The Royal New South Wales Lancers

Museum Report Jul 1999

The Museum Report
July 1999

Published by the New South Wales Lancers Memorial Museum Incorporated
ABN 94 630 140 881
Lancer Barracks, 2 Smith Street, PARRAMATTA NSW 2150, AUSTRALIA

The Museum  The Committee  Boer War Centenary  Vale our Founder  Vale Les Betts  Reserve Forces Day  Goulburn National Service Parade  Vehicle Restoration   Acquisitions  Museum Attendance  Museum Website  Thank You  How Can You Help  Visit Museum Barracks  Coming Events

This will be the first time that many of you will have received the Museum Report, the bi-annual newsletter of the Lancers Museum. Brian Walters as the newly appointed secretary of the Lancers Association, and the Museum Association has orchestrated the confluence of the two lists. We have also added names from the list assembled for the 1998 Reserve Forces Day Parade with the assistance of Bob Iverach and current serving members. The list is now just under 1,000 strong.

The newsletter is designed to appraise past serving members of the 1st/15th Royal New South Wales Lancers and pre-cursor organisations, friends and associates about the activities of the Museum dedicated to the history of the Regiment, the Australian Cavalry and Armoured Corps. The Museum Association also needs money to carry on the valuable work. This newsletter offers the opportunity for interested parties to become Associates of the museum. Contributing $20.00 per year this ensures you will continue to receive this newsletter. You will find a form enclosed for new associates to join up. All donations are tax deductible, a receipt will be provided with your next newsletter.

We also need workers and guides. Working bees are conducted every second Sunday of the month commencing at 10:00 at Lancer Barracks; if you are interested, please turn up, give me a call, or drop me an e-mail (always answered).

 The Museum go to top of page

The Matilda Tank that is part of the Museum DisplayThe Museum commenced in 1957 in a single room in historic Lancer Barracks. After a few years the collection had filled the room and was still growing, creating the need for a separate museum building. Many colourful and interesting relics are now being preserved in the Museum. They include uniforms (some of which date from last century), equipment, saddlery, weapons, photographs, paintings, banners, trophies, etc. The kettle drums and banners used when the Regiment's Band was horsed are included as is the King's Banner awarded to the Regiment for its South African War Service.

Adjacent Linden House are a Covanter Bridge Layer, a Matilda 3 inch howitzer tank, and Bren Gun carrier from World War II, a Staghound armoured car, Ferret scout car, and Centurion main battle tank, all of which were used to equip the Regiment. 

The museum is housed in Linden House, owned by the Museum Association and situated in the Barracks Grounds. The museum also has a virtual presence .

 The Committee go to top of page

At the Annual General Meeting held at the Barracks on 26 April 1999, there was a slight change to the committee. Brian Walters, who has husbanded our finances for many years, was elected as Secretary, mirroring his role in the Regimental Association. Joe Tabone was elected Treasurer.

This means the committee consists of:

President – Len Koles

Len was in the Regiment from 1969 to 1992, with very few absences. Len served in all squadrons of the Regiment, and on RHQ. Len is a Human Resources Consultant, and Lecturer at UTS and TAFE.

Vice President – John Howells

John first joined the Regiment in 1974, serving in B Sqn and RHQ. He also served with the Armd Staff 2 DIV HQ, on the RAAC TEWT writing team, and finally RCSC. John retired from the Army in 1995. He works in the Information Technology area of the Commonwealth Bank.

Secretary – Brian Walters

Brian joined the Regiment in 1985, and served until 1988, he served with A Squadron. Brian is an accountant and Teacher at TAFE.

Treasurer – Joe Tabone

Joe joined the Regiment in 1966 and served till 1991. He served in B, A and HQ Squadrons. Joe works in Motor Vehicle Spares.

Committee Members

Dave Crisp

Dave joined the Regiment in 1975, and served through till 1996, he served with A and B Squadrons. Dave works for NDC.

Bill Prosser

Bill served in the Regiment from 1960 – 1972 he served in B and C Squadrons. Bill is now a retired Gentleman.

Bruce Kilgour

Bruce served in the Regiment 1975 – 1979, he served in Headquarter and B Squadrons. Bruce works in real estate.

 Boer War Centenary go to top of page

On 2 November 1899, a squadron of the New South Wales Lancers under Captain Charles Cox (later, Major General Senator CF Cox CB, CMG, DSO, VD; Commanding Officer then Honorary Colonel of the Regiment) disembarked at Cape Town. The composite volunteer squadron was returning from England where it had been training with British Regular Cavalry. These 72 men became the first overseas forces to fight with the British against the "Boers" or settlers with Dutch heritage seeking their own form of independence in South Africa.

This sub unit was reinforced several times, and served with great distinction until 1902. A total of 170 saw service, with 7 paying the supreme sacrifice. They entered the war as soldiers of the Colony of New South Wales, and ended it serving the Commonwealth of Australia. They fought with Lances for the first and last time.

