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15th NRL

Website of the Royal New South Wales Lancers Lancer Barracks and Museum
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The NSW Lancers Museum acknowledges Hydraulic Pumps Australia for their generous assistance

Colour patch of the 15th Northern Rivers LancersThe number one comes from the designation of the 15th Light Horse Regiment in World War 1.

Australian Light Horse reinforcements arriving in Egypt were in some cases posted to the Imperial Camel Corps. The Corps was formed to make use of the Camel's particular desert attributes. Soldiers mounted on animals capable of bearing heavy loads, and lasting many days without water were seen as useful adjuncts to those mounted on horses. The Camel Corps were trained as light horse, or mounted infantry. The camel whilst having a fair turn of speed when required, lacked the agility of a horse in close combat.  The Camel Corps served well in the open desert in particular where water supply was a problem, however, as Allied forces advanced into the hilly country north of Jerusalem in 1918, the horse came into its own.

The Australian Battalions of the Imperial Camel Brigade were disbanded, and the British battalions sent to patron the Hejaz railway. The Australians who had been cameleers were formed into the 14th and 15th Light Horse AIF (Australian Imperial Force). Honours for battles fought by the Camel Brigade were attributed to these Regiments.  The 15th proceeding to win honours in its own right.

When World War 1 ended in 1918, the battle honours won by the AIF were transferred to militia and senior cadet units for safe keeping.  The honours won by the 15th were transferred to the 4th Light Horse (New South Wales Northern Rivers Lancers).  This unit dated from the raising of the Upper Clarence Light Horse by Captain CHE Cahuvel in 1885.  This unit was part of the NSW Cavalry Reserves, then No 5 Squadron of the NSW Lancers.  A large contingent had served with the Lancers in South Africa.

In 1921, the new unit was designated the 15th Light Horse (Northern Rivers Lancers).  It like all Australian mounted units of the 1920s, was dual rolled as cavalry and light horse.

The badge of the 15th Light HorseWhen in 1929 regimental badges were again issued.  The 15th opted for a new design.  It was based on a suggestion by General Sir Harry Chauvel, the unit's honorary colonel.  Sir Harry under his father had been one of the founding members of the Upper Clarence Light Horse, and commanded the Desert Mounted Corps in which the 15th LH (AIF) had served.  The centre piece was to be a date palm tree, the formation sign of the Desert Mounted Corps, flanked by two Turkish Crescents.  Sir Harry about 1928 selected a new motto for the Regiment "Nomina Desertis Inscriptus" - "in the deserts we have written our names".

The Regiment was ultimately de-horsed in 1941, becoming the 15th Motor Regiment.  After Japan's entry into the war it was called up for full time service.  It became the motor regiment of the 1st Armoured Brigade of the 1st Armoured Division.

In October 1944 as the threat of Japanese invasion faded, the Division was broken up and the Regiment disbanded.  The personnel were used for reinforcements for AIF units in the South West Pacific.

In 1948 the regiment was re-raised, this time in Newcastle.  A squadron was Armoured Corps, equipped with LVTa 4s, amphibious tanks armed with a 75mm gun.  B Squadron was Service Corps (equivalent of today's Transport Corps) equipped with DUKW amphibious load carrying vehicles.

The Regiment was to suffer badly due to the weather on Stockton Bight in 1954 (Click Here for detains).

As part of the reorganisation of the Army in October 1956, the Regiment was disbanded and its number linked to that of the 1st.

Battle Honours


New South Wales Lancers Memorial Museum Incorporated
ABN 94 630 140 881 - - - Site Updated October 2018
Lancer Barracks, 2 Smith Street, Parramatta NSW 2150, Australia
Telephone +61 (0)405 482 814, E-mail:
For Regimental enquiries call: +61 (0)2 9635 7822