
1 Troop, 5 Field Squadron, Royal Australian Engineers.
1 Platoon, 4 Armoured Brigade Company, Australian Army Service Corps.
1 Section, 6 Light Field Ambulance.
Detachment, 4th Armoured Brigade, Ordnance Field Corps. Section, 4th Armoured Brigade Workshops.

Commanders within the Regiment were:

CO Lieutenant Colonel Derek Glasgow.
2IC Major Ted Ryrie.
OC A Squadron Captain Bob Watson.
OC B Squadron Major John Ford.
OC C Squadron Major Sam Hordern.

C Squadron was deployed to Langemark Bay on 25 October 1943 and worked with the 9th Division securing the heights of Sattleberg, driving the Japanese enemy as far as Wareo. By the end of November the squadron, men and machines needed a rest and Maintenance.

C Squadron's climb to Sattleberg

Ron Pile, A Squadron's intelligence sergeant kept a diary of his time in battle. This extract covers the handover near Kiliga, some 3 km south of Lakona when C Squadron handed over to A Squadron between 11 and 14 December 1943.

11 December

1900 hours. Captain Watson called a troop leaders conference. A Squadron had been ordered to move forward to relieve C Squadron. The first tanks were to leave by barge the following morning.

12 December

0800 hours. 2 Troop, (Lieutenant George McLean, Atlas, Avenger, Athlone) moved to Kedam Point. At 0930 hours embarked on LCM barges for Coconut Beach, approximately 25 kilometres north up the coast, then the advance supply beach head for the coastal advance.

1130 hours. Landed at Coconut Beach. The landing area was only a few metres wider than the barge. The area was covered with coconut palms growing right to the water's edge, hence the name. The track up from the beach was steep but not slippery. Tanks had no difficulty negotiating the slope. Immediately behind the beach was the main north south track. Resting only a few metres away was a line of New Guinean carriers. In charge was an ANGAU* officer, Fred De Vauno of The Entrance, NSW, who was well known to some members of 2 Troop, B Squadron, who had enlisted at Ourimbah.

The track forward from the beach head was a quagmire, having been churned up by the C Squadron tanks and jeeps also vehicles being used to assist the carriers supplying forward troops.

Tanks and jeeps harboured for the night under low trees at the edge of a terraced Kunai Grass patch.

Captain Bob Watson and Lieutenant Ben Hall spent the day with Major Sam Hordern at the Foremost Defended Locality. C Squadron tanks were supporting the 22 Australian Infantry Battalion drive up the coast. The left flank was protected by the 37/52 Bn and the PIB (Papuan Infantry Battalion, a precursor to the PNGDF).

The day proved interesting in many ways as described by George Mclean. "When we were taking over from C squadron, Bob Watson, Ben Hall and I George Mclean) went with Sam Hordern and John O'Donnell to the forward infantry to see what was going on and to work out where to take my tanks on the hand-over. The ground was very dirty because the Japs had not been using latrines and we were commenting on this when we heard voices off to our left. That's Japs! said Sam Hordern, and just to prove the point, a couple of bursts of fire came pretty close. All went to ground except Bob Watson who said, 'You needn't think I'm going to dive into that filth!' whereupon another burst of fire broke a twig about 5 cm in front of his nose. As he hit the ground beside us he grunted, 'On second thoughts, it doesn't seem too bad. '"

13 December

The track forward was greasy and boggy from the almost continuous rain. Several difficult flooded gullies were crossed before the 22 Australian Infantry Battalion was reached. The leading platoon of C Company were held up at a creek by Japanese LMG and small arms fire. They had suffered casualties. Lying beside the track were the bodies of two officers. On examining them, Ben Hall remarked: "hell! I was working with these two only yesterday." Lieutenants Granger and Fred Burleigh of the 22 Bn had been killed shortly before our arrival.

