The Royal New South Wales Lancers

The Lancer Association

The Association Association History Apply to Activate Your Membership

 The Association  

The Association - Reserve Forces Day 2005

The Lancer Association includes all past and present members of the 1st/15th Royal New South Wales Lances. If you are a Lancer or former Lancer, you can activate your membership by filling out and submitting the Application Form on this site.  You will then be advised of the publication dates of Lancers Despatch, Reserve Forces Day Reunions etc.  Advice is by eMail.  Should you not be able to supply an eMail address, it would be appreciated if you could make a contribution to the Museum to cover the cost of the printing and postage of your paper based Lancers' Despatch.

The Association President is Len Koles, the Secretary is John Howells.

 Association History go to top of page

Our Association has, like our Regiment, had various titles, and has been going almost as long. Our History says "The NSW Lancer Association was formed in the 1890s, and was flourishing up to 1914. Each squadron formed its own branch, and every member of the regiment was expected to become a member. Activities included organising social functions, managing a benevolent fund for men injured during camps, and providing extra amenities". In the history are many interesting references through the years.

We have a copy of "The Revised Rules of the NSW Lancer Association, Sydney Squadron 1902". The objects - "to promote social intercourse among members and to conduce to the efficiency of the Squadron". Then we have "The Constitution and Rules of the NSW Lancer Association" of 1924. Open to former and serving members, with subs 2/6pa. Objectives, summarised as promotion of comradeship, co-operation and support for the regiment, commemoration of historic anniversaries, keeping and promotion of historical documents, military exhibits etc. The Annual Report of 1926 noted that the number of members had grown to 180 and funds were 15. Now, how's this for an imposing list of office bearers 1925-26? - Senior Patron the Marquis of Lincolnshire (Lord Carrington, Colonel-in-Chief of the Regiment). Other Patrons BrigGen T Fiaschi, MajGen C Cox, MajGen G Lee. President - LtCol Timothy, Past President LtCol McMahon. 8 Vice-Presidents (incl LtCol H V Vernon, father of Philip) and 12 Committee, plus Secretary, Treasurer and 2 Auditors. Some team.

The next Constitution was adopted in 1946, before the Regiment was re-formed post war. It suited the needs of the time, until changes became needed, with the amended and latest constitution being adopted in 1991. The objectives are much as in 1924, with extra emphasis on welfare and education. During WW2 the Association was dormant. It revived from 1946 and remains strong, thanks mainly to leadership and support through the years from wartime members. With numbers of these declining, we thankfully have in recent years a growing involvement, interest and leadership from our post war members. Continued growth will be needed from them if the Lancers Association is to remain strong into the future.

Our wartime regiment's participation in Anzac Day Marches began in 1946. Most were back in Australia, some still away, so we had a good roll-up. After the March, and for years following, groups gathered informally in hotels and clubs, including the Armoured Corps Club, which was crowded. Nothing was organised, and for many they were long days. By the late 50s the Maitland and Morpeth Hotel, down in Susssex St and away from the crowds, had become the venue for most of our members, and we had it pretty well to ourselves. Eventually, in 1966 Anzac Day again fell on a Sunday, and unlike to-day hotels were closed, so where to go this time? Came the bright idea of the drill hall at Lancer Barracks, Parramatta. It was publicised and was thus our first planned reunion, mainly organised by Sorlie O'Brien and Bob Simpson. A bit rough, but plenty of room. and beer, no rental cost, food catered for, and two-up organised by Murgy Hobbs. Some formalities, but minimal. They were good days, for most anyway, and well attended. By 1974 the time came when many thought Parramatta too far out, and wanted a place more comfortable and organised, so with help from Stan Chivas, we moved that year to the 5th, then the 3rd floor of NSW Leagues Club. It suited us better, with good catering and planning. There began the practice of advance paying, and refunds for cancellations, so at last we knew pretty well who to expect. They were well planned and conducted, and happy times, although pretty crowded, with attendances always well over 100. In 1989 the Leagues Club made available the basement ballroom area, with more room and comfort, but sadly only for three years. After the reunion in 1991 they said the area was to become a gymnasium and sports centre, and we would have to move elsewhere. After 18 years at the Leagues Club it was disappointing. Now, where to go?

After a lot of inquiries in the city, with frustrating answers, and on the suggestion of John Blackberry and others, Balmain Bowling Club became the Anzac Day Reunion venue. It suited us well - very comfortable, plenty of space, good catering, low cost, and we were made very welcome by the bowlers during those 12 years 1992-2003. With wartime members all aged around 80 or more, the loss of many and age restrictions had caused numbers to fall. Thankfully, good support from post-war members and some family and friends helped. Of the attendance of 65, around half were of wartime vintage. For 2004 the usual arrangements there were planned, and as readers now know, at short notice they were cancelled. Unable to secure a venue in the short time available, we got together informally, back at the old Leagues Club, as reported.

