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Thread: US Cavalry in World War II

  1. #1
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    Default US Cavalry in World War II

    Does anyone have a clue about the mounted US soldiers in this photograph?

    http://www.armchairgeneral.com/forum...ad.php?t=58306

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    I think the second poster in that thread pretty much summed it up. In the Italian campaign, the US (and I presume all Allied) forces where forced to revert to keeping and using pack animals to resupply troops fighting in the mountainous (and highly defensible) terrain in Italy. So it's not surprising that horses or mules were used to for recon purposes. Often, Italians had to be hired as porters and mule handlers since the Italian animals didn't understand commands in English...



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    I have read several times how Allied soldiers at first used to laugh at the animal based transports used by locals in Italy... And soon ended up desperately needing mules/horses/etc themselves :-D


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    US Army Handbook 1939-1945, George Forty, ISBN 0-7509-1078-X, 1995, pp 42-43




    Back to the cavalry! A detachment of the Provisional Mounted Reconnaissance Troop of the Fifth (US) Army passing through a shell-torn Italian mountain town.

    The last horsed cavalry unit to fight mounted was the 26th Regiment of the Philippine Scouts, which in early 1942, after withdrawing to Bataan, was forced to destroy its horses and fight on foot. Of course both horses and mules were used as pack animals in the jungles and mountains, while a few special mounted recce troops were formed as and when required - for example the 3rd Infantry Division did so in Sicily and their Provisional Mounted Reconnaissance Troop was used for several months during the invasion of Italy. In September 1943 the troop had 143 horses and a pack train of 349 mules.
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    A nit picking but nonetheless important point.

    The recce troops in the picture aren't cavalry.

    Cavalry fight mounted.

    At best, the recce troops are mounted infantry, who fight dismounted.

    The last American mounted tactical cavalry unit in combat was the 26th Cavalry (Philippine Scouts) in Philippines, stationed at Ft Stotsenburg, Luzon, 1942, which fought both mounted and dismounted against Japanese invasion troops in 1942. On the Bataan Peninsula, the 26th Cavalry (PS) staged a mounted attack against the Japanese on 16 January 1942. The battered, exhausted men of the 26th Cavalry climbed astride their horses and flung themselves moments against the blazing gun muzzles of Japanese tanks. This last mounted pistol charge was led by Ed Ramsey in command of G troop, 26th Cavalry. It was the last mounted charge in America's annals, and proved the climax of the 26th Cavalry's magnificent but doomed horseback campaign against the Imperial Japanese Army during the fall of the Philippines in 1941-42. According to a Bataan survivor interviewed in the Washington Post (10 April 1977), starving US and Philippine troops ate all the regiment's horses.

    The last Cavalry charge in history took place on 23 August 1942, at Izbushensky on the River Don. The Italian Savoia Cavalry Regiment, and consisting of 600 mounted Italian troops, charged against 2,000 Soviet troops. The Italian Lancers destroyed a pair of Soviet Infantry armored vehicles before being forced to withdraw with thirty-two casualties. Reports of Polish cavalry charges against German tanks in 1939 are pure fiction. These stories were reported by the Italian press and used as propaganda by the Germans.

    For operations in jungles and mountains, horses proved to be especially suitable as pack animals. The 5307th Composite Unit (Provisional), a task force under Brig. Gen. Frank D. Merrill and nicknamed "Merrill's Marauders," made extensive use of pack animals. In early 1944, during the 700-mile march march to Myitkyina through the jungles of India and Burma, Merrill's Marauders had approximately 340 horses as well as 360 mules. In another action the 3d Infantry Division, while in Sicily, organized the 3d Provisional Reconnaissance Troop, Mounted, which was employed for several months during the invasion of Italy and the subsequent fighting in its mountainous terrain. In September 1943 the troop had 143 horses; 349 mules were also in its attached pack train.

    It was clear that horses were being banished from the last cavalry unit and, for all practical purposes, from the Army. The last mounted cavalry unit was the 129th Cavalry Squadron, activated 01 May 1944 for tactical instruction at the Cavalry School, which was deactivated 06 February 1945. However, the 127th Cav deactivated at Ft Riley in 1947. Also, consider the Horse Platoon, 16th Constabulary Squad, in Berlin (originally the Horse Platoon, 78th Cavalry Recon Troop, 78th Div. The last active cavalry post was Ft Riley, KS, where the Cavalry School deactivated on 31 October 1946 or November 1946, including horses & training detachment (129th Squadron?). The last U.S. cavalry horse in U.S. service died on 24 May 1959. The last mounted (horse or mule) US Army unit was the 4th FA Bn & 35th QM Pack Co, both deactivated at Ft Carson, CO, 15 February 1957.
    http://www.globalsecurity.org/milita...alry-lasts.htm

    I think there's plenty of scope for debating when the last cavalry charge in history took place, rather than accepting the above quote on that point.
    Last edited by Rising Sun*; 12-11-2007 at 04:05 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Rising Sun* View Post
    A nit picking but nonetheless important point.

    The recce troops in the picture aren't cavalry.

    Cavalry fight mounted.

    At best, the recce troops are mounted infantry, who fight dismounted.

    http://www.globalsecurity.org/milita...alry-lasts.htm

    I think there's plenty of scope for debating when the last cavalry charge in history took place, rather than accepting the above quote on that point.
    Very true. From what I've read of the campaign, there was some dismounted fighting that took place, but most likely, the men on those horses were concerned with quick ingress and egress...



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    Quote Originally Posted by Rising Sun* View Post
    A nit picking but nonetheless important point.

    The recce troops in the picture aren't cavalry.

    Cavalry fight mounted.

