John Howells, whilst taking a group tour to the battlefields Australians fought in in World War 1, took the opportunity to visit the Cambrai battlefield.
First we drove to the town of Cambrai, then the old Roman road to the Memorial. Driving through the low rolling chalk hills that even today is good tank country, you can understand why such a site was chosen for the iconic battle. On the morning of 20 November 1917 1,000 silently registered guns opened up on the unsuspecting Germans and 378 Mk IV tanks rolled out of the mist. En masse for the first time the tanks cut the wire, and rolled through the defences in depth. The infantry had but to mop up taking 7,500 prisoners by mid-day. They were by then 6.5 km into the enemy defences. Then the weather turned for the worst excusing the waiting cavalry their task to exploit the gains, and not enough infantry was available. By the end of the first day, the MK IV’s mechanical reliability became an issue with about half the tanks unable to proceed further.
On 29 November the offensive halted after an advance of 10 km. It was then the German’s who showed their innovation. In preparation for Operation Michael in early 1918, German infantry trained in close fire and manoeuvre; and the newly trained storm troopers were deployed for the first time. Storm troopers were trained to scout for weak points in the enemy’s position, then lead infantry in striking at and exploiting the vulnerable locations. 20 Divisions attacked, driving the British back to the line they struck from on 20 November. Both sides equally suffered around 43,000 casualties.
These innovations: the tank, accurate silent artillery registration, and close fire and manoeuvre by infantry were to eventually end the stalemate of trench warfare.
We also saw the re-vamped Tank Memorial under construction. If it is intended to have this completed by the time of the Battle's centenary next month, they will need to get a wriggle on. In the adjacent cemetery we found two lone Australian graves a 17 Bn and a 15 Bn soldier.
Saturday 19 November 2016 - Cambrai Dinner
The 2016 Cambrai Dinner, Sydney was a great experience. Good food, and great company. Current and past Armoured Corps Soldiers, Regular and Reserve, with combat experience from the 1960s to the present day.
RSM of the Army, Don Spinks gave the keynote address. As a RAAC soldier, he was able to give those present valuable insights into changes within the corps and what the future holds.
RAAC Corporation Annual General Meeting 14/15 October 2016
RAACA NSW was well represented at the RAAC Corporation Annual General Meeting 14/15 October 2016. The Treasurer, Brian Walters stepped in at the last minute to replace our President Rob Shoebridge as RAACA NSW Rep, Rob had another commitment. Jim Gellett attended as 12/16 HRL Association Rep and John Howells as Royal New South Wales Lancers’ Association Rep.
As a prelude on the afternoon of 14 October, the AGM delegates visited 1AR at Edinburgh. 1AR is due to consolidate all squadrons at Edinburgh in 2017, at present A (lift) squadron is all that is there. The delegates were shown the new M113 in detail. It is not the machine that those who served with it from 1970 – 2005 knew. The extended body and new armour give it a weight of 20 rather than 13 tonnes, it now fords rather than swims, it has a steering wheel rather than levers. The electronics and weapon control systems, were by far the most impressive.
At the close of the day, delegates were invited to join squadron members at the Rhino Club. It was great to see talk to all ranks and be infected by their enthusiasm for the work and training they are deeply involved in.
The AGM took place at the A Sqn 3/9 LH (SAMR) depot at Smithfield. Congratulations to Noel McLachlan for an exceptionally well run meeting and Graham Brown for a great job as treasurer. Keynote speeches were by Major Greg Hooper CSM who gave a briefing on behalf of the Head of Corps, and Corps RSM Warrant Officer Class 1 Peter Swinfield. The speeches can be heard by using the controls below.
Use the controls above to access MAJ Hooper's speech
Use the controls above to access WO1 Swinfield's speech
Of note is that on 26 November 2016 at Puckapunyal 4/19 LH (PWLH) will be presented with a new guidon.
After the AGM, delegates were shown the SAMR vehicles, now a collection of PMVs (Bushmasters) and G
Wagens (bought for the SAS, then found not to have protection, thus given to ARES
RAAC units for recon training), and had the training difficulties the squadron is experiencing explained. The vehicles were impressive, the difficulties the squadron has in having in getting drivers trained, and being under the command of an infantry battalion not being allocated the training time for vehicle husbandry did not impress. These are what to we who are now outsiders simple administrative matters, able to be readily solved; are in the environment where it is intended for incomprehensible reasons that an Armoured sub-unit should integrated into an infantry battalion and so lose its historic identity in addition to being commanded by officers who lack the understanding of vehicle skills, have become all but insurmountable.
Saturday 21 November 2015 - Cambrai Dinner
Quite a gathering at the Royal Automobile Club on the night of Saturday 21 November 2015 - Cambrai Dinner. Many old and some new black hats met and the Chief of Army spoke on how he sees the role of Associations such as ours in supporting those still in service.
Saturday 21 November 2015 - Light Horse Memorial Eastlakes Rededication
In August 1914, the First Light Horse Regiment was formed, it trained at Rosebery Racecourse in Sydney's East before departing for Egypt, Gallipoli then Palestine.
