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Mounted Cavalry

Discussion in 'Other Weapons' started by justdags, Feb 11, 2009.

  1. Triple C

    Triple C Ace

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    Were they even elite? I have the distinct impression that the SS regiment Totenkopf got itself in an imbroglio during the campaign and for a long time tarnished the Waffen-SS's fighting reputation in the eyes of the Heeres officers.
     
  2. JCFalkenbergIII

    JCFalkenbergIII Expert

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    Thanks guys. The thread does have alot of information and pics on the German use of horses during the war. :)
     
  3. JCFalkenbergIII

    JCFalkenbergIII Expert

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    It is a myth. Never happened.

    "Which was started by Italian journalists and then successively embellished.
    Polish 18th Uhlan Regiment (Pomorska Cavalry Brigade) versus German 20th Motorised Division. Counterattack by Uhlans, out of the woods adjacent to Krojanty and Nowa Cerkiew, against the German Advance Guard to cover withdrawal of Polish Infantry deployed on that sector of the frontier. The attack began at 5pm, on the 01 September 1939:

    “… A broad wave of cavalry, consisting of 250 men, tore over the open field, sabres glinting in the sum; the German infantry, caught off guard, tried to save itself by pulling back. Suddenly, round a bend in the highway, a long column of tanks and motorised troops appeared. At first, in the heat of battle, it went unnoticed by the Uhlans. The Poles were then hit by a hail of fire from the armoured cars, and before they were even able to turn their horses, the carnage began… In the space of a few moments, half the Uhlans had been hit… With this cavalry charge at Krojanty on September 1, 1939, was born the legend of the Polish cavalry, armed only with sabres, challenging the German Panzers… …the Polish Uhlans were not bent on suicide… …nor was it a deliberate move on their part to launch a direct attack on tanks. Needless to say, there were several other cavalry attacks [in the campaign] on German infantry which led the Germans to call in tank reinforcements; what is more, there were some cases of Polish Cavalry being attacked by tanks.”

    From: The Cavalry of World War II (Janusz Piekalkiewicz).
    Apart from countless battles and skirmishes in which the Polish cavalry units used the infantry tactics, there were 16 confirmed cavalry charges during the 1939 war. Contrary to common belief, most of them were successful.

    The first of them, and perhaps the best known, happened on September 1, 1939, during the Battle of Krojanty. During the action, elements of the Polish 18th Uhlan Regiment met a large group of German infantry resting in the woods near the village of Krojanty. Colonel Mastalerz decided to take the enemy by surprise and immediately ordered a cavalry charge, a tactic the Polish cavalry rarely used as their main weapon. The charge was successful and the German infantry unit was dispersed.

    The same day, German war correspondents were brought to the battlefield together with two journalists from Italy. They were shown the battlefield, the corpses of Polish cavalrymen and their horses, alongside German tanks that had arrived at the field of battle only after the engagement. One of the Italian correspondents sent home an article, in which he described the bravery and heroism of Polish soldiers, who charged German tanks with their sabres and lances. Other possible source of the myth is a quote from Heinz Guderian’s memoirs, in which he asserted that the Pomeranian Brigade had charged on German tanks with swords and lances.[3] Although such a charge did not happen and there were no tanks used during the combat, the myth was disseminated by German propaganda during the war with a staged Polish cavalry charge shown in their 1941 reel called “Geschwader Lützow”. In that movie Luftwaffe Avia 534B trainer planes of Czech origin acted as Polish PZL-11 fighters. After the end of World War II the same fraud was again being disseminated by Soviet propaganda as an example of the stupidity of Polish commanders and authorities, who allegedly did not prepare their country for war and instead wasted the blood of their soldiers.
    LINK "

    Details about Polish cavalry during the 1939 campaign.
    Originally posted at
    http://mops.uci.agh.edu.pl/~rzepinsk/1939/html/cav.htm

    Polish cavalry moved using horses but fought using infantry tactics. The formation was equipped with machineguns, 75mm horse guns, 37mm Bofors anti-tank guns, a small number of Bofors 40mm anti-air guns and also the small number of anti-tank "Ur 1935" rifles. A cavalryman also had a sabre and a lance but these weapons were generally left with horses. The most effective battle of Polish cavalry was Mokra battle, where Wolynska cavalry brigade, supported with a armored train stopped and caused big losses to 4th Panzer division (about 50 tanks and 500-800 troops).

