Tuesday, January 16, 2018

An Addendum to 19th and 20th Century British Cavalry Lances and their Markings


Although it may be sheer coincidence, it took a long time for this author to be suddenly aware of the fact that the warrior Bellerophon astride Pegasus (the Formation Badge of the British Airborne Forces) is, and always has been since inception, carrying a "spear with ribbons attached". This can easily be transposed, with very little imagination, to a lance with pennon. Very early in the existence of this blog, I even wrote an extensive article of a Pattern 1868 lance present at Arnhem, and while making the comparison of the lightly armed airborne forces with earlier lancer regiments, failed to make this specific connection. During the course of follow-on research, prompted by reader interest, even wrote a subsequent article. http://arnhemjim.blogspot.com/2016/07/19th-and-20th-century-british-cavalry.html

One of the items of discussion in both articles were the pennons carried just below the lance head. Based upon the best information available at the time (The Ordnance List of Changes (LoCs) pertaining to the Pattern 1868 are §4451, §8366 and §9065, introduced  6 June 1868.) and an original source pattern drawing of a pennon citing dimensions. The following measurements were given for the Pattern 1868 lance pennon. The width is 9 1/4", length is 29" and the dimension from the square base of the pennon at the lance haft to the swallow-tail is 9 3/4".

British Cavalry Lance Patterns 1885 and 1868
from LoCs (List of Changes)


Pattern drawing of lance pennon for Pattern 1868 lance

In June of 2013, Heritage Auctions in Dallas, Texas, auctioned off a framed pennon they identified as a “British Army Standard Lancer’s Lance Pennon, Model 1868”, with the dimensions being 27 3/4" by 8 1/2". This author is unable to reconcile the differences, other than due to shrinkage over use and time, but tends to lean towards the LoCs and drawing. It is also some what curious that the photograph of the framed lance pennon the auction house displayed shows the pennon upside-down, i.e. white over red.


Another interesting detail regarding the colors of British lance pennons (red over white) was raised in an article by RCMP Veterans Association, dated 8 April 2015, and submitted by retired Superintendent Ric Hall (Reg.#24394-O.1330). It states:
“The origin of the red and white lance pennon is interesting. The pennon supplied to the NWMP for its famed trek to the Rockies would be of British regulation pattern and therefore of these colours. The “journal of the Society for Army Historical Research, Vol XXV at page 95 reads:
When the four light Light Dragoon Regiments were converted into Lancers in 1816 they were given a uniform borrowed from that of the Polish Lancers of Napoleon’s Guard, and it is noteworthy that the lance pennons of the British Army have always bee of the Polish national colours, red and white.
Corroboration of this authority that the source of the red and white pennon was the Poles are to be found in a brief description of an oil painting in His Majesty’s collection at Windsor Castle, titled “Sergeant Read, 9th or Queen’s Royal Lancers, 1832.” The light Dragoon regiments converted to Lancers in 1816 were the 9th, 12th, 16th and 17th. The 16th was the first to be quipped as lancers and to go into action thus armed. That regiment enjoyed the distinction of having its lance pennons “crimped” – an innovation dating from the British defeat f the Sikhs at Aliwal (N.W. India) on January 28, 1846, when its pennons got crumpled and blood-stained.”

Again perhaps only another sheer coincidence, the colors of England (cross of St George) have also been red and white since the crusades. The flag of England Being derived from St. George’s Cross (heraldic blazon: Argent, a cross gules).


Pattern 1868 Lances with pennons
from the Musical Ride of the RCMP

Another example of the marking on a No.1 I.P
(Indian Pattern) Pattern 1868 Lancehead

1973 Centennial Celebration of the RCMP-
Demonstration of Tent-pegging