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Poland, 1939

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Sadurian Mike
700963.  Fri Apr 23, 2010 6:11 pm Reply with quote

Zebra57 wrote:
Although some historians claim otherwise it would appear that the last reported cavalry charge using horses by any army during war time war was by the Polish (First Warsaw Cavalry Brigade) v Germans on 1st March 1945.

Quite so.
Sadurian Mike wrote:
A final note on Polish cavalry. They are the last cavalry to have staged a mounted charge against the enemy. This was not in 1939, but in March of 1945 whilst operating as part of the Red Army.

 
bobwilson
700980.  Fri Apr 23, 2010 6:46 pm Reply with quote

Quote:
Indeed, many countries use horse-mounted units to this very day.


Do they Mike? Where?

 
'yorz
700982.  Fri Apr 23, 2010 6:54 pm Reply with quote

Canada?

 
bobwilson
700985.  Fri Apr 23, 2010 6:56 pm Reply with quote

I meant militarily yorz - lots of places use horses for police duties internally.

 
'yorz
700986.  Fri Apr 23, 2010 7:01 pm Reply with quote

I was joking, bob

 
Zebra57
700988.  Fri Apr 23, 2010 7:04 pm Reply with quote

The Indian 61st Cavalry Unit and two batallions of the Chinese Red Army in the North West of China are to my knowledge the remaining non ceremonial horse cavalry left. QIers may be able to add to the list.

Many countries like Australia, Britain, Canada, France, New Zealand and USA have ceremonial units.

Britain - Blues and Royals, Lifeguards
France - Republican Guard

 
Sadurian Mike
701081.  Sat Apr 24, 2010 4:41 am Reply with quote

Believe it or not, US Special Forces mounted up on horses during their operations in 2001 in Afghanistan!

As recently as the late 1970s in Rhodesia/Zimbabwe and the 80s in South Africa, horse-mounted units patrolled regularly while the countries were under white rule (the native people had no history or tradition of riding horses which may have been why they do to use them now).

Not quite horses, but in Hong Kong, right up until the handover, the Ghurkas patrolling border with China were mounted on mountain bikes. I'm sure that horses would have been a first choice had the troops been familiar with them, as horses have several advantages over bikes, not least that the rider can have at least one hand free.

 
bobwilson
701695.  Sun Apr 25, 2010 7:10 pm Reply with quote

That doesn't seem to be "many" then

India and China
I don't think you can really count the special forces in Afghanistan - that's not really using "horse mounted units" - that's just utilising what's available locally.

 
bobwilson
701696.  Sun Apr 25, 2010 7:11 pm Reply with quote

Quote:
horses have several advantages over bikes, not least that the rider can have at least one hand free.


Now that sounds like a problem in search of a solution - a design for a bike that can be used effectively with just one hand.

 
CB27
701706.  Sun Apr 25, 2010 7:45 pm Reply with quote

It depends what you count as military use of horses, and whether you count mules as horses.

In South America, there are several mountainous border areas where the armies use horses for patrols (separate from police forces), and countries sharings the Alps (Germany, Italy, Austria, Switzerland, etc) still use horses and mules in various exercises, though they are used as pack animals as opposed to cavalry.

 
bobwilson
701708.  Sun Apr 25, 2010 7:49 pm Reply with quote

Mike said "horse-mounted units".

That would suggest to me that he meant units which are habitually horse-mounted. Using horses in specific circumstances is not the same thing. (An infantry unit that travels by train is still an infantry unit).

 
Sadurian Mike
703053.  Wed Apr 28, 2010 1:46 pm Reply with quote

No bob. I meant that horses are not completely outdated militarily.

A few more units;

Russia had a horse-mounted cavalry unit in one of the 'stans (I forget which at present) right up until the USSR dissolved. They still maintained horse-mounted cavalry divisions until the mid-1950s.

The Chinese still use them to patrol their borders.

Several South- and Central-American countries (including Mexico) still have horse-mounted units.

India still uses them.

Afghanistan has them, as has Mongolia.

The French used them in Algeria until the end of that conflict.

There are probably smaller countries that I'm aware of that still employ horse-mounted military units, especially in Central Asia, because the horse is cheap to run, easy to maintain, and offers better terrain ability than any other ground transport other than on foot.

 
Sadurian Mike
703054.  Wed Apr 28, 2010 1:50 pm Reply with quote

bobwilson wrote:
I don't think you can really count the special forces in Afghanistan - that's not really using "horse mounted units" - that's just utilising what's available locally.

Au contraire.

Nothing could have offered the same benefits as the horse in those circumstances. Motor vehicles require POL, maintenance and are limited in terrain crossing, to say nothing of being noisy. Horses require a bag of oats (although grass will suffice for a while) and a rub down, with occasional checks on hoofs.

 
Sadurian Mike
703062.  Wed Apr 28, 2010 2:05 pm Reply with quote

Another myth.

The Poles were helpless against the German tanks and fell back before them.

Not so, not by a long shot.

It is true that the German "Blitzkrieg" tactics made the Polish defensive strategy of holding a long border unwise in hindsight, but when the Poles were able to organise their defences they took a heavy toll of the attacking armour.

Nearly 1000 German tanks and armoured cars were destroyed during the invasion, a figure which somewhat belies the idea that the Poles could not fight the tanks. As a guide, the Germans invaded with about 2400 tanks (I do not have the figures for armoured cars but there would have been far fewer).

Poland had a serviceable anti-tank rifle in the wz.35, a good anti-tank gun in the Bofors 37mm wz.36, and a very good light tank in the shape of the 7TP (yet another variant of the British Vickers 6 ton). Had these, and other, weapons all been used to their best advantage Poland's history might well have been very different, but even so they combined to knock out a large percentage (roughly 30%) of the attacking German armour.

Interestingly, a weapon which proved highly effective were the Polish armoured trains. They are reported to have destroyed many German tanks (one is said to have destroyed 100 on its own) but were vulnerable to air attack. Armoured trains, seen as an anachronism by 1939, were used by several nations during the War, including Germany which reintroduced them after its experience in Poland.

 
'yorz
703106.  Wed Apr 28, 2010 3:03 pm Reply with quote

Sadurian Mike wrote:
Horses require a bag of oats (although grass will suffice for a while) and a rub down, with occasional checks on hoofs.


And water, dear Henry , dear Henry. You'll have to lug gallons of it with you. You never know whether there's drinkable water where you're going.

 

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