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The use of Horses in WW2

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Maximus Germanicus View Drop Down
Pretorian
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  Quote Maximus Germanicus Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Topic: The use of Horses in WW2
    Posted: 14-May-2010 at 08:16
I am not a big WW2 guy. I prefer the Reformation age and the Roman age. However my intrest was sparked by a conversation I had. I really didn't know the extent the horse was used. i know Bulgarains used Horses at Stalingrad, and the Poles used Horse. But I was under the impression (wrong impression that the Germans were more mechanized). i did know the SS had some elite horse troops but I didn't realize how many. I knew they used cossacks but again I was surprised how much horse cav the SS used.
 
 

[German Horse Cavalry and Transport]

Despite highly ballyhooed emphasis on employment of mechanized forces and on rapid movement, the bulk of German combat divisions were horse drawn throughout World War II. Early in the war it was the common belief of the American public that the German Siegfrieds of Hitler's Blitz rode forth to battle on swift tanks and motor vehicles. But the notion of the mechanized might of the German Wehrmacht was largely a glamorized myth born in the fertile brains of newspapermen. Actually, the lowly horse played a most important part in enabling the German Army to move about Europe.

Public opinion to the contrary, so great was the dependence of the Nazi Blitzkrieg upon the horse that the numerical strength of German Army horses maintained during the entire war period averaged around 1,100,000. Of the 322 German Army and SS divisions extant in November 1943, only 52 were armored or motorized. Of the November 1944 total of 264 combat divisions, only 42 were armored or motorized. The great bulk of the German combat strength—the old-type infantry divisions—marched into battle on foot, with their weapons and supply trains propelled almost entirely by four-legged horsepower. The light and mountain divisions had an even greater proportion of animals, and the cavalry divisions were naturally mainly dependent on the horse.

The old-type German infantry division had approximately 5,300 horses, 1,100 horse-drawn vehicles, 950 motor vehicles, and 430 motorcycles. In 1943, due to the great difficulties in supply and upkeep of motor vehicles in the wide stretches of the Eastern Front, the allotment to divisions in that theater was reduced to approximately 400 motor vehicles and 400 motorcycles, and the number of horses was increased to some 6,300. The 1944-type divisions had about 4,600 horses, 1,400 horse-drawn vehicles, 600 motor vehicles, and 150 motorcycles.

http://www.lonesentry.com/articles/germanhorse/index.html

 
CAVALRY IN MASS
Soviet Doctrine for Employing Horse-Mounted Troops

Horse cavalry, like an insurance policy, is expensive but nice to have around when you really need it. In Russia, where horsemanship is part of the every-day life of many thousands of people, the Red Army is able to maintain one of the finest horse-mounted components in the world. Here is the doctrine with which Soviet cavalrymen rode to victory in World War II.

The Red Army, unlike the rest of the Allied powers, did not relegate the horse cavalry into the discard during World War II. Instead, Soviet Russia made effective use of its cavalry components, and even increased the number of horse cavalry units. The U.S.S.R. proved that the employment of horse cavalry as an independent striking force, and as a component of a cavalry-tank team, is clearly justified. The results obtained by Red Army cavalry units have proven the right of the almost legendary Cossack to remain part of the armed forces of the U.S.S.R. The lessons learned may well be studied by other countries.



Edited by Maximus Germanicus - 14-May-2010 at 09:40
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  Quote Maximus Germanicus Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 14-May-2010 at 08:17
NIGHT COMBAT BY RUSSIAN CAVALRY


1. GENERAL
The Russians have proved that there is a definite place for horse cavalry in battle, despite the wide use of mechanized forces and airplanes in modern warfare. By operating at night, cavalry avoids attack by aircraft, and moves, dismounts, and strikes with much more surprise than during daylight hours.
2. METHODS OF ATTACK
The success of a night attack depends largely upon careful reconnaissance of the enemy positions. A commander's reconnaissance includes the approaches to the enemy's positions and the location of his firing points and outposts. Before nightfall, all steps have been taken to provide absolute secrecy of movement. The plan of every assault group is worked out in detail. Units are designated to seize outposts and guards, and deal with the automatic riflemen, the machine-gun crews, and the tank crews when they come out of bivouac.
In moving to the point from which the attack is to be made, the Russians do not fire a shot, unless the Germans open fire. In this case all Russian fire power is put into action.
Experience has taught the Russians that it is difficult for cavalry to use artillery in night operations, except while on the defensive. Normally, the cavalry regiments and squadrons take along their heavy machine guns in carts. The machine guns are capable of accomplishing the mission usually assigned to artillery. Antitank units are equipped with antitank weapons, grenades, and bottles of gasoline ("Molotov cocktails").
All equipment is carefully inspected before the cavalry leaves for the attack. Stirrups are wrapped with felt or straw. At a point about 3 to 5 miles from the enemy positions, the machine-gun carts are left in he open and the guns and mortars are carried in pack. The troops dismount again in open areas near the enemy outposts, and the horse-holders hide the horses.
If the mission is to seize a particular point, machine guns and mortars support the action without a let-up until the point is taken. If the mission is to destroy an enemy unit, the troops return when the mission has been accomplished. In this case the machine guns and mortars are placed in positions where they can also provide fire for the withdrawal of the units, in addition to supporting the attack.
These night attacks are planned so as to be completed 2 or 3 hours before daybreak. The Russians need this time interval in order to return to their original positions without being exposed to air attacks.
3. EXAMPLE OF TYPICAL ATTACK
The following is quoted from a Russian report as an example of typical cavalry night operations against a village:
"Two days were required to prepare this attack. The village was 22 kilometers (about 14 miles) from our division position. A troop had been sent out on reconnaissance. It went out on the highway, concealed itself in the forest, and observed road movements; it determined the enemy strength, location of outposts, and location both of tank parks and night bivouacs, as well as the headquarters and rear elements.
"The approaches to the town were important. West and south were two ravines too rough for tanks. The decision was to attack from the north and east. These directions would permit cutting off any attempt of the Germans to withdraw along the highway which ran north of the city. They would catch the enemy under crossfires and at the same time avoid danger of firing on our own troops. Since one regiment attacked from north and the other from east to west, this danger was averted.
"The division moved out in two columns at 1900; at 2400 it assembled 3 kilometers (about 2 miles) from the town, dismounted at once; and went into action. To insure surprise, the attack was made without the use of signals. The outguards were jumped without noise, and the units advanced on the bridge in the town. Here three German guards opened fire, but it was too late. Our troops threw grenades into the houses used as quarters, the assault groups attacked the firing positions, and 15 tanks were put out of action. The remaining tanks moved to the highway, but our engineer units had blown up the bridge. The fight ended at 0500, and from then until daylight (in December, about 0800) the troops returned to their position unnoticed by enemy aircraft.
"Our missions are usually for the purpose of opening the way for the infantry.
"As a result of these attacks, the Germans are now posting strong outguards, and even more careful reconnaissance is required. "During such night attacks the Germans try to capture our horse-holders."

