Cavalry

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Lactose the Intolerant

FNG / Fresh Meat
Apr 20, 2006
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I have always had an interest in the use of cavalry during world war II by the soviets (as they seemed to have a great deal of mounted soldiers). However, finding information about such mounted soldiers has proven very difficult. Anyone have any good links and/or information for me on this topic in general (i.e. tactics, weaponry, battles fought, etc.) concerning soviet cavalrymen? Now that I have finally joined the forum it seemed like a good idea to jump right in and start gettin my learn on from you Ostfront experts! Thanks for your help!
 

Manstein

FNG / Fresh Meat
Excerpt from "Fighting in Hell:The German Ordeal on the Eastern Front"
Edited by Peter G. Tsouras

Part 1: Russian Combat Methods in World War II
by Generaloberst Erhard Rauss

From Chapter 4: The Combat Arms
Section IV. Horse Cavalry

In the campaign the Russian cavalry, despite many changes in tactics and equipment, achieved a significance reminiscent of old times. In the German Army, all cavalry except one division had been replaced by panzer units. The Russians followed another course. The German LIII Infantry Corps quite often encountered Russian cavalry divisions, and once a cavalry corps comprising three cavalry elements--always in situations in which cavalry was a suitable arm for the purpose.

In the battle of the Dnepr-Berezina triangle, a cavalry corps comprising three elements appeared west of the Berezina near Bobruysk, out of the Pripet Marshes, in the rear of the German corps whish was engaged in hard fighting. This cavalry force cut the Slutsk-Bobruysk highway and the Minsk-Bobruysk railroad, and thereby isolated the corps for a week from its supply and contact with the rear. Bobruysk itself, together with the bridges there, was seriously threatened. Only by prompt emergency measures were the Germans able to ease the pressure. During that period corps ammunition supply dropped to twenty rounds per 105mm gun, and that at a time when Timoshenko's major offensive had reached its peak. Forces other than cavalry would have been unable to conduct such a raid.
 

Lactose the Intolerant

FNG / Fresh Meat
Apr 20, 2006
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Thanks for the info guys. Keep it coming. Also, as a point of more specific inquiry, did the Russian cavalry ever engage in the classic "cavalry charge" or was the horse merely a means of conveyance to the combat area, from where the soldier might disembark and begin fighting on foot? Secondarily, if said charges ever took place, are their any instances in which sabers or other close combat blades were used?
 

{YBBS}Sage

FNG / Fresh Meat
Apr 15, 2006
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If the Russian cavalry were anything like the infantry, they had bayonets fixed on their rifles 24/7.
 

Bolt

FNG / Fresh Meat
Feb 2, 2006
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In the steppes of Crimea
The cavalry was used very successfully, it's units achieved a lot of victories, maybe because all men in cavalry were physicaly tough? They used horses only as a transport and when they had to fight, they gave all horses to one or two special men, who took them to safe place, and only then cavalry attacked. So, basically, they fought as normal infantry.
I can't get you any facts about cavalry charges in ww2, but if there were some, they would be an attack at unknowing enemy. Maybe you remember how one of the naci's panzer generals (Guderian, i think) wrote about polish cavalry attack: he wrote, that those "barbarians" attacked them on horses with swords. He even wrote that they tried to cut panzer's armor this way. Of course, it was a big pile of bullshit. In fact, that polish unit found german camp, and fashist's didn't know anything about them. So they decided to attack mounted - it's quite difficult, you know, to use your kar, when your enemy is in 20 meters before you and has a horse (not only physically, but also psyhologically. That's why they have mounted police nowadays). The attack was very successful - a lot of fritzs died in that slaughter, but then few panzers arrived and started to shoot with mgs. Polish cavalry fell back, they had some killed. But they didn't attack panzers, they attacked unknowing infantry and were successful.
I'll try to search some more about soviet cavalry, if you want.
 

Lactose the Intolerant

FNG / Fresh Meat
Apr 20, 2006
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Hey thanks a lot bolt. Ive heard that polish story before and heard it discounted. It probably isn't possible to know the whole truth about that situation, except that in any circumstance a horse would stand no chance against a tank. I hadn't before heard of the slaughter of that German camp though. Intriguing. Any more searching that you do would be most appreciated. I really enjoy the notion of a "cavalry charge" and the character of russian tactics seems to dictate that such a measure could have happened. However, I have been unable to find ANYTHING documenting a charge on horseback. Thanks again for contributing to this thread and happy hunting to you.
 

