History - Introduction
The 2nd Cavalry Regiment
(Reconnaissance) traces its origins to that of the Australian Light
Horse in World War 1. More recently, the Regiment evolved from the
4th/19th Prince of Wales Light Horse (4/19 PWLH). The 2nd Cavalry
Regiment (Reconnaissance) came into being on 20 November 1970, from
convoluted beginnings. Today the Regiment is the only fully regular
Regiment within the Royal Australian Armoured Corps (RAAC).
The title '2nd Cavalry Regiment'
appeared as early as November 1966. At that time the Chief of the
General Staff (CGS), Sir John Wilton, directed that there should be a
regular armoured personnel carrier regiment, that it should be a cavalry
regiment in name and that the regular armoured regiments, like the early
light horse regiments be sequentially numbered. The CGS became involved
in the issue of unit titles as the Army had 1st Armoured Regiment, 1st
Cavalry Regiment and 1st APC Squadron. This had begun to bother command
staffs as well as the units themselves. Colonel Coleman, then the
Director of Armour, believed it was important to get a Regular Unit
identity for the APC sub units which were beginning to proliferate. His
ideas met with little encouragement until the CGS stepped in. The end
result was that, on 22 November 1966, a minute, authorized by the CGS,
approved the re-designation of 1st Cavalry Regiment and 1st APC
Squadron. In order to implement the CGS' numbering policy for regular
RAAC units, the 1st Cavalry Regiment was duly redesignated the 2nd
Regiment and the 1st APC Squadron, at the time serving in Vietnam, became
A Squadron 3rd Cavalry Regiment.
The 2nd Cavalry Regiment at the time consisted of A Squadron in
Holsworthy and B Squadron in Enoggera, but with no Regimental
The date of this re-designation was 16
January 1967, but it was to be three and a half years before authority
to raise a Regimental Headquarters and Headquarters Squadron was gained.
The Headquarters element and a Light Aid detachment were established at
Gallipoli Lines, Holsworthy, on 18 January 1971. They joined A Squadron
in Holsworthy and the Australian based Squadron of 3rd Cavalry Regiment
(later to become B Squadron 2nd Cavalry Regiment) under the command of
the first Commanding Officer, LTCOL J. D. Keldie, M. C. on 20 November
The 'original' B Squadron, 2nd Cavalry
Regiment was located at Enoggera and remained independent of
Headquarters 2nd Cavalry Regiment. This curious arrangement was due to a
desire to await the next squadron changeover in Vietnam. This squadron
then ceased to be in any way akin to 2nd Cavalry Regiment on 11 October
1971 and was redesignated A Squadron 4th Cavalry Regiment.
The First Sabre Squadrons
The late 1950s were a difficult time
for the Armoured Corps. There was only one regular Armoured Regiment and
the CMF units were experiencing problems with large numbers of personnel
(due to National Service) lack of instructors and poor equipment. A
solution was implemented in 1959, whereby a regular squadron was
incorporated into both 2nd/14th Queensland Mounted Infantry and 4th/19th
Prince of Wales Light Horse. This meant the difficulties of raising new
regular units were bypassed. In order to achieve this, A Squadron 1st
Armoured Regiment had to be disbanded (it was raised again in May 1968).
Official approval was given for the formation of the regular squadrons
in 1960, with one of these formed in Victoria on 29 June 1960 as a
reconnaissance squadron. This unit was titled A Squadron 4th/19th Prince
of Wales Light Horse (A Sqn 4/19 PWLH). The unit was first located in
Seymour before moving to Puckapunyal in September 1962.
On 27 May 1965 1 Tp A Sqn 4/19 PWLH
departed for Vietnam. The troop sailed to Vietnam aboard HMAS Sydney and
arrived in Vung Tau on 11 June 1965. The troop included eight M113 APC,
which had only recently been issued (the troop had been training with
Ferret, Saracen and Saladin prior to departure) and two Landrovers. The
troop formed the APC Troop of the 1st Australian Logistic Support
Company, which was supporting the 1st Battalion of the Royal Australian
Regiment (1 RAR). In March 1966, the troop became officially known as
the 1st Armoured Personnel Carrier Troop.
