Cavalry and Lancers through history

Discussion in 'Military History and Militaria' started by EX_STAB, Mar 19, 2007.

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  1. Seems like a good idea for a thread.

    I have been fascinated by cavalry in its various forms for some time now.
    Several things have contributed to this interest including:
    (in no particular order)
    1)Reading Winston Churchill's account of a charge by his Lancers unit at the battle of Omdurman. - The Infantry stayed put, the lancers didn't break and they went right through boot to boot. Think this through and it really is astonishing.
    2) Being stampeded by three riderless horses on a farm where I was out shooting. They came at me from about 200 yds away at a full gallop. I stood my ground as there was nothing else to do and they pulled up at the last moment but the effect was memorable to say the least!
    3) Seeing a film display at the Royal Armouries at Leeds where a Cavalryman demonstrated the development of swords/sabres and the techniques used in their employment in battle. The slow motion shot where the trooper hit a melon with the flat of his blade was amazing: the blade flexed into almost an "S" shape - remarkable metallurgy.
    4) Buying a lance for £20 in a junk shop. It appears to be an Indian Pattern lance dated 1915. (look up the "lance" thread for details.)
    5) Reading an account of how Haig developed Lancers before the first world war with an emphasis on marksmanship and with machine gun support to exploit breaches in enemy lines, a technique that did work in the initial months of WW1. (See "Haig -Butcher or the best we had?" in this forum.)

    Churchills account can be found here and I include an extract below.

    I also came across this video that is of interest. It is from a feature film but depicts Polish Cavalry and Lancers in various battles. If nothing else it gives a good idea of what an infantry v Cavalry encounter would have involved althougth they lack the boot to boot technique of the British Cavalrymen. Perhaps this is just a fault of the film. The Polish were famous for their lancers though and inspired the formation of our own lancer regiments hence the white and red pennons.

    No doubt those with superior knowledge can correct some details above but I hope that some of these links provide some food for thought or some enjoyment at any rate.

  2. Imagine having a modern Prime Minister who had gone through that kind of experience (and the rest of Winnie's scrapes)....
  3. Im not sure that Haig was such the architect of Cavalry tactics at the beginning of WW1, id look more at Gough and oor Wullie, the Cavalry certainly at Ypres proved their worth and shed their blood equally with the Infantry, and mostly on foot.

    Funnily enough contrary to belief, most Cavalry Regiments spent their time in the trenches as Infantrymen, I dont think my lancer Regt saw their horses after 1914 much.

    Most of the Cav units seen on horses were Indian or units brought over from there.