Object Title

German lance (Stahlrohrlanze)

German lance (Stahlrohrlanze)


Until 1889 the lance was only carried by Germany's regiments of Uhlans (lancers). However, following Kaiser Wilhelm II's statement that the lance was the 'Queen' of weapons all German cavalry regiments were issued with them. This reequipping of German cavalry, along with a standardisation of drill based on a single type of cavalry ('Einheitskavallerie'), meant that by the War the only difference between German cavalry types was their uniform. All would fulfil the same role, and all had the lance as their primary mounted weapon.

The favoured material for the construction of lance hafts in the late 19th century was bamboo, however German lacked the colonies to provide this in sufficient quantities. This, along with a strong tradition and infrastructure of steel works, led to the adoption of an all steel, tubular lance, and with a chequered leather grip. Once assembled the lance was not meant to be taken apart, making transport problematic.

Use and effect

The Stahlrohrlanze was longer than both its French and British counterpart, and seems to have been used more in a couching fashion where possible. Certainly General von Poseck in his accounts of the German cavalry's actions in France and Belgium 1914 always references lances being lowered and couched against targets, rather than swung or jabbed with. This was seen in the overrunning a rear-guard of French infantry at Rocquigny, 25 June 1914. Here the Guard Cavalry Division charged with 'such impact that many of the French were killed outright with the lance.'

The Stahlrohrlanze had a design flaw in its fixed eyelets for attaching pennants of state colours for parade, just below the blade. Even though pennants were not attached for combat by 1914, the eyelets could not be removed and could become stuck in a target, especially following the deep penetration that would result from couched use.

The balance and length of the Stahlrohrlanze also seems to have caused problems to its users when fighting other cavalry. The short, thick, square section blade was extremely strong, useful when couching, but lacked enough of a point to penetrate easily when not used with the force of a charging horse behind it. In August 1914 both the 17th and 18th Cavalry Divisions purposely sharpened their lance points as in skirmishes their patrols 'had made the discovery that the unsharpened points had often been deflected by the clothing of the opponent.' Also the great length of the Stahlrohrlanze made it hard to manage in a mounted melee. Private Tilney of the 4th Dragoon Guards could 'easily parry' the lance thrusts of his German opponent but could not reach him with his sword due to the lances length. In tighter confines German cavalry were at a disadvantage against sword armed cavalry as the balance and length of their lances made parrying with them all but impossible, and once the point had been passed the lancer was vulnerable. At Casteau, August 22 1914, Trooper Worrell remarked 'The Jerries couldn't manage their lances at close quarters and several of them threw them away and tried to surrender but we weren't in no mood to take prisoners and we downed a lot of them before they managed to break it off and gallop away.'


Blade length 12.6 cm (4.9 in)
Country of manufacture Germany
Date entered service 1890
Manufacturer Gewehrfabrik, Danzig
Overall length 3.14 m, originally 3.20m (10' 3", originally 10' 6")
Primary operator Germany
Weight 2.12 kg (4 lb 10.8 oz)


Henry Yallop