The Royal Lancers Summer 2019

As the faint sounds of 30mm rounds echo into the Pembrokeshire evening, the summer edition of our digital update comes to you from the Regimental range period in Castlemartin. It has been some 30 months since the entire Regiment deployed to consolidate our mounted combat skills – but, I am pleased to report, we appear to have retained the sharpness in our skills and an appropriately competitive spirit, though more on that later. The last three months has flown by, and we have had the chance to take part in a number of memorable events.

We began our summer with the Regimental Weekend. With the RSM refreshing the Regiment’s drill and the SSMs supervising the construction of squadron bars, Cambrai Lines hummed with activity as we prepared to welcome the wider Lancer family to Catterick. In a close-run affair, Saturday’s athletics tournament saw C Sqn crowned winners of McVitie Cup by Simon Theakston; as many of you will know, we have a close affiliation with the Brewers’ Company and it was a delight to have them with us for the weekend and demonstrate the variety of life in The Lancers.

A celebratory party in the LAD hanger followed with squadrons demonstrating their usual creative prowess with a series of themed bars; it was also a night that saw Veteran Lancers and their families sharing drinks and stories with old and new friends and (hopefully!) future Lancers - all to the sound of live music and the usual fantastic food from our Catering department.

Yet the party the night before did not prevent perhaps the highlight of the weekend as the Veteran Lancers led the Regiment with lance pennons fluttering in the parading of the Guidon in front of the Colonel of the Regiment, families and friends. There was, however, a slight note of sadness to the event as it was the final duty of Brigadier Andrew Hughes CBE as he handed over the the Colonelcy to Colonel Richard Charrington. Brigadier Andrew has served as Colonel since amalgamation and has been the foremost champion of the Lancers in everything we have done and we were able to make a small presentation to thank him and Polly for all they have done for us.

It was a wonderful weekend and utterly fantastic to see many a returning familiar face, whether from retirement, ERE or civilian life – you are all more than welcome at anytime and for those unable to attend, I’d like to already extend the invitation for next time, probably in 2021 we think. We relish the opportunity to celebrate our shared and collective history with the entire Lancer family and Cambrai Lines welcomes you with open arms.

A Sqn departed almost as soon as the weekend ended for the Highlands to conducted a live-fire range package, followed by an exercise centred on the town of Golspie in Sutherland. Joined by the communications specialists of Command Troop, and after some very arduous insertions into Observation Posts overlooking enemy positions, they concluded the exercise with a (mock) detention operation supported by Police Scotland, much to the interest of locals and tourists alike! The local residents were particularly hospitable as 100 Lancers descended on their town and hillsides, putting up with vehicle moves at all hours of the day and the occasional loud bang. Particular thanks must also go to Major General Patrick Marriott CB, CBE, DL, former Colonel of The Queen’s Royal Lancers without whose local knowledge, contacts and sheer enthusiasm the exercise would never have been able to occur. We hope to repeat it soon.

Meanwhile, B Sqn, after their own range package in Castlemartin, deployed to Dartmoor, home ground of the Royal Marines and some of the most ‘hoofing’ ‘yomping’ country in the UK. B Sqn taught and tested the latest cadre of our future leaders as well conducting training with the RAF Chinook fleet. Tiring, taxing and tough, they justly earned their pass and are now eligible to promote and become our most junior leaders. They were received back to a welcome in front of the wider Regiment to celebrate their success, and the top student, Tpr Fletcher from B Sqn, was immediately promoted on CO’s PT.

Like our politicians, Lancers have also been crossing the Channel throughout the summer, though to France rather than Brussels as we were honoured to represent the British Army at the 2019 Bastile Day parade down the Champs-Elysees in Paris. In front of President Macron and a worldwide television audience, the Guidon flew in front of the Arc de Triumph. After conducting nightly rounds of diplomacy and defence engagement, the Lancers return full of praise for our French allies.

Lancers pose with fellow Officers from our European allies outside the Presidential Palace, Paris.
Les Pionniers de la Légion étrangère (The Pioneers of the French Foreign Legion) and Lancers with the Arc de Triomphe in the background

Continuing this theme, other Lancers were invited to Angouleme to visit our affiliated French Army Regiment, Le 1er Regiment d’infanterie de Marine (1er RIMa) where they attended the change of command parade, explored the Regiment’s weapons and vehicles and discussed 1erRIMa’s recent deployment to Mali.

Summer Leave saw a variety of expeditions and adventures; the first, educational, as crew commanders travelled to Italy to take part in Ex CASSINO LANCER, a battlefield study following the advance of 12th, 16th/5th, & 17th/21st Lancers during the Italian Campaign. Second, a yearly calendar stalwart, Ex FREEWHEELING LANCER continued to ascend to new heights, following various aspects of the Tour de France route and eating twice their body weight in croissants – and Lt Free’s adage ‘don’t buy upgrades, ride up grades’ has become part of Regimental cycling lore. Never to be outdone, our sailors crewed the RAC yacht Ajax in the famous Cowes regatta, in some ferocious conditions that saw the first day’s racing cancelled, a ripped sail and a highly competitive class - with victory not to be this year but demonstrating strong potential for next year.

Returning to work, we have now firmly established ourselves in Castlemartin for 3 weeks – allowing us to test all elements of the Regiment, from Scimitar crews to the snipers, the support troop demolition specialists to the anti-tank troops firing NLAWs. We briefly supported the filming of an ITV documentary for next spring, and most importantly we were able to welcome our new brigade commander who commented on the palpable sense of purpose amongst all ranks.

This sense of purpose is easy to explain, as we return to mounted close combat training, and begin to plan a varied programme that will see all squadrons deploying across Europe and Canada in 2020, including exercising as a combined arms battlegroup for the first time in more than three years. As the hard work starts again after a fun and rewarding summer we are grateful for the support of our families and friends - we could not do what we do without you.

Commanding Officer