To commemorate this event, one plaque was dedicated at Lancer Barracks, and another at Parramatta Park. The Regimental Guard at Parramatta Park was supplemented by vehicles from the Museum.

Barracks Plaque                     Parramatta Park Plaque

 Ferret Scout Car from the Museum's Collection driving past the Lord Mayor of Parramatta subsequent to the unveiling of the Parramatta Park Plaque May 1999.

Lieutenant Morant's graveIt is also of interest to note that the vandalised grave of Harry "Breaker" Morant has been repaired by the Australian Government due to the good offices of Senator Sandy Macdonald (son of the late former Honorary Colonel Major General JML Macdonald AO, MBE, RFD, ED). Sandy noticed the neglected grave during an official visit to South Africa last year, and made representations to the Minister for Veteran's affairs. As a result the Government has accepted responsibility for the upkeep of the grave in perpetuity.

The grave is situated in a quiet section in the Church Street Cemetary, in Pretoria.

Since his execution by firing squad, "Breaker" Morant has become, for many Australians, a symbol of early nationalism, British treachery and breach of faith.

 Vale our Founder and Patron go to top of page

May 1999, saw the death of the founder of the Royal New South Wales Lancers Memorial Museum. Lieutenant Colonel Philip Venables Vernon, OBE, ED as treasurer of the Museum Appeal Committee, was responsible for raising the money and sponsorship which enabled relocation of our magnificent museum building, and assembly of the collection. Philip wrote and assembled both editions of the Regimental History, and was an active museum worker into the 1990s.

Philip died at his Lindfield retirement residence, he had been frail for some time. There was a substantial regimental, museum and association presence at his memorial service. Those of us who worked with him over the years will miss him greatly.

Philip served his country well, his military career is well summarised in the Regimental History.

"A son of H. V. Vernon, [and Grandson of W L Vernon (both former COs of the Regiment)] he was taken on the strength of the regiment, at Parramatta, 18/7/27; lieutenant, 26/8/31; resigned, 12/1/33; lieutenant, 4/9/35; temporary captain, 28/12/39; captain, A.I.F., 1/2/41; major, 23/12/42.

On 6/6/40 he was detached to Eastern Command Training Depot on full-time duty. After being seconded to the A.I.F. he became a squadron leader successively in the 2/Ilth Armoured Car Regiment and the 2/5th Armoured Regiment, which, being in the Ist Armoured Division, were held in Australia due to the threat of invasion by the Japanese. Interspersed with regimental duty were periods of staff service: G.S.O.3 (Operations), Ist Armoured Division; Acting G.S.O.3 (Operations), 3rd Australian Corps; D.A.A.G., Land Headquarters. On 27/7/45 he was transferred to the 2/4th Armoured Regiment; by the time he reached the unit in Bougainville hostilities were over and he was sent to New Britain with a detached squadron on garrison and security duties, being transferred to the Reserve, 8/2/46. Rejoining the Lancers in 1948, he was in command from 1/1/51 to 21/2/52 as a provisional Lieutenant-Colonel.

In civil life he was an accountant, and Honorary Secretary/Treasurer of the Museum Appeal Committee. [He was] awarded [an] O.B.E. in 1968." (Regimental History).

One event in Philip's career was celebrated by a recent exhibition in Sydney. Phillip as a young Lieutenant, had been the commander of the guard to the Governor General, Sir Isaac Isaacs during the opening of the Sydney Harbour Bridge in 1932. This was the guard that the then Captain de Groot a former member of the 15th Hussars (in World War II, de Groot served in the Australian Army, reaching the rank of Major) tagged along behind. De Groot was a member of a neo-fascist organisation the "New Guard", which had taken exception to the fact that the bridge was to be opened by a local politician. De Groot, wearing his wartime uniform, and mounted on a horse that was reputed to be "ill groomed"' was able to break away from the guard and gallop past the official party, slashing the opening ribbon with his sword before the Premier JT Lang could cut it with the official golden scissors.

The de Groot Exhibition at the Mitchell Library

The exhibition is at the Mitchell Library, and will continue till 29 August 1999. It is well worth the visit. It includes a video of the opening procession made from contemporary newsreel footage, the turnout of the guard and skill of the horsemen bears testament to the effort our forebears put into their training. Lieutenant Colonel Alan Bohle (a Corporal and member of the 15th NRL at the time) a Member of the Museum Association, and tireless worker for the museum until recent times, is now our only living link to that event.

Philip's passing coincided with completion of restoration of the turn of the century Staff Officer's House at Lancer Barracks. This was named "Vernon Hall" in 1987, as a memorial to all three Vernon family members who have commanded the Regiment.

Recently restored "Vernon Hall" at Lancer Barracks

 Vale Les Betts go to top of page

We also lost another museum stalwart in Les Betts this year. Les served with the Regiment during World War II, had been a long time supporter of the Museum and was secretary of the Regimental Association and advisor on the restoration of Matilda ACE (a vehicle he had crewed in battle) at the time of his passing. We have lost a valued comrade.