Lactose the Intolerant

FNG / Fresh Meat
Apr 20, 2006
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Wasnt the use of German cavalry much more limited in scope though? While I understand they had some cavalry do you think it would be accurate to say that the Red Army employed the MOST cavalrymen of any nation involved in the fighting? I have heard of the Waffen SS cavalry division before but in some other source I saw that it was referred to as the only non-mechanized division deployed... although I also understand much of the rear supply columns were in fact horse drawn. Thanks a lot for the input curlywurly. If anyone could get the numbers of cavalrymen or cavalry divisions employed by the Red Army that would be another area of interest and also very helpful to the development of this thread. Also, now that I am thinking about it, what do you think the range and average cross country speed of a cavalryman would be?
 

curlywurly

FNG / Fresh Meat
np m8 just happy to help and nearly all the german rear supply colums where horse drawn, even up to D-DAY theres a picture somewhere of some Yank infantry walking along a road in france and all along the road there is a german supply colum that has been shot to pieces by allied aircraft and must of it is horse drawn limbers apart from the odd opel blitz if i can find the pic ill post it.
 

Cluase Von Wittybrain

FNG / Fresh Meat
Feb 22, 2006
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With the Polish charge it was from 2 lancer squadrons of the polish army in the north (in Pomerania) commanded by Mantelarz

Basically Guderian was pushing through that area and the Poles had to keep pulling back...the order was given to Hold at any cost.

So Mantlarz order a Sabre attack....they rode around the enemy and caught a infantry battalion off guard, fromt he woods they mounted a charge and wiped out the battalion.

not long after as troops where reforming, a few german Armoured cars pulled up with 20mm cannons and Machine guns....they opened fire.

The poles completly exposed bolted for cover..but where mostly unable to make it. Mantlarz and oficers where killed so where most of his men.

The story was imbellished by Italian corrospondents...who happily reported any propoganda the germans would dish up as fact...liek attacking tanks with sabres.

So that was the true story.

What did escpae attention was the fact that later that day Gruderian had to step in to stop his 2nd motorized division from retreating in the face of intense cavalry pressure. from a Decimated regimant that had lost 60% of its stregnth in the days fighting and was not even a tenth of the size of the german unit is was pushing back.

Horses wher used more than most think...probably more the vehicles...especiallly inthe german army.
 

Piron

FNG / Fresh Meat
Nov 22, 2005
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Belgium
Horses (not cavalry) were still the backbone of the german army in ww2. For transportation, logistics,... the germans depended very much on real horsepower. The myth of a fully mechanized german army is only true for a few units.
 

Bolt

FNG / Fresh Meat
Feb 2, 2006
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In the steppes of Crimea
Now i didn't find the english version of the text, but i give it to you anyway, believe me, you should find e-translator and translate it, it's worth reading!
http://militera.lib.ru/research/isaev_av2/05.html
Few quotes.
There were cavalry squads in every german infantry division. It was reckoning squad of 310 men. Almost all of them were moving mounted — there were 216 horses, 2 bikes and only 9 cars. The first wave divisions also had armored cars, but usualy Wermacht's infantry divion's scouting was made by ordinary cavalry squadron, with 75-mm light infantry and 37-mm anti-tank guns.
At ther beginning of the Patriotic war, germans had one cavalry division, which was later transformed into 24th panzer division. In 1942 every group of armies (north, center and south) had one cavalry regiment. Those regiments had 15 hanomags with motorized infantry.
In 1942 SS had 1st cavalry division. In 1944 some cavalry regiments were transformed into cavalry brigades. Together with 1st hungarian cavalry division they've made "Von Hartenek" cavalry coprs. There was also two SS cavalry divisions in Hungary — 8th "Florian Gejer" and 22nd
 

Zbojnik

FNG / Fresh Meat
Mar 30, 2006
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Chicago
Wow. Amazing. You guys are the first that I've ever met that know that the Polish cavalry charge against tanks was bullshit. I'm Polish and proud to be and often this topic comes up. No matter how much info I produce they never believe me. I can't find much about Soviet Cavalry but here's some stuff about our Uhlans.
 

K.Johansen

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Apr 14, 2006
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Deathsai

FNG / Fresh Meat
Nov 24, 2005
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In Anthony Beevor's "Stalingrad" he mentions that the Soviets used cavalry to ride behind enemy lines and raid artillery positions (as in the soldiers actually riding in and engaging the enemy while on horseback).
 

Sasha

FNG / Fresh Meat
Depends, some carried carbines, some carried the 1891/30 - as it was developed from the Tsarist Dragoon model rifle it just made sense.

Some also carried the Shpagina or Sudayeva.

There are a couple of ring attachments on the shashka scabbard for enlisted men that take a Mosin bayonet.
 

Hans_klempner

FNG / Fresh Meat
Mar 8, 2006
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" THe las cavalry charge in History. On 23 August 1942, at Izushensky in the bend of the Don, 600 mounted men of Savoy Cavalry charge and rout 2000 Russians armed with ortars and Machin Guns."

Quote from the book, 2194 Days of War