C Squadron tanks had engaged the enemy and they had withdrawn to a defensive position on the far side of the creek around a horseshoe bend. The attacking tank became bogged in the creek. The infantry commander decided to by-pass the position, leaving the tanks. The only protective screen was provided by Corporal Reg Mclaughlan and myself while crews and fitters dug the tanks out. While this was going on two Japanese ran down the creek a short distance but made cover before a shot could be fired.

A bulldozer arrived. The bogged tank was freed and a steep bank reduced. The dozer driver had to take shelter at one stage when fired upon.

Once the tanks were freed, they were able to advance. The Japanese withdrew leaving a 37mm gun that was covering the track. The gunner had grenaded himself. A Squadron personnel were a little shocked at the sight of the mutilated body. Their introduction to the horrors of warfare had begun.

C Squadron tanks withdrew. A Squadron tanks now led the advance. The infantry were again fired upon by a Japanese position at the next creek. They withdrew, leaving one wounded in front of the Japanese position. Fortunately, a tank was able to be manoeuvred to provide protection and covering fire, enabling a bearded medic to effect a rescue.

In the next gully, Japanese were throwing explosives at 2 Troop tanks, making a lot of noise but doing little harm until, following a particularly loud bang on Bill Lynch's tank, the Besa Machine Gun was pushed back into the turret with Bill, Tony McGee and Sorlie O'Brien. The sudden movement tightened the firing cable sending a quick burst off inside the tank. The Besa Machine Gun is held in place by a locking bolt, supposed to prevent such a happening. Maybe the bolt was loose, but Sorlie swears it was firmly tightened when replaced after cleaning.

The Lancers' Museum's BESA

Later, additional platoons of 22 Bn arrived and with tank support made a determined effort to clear the position. One tank led the attack firing Besa, the infantry following. The defending Japanese let the leading tank pass then fired a burst of LMG, narrowly missing Captain Watson and Lieutenant Hall, but wounding an infantryman. The Walkie Talkies failed and the leading tanks had to be directed by radio from the tank following. Two tanks operated forward firing 3 inch Howitzer and 2 pounder HE as well as Besa. The Japanese withdrew leaving two dead.

The tanks harboured for the night under heavy scrub at the edge of Sowi Beach. Fortunately, the 37/52 Bn plus a platoon of the PIB were dug in on the ridges above the beach.

Sowi Beach had been the main Japanese barge landing place for supplies and reinforcements for the Wareo area. It was also an evacuation point after Wareo fell. At 2200 hours, a group of approximately 100 Japanese moving down from Wareo, attacked the 37/52 positions, firing mortars, machine guns, rifles and grenades. A squadron group, for the first time, heard the "Knocka Knocka" of a Japanese heavy machine gun.

For four hours the attack continued. The bren gunner was the sole survivor of the forward section. He continued to man his post alone throughout the night, thus helping to blunt and finally defeat the attack. Private George Cameron was awarded the Military Medal for his gallant effort.

14 December

Fighting HQ tanks (Adonis, Achilles and Apollo) and No. 5 troop (Lieutenant Trevor Darby, Alamein, Anzac and Anteater) were moved forward by LCM barges of the 532 American EBSR and joined 2 Troop (Lieutenant George McLean).

Tanks moved forward through low rain forest, some second growth scrub and crossed a Kunai Grass ridge while advancing towards Lakona.

Ron Pile, New Guinea Operations 1943-44, Royal New South Wales Lancers' Association 2003 (text extracted edited and extended).
Philip Vernon (editor), the Royal New South Wales Lancers 1885-1985, Royal New South Wales Lancers’ Centenary Committee 1985.

* The Australian New Guinea Administrative Unit (ANGAU) was the Australian Army unit responsible for the civil administration of the Territory of Papua and the Mandated Territory of New Guinea. It was formed on 21 March 1942 during World War II. Papua and New Guinea were under Australian Army military government from February 1942 until the end of World War II. [James, Clarrie (1999). ANGAU: One Man Law. Loftus, New South Wales: Australian Military History Publications.]

