Officers swords

Discussion in 'Military History and Militaria' started by jonny3979, Feb 9, 2007.

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  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.



  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.
  4. Wasn't there still a bit of mounted British cavalry in Syria/Iraq during WW2?
  5. 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!
  6. 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. ................... and you believe it? :blank:
  9. 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.
  10. All British cavalry regiments went mechanised in 1929. Only the Russians, Poles and Italians mounted cavalry charges in WWII.
  11. 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.

  13. 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. 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. 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