Lone Sentry: Night Combat by Russian Cavalry (WWII U.S. Intelligence Bulletin, October 1942)
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  Quote Maximus Germanicus Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 14-May-2010 at 08:19
Cossacks fought on both sides
 

COSSACK UNITS

Beginning in the summer of 1942, as a part of the German policy of employing ex-Soviet personnel (prisoners of war and deserters), a number of independent Cossack cavalry squadrons and troops were formed under the First Panzer Army in southern Russia. Under German commanders, these units successfully performed long-range reconnaissance and staged raids behind enemy lines in the steppes beyond the lower Don and in the northern Caucasus. In general, however, it was found that foreign units were unreliable in the German retreats during the winter of 1942-43, and all such units were transferred to Poland.

The 1st Cossack Division was officially formed on 1 May 1943. This division was transferred to Yugoslavia in October for protection of German lines of communication, especially the vital stretch of railway between Sisak and Brod.

[Cossack cavalry units in German service were weak in supporting arms, and relied upon cavalry proper for strength.]
Cossack cavalry units in German service were weak in supporting arms, and relied upon cavalry proper for strength. These men are armed with the standard German rifle, but German Cossacks also used captured Soviet arms.

Its strength lay in cavalry proper, for it was very weak in supporting arms. Originally provided with two brigades and later with three, the 1st Cossack Division had two regiments per brigade. One of a regiment's two squadrons could have been bicycle mounted. Each squadron had three or four horse or cycle troops and machine gun troops. The regiment had a heavy weapons troop. Although the German commander complained to his superiors of difficulties in maintaining discipline and loyalty, and the Yugoslav population complained of atrocities committed by the division, this unit performed its specialized mission with success until the Germans began withdrawing from the Balkans in the latter part of 1944. The division was split into the 1st and 2d Cossack Cavalry Divisions. These were absorbed into the Waffen-SS, and the XV SS Cossack Cavalry Corps was set up to control them. By March 1945 the corps was in Slavonia with the new mission of protecting the left flank of Army Group E against Russian attacks.

Late in April the army group swung back rapidly to the north-west against the Austrian frontier, with this Cossack corps at the pivot. In those last hectic days of the war, the cavalry corps was characterized not only by its superior mobility, but by the intense fear on the part of its personnel of being captured by the Russians. Thus it was among the first units to reach Austria and surrender to the western Allies—only to be turned over to the Red Army.

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  Quote DreamWeaver Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 14-May-2010 at 09:26
Good old horses, you just cant beat them really can you.

Edited by DreamWeaver - 14-May-2010 at 09:37
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  Quote Cryptic Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 14-May-2010 at 14:20
As a side note, the number of cossacks fighting with the Germans may have been far fewer than two divisions.  The Germans often exaggerated the numbers of collaborators serving by increasing the unit size or giving creative names. For example, a batallion sized unit of Belgian right wingers was called a  "brigade".  The handfull of Indian POWs who nominally switched sides (several hundred at best) were termed a "legion". 
 
The biggest exaggeration was the French Charlemagne "Division".  The Germans creatively declared that a collection of 9,000 interned and other Frenchmen were the "Charlamagne Division".  Of these 9,000 men, only 1,200 were considered remotely reliable enough to be sent to the eastern front.  Many of these quickly deserted and the effective strength of the "division" was closer to 350 commited volunteers.  


Edited by Cryptic - 14-May-2010 at 14:31
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  Quote opuslola Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 14-May-2010 at 14:35
"you just cant beat them really can you?" Well yes you can beat them but the ASPCA will also beat a path to your stalls! Laugh!

But, I really enjoy this offbeat section! It really demonstrates just how hard a time it must have been to be a German supply reqiment, etc.?

These men and women, had to prepare for most everything! Horse fodder, bridles, diesel fule, petrol, etc., as well as the numerous differing rifle and pistol ammunition used by German troops in WWII!

It must have been exciting?

Regards,
http://www.quotationspage.com/subjects/history/
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