Sun. May 19th, 2024

Armidale CBD was treated with a rare display on Saturday with 12th/16th Hunter River Lancers celebrating the ‘Freedom of Entry’, a very old traditional military event to celebrate the connection between a unit and the community.

Dating back to Ancient Rome, and in medieval times adopted by England and other European nations, the Freedom of Entry into city is the highest honour that is bestowed upon a regiment, allowing them to march into the city “with drums beating, colours flying, and bayonets fixed”. A Freedom of Entry is the highest honour a city can bestow on the Australian Defence Force and is celebrated with a ceremonial parade through the city streets.

On Saturday the 28th of October, the 12/16 Hunter River Lancers were again awarded this honour by the City of Armidale to mark the 75th anniversary of the unit. Armidale has been home to 12th/16th Hunter River Lancers since the raising of the regiment in 1948, but has links historically back to the Boer War.

After a forming up parade in Civic Park, the Lancers, lead in horseback by Commanding Officer LT COL Ian McNab, marched up Faulkner st, where they were stopped by the NSW Police, some also mounted, for the traditional challenge.

Having satisfied the constabulary, the regiment was permitted passage into the city.  Marching to the front of the Council Chambers, the regiment accepted a Welcome to Country from Anaiwan elder, Steve Widders.

 Following some short accolades from Army High Command, including Major General David Thomae & Major General Roger John Noble, Armidale Mayor Sam Coupland was then invited to inspect the troops.

Having passed muster, the regiment made their way to Central Park, where Legacy provided a free lunch.

The Lancers regiment was supported by cadets, as well as a healthy contingent of 12/16 Veterans taking part in the march.  

In an homage to the Lighthorse charge of Beersheba (106 years ago almost to the day), in which 2 12th Light Horse were pivotal to victory, four Lighthorsemen were dressed in period regalia, setting quite the contrast in the March to the formidable Bushmasters.

A large number of locals turned out to watch the parade, lining the streets of the route, from children to elderly. A number of retired ADF members wore their medals for the event.

Image: The Freedom of Entry march on Saturday (supplied by Illumination Photography @illuminate.capture.remember)

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