    Cavalry charges in Polish Campaign:

    Sep 1st '39: Krojanty
    18th Pomorski regiment stopped 2nd Motorized division advance with a charge. Polish commander: col. Kazimierz Mastalerz and about 20 men died. German losses are unknown. This episode is described in Guderian book (he had to intervene in motorised division to prevent it from retreating).

    Sep 1st '39: Mokra
    1st and 2nd squadron of 19th Wolynski regiment charged Grodzisko forest

    Sep 11th '39 Osuchow
    1st squadron of 20th cav regiment was encircled and escaped with a succesful charge

    Sep 13th '39 Maliszew
    1st squadron of 27th regiment charged. The charge was stopped by heavy machinegun fire. The attack was continued on foot and was a success.

    Sep 19th '39 Wolka Weglowa
    The most spectacular: 14th Jazlowiecki and a part of 9th Malopolski regiment charged. About 100 cavalrymen were killed but the charge opened the way for encircled "Poznan" army to Warsaw. This charge was descibed with the admire by Italian correspondent.

    Sep 21st '39 Kamionka Strumilowa

    Sep 23rd '39 Krasnobrod
    1st squadron of 25th Wielkopolski regiment. Only 30 Polish cavalrymen survived but the city was taken and German 8th Infantry division headquarters imprisoned.

    Sep 25th or 26th '39 Husynne near Hrubieszow
    400 cavalrymen of 14th reserve cavalry regiment + Police cavalry squadron successfuly charged a Red Army unit

    Here's the text sent by George Parada :

    "Perhaps the most vivid image to have emerged from the September Campaign is the picture of a squadron of courageously foolhardy Polish lancers charging a wave of steel Panzers. That such attack never occured does not sem to have diminished the popularity of these tales, even among serious historians. The tales originated in the first days of the campaign from the pens of Italian correspondents on the Pomeranian front. They were embesllished by German propagandists and became more fanciful with each new telling. The orginal source was a small skirmish near the hamlet of Krojanty on the evening of 1 September. The Pomeranian Corridor was defended by several Polish infantry divisions and the Pomeranian Cavalry Brigade. The area was indefensible, but the force was stationed to prevent the Germans from making an unopposed seizure of the contested Corridor, as they had the Sudetenland. Upon the outbreak of war these forces were immediately to withdraw southward. Covering the retreat was Col. Mastalerz with his 18th Lancers and a number of infantry regiments. In the early morning of 1 September, Gen. Heinz Guderian's 2nd and 20th Motorised Division began their drive on Polish forces in the Tuchola forest. The cavalry and infantry were able to hold them back until the early afternoon, when the Germans began to push the Poles back. By late afternoon a key rail and road junction through the forest was threatened and Mastalerz was ordered to repulse the German thrust at all costs. Mastalerz had his own regiment, some infantry and the Brigade's tankettes at his disposal. The TK tankettes were old and worn out, and were left with a portion of the regiment to hold the existing positions. Two Lancer squadrons mounted up and began to swing around the German flank to strike them in the rear.
    By early evening they had located a German infantry battalion exposed in a clearing. The squadrons were already within a few hundred yards, and a sabre charge seemed the sensible course. In moments the two squadrons had swept out of the woods and wiped out the unprepared with hardly any casaulties. As the troops were re-forming, a few German armoured cars equipped with automatic 20mm cannon and machine guns happened on the scene and immediately began firing. The Poles were completely exposed, and began to gallop for cover behind a nearby hillock. Mastalerz and his immediate staff were all killed, and the losses were terrible. The grim evidence of this encounter was discovered the following day by Italian war correspondents, who were told by German soldiers that it resulted from the cavalry having charged tanks and so the legend began. What has escaped attention was the fact that later that evening Guderian had to step in to prevent the 2nd Motorised Division from retreating 'in the face of intense cavalry pressure'. This intense pressure came from a decimated regiment which had lost 60 per cent of its strenght in the day's fighting and was not even a tenth of the size of the German unit it was pushing back."