The troop, being the only armoured
unit in Vietnam, was given a wide variety of tasks. They were constantly
required for operational tasks and there was little opportunity to hold
crews in reserve. Fatigue was caused by constant operations, the need to
maintain constant security and long hours of maintenance. On 30
September 1965 the remainder of the troop’s vehicles, 3 APC (one
belonging to the Light Aid Detachment and the other two being the
reserve vehicles of the troop) and two APC (Mortar) arrived in Vung Tau.
In May 1966, the troop was relieved and subsequently absorbed into 1 APC
In 1965, A Sqn 4/19 PWLH moved to
Gallipoli Lines, Holsworthy, and in November was redesignated as A
Squadron 1st Cavalry Regiment. A Squadron 2nd/14th Queensland Mounted
Infantry became B Squadron 1st Cavalry Regiment. A Squadron 1st Cavalry
Regiment had a complement of 156 all ranks which included an increment
to permit the squadron to operate as an independent entity. B Squadron
1st Cavalry Regiment was restricted to 76 personnel because of a
temporary manpower shortage. The organisation of the two squadrons was
similar and included a squadron headquarters, an Administration Troop,
an Anti Tank and Surveillance Troop, a Support Troop and three cavalry
troops (B Squadron only had one cavalry troop). A Squadron underwent its
last name change on 16 January 1967 when it became known as A Squadron
2nd Cavalry Regiment.
On 1 July 1965, the 1st Armoured
Personnel Carrier Squadron (1 APC Sqn) was raised in Puckapunyal, with
the initial mission of relieving No 1 APC Tp in Vietnam. By December
1965, the 1st APC Sqn was organised with squadron headquarters, an
administrative troop, two armoured personnel carrier troops and elements
of support company and supporting arms troop. In part, this was to
provide relief for 1 Tp in Vietnam, but it also foreshadowed a general
increase in the scale of APCs allocated to the Task Force which had
seemed half hearted, even tentative, when the force was first formed.
After relieving 1 APC Tp in May 1966, the squadron was located in the
Task Force base of Nui Dat.
On 17 January 1967, 1 APC Sqn was
renamed A Squadron 3rd Cavalry Regiment (A Sqn 3 Cav Regt). A portion of
1 APC Sqn remained in Puckapunyal and was titled 1 APC Sqn (Australian
Component). The squadron from Puckapunyal replaced the squadron in
Vietnam on 25 April 1967.
Between July and September 1967, the
Australian component moved to the newly completed Jordan Lines in
Holsworthy and expended to form B Squadron 3rd Cavalry Regiment. In July
the advance party of the Squadron left Puckapunyal and moved to
Holsworthy to take over the new barracks. In September the main body
joined the advance party at Jordan Lines where the Squadron was brought
up to full strength in preparation for onward movement to Vietnam. This
never eventuated because the method of troop rotation reverted to
individual personnel replacement from the squadron in Jordan Lines to
the squadron in Vietnam, a system which remained in place until the
withdrawal of the squadron from Vietnam.
A Squadron 3rd Cavalry Regiment became
B Squadron 3rd Cavalry Regiment on 13 May 1969 when the rotation of
Officer Commanding took place. With the change in name of the squadron
in Nui Dat, the squadron at Jordan Lines became A Squadron 3rd Cavalry
Regiment. This title swap occurred again and, on 16 October 1971, A
Squadron returned from Vietnam to take up residence in Townsville. In
January 1971, the component which was in Holsworthy (by now another
title swap had occurred and it was known as A Squadron 3rd Cavalry
Regiment) lost its independent status and came under command of the 2nd
Cavalry Regiment. November 1971 saw A Squadron 3rd Cavalry Regiment at
Holsworthy become B Squadron 2nd Cavalry Regiment. B Squadron 2nd
Cavalry Regiment remained an APC Sqn until 1976 when it converted to the
Role and Organisation
A Squadron 4th 19th Prince of Wales
Light Horse was raised and equipped as a Cavalry Squadron in June 1960.
