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Old June 13th, 2011, 12:33 PM   #1

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Cavalry Charges of the 20thC


Chaps, chapesses and other assorted peasantry.

I’m interested in discovering more about 20thC cavalry charges, these gallant and dashing exploits are the stuff of legend and are what primarily drove the romantic perception of armies of the 18thC with paintings such as Lady Butler’s Scotland Forever and the Charge of the Light Brigade etc.

However, with the dawn of modern warfare and the rise of the machine gun in WW1 the famous cavalry charge became out of date and suicidal, yet still in a few cases there were exceptions, even in the relatively modern period of WWII. The Polish were famous for being wiped out by the Germans in their cavalry charges earlier in the war, the Russian charges were also quite famous with the Cossack cavalry. According to Hans Ulrich Rudel his observation of Cossack charges were more akin to a slaughter with up to 20,000 Germans being killed in a day. The Americans had their last charge against the Japanese in the Philippines and an unofficial British charge was made by the Burmese Scouts and a few British officers against the Japanese as well in Burma.

Now I’d like to know if there’s any major ones that I’ve missed, I know the Germans had their own cavalry units, did they partake in a charge? The SS also had cavalry too. What of later conflicts post WWII? Were there any charges then? Are we likely to see more charges with the unusual modern warfare going on at the moment? Rumour has it that the SAS are still using mules in Afghanistan.

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Old June 13th, 2011, 12:49 PM   #2

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Earl_of_Rochester View Post



However, with the dawn of modern warfare and the rise of the machine gun in WW1 the famous cavalry charge became out of date and suicidal, yet still in a few cases there were exceptions, even in the relatively modern period of WWII. The Polish were famous for being wiped out by the Germans in their cavalry charges earlier in the war
Thats actually more a myth than truth but here you got the list of charges of Polish cavalry in 1939:


Charge at Krojanty 01.09.1939:
2 squadrons of Polish cavalry succesfully charged 800 german infantry from rear. They were forced to retreat by armoured vehicles which appeared from nearby forest. 25 Polish soldiers died. German looses unknown (probably bigger).


Charge at Mokra 01. 09.1939
Succesfull charge of 2 squadrons against units of 4th panzer division which were getting rest in the forest.

Janow, Krzynowolga Mala 01.09.1939:
Unit of polish cavalry succesfully charge unit of german cavalry on the edge of forest. German cavalry fled.

Borowa - 02. 09.
1st squadron of 19th regiment of Volhynia uhlans charged squadron of german cavalry which which retreated without trying to fight.


Minsk Mazowiecki - 13. 09
1st squadron of 2nd regiment of Grochow uhlans charged Germans. The charge was broken, heavy casualties of Poles.

Maliszewo - 13. 09.
1st squadron of 27th regiment of uhlans charged repulsed German troops capturing many prisoners and taking town Maliszewo.

Krasnobrod - 23. 09.
1st squadron of 25th uhlan regiment charged, suffered heavy casualties but took the town of Krasnobrod, capturing the HQ of German 8th infantry division. Against charge of polish uhlans charged unit of german cavalry which was broken and forced to retreat.

Husynne - 24. 09.
About 500 polish cavalry who were the reserves of 14th regiment of uhlans and squadron of horse police charged against Soviet infantry regiment. When soviets saw Polish cavalry charging didnt even try to fight but run away and pursuing cavalry caused heavy soviet casualties. Against Polish charge came unit of soviet tanks causing also heavy casualties between Poles and forcing them to retreat.

Morace - 26. 09.
27th regiment of uhlans charged german infantry batalion. Polish charge was broken, 20 uhlans died and 50 were wounded.

Cavalry was rather used as mounted infantry and was also armed in swedish bofors antitank cannons and anti tank rifle's of polish design (which was able to pierce armours of all german tanks which were used in Poland). Unfortunatelly the antitank rifle was a secret weapon and most of the units recived it 30.08.1939, a day before war.
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Old June 13th, 2011, 12:59 PM   #3

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How about Lawrence of Arabia taking Aqaba with a charge of horses and camels? Looked pretty impressive.
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Old June 13th, 2011, 01:03 PM   #4

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The Italian Savoia cavalry, 1942 when they were surrounded by Russian forces.

The Most Famous Cavalry Charge of WWII: Last Hurrah of the Savoia Cavalry Regiment in 1942 | Suite101.com
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Old June 13th, 2011, 01:23 PM   #5

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Thanks, I hadn't heard of most of these, I wonder if there were any charges post WWII?

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Old June 13th, 2011, 01:28 PM   #6

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I think I saw some at a couple of demos I attended in the 1980s...
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Old June 13th, 2011, 01:30 PM   #7

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There were several cavalry charges in WWI for instance the Australain light horse.


unit of Yeoman also carried out a charge in the same campaign.

Canadian cavalry charged in 1918.
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Old June 13th, 2011, 02:06 PM   #8

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7th Dragoon Guards and 20th Deccan Horse made the only successful cavalry charge of the Somme Offensive in 1916 where they temporarily captured High Wood.
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Old June 13th, 2011, 02:20 PM   #9

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3rd Dragoon guards, Villeselve, March 28th 1918,

Quote:
To the north, the 9th French Division were now retiring southwards to take up a new position at Guiscard and subsequently orders were received by the 3rd Cavalry Division to cover this retirement. However, the 6th (Mounted) Brigade of the division under the command of Major Evelyn H.W. Williams was hurried forth to cover the retirement of the British 20th and 36th Divisions who had come under increasing pressure in the line held from Eaucourt to Cugny.
Moving forward from Berlancourt to the north of Guiscard, this small force moved to Collezy located to the north-east of Berlancourt where preparations were made to launch a mounted attack on the enemy who were holding woods and high ground to the east. Although outnumbered and coming under machine-gun fire from the direction of Golancourt, the brigade charged the enemy with swords drawn and many either fled, surrendered or were killed. Pursuing the enemy into the wood, the men now dismounted and began to open fire until the order was issued to retire to the rally point on the Villeselve/Berlancourt road. Casualties to the enemy were heavy with about one hundred killed and over one hundred captured along with three machine-guns.
This gallant action however had cost the brigade dearly with about 50% casualties being sustained to a force that initially numbered about 150 men.
Operation Michael, the British were attempting a counterattack against the Germans, both sides being in open fields, the Germans with 500 men and 5 machine guns had halted the British infantry who were losing cohesion.

The cavalry charged over open fields into the machine guns so fast the guns couldnt traverse, breaking the Germans morale so thye first retreated into nearby woods then surrendered or fled, killing 200, capturing 100 and four of the machine guns.

Although British losses were 75 men most of these were light wounds with the men retutned to duty and fewer than 20 killed.
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Old June 13th, 2011, 03:58 PM   #10

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russian Cossack cavalry units harried german units when they were retreating during ww2 and in a very funny sort of irony they harried the flanks of the germans attacking stragglers during the retreat from moscow, just as they had done to Napoleon's army during its retreat from moscow. there are then stories of units of saber wielding cavalry attacking german rear units in surprise attacks
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