12th Lancers

Discussion in '1940' started by Simon_h, Oct 22, 2010.

  1. Simon_h

    Simon_h Junior Member

    I wonder if anyone has any information about the 12th Lancers during the 1940 campaign? I have been rereading The War in France and Flanders again and they caught my interest, but details seem few and far between. Any information or if anyone can point me towards a book it would be appreciated.
  2. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot Patron 1940 Obsessive

  3. JCB

    JCB Senior Member

    Had the same thoughts myself , could not find much on the net. Is it Brooke who says the 12th Lancers saved the bef by defending Nieuport ?
  4. singeager

    singeager Senior Member

  5. Tom Canning

    Tom Canning WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    Interesting history of the Lancer regiments and the association with the Daimler Dingos' etc -after the war finished - in Austria with the 16/5th we had Sherman's and only HQ had a few dingo's.We finally replaced the Sherman's with the US Staghounds and Greyhounds and we had great fun touring around - at speed !

    I still wear the Queens badge on my blazer....so thanks for sharing that history !
  6. JCB

    JCB Senior Member

    Interesting stuff but I'm interested in their Battle of France period and how usefull were their 2wd Morris Armoured cars !
  7. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot Patron 1940 Obsessive

    Info from Philson's BEF Orbat 1940

    10th May the 12th Lancers lead the advance into Belgium at the agreed time of 1300 hrs. After the first squadron set off the others followed in 10 to 15 minutes gaps. They arrived at Louvain some five hours later covering 80 miles. On arrival Louvain was subjected to an air raid and the squadrons deployed along the east bank from Louvain to Wavre securing the bridges over the Dyle.

    11th May the 12th Lancers were relieved by divisional cavalry units allowing the Lancers to push further forward to the line of the Diest to Tirlemont road to link up with the French Cavalry Corps in the Tirlemont area and to recce the Belgian front on the River Ghette. One squadron moved north and linked up with Belgian troops in position on the Albert Canal south of Gheel. A recce of the River Ghette revealed a gap of some four miles on the left flank of 3rd DLM and the cavalry of the Belgian 1st Cavalry Division. The French and the Belgians had no troops spare to fill this gap so A Squadron, 12th Lancers deployed along the gap to observe the area of St. Trond which was abandoned earlier that day by the Belgians.

    12th May Recce's by the 12th Lancers forward of the River Ghette observed enemy armour advancing from St. Trond and the regiment had its first exchange of fire with the enemy at Dormael on the road to Tirlemont during the morning.

    13th May The 12th Lancers sent from the Tirlemont area to try and establish the enemies intentions. They reported that most of the German armour was moving south west across Belgium and the French 3rd DLM were engaged in heavy fighting in the area of Dormael. The 12th Lancers made its first positive identification of a German unit on this day when they encountered and engaged a motorcycle patrol killing two German soldiers. These were ID'd as being part of the 17th Infantry Regiment. More motorcycle patrols were engaged and driven back as the day went on. The squadron covering Haelen to the north had its first engagement when a German cavalry unit swam its horses across the river and was destroyed by machine gun fire from their armoured cars and Belgian machine guns. At the end of this fire fight the 12th Lancers took their first prisoner - A horse. The 12th Lancer patrols west of the River Ghette withdrew over the bridges before the Belgians blew them, the Belgians also told them they were withdrawing from the area that night.

    14th May In the early hours of the morning the 12th Lancers withdrew from Tirlemont area to a line from Diest to Opvelp and made contact with some of the British divisional cavalry units that were covering the Dyle. The 12th Lancers then moved north of Louvain to cover the Belgian portion of the front. As the day wore on the British cavalry units were put under more and more pressure and by the afternoon the 12th Lancers along with 13/18th and 15/19th Hussars were withdrawn over the Dyle. The 12th Lancers moved to Ophen half way between Louvain and Brussels were they rested and carried out maintenance on their vehicles. They had lost three vehicles and CWGC lists one man killed over this period.