For the RAAC, the following years were a period of evolving structures,
changing roles and operational development. A three Sabre squadron
Cavalry Regiment emerged from the 1962 Corps Conference. This organisation
was formalized with General Staff Instruction 62/25, titled the "Reorganization
of RAAC" in 1964. RAAC APC organisations were raised with the
introduction of the M113 in 1964. In 1965 the CGS instituted a review
which saw the Pentropic Division concept laid to rest and, with it, saw
the loss of spare AFV crews from RAAC organisations, thus reducing
The anti-tank role was, until 1965, an
RAAC responsibility until doctrinal changes placed this responsibility
in the hands of the infantry. In the Vietnam conflict, the 3rd Cavalry
Regiment elements, which eventually formed part of the Regiment, were
limited to a personnel carrying role. This role was, in part, continued
until 1976.A change in unit organisations occurred in 1971. This new
organisation, called the ‘RAAC Regiment’, contained a tank, cavalry
and APC squadron. Provision was made to vary the number and type of
squadrons to suit the needs of the theatre of operations. Argument
against the composite units was strong, particularly breaking the
concentration of force of tanks. The Tank Regiment was temporarily
excepted from change, so from 1970 to 1976, 2nd Cavalry Regiment
consisted of a Reconnaissance Squadron and an APC Squadron.
During the final months of 1976, B
Squadron was tasked with training elements of 5th/7th Battalion, Royal
Australian Regiment (5/7 RAR) in the rudiments of driving, servicing and
employing the M113. This began the mechanized infantry battalion trial
which culminated in 1977 with 5/7 RAR relieving the Regiment of its APC
role. 4th Cavalry Regiment in Enoggera became an APC Regiment during
this period and sent its Fire Support Vehicles (FSV) and gunners to the
2nd Cavalry Regiment. B Squadron was then able to re-role to
reconnaissance, allowing the Regiment to concentrate on a single role. Cavalry
Troops were first based on the British Commonwealth structure which was
two Ferret Scout Cars, two Saladin Armoured Cars and a Saracen APC with
a section of Assault Troopers.
This structure was retained with the
introduction of the M113 using three M113 APCs, two FSVs and an assault
section. In the early 1980s, the Assault Troopers and their M113 APCs
were brigaded into one troop, leaving the Reconnaissance Troops with
four vehicles and 10 crewmen. With equipment and manpower improvements
the Reconnaissance Troops returned to five vehicles although at various
times the squadrons were without Assault Troopers and their A1 echelons.
Changes since that time included two
mortar carriers being part of each squadron although, with ammunition
and manpower shortages that capability was lost later in the 1980s. The
arrival of thermal imaging equipment and ground surveillance radar
systems necessitated the raising of a Radar Troop, which was later
converted into a reconnaissance troop in mid 1996. This, in conjunction
with the raising of C Squadron in 1996, meant that each squadron now had
an identical structure.
Becoming a Regiment
After the successful introduction of
armour into the task force in Vietnam, the Director of Armour, Colonel
J. G. Monaghan, had the policy regarding armour re-examined. His first
achievement was to win acceptance of the general principal that a
Regimental Headquarters should be provided where two or more squadrons
were located together. This resulted in the authority being given to
raise a Regimental Headquarters and Headquarters Squadron for the 2nd
Cavalry Regiment with effect 20 November 1970. RHQ, Headquarters
Squadron and the Light Aid Detachment (LAD) were formed in January 1971
and joined A Sqn in Holsworthy. B Squadron 3rd Cavalry Regiment, at the
time located in Jordan Lines at Holsworthy, came under the command of
the 2nd Cavalry Regiment, whose first Commanding Officer was Lieutenant
Colonel J. D. Keldie, MC.
After the formation of the Regiment
and the establishment of an RHQ, further expeditions to Vietnam were
limited to a troop of six Saladin Fire Support Vehicles (M113 hulls
fitted with a Saladin Armoured Car turret) commanded by Lieutenant C. E.
Stephens. This troop embarked in May 1971 and was employed in Task Force
base defence and escort duties. The troop was not involved in any active
service incidents and returned to Australia in March 1972.
The element known as the LAD later
became known as Technical Support Squadron (TSS). At irregular intervals
since its formation, Headquarters Squadron (HQ Sqn) has been known as HQ
Sqn or variations of the title Operational Support Squadron (OSS). In
the field OSS and TSS combined to form the Regimental A2 Echelon. On 17
January 1996 the components of the A2 Echelon were formed into a single
squadron titled Support Squadron (Spt Sqn).
