The Royal New South Wales Lancers
|Soldiers of the Queen|
Extract from the Historical Feature in the Daily Mirror 30 March 1965 on Major General C F "Fighting Charlie" Cox. Cox commanded the Lancers' squadron which went to England for training with the British Regulars for six months (March 1899 to October 1899). This was at a time when the tensions had been building with the Boers. The Squadron had been warned that their ship the SS Nineveh was to sail on 10 October for Australia via Cape Town.
"Early in the evening of October 8, 1899 house full notices appeared outside the London Alhambra the scene of many stage triumphs.
But although Little Tich, Marie Lloyd and Vesta Tilley were all on the programme the real stars were the 106 NSW Lancers who occupied the front rows of the dress circle.
War against the Boers was 'imminent' sending a wave of jingoism over London and starting a rush to the recruiting offices.
The sight of the Australians in their re-braided uniforms and plumed slouch hats, excited the audience almost to hysteria, especially as it had been reported they had volunteered in a body to fight in South Africa.
As the house lights dimmed one of the Australians rose and in a powerful baritone broke into Leslie Stuart's famous marching song, Soldiers of the Queen.
The conductor swung his orchestra into action, and soon the entire theatre was singing, whistling, cheering or sobbing.
History does not record the name of the singer but for one night only he topped the bill at the Alhambra."
The Regimental History reports the incident thus "... at the Alhambra, three days before war was declared, when an actor in a NSW Lancer uniform made 'Soldiers of the Queen' the current popular song, ..." [P V Vernon, The Royal New South Wales Lancers 1885-1985, pp 37]
It has been suggested on a number of occasions that this is the first 'Public' performance of this version of the song. It has been alleged that there was another version sung as a marching song by the troops which was based on the Lancers. This was a result of the publicity the NSW Lancers received during their stay and the feeling engendered from being the first contingent of 'colonials' sent for training with the British Regular Cavalry. They were attached to 6th Dragoon Guards (Carabiniers) at Aldershot .
Britons once did loyally declaim,
About the way we ruled the waves,
Every Briton's song was just the same,
When singing of her soldier-braves.
All the world had heard it--
Wondered why we sang,
And some have learned the reason why--
But we're not forgetting it,
And we're not letting it
Fade away and gradually die,
Fade away and gradually die.
So when we say that England's master
Remember who has made her so
It's the soldiers of the Queen, my lads
Who've been, my lads, who've seen, my lads
In the fight for the Empire's glory lads
When we've had to show them what we mean:
And when we say we've always won
And when they ask us how it's done
We'll proudly point to every one
Of the Empire's lancers of the Queen.
Listen to Soldiers of the Queen
Marching Version - 1/15 RNSWL Band, 1985. Lyrical Version - Roger Mason. Vocal Version - MUSN Elizabeth Smith and MUSN Tom Urquhart 1/15 RNSWL Band, 2011.
© New South Wales Lancers Memorial Museum Incorporated ABN 94 630 140 881;
Linden House, Lancer Barracks, 2 Smith Street, PARRAMATTA, AUSTRALIA
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