    15th May The 12th Lancers were ordered to move into GHQ reserve and protect the advanced HQ at Lennick St. Martin. Members of the Regiment who cut short their leave when hostilities started rejoined the regiment here. The town itself wasn't pleased to see the British arrive and many were obviously very sympathetic towards Germany displaying pictures of Hitler. The Regiment placed itself around the town to defend it against a possible airborne attack but had a very quiet day.

    16th May The 12th Lancers carried on protecting the forward HQ until they were ordered to secure the flank of 48th Division while it withdrew to get in positions on the line Clabecq, Braine L'Alleud to the Foret de Soignes covering the approaches to the east. This line also had continuous De Cointet anti-tank obstacle running south from the forest. During the night contact was made with German patrols and all retreated to the obstacle line along the railway and one armoured car was lost after going over a anti-tank mine. The Germans made a few attempts to aproach the obstacle but were repulsed by fire from the armoured cars and the 5th Glosters who had forced marched some 50 miles that day to get into position. At the end of day the 12th Lancers positions were bombed by some 80 German bombers but suffered no casualties.

    17th May The Germans performed small probing attacks along the front held by the 12th Lancers but none were a real threat to the regiments positions. The regiment observed lots of enemy movements during the morning and it was obvious they were preparing for a large attack. The 12th Lancers were ordered to withdraw before a German attack was launched. They retreated over the River Dendre covering the withdrawal of the 48th Division. After resting for the rest of the day the 12th Lancers were informed they were to continue in the role of divisional cavalry covering another withdrawal to the River Escaut.

    18th May The 12th Lancers moved to Herinnes with all three squadrons deployed to observe the roads leading westwards from Hal and delay any enemy advance until 1200 hrs. During th eearly morning the squadrons started to be approached by German recce units in motorcycles which they dealt with quite easily but by 1200 hrs they were forced to withdraw due to the increasing numbers of German medium tanks and took up positions north and south of Enghein. Due to excellent communications between the troops, squadrons and HQ the 12th Lancers knew what each troop was doing and where the enemy was throughout the day in the regiments area. During the afternoon the regiment was ordered to hold their positions until at least 2000 hrs which was a difficult task with the Germans using medium tanks in their advance guards. The 12th Lancers were however in radio communication with artillery behind the River Dendre and fire missions were conducted where ever the German tanks appeared. This appeared to cause the German advance to slow which allowed for a steady withdrawal until 1900 hrs when the 12th Lancers were ordered to break contact and withdraw to the west of the Dendre. This was achieved without any significant incident and the regiment harboured for the night in Buissenal.

    19th May The regiment was ordered to screen the withdrawal of the 2nd Division that was moving that night. A squadron of 13/18th Hussars, 6th Argyls and a field regiment were placed under command for the operation. The 12th Lancers moved during the night and was in position along the line of the River Dendre between Les Deux Acren and Ath by 0500 hrs. They were tasked with holding this line for some seven hours while the rearguard infantry got clear. Despite small amounts of enemy infantry crossing the river at various places the operation was successful and by mid morning the infantry carrier platoons, machine gun battalion and artillery were released to withdraw to the River Escaut while the 12th Lancers armoured cars along with the units from the two Hussar units conducted a slow withdrawal back from the river. Shortly after midday they were ordered to break contact with the enemy and cross the Escaut which they did at Tournai. After crossing the Escaut the regiment was returned to GHQ control and was stood down at Orchies for the rest of the day.

    20th May The regiment was sent to recce the areas of Arras, Bapaume, Perrone, Ameins and Doullens. The position was unclear regarding the German penetration of the French lines and with numerous and various rumours of what was happening the 12th Lancers were tasked with a job they were trained to do - Go and find the enemy and determine what they intended to do then transmit the information back to GHQ. When the regiment arrived at Arras, A Squadron was deployed to the left to head for Ameins, B Squadron were to head south towards Bapaume and Peronne and C Squadron headed out to the right for Cambrai. None of the squadrons got very far before they encountered numerous enemy tanks to the south and east of Arras. A Squadron made the furthest progress and got to Avesnes before they found the enemy and one of the sqaudrons patrols tracked a German armoured unit heading towards St. Pol. As the evening appraoched the regiment regrouped north of Festubert and spent the night there.

