The Regiment’s history can be traced back to 1885 when cavalry enthusiasts in Sydney first obtained permission to form a Cavalry Troop. Interest was stirred and shortly thereafter Cavalry Troops were formed in many country areas, one of which was in Maitland. This troop soon became known as “Hunter River Light Horse”. In 1889 these independent troops were amalgamated to become the “New South Wales Lancers”. By 1894 a new troop had been raised in Singleton and together with the Maitland troop formed No. 3 Squadron.
When the South Africa War broke out, a contingent of thirty four men was mobilised and sailed from Sydney on 13th November, 1899. In all, a total of 170 all ranks served with the Squadron in South Africa.
Federation to World War 2
With Federation, six Australian Light Horse Regiments were created in NSW and in 1906 the 4th and the 16th Australian Light Horse were renamed the “Hunter River Lancers” and the “New England Light Horse” restively.
Following a number of numerical changes, both units were redesignated in 1918 to become the 16th Light Horse (Hunter River Lancers) and the 12th Light Horse (New England Light Horse) respectively.
Members of both units saw active service with the AIF in the First World War as part of the Light Horse Regiments AIF.
In 1936, 24th (Gwydir) Light Horse was raised in Northern NSW and linked with the 12th Light Horse in 1936 to become the 12th/24th Light Horse.
The 16th Light Horse (Hunter River Lancers) and the 12th/24th Light Horse remained until both units were disbanded in 1943.
Post World War 2
With the reformation of the CMF in 1948, 12/16 Hunter River Lancers was formed incorporating the tradition of the 12th, 16th and 24th Light Horse Regiments and was equipped with Matilda tanks. These were subsequently replaced in 1952 with Staghound Armoured Cars.
In 1960 the Regiment’s role was changed to become an APC Regiment equipped with Humber 4×4 one ton trucks, followed by White APC’s and subsequently with the current M113AI. In 1972 the Regiment’s role was again changed to become a RAAC Regiment comprising RHQ, HQ Sqn, a Cavalry Sqn (A Sqn) and an APC Sqn (B Sqn).
In the major ARES reorganisation in 1976 the regiment was given the new role of Reconnaissance.
The battle honours of the 12th ALH Regiment are as follows:
|South Africa, 1899-1900||The Great War|
|Jerusalem||Jordan (Es Salt)|
The battle honours of the 16th ALH are:
|South Africa 1899-1900||Anzac Gallipoli 1915|
|Egypt 1915-17||Palestine 1917-18|
“South Africa” was awarded to the 4th ALH Regiment and was passed on through various re-designations of the Regiment. The other four honours were awarded in 1936. Although the Regiment did not in fact take part in the actions as a Regiment, many members served in other units during the campaign.
Regimental/Corps Miscellaneous Information
Motto of the 12 LH ‘Virtutis Fortuna Comes’ (Fortune is the Companion of Valour).
Motto of the 16 LH ‘Tenax et Fidelis’ (Steadfast and Faithful).
The honours won by the 12th ALH Regiment AIF were awarded in 1928.
This unit is affiliated with the Royal Scots Dragoon Guards (Carabiniers and Greys). 12/16 HRL allied unit is the 16/5th the Queen’s Royal Lancers. Elements of HRL served alongside the 6th Dragoons (Inni-skilling) and the 2nd Dragoons (Royal Scots Greys) in the Boer War on 25 October, 1900.
A BRIEF HISTORY OF 12TH/16TH HUNTER RIVER LANCERS
By D.Lennox OAM
On the 1 May 1948, two Light Horse Regiments, the 12th Light Horse (New England Light Horse) and 16th Light Horse (Hunter River Lancers) amalgamated to form a unit known as the 12th/16th Armoured Regiment (Hunter River Lancers). The first commander of the Regiment was Lieutenant Colonel K.M.H. Arnott DS, ED.
THE BEGINNING – PRE FEDERATION
12th/16th Hunter River Lancers can be traced back to the days of the NSW Lancers, New South Wales Mounted Rifles and the 1st Australian Horse.
