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12th Royal Lancers (Prince of Wales's)
Active 1715–1960
Country  Kingdom of Great Britain (1715–1718)
 Kingdom of Ireland (1718–1800)
 United Kingdom (1801–1960)
Branch Flag of the British Army.svg British Army
Type Line Cavalry
Size One Regiment
Nickname(s) The Supple Twelfth
Motto(s) Ich Dien - I Serve
March Quick: God Bless the Prince of Wales
Slow: Coburg March

Major-General Phineas Bowles (Sr)
Lieutenant-General Phineas Bowles (Jr)
Lieutenant-General Thomas Bligh
General Sir John Mordaunt
Lieutenant-General George Germain, 1st Viscount Sackville
Lieutenant-General Edward Harvey
General General Sir William Pitt
Lieutenant-General William Keppel
General Sir William Payne-Gallwey
Lieutenant-General Sir Colquhoun Grant
Lieutenant-General Sir Hussey Vivian
Lieutenant General Robert Broadwood
Field Marshal William Birdwood, 1st Baron Birdwood

General Sir Richard McCreery

The 12th (Prince of Wales's) Royal Lancers was a cavalry regiment of the British Army.[1] It was amalgamated in 1960 with the 9th Queen's Royal Lancers, to form the 9th/12th Royal Lancers (Prince of Wales's).


Morris CS9 armoured cars of 'C' Squadron, 29 September 1939

The regiment of dragoons that was to become the 12th Royal Lancers was raised by Brigadier-General Phineas Bowles in Berkshire in July 1715 against the threat of the Jacobite rebellion. In 1718 the regiment was placed on the Irish establishment and posted to Ireland, where it remained for seventy-five years.[1][2]

In 1751 the regiment was officially styled the 12th Dragoons. In 1768 King George III bestowed the title of The 12th (Prince of Wales's) Regiment of (Light) Dragoons, the regiment was given the badge of the three ostrich feathers, and the motto "Ich Dien". The 12th Dragoons, led by General Sir John Doyle won their first battle honour in Egypt in 1801 against the French Dromedary corps.[3] They had previously had a young Duke of Wellington serve with them as a subaltern between 1789-91.[4] In 1816, the 12th Light Dragoons were armed with lances after the cavalry of Napoleon's Army had shown their effectiveness at Waterloo and were re-titled 12th (The Prince of Wales's) Regiment of (Light) Dragoons (Lancers). In 1855 they reinforced the Light Cavalry Brigade in the Crimea after the Charge of the Light Brigade at Balaclava. In 1861, they were renamed 12th (The Prince of Wales's) Royal Regiment of Lancers and in 1921 12th Royal Lancers (Prince of Wales's).

The British Army removed the lance from its weaponry in 1903, but an influential lobby secured its reinstatement in 1909.

The 12th Lancers served on the Western Front throughout World War I. In the opening, relatively mobile months of the war, cavalry played a vital role. On 28 August 1914, 'C' Squadron of the 12th Lancers, led by Lieutenant-Colonel Wormald, made a successful charge against a dismounted squadron of Prussian Dragoons at Moy.[5] The 9th/12th Royal Lancers celebrate Mons/Moy Day annually, which commemorates the last occasions on which each predecessor regiment charged with lances. In all, 166 officers and men of 12th Lancers died in World War I.

In 1928, the 12th Lancers gave up their horses and were equipped with armoured cars, taking over vehicles left in Egypt by two Royal Tank Corps armoured car units, the 3rd and 5th Companies.[6] Late in 1934, the 12th exchanged equipment and station with the 11th Hussars, taking over thirty-four Lanchester armoured cars at Tidworth.[7] Its strength would have been 12 officers and 141 other ranks, organized in a company headquarters and three sections, each with five cars.[7] Total numbers were sixteen cars, six motorcycles, a staff car, four 3 long tons (3 t) and seven 3,360 lb (1,520 kg) (30 cwt) lorries.[7] The 12th Lancers served as an armoured car regiment equipped with the Morris CS9, during the 1940 campaign in France and Flanders, playing a key part in shielding the retreat to Dunkirk. Subsequently, the regiment fought at the Battle of El Alamein with the 1st Armoured Division and then served as a corps-level reconnaissance asset in the Italian Campaign.

In 1960, the 12th Royal Lancers (Prince of Wales's) were amalgamated with the 9th Queen's Royal Lancers to form the 9th/12th Royal Lancers (Prince of Wales's).

Battle Honours

  • Egypt, Salamanca, Peninsula, Waterloo, South Africa 1851-2-3, Sevastopol, Central India, Relief of Kimberley, Paardeberg, South Africa 1899-1902
  • The Great War: Mons, Retreat from Mons, Marne 1914, Aisne 1914, Messines 1914, Ypres 1914 '15, Neuve Chapelle, St. Julien, Bellewaarde, Arras 1917, Scarpe 1917, Cambrai 1917 '18, Somme 1918, St. Quentin, Lys, Hazebrouck, Amiens, Albert 1918, Hindenburg Line, St. Quentin Canal, Beaurevoir, Sambre, France and Flanders 1914-18
  • The Second World War: Dyle, Defence of Arras, Arras Counter Attack, Dunkirk 1940, North-West Europe 1940, Chor es Sufan, Gazala, Alam el Halfa, El Alamein, Advance on Tripoli, Tebaga Gap, El Hamma, Akarit, El Kourzia, Djebel Kournine, Tunis, Creteville Pass, North Africa 1941-43, Citerna, Gothic Line, Capture of Forli, Conventello-Comacchio, Bologna, Sillaro Crossing, Idice Bridgehead, Italy 1944-45


  1. 1.0 1.1 "History of the 9th/12th Royal Lancers". Archived from the original on 6 September 2008. Retrieved 2008-12-31. 
  2. Richards, Walter (1895) Her Majesty's Army, Vol 1. London: J.S. Virtue. p. 86
  3. Doyle Clan History, part 6. Profile of General Sir John Doyle Bt GCB KCH
  4. A Brief History of the 9th/12th Royal Lancers p1
  5. Military operations, France and Belgium, 1914 (1922); Author: Edmonds, J. E. (James Edward), Sir, p215-6
  6. Crow, Duncan. British and Commonwealth Armoured Formations 1919-46 (Profile Publications Ltd, Great Bookham, no date), p.3.
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 Crow, p.3.
  • P.F. Stewart. History of the XII Royal Lancers. Oxford University Press. 1950

See also

External links

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