    German propaganda used this event to create 'stupid Polish cavalry' myth which was believed by Germans (some soldiers even wrote in their memories that Poles used their sabres and lances agains tanks and explained that they thought the tanks were made of paper) and Poles. Propaganda films even showed "authentic" charges on tanks. It is presented even in post-war Polish "Lotna" film, created by famous in Poland Wajda director. This film made Polish veterams very angry.
    Why did Germans create the "stupid Polish cavalry" myth ? The propable explaination is they wanted to convince Western nations Poland was not a valuable ally. Such myths were made to prevent USA to make a serious protests and maybe prevent other nations to join the war.


    Polish cavalry during the 1939 campaign.


    Details about Polish cavalry during the 1939 campaign.
    Originally posted at http://mops.uci.agh.edu.pl/~rzepinsk/1939/html/cav.htm


    Polish cavalry moved using horses but fought using infantry tactics. The formation was equipped with machineguns, 75mm horse guns, 37mm Bofors anti-tank guns, a small number of Bofors 40mm anti-air guns and also the small number of anti-tank "Ur 1935" rifles. A cavalryman also had a sabre and a lance but these weapons were generally left with horses. The most effective battle of Polish cavalry was Mokra battle, where Wolynska cavalry brigade, supported with a armored train stopped and caused big losses to 4th Panzer division (about 50 tanks and 500-800 troops).

    Cavalry charges in Polish Campaign:

    Sep 1st '39: Krojanty
    18th Pomorski regiment stopped 2nd Motorized division advance with a charge. Polish commander: col. Kazimierz Mastalerz and about 20 men died. German losses are unknown. This episode is described in Guderian book (he had to intervene in motorised division to prevent it from retreating).

    Sep 1st '39: Mokra
    1st and 2nd squadron of 19th Wolynski regiment charged Grodzisko forest

    Sep 11th '39 Osuchow
    1st squadron of 20th cav regiment was encircled and escaped with a succesful charge

    Sep 13th '39 Maliszew
    1st squadron of 27th regiment charged. The charge was stopped by heavy machinegun fire. The attack was continued on foot and was a success.

    Sep 19th '39 Wolka Weglowa
    The most spectacular: 14th Jazlowiecki and a part of 9th Malopolski regiment charged. About 100 cavalrymen were killed but the charge opened the way for encircled "Poznan" army to Warsaw. This charge was descibed with the admire by Italian correspondent.

    Sep 21st '39 Kamionka Strumilowa

    Sep 23rd '39 Krasnobrod
    1st squadron of 25th Wielkopolski regiment. Only 30 Polish cavalrymen survived but the city was taken and German 8th Infantry division headquarters imprisoned.

    Sep 25th or 26th '39 Husynne near Hrubieszow
    400 cavalrymen of 14th reserve cavalry regiment + Police cavalry squadron successfuly charged a Red Army unit

    Here's the text sent by George Parada :