The 16th Australian Light Horse can be traced back to the NSW Lancers. After the conversion of the Sydney Light Horse to the NSW Lancers in 1885, interest soon stirred and it was not long before half Squadrons (Troops) were organised at Grafton, the Upper Clarence, the Murrumbidgee and the Hunter River district. Half Squadrons (Troops) of the NSW Lancers were located at:
Sydney, Parramatta, Illawarra, West Camden,Maitland, Singleton (16 LH), Lismore and Casino
A Corps of Mounted Infantry was raised in 1888. In 1889/90 several companies were recruited in country centres and the whole unit, became known as the New South Wales Regiment of Mounted Infantry and Half Squadrons (Troops) were located at:
Liverpool,Campbelltown, Picton and Camden
Tenterfield and Inverell (12 LH)
In August 1893 the New South Wales Lancers and the Mounted Infantry Regiment (now renamed New South Wales Mounted Rifles) were constituted into a Mounted Brigade. By 1897 a third Regiment was added to the Brigade, this was known as the 1st Australian Horse. Half Squadrons (Troops) were located at:
Murrumburrah, Cootamundra, Gundagai, Goulburn, Braidwood- Araluen, Michelago – Bredbo, Bungendore, Mudgee, Rylstone, Lue,
Scone, Belltrees and Muswellbrook (16 LH)
Armidale, Tamworth, Gunnedah and Boggabri (12 LH)
The following establishments and distribution of Cavalry units are those of the military forces in NSW and may be considered to be the final organisation of the NSW Military Forces before the enactment of the Australian Military Force.
New South Wales Lancers:
No 4 Squadron Maitland Singleton (16 LH)
1st Australian Horse:
D Squadron (Northern) Scone Troop, Belltrees Troop. (16 LH)
E Squadron (Northern) Armidale Troop, Tamworth Troop,
Boggabri Troop, Gunnedah Troop. (12 LH)
NSW Mounted Rifles:
No 4 Squadron Tenterfield Troop, Inverell Troop (12 LH)
The South African War broke out in October 1899. The outbreak of this war was the signal for enthusiastic volunteering in all districts, civilians were eager to enlist. The NSW Lancers were in the first contingent to fight in the South African War. Another contingent of the NSW Lancers was soon mobilised and sent to South Africa to make up a complete Squadron.
In addition, other contingents of the NSW Mounted Rifles and the Australian Horse were soon mobilised and sent to the South Africa War.
FEDERATION TO WORLD WAR I
After the South African War, the three Commonwealth Regiments in NSW were expanded into two Light Horse Brigades consisting of six Regiments of Light Horse. The 2nd Australian Light Horse Brigade Regiments were grouped as follows:
2nd Australian Light Horse Brigade
(Col H.B. Lassetter C.B. from 1904)
The 4th Australian Light Horse Regiment (NSW Lancers) Maitland (16 LH)
(Lt Col W.C. Markwell)
The 5th Australian Light Horse Regiment (NSW Mounted Rifles) Lismore (15 LH)
(Lt Col C.E. Taylor)
The 6th Australian Light Horse Regiment (Australian Horse) Armidale (12 LH)
(Lt Col H.B. Lassetter C.B.). (Lt Col The Hon Rubert Carrington, D.S.O.)
10. By 1907 new territorial titles were given to units of the 2nd Brigade Regiments, they are as follows:
- The 4th Regiment:– The 4th Regiment was raised from old units in the Hunter River area and given the title of: 4th Australian Light Horse (Hunter River Lancers).
- The 5th Regiment:– The 5th Regiment was raised from old units in the Northern Rivers area and given the title of: 5th Australian Light Horse (Northern River Lancers).
- The 6th Regiment:– The 6th Regiment was raised from old units in the New England area and given the title of: 6th Australian Light Horse (New England Light Horse).
During 1912 saw another title change to the Regiments. They were:
The 4th Australian Light Horse (HRL), became the 6th ALH (HRL). (16 LH)
The 5th Australian Light Horse (NRL), became the 4th ALH (NRL). (15 LH)
The 6th Australian Light Horse (NELH), became the 5th ALH (NELH). (12 TH)
The Mottoes and Regimental Badges remained the same.
WORLD WAR I
At the outbreak of WWI New Light Horse Regiments were raised to serve overseas with the A.I.F, while the existing Regiments were given the task of home security. As the young men, whose youth was such a factor in the rejection of the mobilisation of the militia, joined the A.I.F., the 4th, 5th and 6th Regiments were soon drained of their men as they enlisted in the A.I.F.
POST WORLD WAR 1
By 1919 the of Order of Battle for the Regiments were:
The 12th Light Horse (NELH) became part of the Divisional Troops with the 27 Light Horse (North Queensland Light Horse).
The 16th Light Horse (HRL) was part of the 3rd Light Horse Brigade with the 6th Light Horse (New South Wales Mounted Rifles) at Orange and 22 Light Horse at Bathurst.
