Officers swords

#1
Folks,

Does anyone know the last time that British infantry officers carried swords into battle on a regular basis? I am aware that cavalry officers used theirs for real in WW1 e.g. against Jonny Turk and with the BEF in Aug '14, but what about the PBI?

The question is linked to a seperate thread in the 'officers' section of the Forum concerning the carriage of sticks and canes. Someone suggested that these latter items came into vogue as a result of the fading out of swords as a front line fighting weapon. I am of the opinion that sticks/canes were carried as 'issue' (aka 'buy your own kit, rich bloke') kit during the last days of the front line sword i.e. the two co-existed.

Help!

TIA

Jonny
 
#2
I heard a story about an Officer carrying one in the Falklands, Welsh Guards I think......

Not sure if its an urban legend or not.
 
#3
I seem to think (somewhere in the dim dark recesses of a fading memory) that a chap called Churchill used to carry a broadsword while serving with the commandos in WW2.
 
#6
björn said:
Mad Jack Churchill, DSO, MC and bar. He actually said “In my opinion, sir, any officer who goes into action without his sword is improperly dressed.”
He also used a longbow. Impressive record to say the least!
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jack_Churchill
Many thanks for that link, quite a chap wasn't he?
 
#7
Heard a story that an officer currently serving in Afghanistan borrowed a compound bow and bought broad head arrows to take out there in case he needed to dish out some "silent death"!
PERSEC precludes supplying any further details but the provenance of the tale is good.
Perhaps inspired by Major Churchill. Can't fault him!
 
#8
EX_STAB said:
Heard a story that an officer currently serving in Afghanistan borrowed a compound bow and bought broad head arrows to take out there in case he needed to dish out some "silent death"!
................... and you believe it? :blank:
 
#9
4(T) said:
Wasn't there still a bit of mounted British cavalry in Syria/Iraq during WW2?
I'm not 100% sure but my instinct tells me all regular cavalry were coverted to armour by 1939 but on various occasions during WW2 there were units who were forced to use horses as mounted infantry and some charges were carried out.
 
#11
Fallschirmjager said:
All British cavalry regiments went mechanised in 1929. Only the Russians, Poles and Italians mounted cavalry charges in WWII.
Not quite true mate. 8H didn't go mechanised until 1935, there were others too. Mostly because they were based in desert countries where cavalry were still effective.

The British did have some charges in WW2 but they were by irregulars.
 
#12
ISTR that two Yeomanry regiments in the horsed cavalry role (as opposed to those that converted to RA in the 30s to keep their horses) served in Syria and Palestine during 1939 / 1940. The HCR also had two mounted squadrons in the Middle East during the same period.

Two Yeomanry regiments still claim to have conducted the last charge round about that time. It's worth bearing in mind though that the actions in question were "contact drills" at patrol level - a Troop or so galloping towards an ambushing enemy at close range rather than a deliberate attack.

The Indian Army kept horses for a little longer - the last recorded charge on their part was done by King George V's Own Central India Horse in 1942. I believed it was done at squadron level at a Japanese defensive position... with predictably bloody results.

The point is, though, that among the British Army the writing was on the wall in the mid 30s and that a deliberate horsed charge was no longer seen as a gallant or effective tactic.

The ethos, sadly, remained. Again and again in the Western Desert Bosche armour would skirmish rearwards, enticing British armour to launch into a headlong chase / charge onto fixed lines of 88s. Well sited, well camouflaged, high velocity Atk guns versus easily spotted tanks raising clouds of dust, often unable to fire HE, struggling to aim effectively as they fired on the move as per their SOPs. Again, fairly predictable results.

Spotter and tangent mode off. Cheers.

Charlie
 
#13
Charlie_Cong said:
ISTR that two Yeomanry regiments in the horsed cavalry role (as opposed to those that converted to RA in the 30s to keep their horses) served in Syria and Palestine during 1939 / 1940. The HCR also had two mounted squadrons in the Middle East during the same period.

Two Yeomanry regiments still claim to have conducted the last charge round about that time. It's worth bearing in mind though that the actions in question were "contact drills" at patrol level - a Troop or so galloping towards an ambushing enemy at close range rather than a deliberate attack.

The Indian Army kept horses for a little longer - the last recorded charge on their part was done by King George V's Own Central India Horse in 1942. I believed it was done at squadron level at a Japanese defensive position... with predictably bloody results.

