Short History of The Royal Lancers


Wynne’s Regiment of Enniskillen Dragoons was raised in 1689; before being disbanded in 1799. It was raised again in 1858 as the 5th Royal Irish Lancers. The 9th Lancers and the 12th Lancers were both formed in 1715 as regiments of Light Dragoons in response to the Jacobite rebellion against King George 1. The 16th Light Dragoons were raised in 1759 and first and saw action in the, American War of Independence, the 17th Light Dragoons were raised in 1759 following General Wolfe's death in Quebec, with the regiment’s motto of a Death’s Head and the scroll ‘Or Glory’ chosen in commemoration. The Marquis of Granby raised the 21st Light Dragoons in 1760, the regiment being disbanded and raised twice more as campaigns required and raised for a fourth time in 1858. The 9th, 12th and 16th Lancers have the distinction of being three of the original 5 regiments of Lancers converted from Light Dragoons by the Duke of Wellington in 1816.

The 16th Lancers first used its lance in action at Bhurtpore in 1825 and after the battle of Aliwal in 1846 its lance pennons, encrusted with blood, appeared to be crimped so it became a tradition to have 16 creases in the lance pennons. The 17th Light Dragoons the first cavalry regiment deployed in the American war of Independence and in October 1854, as the 17th Lancers, the regiment charged with the Light Brigade at Balaklava, earning three Victoria Crosses (VC). In 1857 both the 9th and 12th Lancers fought throughout the Indian Mutiny where the 9th were awarded 13 VCs. In 1858 at Sindwaho, Lt later FM Wood 17th Lancers was awarded the VC, in 1879 Capt Beresford of the 9th Lancers received the VC while serving in South Africa. Later in 1897 Lt Viscount Fincastle 16th Lancers won a VC during the Tirah Campaign. The 21st Lancers in 1898 during the conquest of the Sudan charged Dervishes at Omdurman, winning three VCs and the title ‘Empress of India’s’. During the Boer War of 1899-1902, the 5th, 9th, 12th, 16th and 17th Lancers all saw service, with Lt Dugdale, 5th Lancers and Sgt Lawrence, 17th Lancers both winning VCs.

All regiments would see service in World War 1, with the 5th Lancers being the last to leave Mons in the retreat of 1914 and the first to re-enter the town in 1918. While the 9th conducted the last lance vs lance charge of the war at Moncel and Capt Grenfell won the VC at Audregnies. In 1915, S/S Hull, 21st Lancers gained a VC at Hafiz Khor. Whilst in 1917 at Bourlon Wood Pte Clare 5th Lancers was awarded the regiment’s last VC.

During the Second World War the 12th were heavily involved in the retreat to Dunkirk, the 9th fought at El Alamein. The 16th/5th and 17th/21st, fought in North Africa and Italy. It was at Fondouk that the 17th/21st was tasked to clear a route through a heavily defended pass, sustaining heavy losses. Since the end of the Second World War the regiments have seen service in Palestine, Malaya, Aden, Hong Kong, Northern Ireland, and Cyprus, Lebanon the Gulf War, The Balkans, Iraq, Afghanistan and Germany, serving with both NATO, and the UN. At the time of amalgamation the Regiment has the distinction of being awarded a total of 27 Victoria Crosses.


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