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View Full Version : The last cavalry charges in military history (all Italian)



DVX
10-04-2012, 05:30 PM
The ground was wet and the air noticeably cool for a late August morning in 1942. The men of the Italian Savoia Regiment were likely nervous. In the midst of a Russian counterattack than had driven a wedge between the Italian 8th Army and the German 6th Army in the Ukraine, the Savoia had been thrown as a last-second, stop gap measure. Facing them were 2,500 men of the Siberian 812th Infantry Regiment. With bugles blaring and cries of “Savoia!” and “Caricat” (charge!), the Savoia Regiment galloped into the record books.

It was the last cavalry charge in military history.*

Actually the second-last cavalry charge followed a few days the Savoia Cavalry one. In fact on August 27 1942 the 5° rgt Lancieri di Novara took the day with a victorious charge in Jagodni, Russian front.
The very last cavalry charge, victorious and bloody, was by 14° rgt Cavalleggeri di Alessandria in Poloj (Yugoslavia) against Titoist partisans on October 17, 1942.
Anyway, the major "last" cavalry fact remains that of Savoia Cavalleria.

The regiment was the 3rd Dragoons Savoia Cavalleggeri (Cavalry Regiment), one of oldest and last actual combat cavalry units in any of the major military powers by World War II. Founded in 1692, by Gian Piossasco de Rossi, one of the most powerful Italian noble families, the Savoia Cavalleggeri carried forward a number of ancient traditions to the modern battlefield. The unit’s helmets were emblazoned with black crosses, in commemoration of the Battle of Madonna di Campana in 1706 when the unit captured a French battle flag. Each of the 700 men wore a red necktie in honor of a wounded dispatch rider, fallen after he got the mission, by a bloody wound on the neck – from the 1790s. And last, but not least, the units still carried sabers. Sabers that were drawn on August 24, 1942.
As the Axis advance on Stalingrad commenced, the Russians attempted a counter-attack at the River Don. Focused at the point between the Italian 8th Army and German 6th, the Russian found themselves able to separate the two Axis forces. No organized force stood in the way of the Russians being able to get back behind the German or Italian line – and thus the Savoia Regiment was quickly dispatched to block any Russian advance at the small village of Isbuschenskij.

As August 23rd gave way to the 24th, the Italians skirmished with elements of the Siberian 812th Infantry Regiment. The Savoia was already outnumbered, 2,500 to 700, with all but one squadron on horseback when the regiment’s commander, the aristocratic royalist Colonnello Alessandro Bettoni-Cazzago gave the order to charge. Bettoni-Cazzago, assuming that the longer he delayed an offense action, the worse the Italian position would be, attacked. In an age where cavalry divisions were made of steel, not flesh, and fed diesel, not oats, the Italian charge seemed destined to match Lord Cardigan’s ill-fated “Charge of the Light Brigade” against Russian forces during the Battle of Balaclava in the Crimean War.

The move completely took the Russians by surprise. One squadron flanked right against the Siberians’ left flank before wheeling around again to press the advantage from behind, hurling hand grenades into the quickly disintegrating enemy line. The another squadron attacked head on and the battle wore down into brutal hand-to-hand fighting, many of the Savoia having dismounted. Supported by a machine-gun squad, the Italians amazingly took the field, suffering only 32 killed and another 52 wounded (to say nothing of the 100 horses lost). In return, the 3rd Dragoons killed or captured over 1,000 Russians.

Ardee
10-05-2012, 01:17 PM
You might want to edit your heading to last "major" cavalry charge -- there are numerous, if contested, reports of ones occurring all the way up to the the 1970's. Nor would I be *too* surprised if tomorrow's paper reported some such charge occurring in a far-off place by some insurgency or other. ;)

DVX
10-05-2012, 02:54 PM
You might want to edit your heading to last "major" cavalry charge -- there are numerous, if contested, reports of ones occurring all the way up to the the 1970's. Nor would I be *too* surprised if tomorrow's paper reported some such charge occurring in a far-off place by some insurgency or other. ;)

Surely, but those we're talking about are, and they will probably remain, the last cavalry charges by organic military units (in the case, regiments) of a regular army. At the moment surely they are.