In 1927/8 saw the reorganisation of the Order of Battle. This seen the reorganisation of the 2nd Cavalry Brigade in NSW, the Regiments to form the 2nd Brigade consisted of:
12th Light Horse (NELH) with its HQ located at Armidale
15th Light Horse (NRL) with its HQ located at Casino
16th Light Horse (HRL) with its HQ located at West Maitland
Little appears to have changed between the two World Wars in training, however, there were a few changes to the organisation and names, they were:
12 ALH (NELH);
Designation the 12th Light Horse Regiment (NELH) MO 95/1921
12th LH Regiment and 24th Light Horse Gwydir Regiment linked to form
12th/24th Light Horse Regiment effective 1 October 1936. AAO 83/1937
12th/24th Light Horse Regiment unlinked, now 12th Light Horse Regiment (NELH).
24th Light Horse Regiment (Gwydir Regiment);
24th Light Horse Regiment (Gwydir Regiment). Although the Gwydir Regiment was
not to appear until 1937, mounted troops were raised from the districts of Armidale,
Inverell, Glen Innes and Moree from 1897.
16 ALH (HRL);
16th Light Horse Machine Gun Regiment (HRL) AAO 83/1937
By 1938 saw yet another change to the reorganisation of Cavalry in NSW. The 12th, 24th and 15th Light Horse Regiments remained part of 2nd Cavalry Brigade with the 16th Light Horse (MG, HRL) as the Machine Gun Regiment for the 2th Cavalry Brigade.
WORLD WAR II
With the outbreak of World War II, the 12th, 16th and 24th Regiments were called up for one month training and raised to their war establishment. Towards the end of 1941 the Regiments were placed on full time duty with new designation, they were:
- The 12th Light Horse Regiment (NELH) now 12th Motor Regiment (NELH) effective 14
- March 1942. ALHQ A08/1942
- The 16th Light Horse (MG) Regiment (HRL) now 16th MG Regiment (Hunter River Lancers) effective 1 December 1941.
The 12th Regiment, after being a Motor Regiment for a period without motors, was again reformed in 1942 as the 12th Australian Armoured Car Regiment (NELH), effective 21 September 1942. The 16th MG Regiment (Hunter River Lancers) was also reformed to become the 16th Motor Regiment (HRL) effective 14 March 1942. ALHQ A08/1942
By 1942, with the threat of Japanese invasion passed and island warfare not generally suited to armour, it was apparent the two Australian Armoured Divisions, the 1st and 3rd, would be disbanded. By July 1943 the 16th Motor Regiment (HRL) was disbanded. The 12th Australian Armoured Car Regiment (NELH) followed in October 1943 with the last men being marched out in March 1944. The 24th Light Horse Regiment amalgamated with the 165 Aust General Transport A.I.F. in June 1942.
THE CITIZENS MILITARY FORCES
In 1948 with the reformation of the CMF, the 12/16 Armoured Regiment (Hunter River Lancers) was formed incorporating the traditions of the 12th, 16th, 24th and their past regiments. It was redesignated the 12th/16th Hunter River Lancers in 1949, AAO 55/1949. The Regiment was equipped with Matilda Tanks. The disposition of the Regiment at this time was, Regimental Headquarters at Muswellbrook and Tank Squadrons at Maitland, Muswellbrook, Tamworth and Armidale.
During the 1950s Regimental Headquarters was moved to Tamworth and the tanks were replaced with Staghound Armoured Cars and Ferret Scout Cars. The 1960s saw another change to the role and equipment. The Regiment was re-rolled as an Armoured Personnel Carrier Regiment, its main equipment being Humber 4×4 one-ton trucks, White Scout Cars and Ferret Scout Cars. By 1967 some of these vehicles were replaced with the M113A1 Armoured Personnel Carrier.
In 1972 the role was again changed to an ‘Australian Armoured Corps Regiment’ this included all three Armoured roles, reconnaissance, Armoured Personnel Carriers and Tank. Regimental Headquarters, Headquarter Squadron and Technical Squadron were located at Tamworth, A Squadron (Reconnaissance) at Armidale and B Squadron (APC) at Muswellbrook. C squadron would become the Tank squadron when raised.
The Regiment was again reorganised in 1976 to a Reconnaissance Regiment and equipped with the 76mm Fire Support Vehicle (FSV) and later the Medium Reconnaissance Vehicle (MRV) as well as the M113A1.
The role was again changed in 1987 to its present role, as an Armoured Personnel Carrier Regiment. The disposition of the 12th/16th Hunter River Lancers Regiment (APC) at present is:
Tamworth: Regimental Headquarters; Headquarter Squadron; and Technical Squadron.