 Reserve Forces Day Parade go to top of page

The museum was proud to be able to support past and present regimental members who marched in the Reserve Forces Day parade in July. Two Ferrets and the Centurion took part.

The Museum's Centurion being prepared for the Reserve Forces Dar Parade.

 Goulburn National Service Parade go to top of page

The museum took part in the Goulburn National Service parade in May 1999. There was a great turn out, with the Centurion, two Ferrets, and Bren Gun Carrier included, with the Centurion taking part under its own power rather than on a low loader.

Centurion and Bren Gun Carrier ready fot the Goulburn National Service Parade.

The museum can only move and run its vehicles with the money provided by our sponsors, and donations from you, our members and associates.

 Vehicle Restoration go to top of page

There are currently two main Museum restoration projects, the Matilda Tank "ACE" that served with the regiment in World War II, found in derelict condition, but with engines and running gear in the Southern Highlands last year, and restoration of the 1950s Staghound Armoured Car.

The Matilda "ACE" as found, and with the engine compartment being cleaned.

Staghound Armoured Car under restoration.

Vehicle restoration is conducted every second Sunday of the month by the Museum's A Vehicle Troop under the direction of Bill Prosser and Dave Crisp.

 Acquisitions go to top of page

The year has seen a number of interesting acquisitions in the form of several family collections such a Major J Carter’s uniforms and the Hector Ford uniforms and memorabilia. Past serving members of the 15th Northern Rivers Lancers donated a collection of Photographs. We have continued to receive a variety of smaller items of memorabilia that have improved our collection.

 Museum Attendance go to top of page

As can be seen from the graph, attendance varies and does not change markedly.

Museum Attendance Graph

The museum only functions because of the helpers, the guides who give up their Sundays, and those who work on the collection of vehicles and other memorabilia to maintain, restore and catalogue the exhibits.

 Museum Website go to top of page

The museum's virtual presence has proven most popular to web surfers in spite of the obscure but cheap (donated free of charge) url (address) ( Listed on most of the major search engines, it generates at least one e-mail inquiry week. Given its success, the Museum Association Committee is investigating (July 1999) the purchase of a more appropriate url (Now on that site ).

 Thank You go to top of page

It is the contributions of those who received this newsletter last year that again allowed the Museum to continue to function, a total of $2,275.00, with the publication only going out to 175, in lieu of the now 1,000. This included new life Associates: John Blackberry, J G Roseby, Colonel Lee Long, Phil Patterson and the RAAC Association.

Those who contributed (excuse ranks and titles) were: RAAC Association, Harry Bailey; J C Bartlett, G W Bell, John Blackberry, D J Blackman, John Bollard, M J Booth, A E Buddle, Neyle Cameron, M K Canham, Harry Carr , Betty Carter, B F Castellari, H M Clarke, F Colliss, Patrick Cregan; Christopher Dawson, Jim Gellett, G Glasgow, Bruce Gurton, Bill Halliday, P Halloran, D W Harris, J S Haynes; John Howells, Bob Iverach, Bernie Kestel, J F Lamb, L T Long, G R F Lovegrove, H E Martin, Joan McDonald, David Meidling, K J Mountain, J G Paton, Phil Patterson, Lillian Patterson, Richard Pym, R R Rokes, J G Roseby, L H Rowan, A J Standring, Ken Studeris, Daniel Tesoreiro, Robert Whittaker, F J Wilkins, B F Winter. Each of you will find a receipt with this newsletter.

 How Can You Help go to top of page

If you have the time to work on the collection, then simply turn up on the second Sunday of the month at Lancer Barracks at 10:00, give me a call, or drop me an e-mail. Otherwise Give Generously, no amount is too big or too small. Simply fill out the form enclosed with the covering e-mail or available on the web site and post it with your cheque to the address indicated. A donation of $20 makes you an Associate of the Museum for a Year, $200 gives you Life Associate Membership. Life Associates are acknowledged with a certificate. Receipts will be provided with the next newsletter.

 Visit the Museum and Barracks go to top of page

Over the past two years Lancer Barracks has been fully restored by the Australian Government as can be seen from the photo of Vernon Hall. It is well worth a visit.

Visiting between 10:00 and 16:00 on Sunday means the museum will also be open. The museum constantly rotates exhibits, and is also well worth a visit. The guide on duty will explain the collection and appraise you of the history of the barracks. If you first visit the web site, you will have already boned up on the history, and will get the best from the visit.

We hope to see you there soon.

 Coming Events go to top of page

Some coming events to note. Museum Open Day - October 1999. Members and Associates Christmas Function - December 1999.


John Howells - Editor
+61 (0)414 886 461
July 1999

Photographs by Dave Crisp, Bob Gay, John Howells and Bruce Kilgour
The de Groot incident description comes from contemporary accounts in the Regimental History, and JT Lang The Turbulent Years Alpha Books Sydney 1970

© 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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