Dress Uniform of New South Wales Lancer

Contributed by: Richmond River Historical Society Inc.

  • Australian dress register ID:

  • Owner:

    Richmond River Historical Society Inc.
  • Owner registration number:

  • Date range:

    1895 - 1903
  • Place of origin:

    Lismore, New South Wales, Australia
  • Gender:

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Object information

Significance statement

On 2nd March 1899 a contingent of the 4th Squadron (Lismore-Casino) left Australia for Aldershot England to train with the Imperial Forces for 6 months. While there the Boer War broke out and on the return journey to Australia the Lancers were ordered to disembark at Cape Town South Africa to take part in the ongoing war. Sixteen men disembarked at

Cape Town on 2 November 1899 with a further member of the squadron joining them following his recuperation from illness. Trooper Otto Robert Armbruster, one of these soldiers, owned and wore the subject uniform. He returned from this conflict in 1901 and later, in 1902, was promoted to Corporal

The Richmond River district has a proud history associated with the NSW Lancers. Originally

No. 2 Troop of the Upper Clarence Light Horse it was gazetted on 23rd October 1888 as the Richmond River Light Horse. In 1893 "E" Troop (Casino) and "G" Troop (Lismore) formed the 4th Squadron of the N.S.W. Cavalry Regiment in 1895 renamed the N.S.W. Lancer Regiment.

The Richmond River Squadron sent more men to South Africa than any other squadron in the Regiment, fifty-one men or about thirty percent of the force. Some of these men, and men from other squadrons in the regiment, went back to South Africa with other units, but the New South Wales Lancer Regiment's service in South Africa was complete.

The last Roll Call of the N.S.W. Lancer Regiment was in 1903.

(Buckley, Martin J. 'The N.S.W. Northern Rivers Lancers' 1991, p. 14 Printed by Northern Star Lismore). This exhibit primarily relates to the Richmond River district of NSW and to Otto Robert Armbruster but it also has significance to the military history of NSW and to Australia

Author: Esme Smith, 8 August 2011.


Dress Uniform: Full length reddish brown tunic, with contrasting front panels in red.

Sleeves: Full length with wide shaped red trim at wrist.

Belt: Webbed belt of red and gold stripes.

Manufacture: Woven material - machine sewn

Cut: Tailored

Fastenings: The tunic is fastened with seven buttons, with another seven buttons decorating and balancing the other side of the red front panel.

Collar badges: the collar badge of the NSW Lancers 1893-1903 was an elephant head. This comes from the crest of Lord Carrington who was Governor of N.S.W from 1885 until 1890 and honorary Colonel of the New South Wales Regiment from 1885.

History and Provenance

Births, deaths, marriages, children or family information

Otto Armbruster was born at Hinton in 1876, the son of Louis Frederick Armbruster, an immigrant from Kleinbottwar, Germany, and his wife Mary Ann Sellens from Battle, Sussex, who were married at East Maitland on 17 August 1858. After some years in that district the family moved to a farm of about 320 acres (Lindendale) near Lismore. Here they grew sugar cane which was milled on the farm. Later the family established a vineyard, an industry in which Louis was familiar as he had trained as a vine dresser in his native Germany.

Otto also farmed at Lindendale, where he married Ethel McCartney in 1902 afer his return from the Boer War. They had eight children.

How does this garment relate to the wider historical context?

A squadron of NSW Lancers from the Lismore and Casino Half-Squadron went to Aldershot in England to train with the Imperial Forces. They left Parramatta for England on 2 March 1899 and on the completion of training they were returning to Australia when the South African conflict broke out. Seventeen of the 23 men disembarked at Cape Town on 2 November 1899 to engage in the conflict.

Where did this information come from?

Books written by Martin Buckley 'Sword and Lance' (1988) and 'The N.S.W. Northern Rivers Lancers' (1991). Information from the daughters of Otto Armbruster and records of Richmond River Historical Society.

This garment has been exhibited

This garment has been exhibited at the Society's Museum. A sum of $3,000.00 was received from the Australian Government to restore the jacket, while the Museum and Galleries NSW provided approximately $5,000.00 to display the jacket and other memorabilia and to provide art work.

  1. Place of origin:

    Lismore, New South Wales, Australia

  2. Cost:

    Not known

  3. Owned by:

    Corporal Otto Robert Armbruster

  4. Worn by:

    Trooper, later Corporal, Otto Armbruster

  5. Occasion(s):

    The jacket was worn on formal occasions: parades, smokos and balls, processions and formal occasions.

  6. Place:

    Otto Armbruster wore the uniform in Lismore (Richmond River District); Aldershot, England in 1899; South Africa & on return to Lismore.

  7. Designed by:


  8. Made by:


  9. Made for:

    Otto Robert Armbruster

Trimmings / Decoration

Contrasting red double breasted front (plastron) with 7 large silver buttons on each side of the double breasted front. These buttons, between 10 cent and 20 cent coin size, are inscribed with Military Force NSW in an arc around the outside with a crown on a cross together with other symbols inside. A stand-up collar in red is decorated with a small elephant medallion on each side of the collar at the front opening. The skirt of the jacket is piped in the same manner as the double breasted front panel.

The back of the tunic had two buttons at the left and right of the middle back and 3 buttons are featured on a scalloped tab on each side of the side seams.

A lanyard or aiguillette complements the uniform forming part of the trim of the full dress uniform of the NSW Lancer Regiment 1895 - 1903.

The red and gold webbed belt complements the tunic.

See photographs showing the back view of the tunic.


The skirt of the jacket is piped in the same manner as the double breasted front panel

Fibre / Weave

Tweed with a lining with the appearance of silk.

  1. Natural dye
  2. Synthetic dye


Woven wool material with all seams machine sewn.


There is no evidence of any alterations having been made to the uniform jacket.

  1. Hand sewn
  2. Machine sewn
  3. Knitted
  4. Other


  1. Bias
  2. Straight


Seven large buttons form the fastening on the jacket and another seven of the same size and type finish the other side of the double breasted front.

  1. Hook and eye
  2. Lacing
  3. Buttons
  4. Zip
  5. Drawstring


Neck 430 mm
Chest 950 mm
Waist 865 mm
Hip 1120 mm
Cuff 310 mm
Neck to sleeve head 127 mm
Cross back 380 mm
Underarm to underarm 460 mm
Convert to inches

Fabric width not known

Dress Themes

Special Occasion: This is assumed because of the quality of the fabrics and the style.

Additional material

Articles, publications, diagrams and receipts descriptions

Mainwaring, G. 'At the Crossroads' p. 33:

Obituary Notice for Mr. O.R. Armbruster, 'Northern Star' Lismore 24 July 1952:

Article:'Sewing the seeds of history' 'Northern River Echo' 16 Februaru 2006:

4xA3 sheets printed by Australian Government Department of Veterans' Affairs (with photographs from Richmond River Historical Society and assistance from Linda Raymond) on the history of Armbruster and the NSW Lancers .

Richmond River Historical Society 165 Molesworth St., Lismore NSW open 10am - 4 pm Monday to Friday

Other related objects

The Society in their Museum has mounted a display of Boer War memorabilia with appropriate signage. This relates to a number of local men of the N.S.W. Lancers who seved in this conflict and includes Otto Armbruster.

Link to collection online


Insect damage

Minor damage - holes caused by moths

Mould damage



  1. Excellent
  2. Good
  3. Fair
  4. Poor


  1. Discolouration
  2. Fading
  3. Holes
  4. Stained
  5. Worn
  6. Iron stains
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