Last week, as many readers will be aware, the Lancers Parade was held in Parramatta to commemorate 125 years of the Royal New South Wales Lancers. What many do not know is about the important history of this military group in Australia’s and indeed world history.
The Royal New South Wales Lancers were formed in 1885, though they were then known as the New South Wales Cavalry Reserves. They were renamed the New South Wales Lancers in 1894, but the ‘Royal’ in their title was not added until 1935. Today they are known as the 1st/15th Royal New South Wales Lancers. Since the late 1800s their barracks have been located in Parramatta and their nickname is the Parramatta Lancers. The Barracks themselves predate the formation of the Lancers and have a fascinating history in their own right.
The Lancers have a distinguished history of active service, dating back to the Boer War. In 1899 a squadron of the Lancers who had been training in England were the first Colonial troops to actually arrive in South Africa. During the 1st World War, the Lancers were a militia unit and as a result they did not serve abroad, though they did receive a number of battle honours. However, many pre-war members of the Lancers did join up for service, joining the Australian Imperial Force. Many of them served in the famous Light Horse Regiments which fought in Gallipoli, Sinai and Palestine. In fact the Light Horse Regiments included a substantial number of Lancer trained men. Subsequently the Royal New South Wales Lancers were actually designated the successors of the 1st Light Horse Regiment and later still, in 1956, the 1st was linked with the 15th, making them also the successors of the 15th Light Horse Regiment. During the 2nd World War the Lancers were incorporated into the 2nd AIF as an armoured regiment and served in New Guinea and Borneo. In fact, the regiment made the heaviest Australian tank attack of the war.
Since the 2nd World War, the Lancers have continued to serve, with full time units seeing service in Bougainville, Malaysia, East Timor and the Solomon Islands. They currently hold 21 military honours, making them one of the most decorated units in the Australian Army.