Museum Report Jan 2000
Website of the Royal New South Wales Lancers Lancer Barracks and Museum
Published by the New South Wales Lancers Memorial Museum Incorporated
I trust you all had a very merry Christmas and a bug-less new year. Thank you very much for your support, the response to the July newsletter was excellent. We received contributions totalling $6,515 and 20 new Life Associates joined. We would also like to thank Norman Bent for his contribution to this Newsletter (this has also been used on the web site).
The Museum has been very active over the past half year, gaining some great acquisitions, participating in a number of displays, having a very successful open day, and establishing a new look web site in conjunction with the Regiment.
The Regiment has been fortunate to have received and made a number of acquisitions. These include two vehicles, paintings, uniforms and master videotapes of the centenary celebrations in 1985.
The Museum purchased a Ferret Mk I skillfully restored by Lieutenant Colonel Jarret, a former CO of the 1st Armoured Regiment at his Mudgee property. Records show the vehicle served with the Lancers in the 1960s, and it is in excellent condition.
Philip Hastings provided the Museum with a Daimler Dingo Scout car on loan for display. This vehicle is in excellent condition and has an interesting history, manufactured in the UK, it served with the New Zealand Armoured Corps. It is of the same design as the Lynx vehicles that were used in Australia, except that the Lynxs were manufactured in Canada, with GM rather than Daimler engines.
Full specifications and histories for both vehicles can be found on the web site.
The Museum was also given two excellent paintings, one of the Officers' Mess that was demolished in the 1980s, and another of the Barracks in the 1950s, complete with Matilda Tanks.
Bill Prosser mounted an excellent display at the Blacktown Show (Britfest), with static displays of the Centurion and a Ferret.
Bruce Kilgour took our Ferret Mk II to the opening parade for the international rowing centre at Penrith, one of the new Olympic venues.
The Museum also contributed to the Cambrai Day service at the Garrison Church, the Holroyd Show, and 2WS' 21st Birthday.
Work has been proceeding well with restoring our second, and hopefully one day fully operational Matilda "Ace", and the Staghound is nearly complete. The photo shows Dave Crisp putting a final coat of the Jungle Green paint used on vehicles in the late 1950s and early 1960s (I am afraid only those of you reading this newsletter on the internet have the advantage of colour).
The museum transferred its website to a new distinctive url (internet address) (www.lancers.org.au) in September. This new site has about 7,000 hits (draw downs of information) equating to 300 visitors spending time at our site each month, this compares well with the average of 40-50 physical visitors to the museum. Visitors are principally from Australia (55%) then comes the USA (20%) and the rest of the world including Canada, Argentina, United Kingdom, Russia, South Africa, India, Japan, Hong Kong, Malaysia, New Zealand, Fiji, Tonga.
In January, the site was re-launched with a new look that has distinctive branding and uses better site navigation principles. The museum has also been joined on the site by the Regiment, which assists in covering costs, and has its own direct url (www.lancers.org.au/regiment)..
The Museum conducted a highly successful open day. Attended by in excess of 150, it was a great opportunity to see old faces, see the Museum's new acquisitions and tour the recently restored Barracks.
Norman Bent has provided us with some information about how we acquired the current Matilda Tank on display at the Barracks.
The Matilda was officially dedicated as a War Memorial on. the Sunday nearest to Cambrai Day in November 1969 with Anglican, Catholic, and OPD Clergy officiating. Prior to the service the Regiment had a march through Parramatta. As a Memorial it cannot be supplanted or destroyed and must be kept for its original purpose. The bronze plaque notes that it was a gift of the NSW Branch of the Royal Australian Armoured Corps Association.
Originally, the tank was obtained from the Australian Government for the purpose of establishing it as a memorial in the park at the junction of Parramatta Road and Station Street in Ashfield. The choice of location was because Ashfield was the home of the 2nd Armoured Car Regiment, 2nd AIF later it became 2nd Army Tank Battalion AIF. A deed was drawn up and signed. by both the Association and Ashfield Council and the RAAC Association began to collect funds to build the plinth on which the tank would be placed. Funds were very slow in coming in and the delay gave local residents the opportunity to organise objections to it, finally in desperation the RAAC Association offered the tank to the Regiment specifically as a memorial. Prior to all this the tank had been on Green Hills Firing Range (near Liverpool NSW) as an intended target when it arrived at the Barracks (and for years) it had a large target marker painted on each side of the hull - which mystified a lot of people.
This year saw the centenary of the Regiment's first combat, the following extract from the Regimental History describes the exploits of the first 29 soldiers to go into battle.
"With Lieutenant Osborne were S.S.M. Robson (Lismore), Sergeant McDonald (near Ballina), Sergeant Dooley (Berry), Corporal Hopf (Lismore), Lance-Corporal Ford (Lismore), and 23 troopers. They were called by the British regiments "The Fighting Twenty-nine". Eleven survived sickness and wounds and continued to the end: nine of these (two were prisoners at Waterval for five months) hold the distinction for the regiment of bearing eight, the maximum number of battle clasps on the Queen's Medal, two being awarded for battles in which they fought during the next few weeks, Belmont and Modder River. The Sydney Morning Herald commented on the matter at a later date: "The N.S.W. Lancers possess the proud distinction of having men who hold the record for engagements, against the whole of the regiments in the British Empire. Trooper McManis received eight clasps or bars, though he was only 18 years old: Belmont, Modder River, Relief of Kimberley, Paardeburg, Driefontein, Johannesburg, Diamond Hills and Belfast. Lieutennant Colonel Cox has six battle clasps and two for his two years of service." A letter from Trooper Mick McGill of Berry, one of the "Twenty-nine", to his father, indicates that this trooper was "attached to the 9th Lancers at Magersfontein".
General Lord Methuen, greatly pleased by the work of "The Fighting Twenty-nine", repeatedly complimented them in person on their steadiness under heavy fire. Tactical work in the field was not difficult to these Australians after their extensive training in England, but being continually fired at was quite a new experience. The general expressed regret at losing them as his force became stronger, having found their scouting, and their ability to find their way on the open veldt of great value. (Regimental History)"
Major Wayne Higgins, the Regimental 2IC has been kind enough to provide the museum with the Regiment's December newsletter, a copy of which is enclosed with the non-electronic version of this newsletter. It can be downloaded/viewed as a pdf file using this hyperlink for those perusing this newsletter on the web. Wayne also reports that the Regiment has recently concluded a highly successful exercise in South Australia using vehicles supplied by the 3rd/9th South Australian Mounted Rifles.
Some coming events to note.
Regimental Church Parade March 2000.
John Howells - Editor
© New South Wales Lancers Memorial Museum Incorporated
ABN 94 630 140 881 - - - Site Updated January 2017
Lancer Barracks, 2 Smith Street, Parramatta NSW 2150, Australia
Telephone +61 (0)405 482 814, Facsimile +61 (0)2 4733 3951 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
For Regimental enquiries call: +61 (0)2 9635 7822