Armidale: A Squadron.
Muswellbrook: B Squadron.
KING’S COLOURS – SOUTH AFRICA
During 1903, in recognition of their valuable services to the Empire during the South African War, the Secretary of State for the Colonies informed the Commonwealth Government that “Colours” had been specially designed and prepared for presentation to various Colonial Contingents that had served in the South African War.
At Melbourne, on Monday the 14 November 1904, in commemoration of the Birthday of His Majesty King Edward VII, 18 Light Horse Regiments, the Royal Australian Artillery and the Australian Army Medical Corps were presented “King’s Colours”. Detachments of one Officer and two others selected from each Regiment attended as representatives of their respective Units to receive the Banners.
The 4th Australian Light Horse Regiment (NSW Lancers) (16 LH HRL) representatives were:
Captain C. E. Nicholson, RSM T. Watson and Sgt-Major C.J. Williams.
The 6th Australian Light Horse Regiment (Australian Horse) (12 LH NELH) representatives were:
Lt Colonel The Hon Rubert Carrington, RSM R.D. Faser and Sgt-Major A.J. Bollard.
The 4th Light Horse Banner was laid up at St Paul’s Church West Maitland, however, it was destroyed during the 1955 Maitland floods.
The 6th Light Horse Banner is laid up at the Holy Trinity Church Orange NSW.
KING’S COLOURS – FIRST WORLD WAR
Like the South African War, King’s Colours were again presented to Light Horse Regiments that had served in the First World War, however, unlike the Infantry battalions they were not to be emblazoned. The 12th Light Horse (NELH) was presented their King’s Banner by H.E. Sir Ronald Munro Fergusson on the 14 August 1920. The location of this Colour/Banner is unknown.
From 1913, Light Horse Regiments were entitled to bear Guidons, but it was not until 1926 that the Military Board Instructions was published giving design details, the regiments and Battle Honours for the First World War to be presented.
The 12th Light Horse (NELH) was presented with their first Guidon at Tenterfield in 1928, by Mr N.N. Danger Esq of Armidale, and paid for by Regimental Funds. It was laid up at St Peter’s Cathedral Armidale in 1991.
The second 12th Light Horse Guidon was presented by General P.C. Gration A.O., O.B.E. on the 31 October 1987. The 12/16 Hunter River Lancers is the Custodian of this Guidon.
The Guidon of the 12th Light Horse Regiment bears the following Battle Honours:
South Africa 1899-1900 Gallipoli 1915
Rumani Egypt 1915’17
Jordan (Es-Salt) Megiddo
Although the 16th Light Horse (HRL) did not serve overseas during the First World War it was given a Guidon in recognition of the many members from the regiment who served with other units. The first Guidon was issued at Dungog in 1928 and was laid up at St Paul’s Church West Tamworth in 1960. In 1976 it was transferred to the Australian War Memorial.
The second 16th Light Horse Guidon was present by HRH Princess Alexandria in 1959 at Tamworth NSW. The 12/16 Hunter River Lancers is the Custodian of this Guidon.
The Guidon of the 16th Light Horse Regiment bears the following Battle Honours:
South Africa 1899-1902 ANZAC
Gallipoli 1915 Egypt 1915-17
MOTTOES OF THE REGIMENTS
Each Regiment acquired its own badge and motto. The mottoes of each Regiment are as follows:
The 4 ALH (HRL) used the motto of the New South Lancers “Tenax et Fidelis”, translated meaning ‘Steadfast and Faithful’.
The 6 ALH (NELH) initially used the motto of the Australian Horse ‘Hearth and Homes’. However, in 1907 the 6 ALH (NELH) adopted the motto of “Virtutis Foruna Comes”, translated meaning ‘Fortune is the Companion of Valour’.
“Virtutis Foruna Comes” Is the motto used by the 12/16 HRL today.
The 12th/16th Hunter River Lancers is affiliated with the following Regiments:
The Royal Scots Greys (2nd Dragoons);
The 16th/5th The Queen’s Royal Lancers. Last re-confirmed AAO 5/1967
The Regiment March “Our Director” was approves AAO 49/1959
The Regiment Flag was authorised MBI 22/1955
FREEDOM OF ENTRY
Since 1960 the 12th/16th Hunter River Lancers has been given the Freedom of Entry to the following:
The City of Tamworth, The City of Armidale, The Shire of Merriwa, The Shire of Muswellbrook and The Shire of Gunnedah.