Home | Cossack Songs | Uniforms | Weapons | World War II | Favorite links | About


World War 2 

Cavalry in WWII


At the beginning of war, most of the tanks in the Red Army were obsolete, in addition they were not organized in separate units as in German army, but were rather spread among infantry divisions as a support units. The cavalry were the only mobile troops of the Red Army.

Each squadron of a 100 men in the Red Army Cavalry had a field gun and mortars. The small Steppe horses could move sixty miles in a night, in snow, mud or any other landscape, where tanks and trucks were useless. Mounted troops could travel over the worst terrain and were good at dispersal and concealment. Cavalry was invaluable under conditions of fluid fighting.

During cold Russian winter of 1941, Siberian ponies could withstand temperatures far below zero (or 33 F), while Nazi panzers were immobilized. Even though in general cavalry could be perceived as an anachronism in 1940s, and suffered heavy casualties in direct encounters with tanks or even heavily armed infantry, it still proved to be useful due to its maneuverability. Cavalry still had an extraordinary mobility.

The Red Army cavalry was recruited mostly from the Cossacks and Kalmyks – peoples who spent their lives in the saddle. The soldiers in the cavalry units were trained to fight as infantry, but they could cover great distances over bad ground and to tow their field artillery.

One of the best German generals of WWII, Manstein, said: "A Soviet cavalry division can move, in its entirety, a hundred kilometers in a night – an that at a tangent to the axis of communication."

Russian cavalry units had an important part in the encirclement of the German Sixth Army (conquerors of Paris) at Stalingrad. The Wehrmacht then did not have cavalry divisions, the Red Army had a few.

Photo: Charge of the Red Army cavalry





Copyright © 1996-2002 Cossack Web. All rights reserved.