The Assoiation Marches at Anzac Day 1982

In early post-war years our banner was carried by Neil McDonald and Leo dark, When Leo died in 1976 his son Stephen took over. Perhaps others did too. Not long after, maybe around 1980, our post-war l/15th Lancers offered to provide volunteer banner bearers and escorts, not only for us but also for the 2nd AIF and the RAAC parties, and at times for our kindred 2/4th and 2/6th Armoured groups. The soldier commanding that first l/15th regimental party was Corporal (later Lieutenant Colonel) Mark Gibson, who led them in most of the years since.

For around 30 years after WW2, our Anzac Day party marched bareheaded, with a few caps or hats, as did all the Armoured Corps groups. Around 1979 my mates Murgy Hobbs and Neil McDonald and I, over a few beers, reckoned it would be good to wear black berets in the March to identify us as Armour. At the 1980 Anzac Day Reunion I offered that my company Reliance Radio would donate 100 berets, then costing $5 from Disposals if there was sufficient interest in wearing them in 1981. We were surprised and disappointed to find very little. Maybe the idea wasn't well sold. With Reliance then sold, the offer lapsed. Not wanting to give up on it, we three decided to wear berets in 1982 and get in the centre of the front rank, to be seen by the public, TV and our members. We were the only ones, well noticed, and it worked wonders. At the Reunion following about 20 orders were received, paid for and duly posted. Order forms in two newsletters, and some sold at the start of the 1983 March saw another 60 berets supplied. A good result, (see photo of 1982 March).

Sales continued through the years, with prices going up from $5 (ex disposals) to $17, inci rising sun badge (ex Christies). Selling ceased in 1994 with our sales totalling 258. An interesting outcome is that the other three Armour groups (RAACA, 2/4th, 2/6th) followed suit and almost all now wear berets. Our late mate Max Watkins made and donated hundreds of colour patches for all - a great effort and much appreciated.

Regimental Ties are another interesting story. For a few years pre-1982, President Norman Bent brought ties to reunions, and sold some but not many. They were of red, blue and grey (silver) diagonal stripes. Interest in getting ties grew along with berets, and sales increased from 1982 on. Supplies were from the Officers Mess. Came the time when Mess Secretary Brian Brackenreg said that the silver stripe would be a gold one, having been discovered that red, blue and gold were the authentic colours of Lord Carrington's cummerbund. A lot of complaints, claims of planned obsolescence etc were heard at first, but the sales grew. Prices were $7 originally, increasing to $18 when sales ceased in 1994, with the total of 209 sold. Another good result. An amusing thing happened at a Gosford Reunion when John Bartlett wanted a tie but only with the silver stripe. Told there were none left, John said to me "I know where there's one" and to my surprise he swiftly and deftly removed the one I was wearing, with a huge grin, and paid me. It gave us many laughs later.

We were first shown the Lancers plaques early in 1982, having been supplied for some time previously to the l/15th Sergeants Mess. It comprised the Lancers badge of elephants head and crown with waratahs and scroll below and crossed lances behind, on a raised blue and white shield, mounted on a larger wooden shield, and bearing the motto "tenax in fide". They were made in Singapore. The Sergeants Mess offered to obtain any we might want for members, so to judge interest one was displayed at the 1982 Anzac Day Reunion, with paid orders for 25 @ $11.50 posted. A surprising response, more so since they weren't posted until Feb 83. More orders followed from subsequent reunions and newsletters, with cost becoming $13, then $15, then $18. The last one was to Tracey Hatch in Sept 92, bringing the total to 146. Some were made as presentations. All were sourced from the Sergeants Mess, who were most helpful throughout. The response was really quite amazing, and many members have one in their home.

David Craven - 2004

Today's association presents a series of awards to the current serving members of the Regiment on an annual basis, participates in the Sydney ANZAC Day march, Reserve Forces Day (until the last one in 2018) and runs an annual reunion at Lancer Barracks.  As it has done since the time of the Boer War, the Association focuses on the welfare of those serving, and those who have served in the Regiment. The photos show the association's participation in the 2010 Reserve Forces Day parade,  Les Perry, Phil Culbert ... and Ron Brettle at the 2008 Association reunion, and at the 125th Birthday Parade, Lancer Barracks, October 2010: Ross Baker (Secretary), Nic Brewer, Ian Hawthorn, Joe Tabone, Bob Gay, Jeff Darke, Len Koles (President), Brian Walters (Treasurer), Gordon Muddle, Brian Dudley, Mark Luke, Peter Luke, David Crisp.

If you served in the Regiment you are already a member, all you have to do is activate your membership.

A substantial range of memorabilia is available from the Museum Shop.

John Howells - 2018

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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