    "Perhaps the most vivid image to have emerged from the September Campaign is the picture of a squadron of courageously foolhardy Polish lancers charging a wave of steel Panzers. That such attack never occured does not sem to have diminished the popularity of these tales, even among serious historians. The tales originated in the first days of the campaign from the pens of Italian correspondents on the Pomeranian front. They were embesllished by German propagandists and became more fanciful with each new telling. The orginal source was a small skirmish near the hamlet of Krojanty on the evening of 1 September. The Pomeranian Corridor was defended by several Polish infantry divisions and the Pomeranian Cavalry Brigade. The area was indefensible, but the force was stationed to prevent the Germans from making an unopposed seizure of the contested Corridor, as they had the Sudetenland. Upon the outbreak of war these forces were immediately to withdraw southward. Covering the retreat was Col. Mastalerz with his 18th Lancers and a number of infantry regiments. In the early morning of 1 September, Gen. Heinz Guderian's 2nd and 20th Motorised Division began their drive on Polish forces in the Tuchola forest. The cavalry and infantry were able to hold them back until the early afternoon, when the Germans began to push the Poles back. By late afternoon a key rail and road junction through the forest was threatened and Mastalerz was ordered to repulse the German thrust at all costs. Mastalerz had his own regiment, some infantry and the Brigade's tankettes at his disposal. The TK tankettes were old and worn out, and were left with a portion of the regiment to hold the existing positions. Two Lancer squadrons mounted up and began to swing around the German flank to strike them in the rear.
    By early evening they had located a German infantry battalion exposed in a clearing. The squadrons were already within a few hundred yards, and a sabre charge seemed the sensible course. In moments the two squadrons had swept out of the woods and wiped out the unprepared with hardly any casaulties. As the troops were re-forming, a few German armoured cars equipped with automatic 20mm cannon and machine guns happened on the scene and immediately began firing. The Poles were completely exposed, and began to gallop for cover behind a nearby hillock. Mastalerz and his immediate staff were all killed, and the losses were terrible. The grim evidence of this encounter was discovered the following day by Italian war correspondents, who were told by German soldiers that it resulted from the cavalry having charged tanks and so the legend began. What has escaped attention was the fact that later that evening Guderian had to step in to prevent the 2nd Motorised Division from retreating 'in the face of intense cavalry pressure'. This intense pressure came from a decimated regiment which had lost 60 per cent of its strenght in the day's fighting and was not even a tenth of the size of the German unit it was pushing back."



    German propaganda used this event to create 'stupid Polish cavalry' myth which was believed by Germans (some soldiers even wrote in their memories that Poles used their sabres and lances agains tanks and explained that they thought the tanks were made of paper) and Poles. Propaganda films even showed "authentic" charges on tanks. It is presented even in post-war Polish "Lotna" film, created by famous in Poland Wajda director. This film made Polish veterams very angry.
    Why did Germans create the "stupid Polish cavalry" myth ? The propable explaination is they wanted to convince Western nations Poland was not a valuable ally. Such myths were made to prevent USA to make a serious protests and maybe prevent other nations to join the war. "

     
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  4. Wolfy

    Wolfy Ace

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    I think due to their other roles in the Nazi state (national security, "Adolf Hitler bodyguard", parades, concentration camp security, representatives of the state, etc etc..) they had less focus on proper military training and long range offensive operations. But the quality of their troops was first rate and very selective (all picked volunteers). It was as selective as the GroBd regiment.

    These training problems were ironed out pre-Barbarrossa, though.
     
  5. TiredOldSoldier

    TiredOldSoldier Ace

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    AFAIK the first Stug Ausf A were delivered in December 1939 so definetly too late for the Polish campaign but there may be some armored cars of Austrian or Czech origin, that the Army did not want as at the time they still had hopes to be able to make do with the standard German production models, in the recon elements.
    Waffen SS units in 1939 and 1940 were not the priviledged formations, in terms of equipment priority, they became later but rather had to do with the army's left overs in both men and materials. I think the fact the early SS regiments were motorized, while most of the army was foot, is due to the SS grabbing trucks from non standard sources.
    The lack of experienced NCOs in SS units often led to them suffering higher losses than regular army units in the early part of the war despite the basic quality of the recruits being slightly better, if you consider physical not moral standards, than the army. I think most of the units that broke during the Arras attack by British Matildas in the France 1940 campaign were from the SS TK division not Rommel's 7th Panzer.
     