The old racecourse is long gone, but for many years there was a small memorial to the Light Horse at the site. In the centenary year, the Botany Bay Council and the local historical society took advantage of an ANZAC Centenary grant to re-build the memorial and re-name the small green space surrounding it "Light Horse Park".
The rededication ceremony was attended by RAAC and Lancers association members and Light Horse re-enactors; a link to the present day from those who trained on the site 100 years ago.
Saturday 22 November 2014 - Cambrai Dinner
The night of Saturday 22 November 2014 saw an august gathering at the Royal Automobile Club Sydney. If you served in the corps and can make it to Sydney in late November, this occasion is a must.
Those present were able to revive the camaraderie of fellow black hats from World War 2 to today.
Brigadier John McKenzie, immediate past head of corps gave the keynote address. Harking back to that day in 1917 when armour was proven capable as the breakthrough force essential for success in modern warfare; he painted a picture of a corps in 2014 where all units regular and reserve work together to deliver the reconnaissance, shock action and protected mobility essential to the defence of our nation.
The dinner, where the dessert displayed the colours of mud, blood and green fields beyond concluded with the presentation of a notable memento by the youngest members of the association.
Saturday 30 August 2014 1stLH AIF Centenary Parade Parramatta
There was a Parade in Parramatta to comemorate the formation of the 1st Light Horse in 1914, it was unique and, by bringing a significant part of Australia’s military history to the people, it told the story of Australian mateship, self-sacrifice and volunteering in a way that had very high impact.
Well and what a parade. All of the Lancers' Museum vehicles performed flawlessly as did the Regiment on its new steeds. The Lancers' Museum will be continually in the debit of His Excellency and Lady Cosgrove for lending their presence to the event.
The attendance in the rain was quite amazing, and it is the first time we have had a queue across the full width of the Lancer Barracks parade ground to enter the Museum.
A great effort by the Lancers' Museum, the 1st/15th Royal New South Wales Lancers and the Parramatta community including all local politicians at all levels of government and political persuasion. One person needs special mention, the Lancers' Museum’s Publicity Officer, Captain Ian Hawthorn Retd without whose initiative and drive the function would not have happened.
The selection of photos below give an idea of what it was like to be at the parade. The video shows ABC TV coverage of the event.
ANZAC Day 2014
Some great photos of the 90+ Lancers and Band in the Sydney ANZAC Day parade 2014, and 15th Light Horse Re-Enactors in Lismore.
Photos by Jeff Darke, John Howells and Mrs Baldy
Cambrai Dinner 2013
The RAACA NSW’s Annual Cambrai Dinner 2013 was held At the Royal Automobile Club, Sydney on 23 November 2013. The collected members enjoyed good company, good food and a comprehensive update by the head of corps Brigadier John Mackenzie. We were all particularly buoyed by the presence of younger veterans.
Lancers Reunion 2013
All those who came to the Lancers' Reunion at Lancer Barracks on 3 November 2013 had a great time seeing old friends and remembering the days of yore whilst checking
on the Regiment's new steed.
Legacy now for all WW2 Soldiers
Note that Legacy will now look after families of WW11 soldiers who did not have O/S Service if they suffered from injuries sustained during the war form Eg during training.
A lot of our 1 Armoured Div Black Hats need to be advised of this and particularly widows if we can find them.
New Book - The Black Soil Plains and Beyond
The Black Soil Plains and Beyond: Recollections of the 1st Australian Armoured Division is the second, and final, instalment in Cate Clark’s series on the 1st Australian Armoured Division.
Based upon the remembrances of over 150 individuals, the publication explores the 1st Australian Armoured Division from its inception in 1941, until its disbandment in 1943. It then follows the stories of some of the units and men until War's end. From the black soil plains of the Narrabri region in NSW, to the dry of Mid West WA and the humidity of North Queensland, New Guinea and the Islands the veterans of this amazing division share their memories, photos and yarns. And if that is not enough the communities that they ‘invaded’ also share their thoughts on what made the 1 AAD such special visitors.
Full of photos, cartoons, poetry and yarns with the backing voice of history, the book is a 364pp hardcover testimony to the veterans of the 1 Australian Armoured Division – completing Cate’s series on the 1 AAD which began with To Fight and Do Our Best: The 1st Australian Armoured Division in Gunnedah 1942-1943.
Cost for The Black Soil Plains and Beyond is $80 + postage. (Copies of her first book To Fight and Do Our Best are still available for $45 if you also buy The Black Soil Plains and Beyond.)
Contact author Cate Clark for more details: 0408 425564 or email@example.com or take a sneak peek of one of the chapters at: www.writerightmedia.com.au.
Battle For Australia Commemoration Sydney
The ceremony on Wednesday 4 September 2013, at Martin Place, Sydney with
Her Excellency the Governor as principle guest was very moving.
CLICK HERE for a more detailed
report including video of the ceremony.