    21st May 12th Lancers were placed under Frankforce and continued in the Recce role to the west and north west of Arras. B Squadron headed west and found there was still a considerable amount of tanks and vehicles in Avesnes around 10 miles west of Arras. C Squadron were stopped on the St. Pol road about three miles out of Arras due to the volume of refugees and French and Belgian transport. Once they cleared the traffic jam a troop from the squadron was stopped consulting a map when a lost German battery of 15cm guns came along the road and was immediately engaged at point blank range destroying the battery and taking prisoners. An abandoned staff car was found amongst the vehicles and guns that was thought to contain a Panzer Corps commander and his staff oficers. A search of the area was made but no one was found. As the day continued patrols from the 12th Lancers they kept encountering small enemy units on the roads to the west of Arras and in the St. Pol area. Many were engaged and a number of prisoners were taken which started to cause problems as the patrols only transport were armoured cars. The RHQ moved to Mont St. Eloi during the day but were not there for long as they moved after a French DLM moved into the area. The regiment bivi'd for the night in Bully and Grenay. The regiment was warned by the local police to be on their guard as there was a lot of fifth column activity in the area due to large local population of Polish communists exiles.

    22nd May The 12th Lancers main task for the day was to observe the area of the River Scarpe west of Arras to Berles and to hold the enemy back long enough for the 17th Brigade and 2nd DLM to prepare the bridges for demolition. There was excellent observation from the regiments OP on Mont St. Eloi across the whole area and at one point 48 enemy tanks were seen operating along the regiments front and many motorised infantry were observed debussing across the front. The contryside in which the 12th Lancers armoured cars were operating was very enclosed and fields of view were very limited but with the help of the regiments OP on the Mont St. Eloi and excellent communications the armoured cars were able to engage the German infantry whilst playing a game of cat and mouse with the enemy anti-tank guns and tanks. In the face of overwhelming odds the regiment couldn't hold the river area for long and was forced to withdraw before the bridges could be prepared. The enemy continued to advance north of the Scarpe and was moving past the the right flank, the 12th Lancers moved northwest along th eline of the road from Arras to Divion with its right at Houdain. By nightfall the road was in German hands and their recce units had pushed as far as Bethune.

    23rd May The 12th Lancers started the day continuing to observe the enemy and they soon realised the Germans were moving to cut the defenders off at Arras. GHQ received reports that German tanks had reached St. Omer and A Squadron was tasked to confirm if this was true. The Squadron found that the Germans were holding the crossings over the canal from St. Omer to Rennescure and therest was just about being held by some engineers and single artillery pieces. The squadron counterattacked on the high ground to the south of the village to allow the engineers to withdraw and recover a 25 pdr which had been abandoned and then the squadron returned to the regiments lines. The RHQ moved to Hulluch during the day and came under sniper fire, the sniper was captured and turned out to be a civilian and was therefore handed over to the local authorities who executed him. The other two squadrons continued to recce their allocated areas until the afternoon when they retired to the line of the La Bassee canal and La Haute Deule canal which were held by French units. The regiment regrouped south of Seclin at Carnin during the night. At this point the regiment had had a number of losses in the past few days. A Squadron had five armoured cars left, B Squadron had six and C Squadron had nine armoured cars left.

    24th May The 12th Lancers moved to the Lille area after being stood down. They had a full days rest and carrie dout some much needed maintenance on their vehicles.

    25th May In the early hours of the morning the regiment received new orders to move north to the Belgian front where it was thought German units had broken through at Courtai. When the regiment arrived in the area they made contact with British troops in the Menin area and with the Belgian troops holding the canal from Menin to Courtai. Courtai was still in Belgian hands but to the north the Germans had broken through in the Harlebeke area. Despite assurances from the Belgians that the German breach was going to be counterattacked the 12th Lancers patrols observed and reported very few Belgian units in the area and those on the Menin Courtai canal were retreating. During the night the regiment withdrew to the west of Neuve Eglise and lost another two armoured cars during the day whilst trying to slow the German advance.

