Facebook: The Royal Lancers and Nottinghamshire Yeomanry Museum With: From the Archives Somme 1940 In the six weeks from 10th May 1940, German forces defeated the Allied forces by mobile operations and conquered France, Belgium, Luxembourg and the Netherlands, bringing land operations on the Western Front to an end until June 1944. The 9th Queen’s Royal Lancers embarked for France in May 1940, as part of the largest movement of armour ever made in England, to aid the Allied Forces holding back the Germans. The 9th were at that time in a very high state of training and efficiency and it was a great disappointment to them that they were equipped with such an inferior and mixed bag of tanks. The Regiment, under the command of Lieutenant-Colonel C.H.M. Peto sailed from Southampton on 20th May, and disembarked at Cherbourg the next day. The Regiment moved immediately in preparation for operations across the Somme area. This dash northwards was greatly impeded by the general move south of refugees, RAF ground staff, and base troops both French and British, who told lurid tales of the fighting in Belgium. After a large number of conflicting orders from the War Office and GHQ BEF, Major-General Evans, commanding 1st Armoured Division, was eventually instructed to seize the bridgeheads over the Somme preparatory to a breakthrough in relief of the BEF, now cut off from the bulk of the French armies. By this time the Germans were already across the Somme. The 9th stayed in the Somme area between Amiens and Abbeville for nearly a fortnight dashing here and there and everywhere with no definite information about the situation. Their days and nights were full of alarms and excursions. They had one or two brushes with German infantry and the Luftwaffe flew over their heads the whole time practically unopposed. After heavy tank casualties the 2nd Armoured Brigade under command of Brigadier McCreery was withdrawn to re-form in the Rouen area. The French army was badly demoralized and expected miracles from the British 1st Armoured Division in the way of tank – infantry co-operation. These were naturally not forthcoming for the division was equipped with Vickers light tanks and a very small number of A13 Cruisers, and it had only one armoured brigade in action. One 9th Lancer cruiser went to France without its gun, such was the desperate shortage, the intention being to cannibalize the first tank that was knocked out. When the brigade was withdrawn to Rouen, the 9th had remained in the St. Valery area with the 51st Highland Division, and was all but surrounded by the enemy. Second-Lieutenant Steel fought a very gallant action with his cruiser troop of ‘C’ Squadron against a large number of German tanks for which he was awarded the DSO. The line of the Somme was held for a few days but, with the French Army in Paris now in retreat, it was only a matter of time before the Seine position became untenable. The division was therefore ordered to withdraw and embark for England. The 9th Lancers went nonstop from Le Mans to Brest and so back to England, exactly one month after landing, on the day that France capitulated. Lieutenant Tew and five other ranks had been killed in action in France, and Lieutenant Steel had died of wounds. For their actions the 9th Queen’s Royal Lancers were awarded the Battle Honour ‘Somme 1940’.