The point is, though, that among the British Army the writing was on the wall in the mid 30s and that a deliberate horsed charge was no longer seen as a gallant or effective tactic.

The ethos, sadly, remained. Again and again in the Western Desert Bosche armour would skirmish rearwards, enticing British armour to launch into a headlong chase / charge onto fixed lines of 88s. Well sited, well camouflaged, high velocity Atk guns versus easily spotted tanks raising clouds of dust, often unable to fire HE, struggling to aim effectively as they fired on the move as per their SOPs. Again, fairly predictable results.

Spotter and tangent mode off. Cheers.

Charlie
I'm not sure the Bosche had 88's in the early days of the Afrika Korps, they would have had the 37mm Pak. In any case they were only sent there initially to bolster the Italians who had received drubbing after drubbing from the 8th Army and in initial engagements tank-to tank, the British armour was ineffebly superior to the Pkw 2 and 3. Which was why Rommel developed the anti-tank 'traps' you refer to. Obviously these were more effective with the 88's however even Rommel had to advance and it was tank-on-tank which continued to dominate the theatre until El Alamein when Rommel was actually drawn into a trap exactly the same as those of his own design and found his armour decimated by 25lb'ers.
 
#14
Fallschirmjager said:
EX_STAB said:
Heard a story that an officer currently serving in Afghanistan borrowed a compound bow and bought broad head arrows to take out there in case he needed to dish out some "silent death"!
................... and you believe it? :blank:
I'm not saying it doesn't sound daft! The bloke who loaned it to him thought so too but said he was welcome to it. Perhaps a photo might turn up in a couple of months...

It's no different to the Jack Churchill story is it?
 
#15
GDav said:
Charlie_Cong said:
ISTR that two Yeomanry regiments in the horsed cavalry role (as opposed to those that converted to RA in the 30s to keep their horses) served in Syria and Palestine during 1939 / 1940. The HCR also had two mounted squadrons in the Middle East during the same period.

Two Yeomanry regiments still claim to have conducted the last charge round about that time. It's worth bearing in mind though that the actions in question were "contact drills" at patrol level - a Troop or so galloping towards an ambushing enemy at close range rather than a deliberate attack.

The Indian Army kept horses for a little longer - the last recorded charge on their part was done by King George V's Own Central India Horse in 1942. I believed it was done at squadron level at a Japanese defensive position... with predictably bloody results.

The point is, though, that among the British Army the writing was on the wall in the mid 30s and that a deliberate horsed charge was no longer seen as a gallant or effective tactic.

The ethos, sadly, remained. Again and again in the Western Desert Bosche armour would skirmish rearwards, enticing British armour to launch into a headlong chase / charge onto fixed lines of 88s. Well sited, well camouflaged, high velocity Atk guns versus easily spotted tanks raising clouds of dust, often unable to fire HE, struggling to aim effectively as they fired on the move as per their SOPs. Again, fairly predictable results.

Spotter and tangent mode off. Cheers.

Charlie
I'm not sure the Bosche had 88's in the early days of the Afrika Korps, they would have had the 37mm Pak. In any case they were only sent there initially to bolster the Italians who had received drubbing after drubbing from the 8th Army and in initial engagements tank-to tank, the British armour was ineffebly superior to the Pkw 2 and 3. Which was why Rommel developed the anti-tank 'traps' you refer to. Obviously these were more effective with the 88's however even Rommel had to advance and it was tank-on-tank which continued to dominate the theatre until El Alamein when Rommel was actually drawn into a trap exactly the same as those of his own design and found his armour decimated by 25lb'ers.
Rommel was the pioneer of the use of the 88 Anti Aircraft Gun into the ground role when he succesfully engaged British armor during the British counter offensive around Arras in 1940 with 88's used in a AT role
 
#16
RustyH said:
GDav said:
Charlie_Cong said:
ISTR that two Yeomanry regiments in the horsed cavalry role (as opposed to those that converted to RA in the 30s to keep their horses) served in Syria and Palestine during 1939 / 1940. The HCR also had two mounted squadrons in the Middle East during the same period.

Two Yeomanry regiments still claim to have conducted the last charge round about that time. It's worth bearing in mind though that the actions in question were "contact drills" at patrol level - a Troop or so galloping towards an ambushing enemy at close range rather than a deliberate attack.

