25 Jan 2021
Dear Old Comrades and Veteran Lancers,
‘Tank Tea’ – Thu 28 Jan 2021 at 1700-1800 hrs (the New Time). Remembering, on this occasion, the 16L at the Battle of Aliwal, 28 Jan 1846, in India during the Sikh Wars, and making the historic link between the ‘Crimped Lance Pennon’ worn on lances at the Battle and deployed by The Royal Lancers (RL) today.
Not wishing to lose sight of the WWII combined Lancer campaign spoken of in Dec 2020’s ‘Tank Tea’, we recall that back in Jan 1943, the 9L and 12L were racing forward from Alamein (Oct 42) as a part of 8th Army. They were heading West to link up with their fellow Lancers the 16/5L, 17/21L and 27L, part of 1st Army’s Op TORCH landing (Nov 42) in a move to throw Rommel and his Africa Corps into the sea. This part of their story ends in May 43. Our North Africa Lancers then head for Italy – we will pick on their progress later in the year. Meanwhile at home, our 24L had formed (late 1940) and were now preparing for D-Day in 17 months’ time.
Leaving WWII and winding the clock back to 1846, we find the 16L about to use their lances at Aliwal, the new weapon of choice, post the Battle of Waterloo (1815). In 1816, the 16th Light Dragoons (LD) were one of the first to be re-rolled along with the 9LD, 12LD, 19LD and 23LD. The now re-rolled 16L were the first Lancer regiment to use the lance in battle. I am grateful to RL Home Headquarters for recalling the history of the battle and the ‘Crimped Lance Pennons’. A short history and image of the 16L at the Battle of Aliwal are here.
The combination of COVID and ‘Tank Tea’, aligned to nuggets of antecedent Lancer history, has for me, and I hope for you, become a source of understanding and warmth for both our individual and combined Lancer histories. If this dreadful time of COVID has given us anything positive, I would offer that for me at least, it has been the opportunity to bring Lancer cousins ever closer in family union. We are forged by common experience and culture borne of the use of our lance and since WWII our armour, something we can all celebrate. At this ‘Tank Tea’ we recall the bravery and success of the 16L at the Battle of Aliwal and their Battle Honour won at Aliwal, which is emblazoned on the Guidon of The Royal Lancers.
We also have the origins of the ‘crimped pennon’, used by RL today and as a giant bonus courtesy of HHQ, we are reminded of the Lancer collective start date of 1816 when we began re-rolling to lances, 205 years ago.
‘Tank Tea’ – you know the drill! (new time): 1700 -1800 hrs, Thu 28 Jan 2021; make a brew, call a Lancer mate and check that they are well. If someone is not well, either physically, struggling mentally or lonely, particularly during this COVID time, then please offer to reach out with assistance.
During this COVID Pandemic, please continue to follow government advice on staying safe.
William English CBE
Chairman RL OCA