The 16th and 5th Lancers were amalgamated in 1922 to form the 16th/5th Lancers.During the Second World War the regiment fought in North Africa and Italy. Later the 16th/5th became part of NATO's front-line force in West Germany.
The Inter-War Years
On their return, the 16th/5th were brigaded with the 17th/21st Lancers and 2nd Lothian and Border Horse. This formation was to remain together throughout the Second World War. Initially designated the 1st Motor Machine Gun Brigade employed in anti-invasion duties in Kent and Essex, in November 1940 it was re-designated 26th Armoured Brigade, part of 6th Armoured Division.
Training on their new Valentine and Matilda tanks took place
during 1941 and early 1942, before their deployment to North
Message received from 26th Armoured Brigade in the Field, 13th May 1943: The Corps Commander sends his heartiest congratulations to all ranks in this Brigade and wishes them to know that it was largely due to their efforts that all the enemy both east of Tunis and opposite the 8th Army were either killed or captured.
The Second World War: Italy 1944
The Regiment landed in Naples in January 1944, at the outset
of a sixteen gruelling months' campaign in Italy. Unlike the
North African desert, Italy was not ideal armoured country.
On the whole it was very close and dotted with vineyards and
olive groves, complemented by formidable mountain ranges. The
Regiment's record in Italy was most impressive: actions at Cassino
in May 1944, fighting as dismounted infantry in the Apennine
mountains outside Florence during the winter of 1944/45 and
fighting in the final battle of The Po Valley. On 2nd May 1945,
the German army in Italy surrendered, followed days later by
the unconditional surrender of all enemy forces. The 16th/5th
Lancers found themselves further west than any other regiment
in the 8th Army, actually linking up with the American 5th Army.
With peace came the awesome task of reconstruction. For this
the Regiment became part of the occupation forces in Austria
and Schleswig-Holstein, where they had to deal with the consequences
that war had brought to this part of Europe and the unprecedented
numbers of refugees.
To mark this the old 16th Lancers collar badge was replaced
by the combined 16th Lancers 'Queen Charlotte's cypher' and
5th Lancers 'Irish harp'; this became known as The Queen's Badge
and is still worn today by The Queen's Royal Lancers as collar
Just as interesting and slightly more unique was the part the
Regiment played in another sectarian conflict in Cyprus. In
July 1974 the hostility between the Turkish and Greek Cypriots
developed into open warfare when the Turks invaded the north
of Cyprus. At the time B Squadron the 16th/5th Lancers were
deployed in Cyprus as part of the British Sovereign Base. The
Cyprus Emergency required the deployment of larger numbers of
troops in order to maintain the security of British nationals
resident on the island. To that end RHQ, A and HQ Squadrons
16th/5th Lancers were deployed to the island in order to facilitate
the evacuation of British and foreign families from Nicosia
and Famagusta to Sovereign Base Areas. To further complicate
matters for the Regiment, once in theatre they were required
to re-badge to United Nations forces. It was in this guise that
they occupied Nicosia airport after which a tense stand off
with the heavily armed Turks ensued. 16th/5th actions were conducted
in such a professional and successful manner that the Regiment
was praised for its action in Parliament on two separate occasions
- something which had not occurred since the end of the Second
The Regiment found themselves working for the UN again in 1983.
The conflict in the Middle East between the Arabs and Israelis
had centred itself on Lebanon in the early 1980s. As a result
the Israeli Army invaded and drove the Palestinian Liberation
Organisation (PLO) out of the capital Beirut. Having achieved
their goal the Israelis then also withdrew leaving a power vacuum
in the war torn city. The UN decided to deploy a peacekeeping
force of which A Squadron 16th/5th Lancers formed the British
contingent. The mission was however doomed to failure, as the
conditions did not exist for peace. The Squadron was withdrawn
in February 1984 after only three months.
Seven years later the 16th/5th Lancer's deployed to the Gulf War. In August 1990 Iraq invaded Kuwait. The invasion was universally condemned and UN Resolution 678 demanded their withdrawal by 15th January 1991; failure to do so would result in war. The Iraqis showed no intention of withdrawing and a coalition army was created in order to liberate Kuwait. The British contribution was 1st (UK) Armoured Division of which the 16th/5th provided the reconnaissance. On 25th February 1991, it led the way from Saudi Arabia, through the Iraqi defence line and on into Iraq. Subsequently entering Kuwait, it was only hours later ordered back into Iraq to provide security for the main logistic units following behind the armoured brigades. On 28th February a ceasefire was declared. The Regiment were then ordered to a position some forty miles northwest of Kuwait City.
After the end of the Cold War and victory in the Gulf, came peace and the inevitable call for reductions in military forces. 'Options for Change' was to result in a drastic reduction in the size of the Royal Armoured Corps - the 16th/5th Lancers was amalgamated with the 17th/21st Lancers, with whom they had been brigaded in the Second World War.