Keeping Clean

80 Years Ago this month. A great original Kodachrome. Official caption: “Sergeant Elms of 16/5 Lancers and his tank crew at El Aroussa; Trooper Bates, Royal Armoured Corps, Signalman Bower, Royal Corps of Signals, and Trooper Goddard, Royal Armoured Corps, clean the 6-pounder gun of their Crusader tank while preparing for the drive on Tunis..”

By War Office official photographer Loughlin, G. (Lieutenant), IWM TR 939

The 16th/5th Queen’s Royal Lancers was formed in 1922 by amalgamating the 16th The Queen’s Lancers and the 5th Royal Irish Lancers, both of which were in India at the time.

As noted by the National Army Museum:

The new unit was posted back to Britain in 1926, before returning to India in 1937. It was still there on the outbreak of the Second World War (1939-45). Still a mounted regiment at the time, it sailed for England in January 1940 to mechanise.

The regiment initially provided motorised machine-gun troops to defend Britain against possible German invasion in the autumn of 1940. Once that threat had gone, it switched to training on Valentine and Matilda tanks in November 1940.

It deployed to Tunisia in November 1942, where it was re-equipped with Sherman tanks the following year. It then fought at Kasserine and in the final capture of Tunis in 1943.

In January 1944, the regiment landed at Naples. The mountainous Italian terrain was ill-suited to armoured warfare and so its soldiers often ended up operating as infantry. By the time of the German surrender in Italy in May 1945, the 16th/5th Lancers had pushed the furthest west of any unit in the Eighth Army, linking up with the Americans.

Post-war, the 16th/5th served as occupation troops in Austria, then a stint in Egypt, multiple deployments to West Germany, Aden, Cyprus, Beirut, Northern Ireland, and, finally, the First Gulf War before it was amalgamated in 1995 with the 17th/21st Lancers to form The Queen’s Royal Lancers, which was later merged in 2015 with the 9th/12th Royal Lancers (Prince of Wales’s) to form The Royal Lancers of today.

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