    At best, the recce troops are mounted infantry, who fight dismounted.

    http://www.globalsecurity.org/milita...alry-lasts.htm

    I think there's plenty of scope for debating when the last cavalry charge in history took place, rather than accepting the above quote on that point.
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    Hi RS,

    I think that George Forty (whom I quoted in my previous post) was referring to the the last American horsed cavalry unit to fight mounted. The quote was from his book US Army Handbook 1939-1945. Forty did mention in his book that US Army "mechanized" cavalry units did fight on foot the majority of the time during WWII. This was not unlike US cavalry practice during the American Civil War. General John Buford preferred to fight his cavalry on foot, as on the first day of the Battle of Gettysburg (1 July 1863), although they had the capability to fight mounted (being armed with sabers, revolvers and carbines). The Federals did employ mounted infantry also during the Civil War, but they were armed with muzzle loading rifles IIRC. A traditional role of cavalry has been to provide reconnaissance.

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    But the US Army still does have horses - at West Point, NY (USMA). Mostly for cadet ceremonial functions...

    My brother's old company once had the contract to install a landfill adjacent to it, then his company had a small side project on the property...



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    Quote Originally Posted by Nickdfresh View Post
    But the US Army still does have horses - at West Point, NY (USMA). Mostly for cadet ceremonial functions...

    My brother's old company once had the contract to install a landfill adjacent to it, then his company had a small side project on the property...
    The artillery school at Ft Sill maintains a 'Half Section' of horse drawn 75mm guns. A single gun with the crew mounted on the cassion and draft horses is trotted out for parades.

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    Default Re: US Cavalry 1944?

    Hello all new here, doing some research for my Aunt who lost her oldest brother 10 August 1944 somewhere in Normandy. He was assigned to C troop, 28th Cavalry Reconniassance Squadron. I have done the google searches and come up pretty empty handed. It has become sort of an obsession with me to try to figure out how he died or at least where (specifically), was it at St. Lo, Falaise??? I have tried following the time line but since I don't know who they were attached to (other then Patton's 3rd Army!!!) things are a bit fuzzy! My Aunt and parents are planning a visit this spring, to his grave site and the Normandy memorials. I would just like to be able to share more with her. Any insight is very welcome!

    Thanks in advance

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    Default Re: US Cavalry 1944?

    Anyone with an interest in and background knowledge of the last era of US horse mounted calvary, please read this and help if you can:

    http://www.ww2incolor.com/forum/show...&postcount=232



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    Default Re: US Cavalry 1944?

    Just a little additional information about the soldier in question; His names was 2LT Orville B. Conn, Jr. , Conn Barracks in Schweinfurt Germany is named after him as he is recorded as the 1st WW II casualty of the unit. I have been to Schweinfurt and sorry to say I knew more about 2LT Conn and his unit then their PAO did (which sadly isn't much). thanks in advance for any information.

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    Default Re: US Cavalry 1944?

    Cavalry training 1941:


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    Default Re: US Cavalry - The Philippine Scouts

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    The Philippine Scouts
    http://pinoyhistory.proboards22.com/...read=89&page=1

    The Philippine Scouts were the only Philippine units who were issued M1-Garands at the outbreak of the war.

    American led Filipino Horse cavalrymen fought Japanese Tank assaults near Lingayen gulf. The strongest resistance to the Japanese landings in Lingayen Gulf came from the tough 26th Philippine Scout Horse Cavalry Regiment composed of about 50 American officers and 872 Filipino horsemen.

    The Filipino horsemen beat off four Japanese Regiments- the 4th Tank, 48th Reconnaisance, 48th Mountain Artillery and the 1st Formosa regiments at Damortis for six hours even though they were not equipped with anti-tank guns.

    From Rosario the 26th Cavalry withdrew to Binalonan where they repulsed an armored assault led by the 4th Japanese Tank Regiment without anti-tank weapons throwing handgrenades into the tank hatches and firing into the gunports of the Japanese tanks. Two hours after the tank assault, the scouts launched a blistering counterattack. The Japanese had to call in more tanks and the 2nd Formosa Regiment to stop the frenzied Filipino cavalrymen. By dusk of December 24, 1941, the 26th Cavalry had withdrawn across the Agno river to Tayug after having been decimated to 450 men.














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    A hurriedly organized charge of a Cavalry platoon of 27 members of the 26th Philippine Scouts firing pistols from the saddles in a headlong charge against an advance guard of startled Japanese infantry and artillery in the town of Morong, Bataan.
    http://pinoyhistory.proboards22.com/...read=89&page=1





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    Rudy Cabigas, a retired San Jose Fire Department Captain, representing a Filipino trooper of the legendary the 26th Cavalry, Philippine Scouts. His father and an uncle served with the 26th.

    http://www.philippine-scouts.org/

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    ALSO:

    http://www.edwinpriceramsey.com/

    http://www.philippine-scouts.org/

    http://pinoyhistory.proboards22.com/...cgi?board=wwii

    http://pinoyhistory.proboards22.com/...lay&thread=181

    http://pinoyhistory.proboards22.com/...lay&thread=234

    http://pinoyhistory.proboards22.com/...lay&thread=179

    http://pinoyhistory.proboards22.com/...lay&thread=189

    http://pinoyhistory.proboards22.com/...lay&thread=177

    http://pinoyhistory.proboards22.com/...lay&thread=256

    http://pinoyhistory.proboards22.com/index.cgi

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    Default Re: US Cavalry 1944?

    Cavalry trained under Major General Innis Palmer Swift were trained to use horses to get to the point of contact, dismount and fight as well as the finest infantry. Only in the worst, unavoidable circumstances would they fight mounted. This was the tactical doctrine drilled into officers and men of the mounted 1st Cavalry Division until dismounted in 1943. American doctrine differed greatly from European views and certainly from Hollywood's interpretations.

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