    26th May On this day the 12th Lancers were tasked with patroling in the area of Roulers south to Wervicq and to report of the defences at Ypres. Patrols that moved north reported the enemy at Zonnebeke which exploited a gap between the Belgians and British forces. A Squadron recce'd Ypres and found it in the main to be undefended apart from a small group of Belgian engineers tasked to prepare the bridges east and west of the twon across canal for demolition. After relaying this to GHQ A Squadron was told to hold until relieved. B and C Squadrons were withdrawn from their current positions and sent to Ypres to cover the approaches of the town. On arrival B Squadron was given responsibility for the town itself and A and C Squadrons moved to the north and east towards Passchendale and Roulers to recce the area to try and identify if the Germans were moving on Ypres and also to try and identify what the Belgians were doing. Around 1200 hrs 13/18th Hussars arrived at Ypres and their A Squadron took up defences of the town with B Squadron, 12th Hussars. The Hussars other two squadrons took up defensive positions along the canal to the south where the 5th Division was arriving. The Belgians blew two of the bridges to the west of Ypres but hadn't started to prepare the bridges to the east which is where the main German advance was heading to. GHQ had sent engineers to Ypres and they worked through the night on the remaining bridges. A and C Squadrons moved backed to the Ypres canal north of the town tasked with holding this area until relieved by the 50th Division who started to arrive in Ypres by the end of the day.

    27th May 50th Division had completely arrived by the morning and took over the defence of Ypres. The 12th Lancers were now under the command of 50th Division and were ordered to recce to the north and east of Ypres and try and establish where the Belgian right flank was. The patrols established that the Belgian right flank was in the Roulers area and observed the gap between the Belgians and the left flank of 50th Division for the rest of the day. Towards the evening a troop from the 12th Lancers observed a German mounted patrol swim across the canal and they were engaged with machine gun fire once they got to the otherside, the only survivors being some horses which were given to the locals of Woesten at the request of the mayor as they had had no meat for days. Towards the end of the day the regiment was informed that the whole British Army was heading north to be evacuated from Dunkirk.

    28th May The day found the 12th Lancers being placed under command of 3rd Division which had moved north and were now on the left flank of 50th Division. They were tasked with secure the crossings to the north as far as Dixmude and hold them until relieved by 3rd Division whilst holding the crossing they were to patrol to the north in the area of the Yser canal to the coast at Nieuport. A Squadron was at Schoorbakke and C Squadron from there to Dixmude with orders to stop the enemy crossing the bridges whilst the engineers prepared and blew the bridges. Early in the day a German staff car flying a white flag with several officers on board passed through Dixmude heading north. It managed to out run the armoured cars sent to intercept it and word was passed to the patrols in the north to keep an eye out for it. It was seen again leaving Pervyse heading towards Nieuport where it was joined by two more similiar cars containing more officers who were observed talking to Belgian officers; it was thoghtthat this was part of the surrender negotiations, since 1000 hrs that morning the Belgian Army surrendered. Back at Dixmude the main road bridge to Furnes had been prepped for demolition by the Belgians but when they blew the bridge nothing happened. It appeared on inspection the charges had been tampered with, new fuses were fitted and the bridge was blown around five minutes before the 256th Infantry Division reached it. The two 12th Lancer patrols watching the bridge only had four armoured cars between them but managed to keep the Germans busy long enough to allow the bridge at Schoorbeke to be blown before the Germans could reach it. At Nieuport a 12th Lancers patrol kept a bridge under observation, it had been prepared to be blown by the Belgians but the firing mechanism was located on the east bank. The 12th Lancers were waiting for the engineers to arrive so the wiring could be re-arranged making it possible to blow the bridge from the west bank. Around 1100 hrs a German motorcycle patrol arrived mixed in with refugess and tried to cross the bridge, they were spotted when they attempted to pass the armoured car watching the bridge. The armoured car engaged the German patrol at point blank range and were swiftly dealt with but the crew of the armoured car suffered several casualties. A wounded prisoner was questioned and he told them that their was around 30 lorries full of German infantry were around ten minutes behind them. Another troop from the 12th Lancers was rapidly located near the bridge and preparations were made to ambush the lorries when they arrived. Reinforcements were now rapidly arriving in Nieuport area and all of B Squadron had arrived to assist in holding the exits from the bridge. Attempts were made to detonate the bridge and all were unsuccessful. The Germans began to shell the town after nightfall and with most of the town burning the 12th Lancers were forced to withdraw to the canal line west of the town.