 Keith Grant Turns 100 go to top of page

Happy birthday to Keith Grant on 10 November 2020, he was born in Armidale, NSW, 100 years ago.

Keith enlisted with the Australian Army in the 1938. He originally joined the 15th Light Horse, then transferred to the 12th Light Horse Signal Troop based in Armidale.

Keith joined the AIF on 19 July 1942 and was transferred to 1st Machine Gun Regiment (Royal NSW Lancers). He served with the Regiment and 4th Armoured Brigade Signals in New Guinea and Borneo.

Keith considers the best part of serving was the training camp activities in Australia and the comradeship developed while serving overseas. He has some advice for current serving personnel - 'remain active mentally and physically, maintain friendships and take care of yourself'.

After the war, Keith held a variety of jobs. He completed an apprenticeship at the Sydney Morning Herald, then, after several years, purchased a small farm and became a market gardener. He ran a dairy herd husbandry program for the CSIRO for a period, followed by employment in real estate and was also an owner of several taxis.

Keith credits his long life to good genes, keeping fit, eating well, pursuing hobbies, being happy and keeping stress to a minimum.

 Barry Hayston's Photo Album go to top of page

Barry Hayston sent us the content of his photo album covering his service with the Regiment. He joined on 15 August 1963 and took his discharge on 3 February 1966. The note he sent with the photos stating:

"I am sending you some photos depicting my service in the Lancers. I joined 57 years ago in 1963, but had to reluctantly leave when the Police Force transferred me to Yass in 1966. Lee Long was in my Initial Training Troop. If I hadn’t been transferred in the Police, I would still be a serving member, even at 76."

The photos will be a trip down memory lane for many.

 Departed Comrades go to top of page

ROSS BROWN of Revesby aged 75.

As many will know Ross had suffered from leukemia since the late 1990s, thankfully for all of us his periods of remission were long and still allowed his volunteer spirit to blossom. Ross passed away suddenly on 28 December 2020.

Ross joined the Army in the 1960s serving with 12/16 HRL while working as a permanent member of the State Emergency Services staff at Gunnedah. In 1978 Ross was transferred to Sydney by his employer, he joined the Regiment as a captain serving as 2IC B Squadron. Pressure of civil employment saw Ross leave the Army in 1980; he maintained his connection, becoming secretary of the Museum. Ross' qualifications in business and experience as a senior public servant were of great value in setting up the Museum's corporate structure. His commitment to the history of the Regiment meant the collection was accessioned and well managed. An agreement to lease the land on which the Museum stands was negotiated with the Department of Defence, a perpetual agreement that still stands us in good stead.

1999 saw the onset of Ross' illness. He relinquished the Secretary role. Soon in remission he was back taking the role of Vice President and mentoring the new secretary.

By 2005 he was well enough to take on the roles of treasurer of the National Boer War Memorial Association, and secretary of the Peakhurst RSL Sub-Branch. The insidious disease, however, was always taking its toll. Ross had to relinquish roles when cancer raised its ugly head. He never stopped mentoring those who carried on.

Ross was also a lifelong Mason. I recall the annual camp in Bourke, 1977. The town had a religious/cultural divide. With the late Padre Peter Quilty handling one group, Ross dealt with the other.

Ross' son Gregory also served in the Regiment until his career was cut short; Gregory was sadly disabled after being attacked on a late-night train journey returning home after a work shift.

Ross is survived by his wife Yvonne, son Gregory, daughter Justine and family. He lived a life filled with service to the Army and the community, he will be greatly missed.

His funeral on 12 January 2021 was a quiet family affair due to COVID limitations, access to view was made online (see video to your right).

Many sent messages of condolence including:

Mike Fitzgerald
Very sad news. I was always impressed with Ross and his son Gregory was an excellent member of my Sabre Troop. Please let me know if there is to be a Memorial Service at some point as I would like to attend if possible.