ishitunot
06-03-2013, 03:51 PM
I would assume there were numerous cavalry changes made by the soviets...even right up to the latter stages of the eastern front campaign

Ardee
06-03-2013, 05:23 PM
Actually, this was discussed in the photo section awhile back, IIRC discussing WWII mounted charges by Poles, British, and US forces, as well as probable ones by the USSR, in addition to those of the Italians. I believe the Romanians also had at least one effective charge, and maybe the Hungarians as well.

royal744
06-22-2013, 08:28 PM
Actually, this was discussed in the photo section awhile back, IIRC discussing WWII mounted charges by Poles, British, and US forces, as well as probable ones by the USSR, in addition to those of the Italians. I believe the Romanians also had at least one effective charge, and maybe the Hungarians as well.

Mmmmm, since there were no mounted US cavalry units, I have to doubt there were ANY cavalry charges by American forces anywhere during WW2.

Ardee
06-22-2013, 10:18 PM
From Royal744:

Mmmmm, since there were no mounted US cavalry units, I have to doubt there were ANY cavalry charges by American forces anywhere during WW2.

Royal: The "mounted charges" of my quote does not necessarily equate to "cavalry" charges. Regardless, you forget the Philippine Scouts were part of the US Army. The 26th Cavalry Regiment of the Philippine Scouts, under the leadership of Lt Ed Ramsey, executed a charge against Japanese forces near the village of Morong on 16 January 1942.

royal744
06-23-2013, 06:04 PM
Well, there you go, news to me. Thanks.

Rising Sun*
07-13-2013, 11:58 AM
The 26th Cavalry Regiment of the Philippine Scouts, under the leadership of Lt Ed Ramsey, executed a charge against Japanese forces near the village of Morong on 16 January 1942.

This comes down to how one chooses to define a cavalry charge worthy of being called one.

No disrespect to Lt Ramsey and his men, but 27 horsemen being less than a standard WWII platoon in most armies of the time hardly qualifies as the last cavalry charge worthy of note.

There remains the problem of whether various horse mounted units in WWII called cavalry were true cavalry, being soldiers who fought mounted which really relates to a much earlier era of warfare with sabres rather than carbines (which in themselves are designed for mounted infantry, not cavalry), or just mounted soldiers better called mounted infantry.

Ardee
07-13-2013, 01:02 PM
This comes down to how one chooses to define a cavalry charge worthy of being called one.

No disrespect to Lt Ramsey and his men, but 27 horsemen being less than a standard WWII platoon in most armies of the time hardly qualifies as the last cavalry charge worthy of note.

Of course. Freely granted. As I pointed out in a separate post above, the thread is "last charges," NOT last major charges. IIRC, Ramsey's charge was conducted by a single troop of cavalry. We strayed off the "Italian only" because of its questionable accuracy. And then you can also play with the question of when is cavalry really cavalry -- I believe Polish cavalry, though fully capable as cavalry, *typically* fought as mounted infantry. I should note, however, that the Poles and the Germans are generally credited with the last horse-mounted cavalry vs horse-mounted cavalry fight, during the 1939 Campaign.


There remains the problem of whether various horse mounted units in WWII called cavalry were true cavalry, being soldiers who fought mounted which really relates to a much earlier era of warfare with sabres rather than carbines (which in themselves are designed for mounted infantry, not cavalry), or just mounted soldiers better called mounted infantry.

Again, yes, in total agreement, and already alluded to. If I recall correctly, I've read of "mounted" charges by US WWII forces occurring as late as 1945, but certainly not by "cavalry." And a variety of other nations could doubtless boast of similar mounted incidents.

J.A.W.
07-15-2013, 10:31 PM
Didn't Stalin 'punish' various ethnic tribal horsemen peoples under his power by ordering virtually suicidal attacks in WW2? & wasn't that partly a reason for the 'Vlassov Army' of Russian cavalry fighting on the German side?

Panzerknacker
08-08-2013, 01:33 PM
At Ibushenki the Savoia Division was really outstanding.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fu0knGe3vvk

Samoax
04-05-2014, 07:57 AM
astonishing nonetheless!