  6. Wolfy

    Wolfy Ace

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    I was under the impression that the SS regiments in 1939 had high caliber men but were not a privileged formation in regards to equipment thanks to Nazi fiefdom conflicts between the Army and the SS. But it was at least motorized.

    Period photographs of the SS regiments in 1939-1940 show them being armed with less effective Czech Bren derived LMGs instead of MG34s. There are also Austrian Steryl Armored cars.
     
  7. Wolfy

    Wolfy Ace

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    Did the SS regiments have a company of STUG each by France?
     
  8. razin

    razin Member

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  9. Wolfy

    Wolfy Ace

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    you get some amazing pics, Razin
     
  10. razin

    razin Member

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    Just old books -Panzer Colours 3 from 1984
     
  11. Gen.grant

    Gen.grant Member

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    I have visited the American meusem of the Horse twice and the have a small section devoted to the polish Calvary charge and it only stated that they were massacured by the tanks and didn't even manager to retreat. Also I would think that with so many people being familiar with horses that there must have been quite a few rag tag resistance groups fighting on horse back.

    Also the American School of the Calvery didn't close its doors until 1944, and the latest modifactions to there basic saddle was actualy as recent as 1939. There was extream debate upto 1942 about the "seat of the rider" to be tought before the fact the tanks, tractors, trucks, and jeeps took the jobs of both Draft and riding horses.
     
  12. justdags

    justdags Member

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    Why didn't the Polish Vet's correct this myth after the war, because of it their entire military has become the luaghing stock of the world, any way IF the calvary was that effective why did such tactics stop being used
     
  13. DocCasualty

    DocCasualty Member

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    I think that is just another example of old habits dying hard. Lots of Army leaders had been cavalry men and were, in part, blinded to the new paradigm.

    It's one of those types of things that keep getting repeated over and over in new military development; not wanting to let go of the past. While I think the M14 is a great rifle, it really was a waste of time and resources as a replacement for the M1 as the main battle rifle. But the "old riflemen" just couldn't let go of their concept of what a battle rifle should be, though decades of research had proved otherwise.
     
  14. DocCasualty

    DocCasualty Member

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    See last paragraph of JC's post #23 in this thread:
    I'm sure the Polish Vets were a vocal minority; the key word being minority. Not sure what role the Pole's subjugation under the USSR played in suppression of their voice in the post-war era but speculate it had some effect, at least limiting what reached the Western world.

    As others have pointed out, cavalry had some limited roles where it still could shine, especially in certain terrains. Technology just kept chipping away at those, too.
     
  15. DocCasualty

    DocCasualty Member

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    [​IMG]
     
  16. DocCasualty

    DocCasualty Member

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    [​IMG]
     
  17. Totenkopf

    Totenkopf אוּרִיאֵל

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    During their early days they were more or less an experiment but they had the most ruthless, fanatical and brutish soldiers of any regiment during the war.

    They proved that they had just as much bravery if not more then the US Airborne in Bastogne, as in Demyansk when they were encircled its not that they couldn't retreat; its that they weren't allowed.


    Oh and what I said about "laughable" I dont mean to diminish the Poles it is just a humorous thought.


    Also, thanks for the info Falkenberg
     
  18. Wolfy

    Wolfy Ace

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    SSLAH and SS-VT were better trained and performed better than SS-T in the Polish/French campaigns. SS-T men were technically the leftovers- men who didn't make it into the first two units. They also spent a lot a time as concentration camp guards..............
     
  19. razin

    razin Member

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    I think you may be correct about Totenkopf being the leftovers, however I was under the impression that the most of the SS-VT went to Liebstandarde and cardres from VT formed the core of Das Riech and Totenkopf, Das Reich main body being recruited from the Civilian Police and totenkopf from units which operated the concentration and labour camps.
     
  20. cavtrooper

    cavtrooper Member

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    the US cavalry was officially dismounted in 1940,although the 26th Cavalry,of the Philipine scouts,did mount the last charge of horse soldiers,against the japanese,during the fighting in the P.I.
     

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