The results of the cavalry battles of the Old World. H. 3
We have written in detail about this, but only recall the strategic significance of these operations.
19. 09. 1918. British troops launched an offensive on the Palestinian front - operating against the three Turkish armies that occupied positions between the Horan massif and the sea. The British planned, after breaking through the Turkish front, to throw cavalry into the breached. The front was broken through - and cavalry formations and units (4-I, 5-I and Australian divisions, Indian cavalry brigade and French cavalry regiment) E. Allenby rushed into the breach. After 2 of the day, the cavalry reached Nablus (behind enemy lines), after 6 of days it was in Jordan, and after 3 of the day in Damascus. The result was a complete defeat of the Turkish hejas army, most of which was captured with artillery and carts, and the commander, General Liman von Sanders, managed to escape only because of the speed of the car - losing documents and part of the headquarters. For 15 days the cavalry passed more than 500 km, took 46000 prisoners. This result was achieved thanks to coordinated actions of the armed forces, the combination of a frontal strike with a flank round. The British cavalry used both cavalry attacks and fire fighting.
In the Balkans in the autumn of 1918, after the Allies broke through the Dobropole front and the withdrawal of Bulgaria from the war, the French cavalry under the general command of Franchet d'Esperey vigorously pursued the isolated German 11 army using an Allied victory.
By the evening of September 23, the cavalry is occupied by Prilep - the most important communication hub located in 70 km from the starting line. Here the cavalry received from General d Espere a new target of action, Uskub (Skopje), a junction of dirt and railway tracks, which was 80 kilometers to the north and was the base of the enemy troops. Uskub was the key of Kalkandelen's defile - according to the latter, the only route of retreat of the 11 Army and the point through which reinforcements came to the enemy from the north. The way to Uskub, through the valleys of Brod and Veles, was stubbornly defended by the enemy. While the infantry was following in the footsteps of the enemy, the cavalry boldly headed for the roadless mountains. She overcame incredible difficulties, and September 28 approached Uskuba - and without being discovered. 29-th at dawn, the city was suddenly attacked from the 3-s sides and by noon, after hot battles, was taken - and the 11-I army lost the only way of retreat, and in the 90000 composition, the man surrendered.
01. 10. part of the cavalry detachment was transferred to the Serbian 1 Army - continuing to pursue the enemy in the north. 3-5 in October at Varanya and 9-14 in October at Nis equestrian squad fought in cooperation with the Serbian army. Having captured Pirot and Bela Palanka in the direction of Sofia-Niš, the cavalry prevented the German reinforcements, urgently called from Romania, from participating in the battle.
15-23 in October, the cavalry group fought hard with enemy rear-guard troops at Knjazhevac (16. 10.), Slatina (20. 10.), Negotin (23. 10.). Having taken Prakhovo and Mosnak, she went to the Danube.
For 22 of the day, the cavalry overcame about 700 km, having conducted numerous battles with the enemy. The difficulty of the operation was to overcome the difficult conditions of the terrain, the scarcity of communication lines that significantly hampered supply (especially during a quick march), and the need to fear all the time for the safety of their right flank - because the Germans, straightening the situation, brought up reinforcements from the Crimea and Of Ukraine - through Bulgaria. Despite all the thorns, the operation is implemented more than well. The main reason for success is the speed and courage of cavalry actions.
It is necessary to say about the successful actions of the Italian cavalry - the latter managed to use the fruits of victory at Vittorio-Veneto.
29. 10. 1918, the front of the Austro-Hungarians was broken, and in the evening cavalry units approached Vittorio, located in 20 km from the front. The breakthrough was expanded - and the cavalcore of the Count of Turin was thrown into it. 3 November 40-km front cavalry already passed through the Tagliamento (far in the Austrian rear), capturing prisoners and headquarters. The truce ceased victorious persecution.
Italian cavalry escort Austrian prisoners.
Instructive is the work of the English and French cavalry in France in the period 1917 - 1918. - At Cambrai, under Soissons and Amiens.
Even the brief mention of the above operations speaks of the great role of cavalry - not only in the theater of operations, but also on the battlefield.
As soon as the conditions came under which the main quality of the cavalry could manifest itself - mobility - it tried to show itself. The cavalry has adapted to the new combat situation, having made the necessary evolution. We see that in 1918, immediately as a positional war again gives way to maneuverability, the role of cavalry manifests itself. Everywhere where it was necessary to disperse waves of Germans flooded the area, French cavalcourses appeared - immediately after the transitions, they threw themselves into the unknown of the situation and created a modest defense line, restoring the front, and then going over to the offensive.
Cavalry patrol on the Somme.
The former chief of staff of the Allied armies of Marshal F. Foch, General Weygand, on the pages of the Revue de Cavalerie wrote that by participating in a positional war, the cavalry made the right conclusions about the power and use of fire — and being equipped with a powerful firearm in 1921 weapons and applying new tactics, she was just as scary for the German infantry, as in 1914, for enemy cavalry. The cavalry again took pride of place on the battlefield - bringing the power of its fire along with the preserved mobility.
We cannot fail to note the missed opportunities for the work of cavalry - when its skillful use could be of immense benefit and bring significant results.
In the decisive moments of the Marne battle, when the 50-kilometer gap between the German 1 and 2 armies formed, covered only by Marvitz's cavalry corps, couldn’t the energetic and skillfully driven cavalry mass promise the allies a decisive result?
