12th/16th Hunter River Lancers
|12th/16th Hunter River Lancers|
Cap Badge of the 12th/16th Hunter River Lancers
|Active||1948 – Present|
|Part of||8th Brigade|
|Garrison/HQ||Tamworth, New South Wales|
|Motto(s)||Virtutis Fortuna Comes (Fortune is the Companion of Valour)|
|Colours||Black on Blue|
|March||Quick - Our Director|
|Unit Colour Patch|
The 12th/16th Hunter River Lancers is an Australian Army Reserve cavalry regiment. It was formed on 1 May 1948, although it draws its lineage from units that were originally formed in the 1880s. It is currently a Light Cavalry unit equipped with Bushmaster Protected Mobility Vehicles. The regiment forms part of the 8th Brigade, attached to the 2nd Division and draws its members from regional centres in northern New South Wales, hence the reference to the Hunter River. Since 2000 the regiment has provided individuals as reinforcements to round-out Regular Army units deploying overseas on peacekeeping operations and in the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Both regiments were established in the 1880s and underwent a series of unit name and number changes prior to 1914. A volunteer cavalry regiment was raised in June 1897 and was designated the "Australian Horse". The subunits from this regiment were the forerunners of the New England Light Horse and Hunter River Lancers. In 1900, 'D' Squadron of the Australian Horse was raised in the Hunter River area and mobilised a detachment to serve in the Boer War. At the same time 'E' Squadron was raised, covering an area from Gunnedah to Armidale and likewise provided a detachment to serve in South Africa.
After Federation in January 1901, the colonial military forces were reorganised. The 4th Light Horse Regiment was formed in the Hunter River area, while the 6th Light Horse Regiment was formed in the New England region. In 1907 these regiments received territorial titles—the 4th ALH (Hunter River Lancers) and 6th ALH (New England Light Horse). Each regiment received their own badges and mottoes and remained on the order of battle until 1918.
At the outbreak of World War I light horse regiments were formed as part of the Australian Imperial Force. Distinct from the Australian Military Forces regiments, they were raised for overseas service. The 4th and 6th Regiments virtually ceased to exist as most of their available manpower joined the AIF.
The 12th Light Horse Regiment was raised at Liverpool in early 1915 and was deployed as part of the 1st AIF to continue its training in Egypt. Most of its members were from the areas covered by both the 4th and 6th ALH. In July 1915 the regiment trained as infantry in preparation for deployment to Gallipoli. In late August 1915 the regiment departed Egypt to support the ANZAC forces at Gallipoli. Upon landing at Anzac Cove the regiment were split up to reinforce the three other Light Horse regiments from New South Wales (1st, 6th & 7th) already in place. Following the Gallipoli campaign, the regiment was redeployed to Egypt, where it took part in the Sinai campaign of 1916–1917. In 1917 the regiment saw extensive service in Palestine where it took part in the Battle of Beersheba, the last great cavalry charge in modern warfare. Following this the regiment continued to be heavily involved in the Palestine campaign until the cessation of hostilities in 1918.
After the war, the designation of the pre-war regiments was altered to maintain the traditions and battle honours of the AIF Light Horse regiments. The 6th Light Horse Regiment became the 12th Light Horse Regiment and in 1937 was linked with the 24th Gwydir Regiment, becoming the 12th/24th Light Horse. The 4th ALH (HRL) was redesignated the 16th HRL and was awarded battle honours for the Middle East campaign, despite never having seen overseas service. This was because many of the members of the regiment had seen active service with other regiments. The regiment was known as the 16th Light Horse (Hunter River Lancers) through to 1941.
With the outbreak of World War II, the 12th/24th and 16th were called up for one month's training and raised to their war establishment. In March 1941 the 12th/24th Regiment was unlinked. Towards the end of 1941 the 12th and the 16th were placed on full-time duty with new designations - the 12th Light Horse Regiment (NELH), was now the 12th Motor Regiment (NELH) (effective 14 March 1942) and the 16th was renamed the 16th Light Horse (Machine Gun) Regiment (HRL) (effective December 1941).
In 1942 the 12th Motor Regiment, after being without motors for a period, was redesignated as the 12th Australian Armoured Car Regiment (NELH). At the same time 16th Light Horse (Machine Gun) Regiment was redesignated the 16th Motor Regiment (HRL).
By 1942 the threat of Japanese invasion had passed and with island warfare not generally suited to armour, it was apparent the two Australian Armoured Divisions, the 1st and 3rd, would be disbanded. As a result, on 3 July 1943 the 16th Motor Regiment (HRL) was disbanded and the 12th Australian Armoured Car Regiment (NELH) followed on 19 October 1943 with the last men being marched out in March 1944. However, most of their soldiers from the 12th and 16th were posted to active service in other armoured, anti-tank, field artillery, infantry and service units of the Second Australian Imperial Force.
In 1948, the 12/16 Hunter River Lancers was raised as part of the Citizen Military Forces and equipped with Matilda tanks. The first camp was held in February 1948 and the regiment was the first to go into camp since 1945. Regimental Headquarters was located at Muswellbrook with tank squadrons in Tamworth and Armidale. In the following years Regimental HQ was moved to Tamworth and the regiment was reorganised in the reconnaissance role and armed with a variety of vehicles including Staghound and Ferret armoured cars. In the 1960s the regiment was again reorganised, this time as an Armoured Personnel Carrier regiment equipped with Humber 4 x 4 trucks and M3 Scout Cars. In 1967 the first of the M113A1 APCs was received. In 1976 the regiment received M113A1 Medium Reconnaissance Vehicles and adopted a medium reconnaissance role. 12/16 HRL reverted to the APC role in 1987, a role which it maintained until 2005 when it was announced that 12/16 HRL would become a Light Cavalry Regiment, and be equipped with new Bushmaster PMVs.
Since 2000 many members of the regiment have been attached to regular RAAC units and seen active service in East Timor, Solomon Islands, Iraq and Afghanistan. In September 2007 the Regiment received 15 Bushmasters.
The regiment is currently organised as follows:
- Regimental Headquarters — Tamworth, New South Wales
- 'A' Squadron — Armidale
- 'B' Squadron — Muswellbrook
- Operational Support Squadron — Tamworth.
- United Kingdom — The Royal Scots Dragoon Guards (Carabiniers and Greys)
- United Kingdom — The Queen's Royal Lancers
- Grey, Jeffrey (2008). A Military History of Australia (3rd ed.). Melbourne: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-0-521-69791-0.
- "12th/16th Hunter River Lancers". Australian Army website. Archived from the original on 6 August 2008. Retrieved 27 July 2008.
- The Australian Light Horse Association. "History of the 12th/16th Hunter River Lancers". The Australian Light Horse Association website. Archived from the original on 24 October 2009. Retrieved 27 July 2008.