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‌Royal Lancers at the Cenotaph – 13th November 2016‌

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Eighteen members of the Royal Lancers OCA marched at this year’s parade at the Cenotaph.  This was only the second time the regiment had been represented at the parade.  The parade was led by Major (Prince) Nick Obolensky (late 17/21L) and the wreath was carried by In-Pensioner Lance Corporal Jack Pilkington (late 9/12L). Among those marching was Lieutenant Michael de Burgh.  Michael is 93 years of age and was the only World War 2 veteran marching with the contingent.  Michael served with the 9th Lancers during the Italy campaign as a Troop Leader with A Squadron and saw action at San Savio during the Battle for Coriano Ridge.  It was early on in this battle that his previous Commanding Officer, Colonel John Macdonell, DSO was killed.  It was during one of the last actions of the war that his Sherman tank was knocked out by a German 88mm. Which resulted in the death of his gunner Lance Corporal Coombes who was the 9th Lancers last fatal casualty of the war. It is exactly 70 years since he last marched at the Cenotaph!

Charge of the Light Brigade

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Today marks the 162nd anniversary of the Charge of the Light Brigade. It was during the initial stages of the siege of Sevastopol that the 17th made their most famous charge as part of the Light Brigade at Balaklava. The allies had laid siege to Sevastopol and in an attempt to break the siege on the 25th of October 1854, the Russians launched an attack on the Causeway Heights to cut the British off from their supply chain. Initially the Russians met with success taking both the Heights and the redoubts defending them. The stubborn defence of the 93rd Regiment of Foot and the successful Charge of the Heavy Brigade halted their advance.

It was not however until the later stages of the battle that the famous Charge of the Light Brigade took place. In fact it was caused by confusion of orders. From his position on the Sapoune Heights, Lord Raglan could see that the Russians were about to carry away the captured guns from the Causeway Heights. Raglan therefore ordered Lord Lucan, the commander of the Cavalry Division, to launch the Light Brigade to retake the guns. From his position in the valley Lucan could not see the guns. When he asked for further clarification from Captain Nolan, the ADC who had brought the message, Nolan pointed not to the guns on the Causeway Heights, but to a Russian Battery at the end of the valley. Having received the clarification he required he directed Lord Cardigan, his brother-in-law and Commander of the Light Brigade, to advance down the valley.

On orders Cardigan advanced the five regiments of the Light Brigade towards the line of Russian guns at a trot. The first salvo was fired when the brigade had advanced only 200 yards. Each subsequent salvo took a heavy toll on the 17th, who were positioned forward left in the Brigade, but the advance continued unabated with the gaps in the line being filled quickly. As they neared the guns, the Light Brigade broke into a charge, and were met within eighty yards by a final salvo. The 17th, led by Captain Morris, swept down on the enemy, carrying the guns and driving the Russian cavalry, who were massed behind the guns, back in disarray. “Half a dozen of us leaped in among the guns, and I with one blow brained a Russian gunner.” (Private John Vahey, Regimental butcher). The force was however too small to maintain the position unaided and were forced to withdraw back up the valley, again under constant musket and artillery fire from the flanking Heights, and harassed by Cossacks who rode down among them.

Of the 147 17th Lancers that charged, only 38 answered the roll call after the battle. For their gallant actions that day, three Victoria Crosses were awarded to members of the Regiment. Although the 17th remained in the Crimea for the rest of the campaign they did not play a major role in any of the remaining battles, which were predominantly infantry affairs.

New Book - Centenary of the 'Last Charges' of the 9th/12th Royal Lancers

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The Last Charges written by Major (Retired) Philip Watson combines the accounts of the last two significant charges, in the opening two months of the First World War, of the 9th Queen’s Royal Lancers and the 12th Royal Lancers. The author has revisited the legends surrounding these charges and through 20 years of meticulous research and the use of, and reference to, previously unpublished sources has produced an account that is credible and readable and which has dispelled some popular myths. The use of many newly revealed facts and extensive illustrations (some from German sources and point of view) enables the reader to fully understand the events surrounding those two days and the roles played by those involved in the charges.
The battles of Mons and Moÿ continue to be commemorated annually by The Royal Lancers, as part of Mons Day. This book gives us the context and helps us to understand why.
The book (containing 136 pages and 135 illustrations and photographs) is available on the online shop - http://theroyallancers.org/TRL-Shop/ - for £12.99 exclusive of postage. The sale proceeds will go to the 9th/12th Royal Lancers Museum Trust which funded its publication.

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