M113 Armoured Personnel Carriers from 4th/19th Prince of Wales Light
Horse on operations in Vietnam.
At different times during its history,
the Regiment has had an organisation referred to as C Squadron, be it an
attached Army Reserve squadron during exercise, a training team
consisting of several SNCO and Officers or, in the late 1980s, 161st Reconnaissance
Squadron (AAAvn). The latter was due to close co-operation in training
and shared messes and was a statement of professional respect. On 19
April 1996 the CO, Lieutenant Colonel M. P. McGinnis announced that the
Comd 1 Div, Major General T. J. Ford, had given approval for the raising
of C Squadron. This was later confirmed by the arrival of a minute dated
4 April 1996. At the time of its approval, C Squadron had a newly
constructed headquarters building, Squadron Headquarters Troop,
Administration Troop, two Reconnaissance Troops (previously 4 Troop A
Squadron and 4 Troop B Squadron) and a Radar Troop. In August 1996,
Radar Troop became the third reconnaissance troop of the squadron.
Seymour to Holsworthy
Moves from Seymour to Puckapunyal in
1962, then to Gallipoli Lines at Holsworthy in 1965 occurred during the
period of evolving names of the Regiment. The move from Puckapunyal in
1965 was described as 'like going on exercise'. The squadron drove up
the Hume Highway and on arrival in Holsworthy set up a compound with
steel posts and barbed wire. The initial accommodation was tents.
The move to Jordan Lines in Holsworthy
in 1971 coincided with the raising of Regimental Headquarters (RHQ).
Jordan Lines was built for a single squadron and initially occupied by
the squadron from the 3rd Cavalry Regiment, however it provided the
Regiment with hard standing and cover for the vehicles. The RHQ building
was designed for a squadron and so had several adaptations made over the
years. The Regiment manned its own ORs, Sergeants and Officers Messes.
For several years the squadron headquarters were located in the lower
floor of the soldiers barracks. The situation improved in 1985 with the
relocation and modification of three wooden huts. Other areas of the
Regiment continually expanded and a new Q complex, workshop and RAP were
added at different times. The soldiers built their own club with a
demountable steel framed corrugated hut acquired through irregular
channels. This club from the "Rusty Bucket" (a beer fridge in
the ORs Mess) and was called the "Light Horse Club".
Holsworthy to Darwin
Moving to Darwin was a staged move and
was not as easily executed as the move from Puckapunyal to Holsworthy.
The move to relocate the Regiment in Darwin commenced in mid 1992 and
the last families arrived in Darwin in January 1993. On 17 April 1993 a
parade was held for the official opening of Waler Barracks and the
establishment of the Regiment in the Northern Territory. The parade was
reviewed by The Honourable Bill Hayden, AC, Governor General of
Australia. The relocation was a continuation of the policy to relocate
and reinforce our defence presence in the northern regions of Australia.
HQ 1 Bde remained in Sydney until 1997 and the Regiment's command status
was an evolving issue with both Northern Command and 1st Brigade
The barracks was named after the horse
that carried the Light Horse into the annals of Australian military
history. The barracks are a fitting memorial to that element of a
partnership formed in battle that was never to return to its homeland.
All of the streets within the original Waler Barracks precinct have been
specifically named. In the Regiment's working and living areas the
streets have been named after members of the RAAC who gave their lives
during the Vietnam conflict. The two main thoroughfares are Courage
Avenue, which reflects the Regiment's motto, and Lighthorse Drive,
commemorating the Regiment's links with the Australian Light Horse.
Waler Barracks was retitled Waler
Lines and incorporated into the expanded Robertson Barracks in 1995.
Robertson Barracks was named after LTGEN Sir Horace Robertson, an
Armoured Corps officer who commanded the 7th Military District in Darwin
in 1939. LTGEN Robertson distinguished himself as a commander at home in
Darwin and overseas in North Africa and also as commander of the British
Commonwealth Occupation Force in Japan from 1946 to 1951. The
progressive relocation of other 1st Brigade units to Darwin ended the
Regiment's isolation and established the 1st Brigade presence in the
north of Australia. from Dept of