Ray Williams
Thank you John, for the sad news of Ross demise. Our condolences to the family and Friends and to the Museum for the loss of such a dedicated hard worker and sincere gentleman. Lest we forget.

Rick Vincenti
Lydia and I are deeply saddened by Ross' passing. We were very close while he was in B Sqn and was my mentor for quite a while. He got me out of trouble I got into due to my temper, many times... as did other good friends. We were close to the family at the time of Gregory's attack. Things did go a tad downhill after that and we drifted apart; we missed his family's friendship. I will always remember Ross as a cool operator and an excellent officer, committed to the Regiment, the SQN and their members. Could always count on him in a difficult situation, which were many. His calm manner and good humour turned each one into a positive learning experience. We will remember him! Tenax in Fide.

Rod Davis
This is sad news indeed. I guess we are arriving at that stage of our lives when this sort of news becomes more frequent. I served with Ross during the whole period of his service with 12/16th. As you say, a thoroughly committed and reliable servant of the Regiment.

John McPhee
A great loss indeed. Our current inability to gather to acknowledge Ross' passing en masse makes it all the more tragic.

Ian Hawthorn
Very sad to hear, particularly as we won't be able to farewell him. The Museum certainly owes him a lot for all the work he

Lee Long
Very sad I often ran into Ross while walking around my suburb. Can you determine where he will be interred and I will visit him later.

Peter Giudes
What tragic news. Ross was a long time friend and supporter of the Regiment and you well know. I will miss seeing his familiar face. I hope his family can find some comfort from his years of service.

Tony Fryer
How bloody sad! Ross will certainly be missed by many.

Bill Prosser
Very sad to hear about Ross. In soldier speak. He was a top bloke.

Neil Mangels
RIP Ross. A great man!

Barrie Rafter
I am so sad ,I knew Ross well both in the 12/16th and SES when I was living in Tamworth.

Warren Glenny
Sad news of the passing of Ross. A person who made a considerable contribution in any area that he served in. Much of his work has been documented and his career demonstrated “TWICE THE CITIZEN” We all benefited by his Service/Contribution

David Mercer
RIP Ross thank you for your service to our Corps.

Rebecca Smock (née Gray)
Thank you for advising of Capt Ross Brown. He was a gentleman always. I enjoyed working with him in the orderly room and the ACV. I also remember the tragic outcome following Tpr Gregory Brown's attack and the effect it had on him and his family. Capt Brown was a very family orientated man. May he Rest In Peace Kind regards and condolences to his family.

 Thank You go to top of page

Thank you all very much for your assistance in supporting the Museum and Association financially in the 2020/21 Financial Year. Our records (and they may not be perfect, human data entry has been involved) show the following supported by donation, the Association:

Alan Chanter; Mark Edwards; June Faunt; Tony Fryer; John Haynes; Alan Hitchell; Graham Hodge; Mary Lamb; Trevor Lord; Joyce Sharpe; Kel Warham.

and the following the Museum:

Dave Blackman; Alan Chanter; Geoff Cuthbert; Annelyse Davison; Mark Edwards; June Faunt; Tony Fryer; Warren Glenny; Alan Hitchell; Graham Hodge; Mary Lamb; Trevor Lord; Danny Marriott; Joyce Sharpe; 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 beanies 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. Do note that if you visit the Museum you will find the goods cheaper (no delivery charges) and still able to be purchased using your credit etc card.

We also need Museum volunteers. All that is required is an interest in the Regiment and its history, we find everyone has a skill to contribute. If you have any questions about our volunteer programme, simply call the editor, John Howells on 0405 482 814.

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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 Bld 41, Victoria Barracks (Sydney), Locked Bag 7005, Liverpool NSW 1871, 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.

Lancers' Despatched is published on the ancestral lands of the Dharug people whose stewardship for millennia is appreciated and acknowledged.

© 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:
Click to contact
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