Lancelot Lewis

From Waler Data Base @ FaceBook. Image: ‘Lance Lewis… photographed riding his pony with the company of his dog at the start of a journey to Victoria.’ 1898, State Library S.A.

Lance, aged twelve, rode one pony and led another with his swag and supplies on the long ride. His dog came along, it was needed for work. He rode by himself from Burra in South Australia to Warrnambool in Victoria, and on the way he and both ponies and the dog swam across the Glenelg River. They rode through 3 miles of bushfire. One night he kept himself awake all night, at Coorong by reciting Banjo Paterson, as there was a murderer at large there.

He arrived in Warrnambool in February 1898, having ridden over 500 miles (over 800 kilometres). Lance, dog and ponies arrived in perfect health. The ride took them 16 days, He brought a mob of stock back for his father, alone. The trip back was twice as long. Later, aged 16, he took sheep to Queensland from South Australia, again alone.

In 1908 he rode through the Northern Territory with an Aboriginal guide for most sections, over 3,700 miles, inspecting stations for his father, for prospective purchase. Among others he visited Dalhousie Springs (a family property) where he brought down cattle to Mount Dutton. Back to Dalhousie then to Blood’s Creek where he saw their famous Angora goats, Eringa, Charlotte Waters, Newcastle Waters, Anthony’s Lagooon, Brunette Downs, Alexandria, Avon Downs, Austral Downs, Urandangine, Carandotta, Roxburgh, Glenormiston, Marion Downs, Bedourie, Cluny, Monkira, Haddon Downs then across to Queensland to Arrabury, Nappamerrie and Tanapera, then Naryilco, Yalpunga and Tinooburra, then to Broken Hill. He always travelled with 15 horses, all up using 40 on the entire trip. At times they went 250 miles between water and with scant feed, but careful management saw him get through with his horses all in good condition. After his good look about, admiring much country, Lance decided the family had best stay in South Australia.

He was a well-known horseman and also played polo. His older brother Gilbert was a famous polo player and competed in India, he was in the Central India Horse. Lance also loved football and was a great player, he captained Kooringa and pity help anyone who bumped one of his men, they were taken off on a stretcher. Played for Norwood, selected for and was on state team, and won Australian championship. He played ruck.

Lance worked for Bagot, Shakes and Lewis, his father’s company then when they merged with Goldsborough Mort & Co. he worked for them, he was a manager for both. Goldsborough Mort and Co was an agricultural business, that also held big stock sales. They sold a lot of horses for the India trade.

(His Dad was John Lewis, also a legend. Started work with bullocks aged 12. Also went thru the Territory, the famous 1871 trip, wrote the book “Fought and Won.” Had a firm with Bagot the famous land owner, who had Suffolk Punches among other things, Ned Bagot, a good man. Bred for India. Lance also worked for them eg on the Territory trip. John a good friend of Kidman..etc)

 Lieutenant Lancelot Ashley LEWIS.

In August 1914 Lancelot Lewis joined the 3rd Light Horse. He became a Major. He was an excellent horseman and always led in action. His horse’s name was Dickory, it was as loved as he was by his men.

Image: Lieutenant Lancelot Ashley LEWIS. Cropped from “Leaders of the Light Horse” photograph held in the Naval Military and Air Force Club of SA collection”. Virtual War Memorial Australia.

He was in much action such as Gallipoli, Rafa, Magdhaba and Romani. At Rafa in 1917 he was badly wounded, a bullet going through his right cheek and out his neck near his spine; and sent home. It was touch and go for two months, but he made it. One of his men wrote back home in 1918 about how they were all looking after his horse Dickory, an original, after Lewis had been sent home to recover, and said Major Lewis thought the world of his horse. He said Lewis knew more than anyone about light horse business and was worshipped by his men. He often went on reconnaissance by himself on Dickory with a packhorse.

In the 1920’s Lance and his brother Dr. Brook Lewis bought a property named Calgara, near Tintinara in South Australia which they farmed. He was also President of the S.A. Stockowners Association, and Chairman of the Sailor’s and Soldier’s Distress Fund. He was involved in many other organisations, and did a lot for charity.

Lance lived at Benacre, Glen Osmond where he passed away in 1938 at only 53 of natural causes leaving his wife and three children. Lots more about this truly remarkable and humble man, but this’ll do for now.

Postscript: In just the five days after this post appeared on FaceBook on 24 October 2023, 10,000 likes, 750 comments and 1,600 shares were recorded. Wonderful to see how much interest there is in what were truly amazing feats of community spirit and fortitude. Note: the caption recorded for the main photograph is incorrect, a check in the archives reveals the photo appeared in the story of his ride after it had finished and was taken at Kooringa, his family home.

Posted by Enoch Waler

Waler gelding purpose bred to help educate and advocate for Walers, in person and via Facebook and Instagram.