The Indian Army kept horses for a little longer - the last recorded charge on their part was done by King George V's Own Central India Horse in 1942. I believed it was done at squadron level at a Japanese defensive position... with predictably bloody results.

The point is, though, that among the British Army the writing was on the wall in the mid 30s and that a deliberate horsed charge was no longer seen as a gallant or effective tactic.

The ethos, sadly, remained. Again and again in the Western Desert Bosche armour would skirmish rearwards, enticing British armour to launch into a headlong chase / charge onto fixed lines of 88s. Well sited, well camouflaged, high velocity Atk guns versus easily spotted tanks raising clouds of dust, often unable to fire HE, struggling to aim effectively as they fired on the move as per their SOPs. Again, fairly predictable results.

Spotter and tangent mode off. Cheers.

Charlie
I'm not sure the Bosche had 88's in the early days of the Afrika Korps, they would have had the 37mm Pak. In any case they were only sent there initially to bolster the Italians who had received drubbing after drubbing from the 8th Army and in initial engagements tank-to tank, the British armour was ineffebly superior to the Pkw 2 and 3. Which was why Rommel developed the anti-tank 'traps' you refer to. Obviously these were more effective with the 88's however even Rommel had to advance and it was tank-on-tank which continued to dominate the theatre until El Alamein when Rommel was actually drawn into a trap exactly the same as those of his own design and found his armour decimated by 25lb'ers.
Rommel was the pioneer of the use of the 88 Anti Aircraft Gun into the ground role when he succesfully engaged British armor during the British counter offensive around Arras in 1940 with 88's used in a AT role
I wouldn't dispute that at all old chap. He got the idea from seeing it done in WW1 against tanks. However the 5th Light Div, which was the initial component of the DAK to arrive in the Western Desert didn't have enough of them, relying on the 37mm Pak for it's anti-tank protection. It wasn't until at least August 1942 that Rommel was able to seriously hinder the movement of British Cruiser tanks. Meanwhile development was continuing with better tanks which reduced the effectiveness of the 88mm and of course improved tactics in the desert outfoxed the fox so that by November 1942 Rommel was stuffed.

If yout think of it logically the British dominated the desert war for two years until Rommel arrival, then they had a stiff fight for a year before defeating him too.
 

AlienFTM

MIA
Book Reviewer
#18
GDav said:
4(T) said:
Wasn't there still a bit of mounted British cavalry in Syria/Iraq during WW2?
I'm not 100% sure but my instinct tells me all regular cavalry were coverted to armour by 1939 but on various occasions during WW2 there were units who were forced to use horses as mounted infantry and some charges were carried out.
ISTR that the last British cavalry charge was carried out on the NW Frontier. Memory screams 26H but logic says they weren't around. It night have been 1926.
 

AlienFTM

MIA
Book Reviewer
#19
Fallschirmjager said:
All British cavalry regiments went mechanised in 1929. Only the Russians, Poles and Italians mounted cavalry charges in WWII.
15/19H went mechanised in 1939 and only got their vehicles a handful of days before embarking with the BEF. They used the Sitzkrieg to teach themselves armoured warfare, but were propmptly cut adrift by GOC 3 Div (Montgomery) to save the rest of the division behind the previous report line and were destroyed in a single day during the reteat from Brussels.
 

AlienFTM

MIA
Book Reviewer
#20
GDav said:
I'm not sure the Bosche had 88's in the early days of the Afrika Korps, they would have had the 37mm Pak. In any case they were only sent there initially to bolster the Italians who had received drubbing after drubbing from the 8th Army and in initial engagements tank-to tank, the British armour was ineffebly superior to the Pkw 2 and 3. Which was why Rommel developed the anti-tank 'traps' you refer to. Obviously these were more effective with the 88's however even Rommel had to advance and it was tank-on-tank which continued to dominate the theatre until El Alamein when Rommel was actually drawn into a trap exactly the same as those of his own design and found his armour decimated by 25lb'ers.
ISTR the first 88m Flak guns were M1918 model. I have a picture of essentially the L56 gun as fitted to the Tiger 1E, very similar to the WW2 vintage 88, but the bogies only had two wheels per axle instead of four.

I could be wrong.
 
Thread starter Similar threads Forum Replies Date
L Officers 3
Ambrose_Silk RAC 14
E Gunners 22

Similar threads

New Posts

Latest Threads

Top