Jump to content


Photo
- - - - -

Cavalry in Polish Campaign 1939


  • Please log in to reply
7 replies to this topic

#1 laufer

laufer

    Senior Member

  • Registered Users
  • 232 posts

Posted 06 June 2006 - 02:22 PM

There are "myths" regarding the Polish Campaign and "perpetuated by sloppy scholarship", as S. Zaloga wrote. One, that truly makes me angry is that Polish army was so backward they fought tanks with cavalry using lances and sabres.
Although Poland had 11 cavalry brigades and its doctrine emphasized them as elite units, other armies of that time (including German and Soviet) also extensively used horse drawn transport or cavalry. Polish cavalry (equipped with small arms, MGs, and light artillery like the Bofors 37 mm antitank gun - very effective against early war tanks) never charged German tanks or entrenched infantry or artillery directly but usually acted as mobile infantry. The fictional Polish cavalry charge against German tanks were actually reported only once by the Italian press and used by nazi propaganda.
On September 1st, in so-called "Polish Corridor", the elements of Polish 18th Uhlans Regiment attacked a German infantry battalion and delayed the German attack. After the successful attack the cavalry received machine gun fire from camouflaged German armoured personnel carriers stationed nearby and were forced to retreat with some casualties.
The same day the German and Italian war correspondents were brought to the battlefield. They were shown the battlefield, the corpses of Polish cavalrymen and their horses, as well as German tanks that arrived to the place after the battle. 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 sabres and lances. Although such a charge did not happen and there were no tanks used during the combat, the myth was used by German propaganda during the war. In post-war Poland the myth was still used by Soviet propaganda as an example of stupidity of old Polish regime.
By the way, as I've read somewhere, that one of the last major cavalary actions of WW2 was actually taken by the British colonial cavalry units of the Burma Frontier Force who charged the Japanese machine guns at Toungoo in 1942. Do you know something more about it?
  • 0
"It is well that war is so terrible, or we should grow too fond of it."
Robert E. Lee

"I have fought the good fight. I have finished the course. I have kept my faith"
2 Timothy 4:7

#2 Kiwiwriter

Kiwiwriter

    Very Senior Member

  • Registered Users
  • 1,781 posts

Posted 06 June 2006 - 04:05 PM

Thank you for sharing that story.

I'm very well aware that the myth of Poles charging tanks with lances is just that...a myth, and that the Polish cavalry used their horses as transport, not armor.

The Polish Army actually did a very creditable job against the Germans, as did their air force.

I don't know about the Toungoo charge, but the biggest and last major charge of the war was by the Italian Savoia Cavalry on the Eastern Front, during the drive on Stalingrad. They hit the Soviets from the side and tore them up. There's a photograph of it in the Time-Life volume on WW2.

Cavalry also got a workout in Syria, East Africa, China, and even the Philippines. Sadly, in the latter campaign, the Americans turned their mounts to food.
  • 0
"My intensity is intense." -- Roger Clemens

"We shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender." -- Winston Churchill.

"I am not a hero. The heroes are all dead. I am a survivor." -- Sgt. William Guarnere, Easy Company, 506th Parachute Regiment, 101st Airborne Division.

Check out my little contributions to World War II history at my web pages:

World War II Plus 55

or

http://davidhlippman...illguarnere.com

#3 marek_pk

marek_pk

    Senior Member

  • Registered Users
  • 164 posts

Posted 06 June 2006 - 07:37 PM

[quote name='laufer']There are "myths" regarding the Polish Campaign and "perpetuated by sloppy scholarship", as S. Zaloga wrote. One, that truly makes me angry is that Polish army was so backward they fought tanks with cavalry using lances and sabres.
quote]

Were did you read this?

Marek
  • 0

#4 lancesergeant

lancesergeant

    Senior Member

  • Registered Users
  • 664 posts

Posted 06 June 2006 - 07:40 PM

To be upfront the media and historians, have done the Polish a disservice with their coverage. When most history programs mention the start of the war and the invasion of Poland you can almost always get the following like they are all singing from the same songsheet.

Germans invaded Poland, Poland's airforce destroyed on the ground, Polish equipment so antiquated they attacked armour with cavalry. Poland surrended after x weeks - little or no mention of the Soviets from the east or the fact that the Poles inflicted heavy casualties on the Germans. Invaded ill equipped/ untrained Poland battle over in weeks.

Listen to a documentary of the start of World War 2, like auto pilot.
  • 0

#5 lancesergeant

lancesergeant

    Senior Member

  • Registered Users
  • 664 posts

Posted 06 June 2006 - 07:49 PM

[quote name='marek_pk'][quote name='laufer']There are "myths" regarding the Polish Campaign and "perpetuated by sloppy scholarship", as S. Zaloga wrote. One, that truly makes me angry is that Polish army was so backward they fought tanks with cavalry using lances and sabres.
quote]

Were did you read this?

Marek[/quote]

With respect Marek, I don't think it is necessary the books but the history type programmes portrayal of the Poles. They more often than not show old bi- planes lined up on airfield and then show Polish lancers charging then cut to invading panzers. Cut then to Stukas dive bombing.

People might not read books but it is easier to watch a documentary and because it is on the box take it as fact. I can't recall off hand remember seeing lancers circling round panzers!!, or film of them meeting face to face in combat. Television doesn't take much imagination to watch.

Cut and piece film together and you can make it say what you want. Where did a lot of it come from - I would put a lot of it down to Signal and other parts of the Nazi propaganda machine.
  • 0

#6 marek_pk

marek_pk

    Senior Member

  • Registered Users
  • 164 posts

Posted 06 June 2006 - 07:52 PM

[quote name='lancesergeant'][quote name='marek_pk']

With respect Marek, I don't think it is necessary the books but the history type programmes portrayal of the Poles. They more often than not show old bi- planes lined up on airfield and then show Polish lancers charging then cut to invading panzers.quote]

If it was a book I would like to avoid buying it.

Marek
  • 0

#7 von Poop

von Poop

    Adaministrator

  • Idi Admin
  • 12,218 posts
  • LocationThe Abbey of Thelema

Posted 06 June 2006 - 07:58 PM

Account by a chap who claims to have participated in the last Polish Cavalry Charge:
http://www.polishnew.../history4.shtml
Sounds convincing that he was there as it runs very much alongside a Zaloga description I have. Just a bit more 'boy's own adventure' in tone.
  • 0

#8 laufer

laufer

    Senior Member

  • Registered Users
  • 232 posts

Posted 07 June 2006 - 07:27 AM

To be upfront the media and historians, have done the Polish a disservice with their coverage. When most history programs mention the start of the war and the invasion of Poland you can almost always get the following like they are all singing from the same songsheet.

Germans invaded Poland, Poland's airforce destroyed on the ground, Polish equipment so antiquated they attacked armour with cavalry. Poland surrended after x weeks - little or no mention of the Soviets from the east or the fact that the Poles inflicted heavy casualties on the Germans. Invaded ill equipped/ untrained Poland battle over in weeks.

Listen to a documentary of the start of World War 2, like auto pilot.


I agree. You most probably hear it in recently released documentaries on Discovery, Viasat History etc.etc.
  • 0
"It is well that war is so terrible, or we should grow too fond of it."
Robert E. Lee

"I have fought the good fight. I have finished the course. I have kept my faith"
2 Timothy 4:7




0 user(s) are reading this topic

0 members, 0 guests, 0 anonymous users