    29th May The 12th Lancers were relieved in the morning by 4th Division. They were ordered to destroy all their non essential vehicles keeping only their armoured cars and some vehicles that were carrying stores. The regiment moved to Ghyvelde where they waited for orders from II Corps. On arrival the regiment was told to remove all the weapons from their armoured cars and destroy all their vehicles and then wait for orders as to when they would be evacuated. During the evening they were orderedto move to La Panne and hand over all their weapons at a collection point before heading down to the beach.

    30th May After waiting all night the 12th Lancers finally received orders to move down to the beach at 1100 hrs to be embarked, on arrival they were told they were going to be part of the beach organisation force and to go and collect their weapons. The day was spent assisting engineers in collecting lorries and making temporary piers and locating abandoned boats to help with the evacuation that night when the ships returned. After a night of helping with the evacuation the regiment spent the day in the dunes with a considerable number of Bren guns set up to engage low flying aircraft. The regiment was subjected to sporadic shelling throughout the day which was in the main ineffective as the shells buried themselves deep in the sand before exploding.

    31st May The regiment spent the day in the dunes until during the afternoon they were released from their beach duties and were ordered to head for Malo les Bains and embark from there. When they arrived at the beach they eventually moved out to dredgers in small boats in the evening and headed to the UK complete with their Bren guns and anti-tank rifles that were striped from their armoured cars. The regiment arrived at Margate in the early hours of the 1st June.
  8. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot Patron 1940 Obsessive


    Thanks to Geoff's wonderful search engine.

    Note: Only casualties listed as 12th Royal Lancers by CWGC are listed.
  9. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot Patron 1940 Obsessive


    Second Lieutenant E C Mann DSO, 12th Lancers

    Captain A M Horsbrugh-Porter DSO, 12th Lancers

    Lieutenant Colonel H Lumsden DSO, MC, 12th Lancers

    Lieutenant B M H Shand MC, 12th Lancers

    Second Lieutenant E P G Miller-Mundy MC, 12th Lancers

    Second Lieutenant A J C Kennedy MC, 12th Lancers

  10. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot Patron 1940 Obsessive


    Sergeant A M Pearton DCM, 12th Lancers

    Sergeant J E Watson DCM, 12th Lancers

    RQMS W S James DCM, 12th Lancers

    Sergeant J Thurston MM, 12th Lancers

    Lance Corporal L Chorley MM, 12th Lancers

    Lance Corporal C H Glarvey MM, 12th Lancers

  11. von Poop

    von Poop Adaministrator Admin

  12. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot Patron 1940 Obsessive

    As of the 10th May Philson lists the regiment as having 38 Morris CS9 Armoured Cars.
  13. JCB

    JCB Senior Member

    Great information, seems they used their Morris CS9'S with great effect, especially impressive seen as they were only armed with a Bren and a Boys AT. No moans about the cars in the reports, they seem antiquated to me but as other armies were still using real horses in this role I suppose they weren't at the time. I wonder if their most usefull weapon was good radio communication?
  14. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot Patron 1940 Obsessive

    CAB 106/240

    There and Back by Colonel C E Ryan

  15. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot Patron 1940 Obsessive

  16. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot Patron 1940 Obsessive

  17. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot Patron 1940 Obsessive

  18. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot Patron 1940 Obsessive

  19. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot Patron 1940 Obsessive

  20. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot Patron 1940 Obsessive

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