In 1918, General Fonville noted that if the Allies had enough shells the next day after the Battle of Marne, and the cavalry was not exhausted by useless raids in Belgium, they would have achieved results that were incalculable in consequences.
If G. von Moltke in 1914, after his victory over the French under Charleroi, expelled the large cavalry masses that had been preserved for this purpose in reserve, then it can be said with certainty that the disassembled French troops were in order would have been achieved with much more difficulty, and the huge losses of the French prisoners would have been even more significant. And in the end, the front would have stopped not on the Marne, but much further south.
The absence of cavalry among the Germans as an independent branch of the troops on the Western Front in 1918 had an important consequence - this fact indicates that the German High Command underestimated the role of cavalry as a mobile reserve, introduced into the breakthrough. And in many earlier cases, the very possibility of using cavalry for the development of a breakthrough was not provided for - which was the gravest mistake of the German command. 2 of the most vivid examples confirming the opinion expressed is the breakthrough of the Russian front in May 1915 from Gorlitsy - Tarnov and 16. 07. 1915 from Lublin - Hill (all dates - in a new style).
Both operations were planned and prepared by the German High Command (not the command of the German Eastern Front) - accordingly, it had every opportunity to group serious amounts of cavalry to use these breakthroughs. Of course, if this idea were present in the minds of the High Command, the Head of the Field General Staff E. Falkengine, a protégé of the latter and the commander of the German 11 Army (then the Mackensen Army Group) A. von Mackensen, and also the commander of the German Eastern Front P. von Hindenburg (despite the fact that the bulk of the German cavalry on the Russian front was concentrated in the Baltic States - in the hands of P. Hindenburg - E. Ludendorff). For the implementation of a promising breakthrough, starting in the fall of 1914, the 8 cavalry divisions were redeployed from the Western front to the Eastern (in addition to the division deployed on our front in August 1914). At the beginning of 1915, all of this cavalry was reduced to four cavalry corps — all of which were sent by the Germans to secondary sectors of the Russian front: in the areas of Mlava, Suwalki, and Memel-Gumbinnen. Not one of the corps was thrown at the main, Galitsky, theater of operations - in the region of Gorlitsy - Tarnova, where a decisive blow was to be delivered.
What do we see?
A major miscalculation of the German command was the fact that his cavalry in the spring-summer campaign 1915, in the bulk was concentrated in the Baltic States - to the detriment of both the Polish and (especially) Galician theaters of operations. But in the latter case, the cavalry could bring much more benefit - especially since the "ram" in the face of the shock German 11 army operated in Galicia. The breakthrough took place on May 2, and by May 6 it reached 160 km along the front and 30 km deep. But in order for the tactical success achieved by the Austro-Germans to bring strategic results, they needed to cross the r. To cut down and cut off the Russian troops that were operating in front of the Austrian 3 Army, the retreat route going north from the mountains. At a pace to implement this task was only a cavalry. But ... The lack of a sufficient number of cavalry allowed the Russians to prepare new defensive positions. The Russian front was slowly retreating, and the pace of advancement of Austro-Germans was insignificant — for example, A. von Mackensen’s 11 Army, developing the Gorlitsky breakthrough, 100-km distance from Gorlitsy to r. San overcame 2 of the week - that is, only 7 - 8 km per day. Naturally, the introduction of cavalry into the breakthrough (also on the condition that the Russians threw reserves late and brought them into battle in parts, in batches) promised a tempting result.
Unable to achieve decisive results, the Austro-Germans continued the offensive. The June offensive was also successful, and Lvov was taken. Austro-Germans persistently continue the offensive, only by changing only the direction from east to north - into the space between the pp Wisla and the Bug. On July 16, the Russian front was broken for the second time, and until August 9 it was possible to expect serious results - but now the offensive was not developed, exhausted, and stopped - which allowed the Russians to gain a foothold, eventually moving away 35 days by 300 km.
Why was the German cavalry transferred in large numbers from the Western Front not gathered into a fist and not used as a mobile reserve — to develop the breakthrough and exploitation of the achieved success?
General Lyavil-Delvil in August 1920 on the pages of the “Revue militaire generale”, reviewing E. Falkengine’s book in his article, notes that perhaps A. Mackensen was not aware of the need to concentrate cavalry or he was restrained from these actions by order from above . But in any case, the blame lies with the Chief of the Field General Staff, E. Falkengine, who is responsible for the distribution of troops on the fronts. The reason that the cavalry was not applied, lies either in the fallacy of the High Command’s view on the use of cavalry or in the insufficient degree of influence of the latter on some of the subordinate commanders. In any case, as the general states, the German command was not fully aware of the tasks that the cavalry was able to perform, and of 3's most important tasks of cavalry formations: reconnaissance, creating a curtain and developing the success achieved by combined arms and associations, as experience of war showed , the German command sometimes did without the first, widely used the second and did not believe in the possibility of the third.
Ljavil-Delvil also hints, apparently, on the influence and excessive independence of the commander-in-chief of the German Eastern Front P. von Hindenburg, and who has "tidied up" his hands almost all cavalry divisions.
A completely analogous case of underestimating the role of cavalry can also be given for the Western Front - during the Great Offensive of 1918, or, as the Germans called "Offensive for Peace", which is decisive for the outcome of the campaign. Conditions for its conduct seemed favorable. The German army on the Western Front was increased by the troops deployed from the Eastern and Italian fronts, outnumbered the Allies in the 30 divisions.
Beginning on March 21, by March 27 the offensive achieved great success. Within a few days, German space was transformed into 50 - 60 km, and the Germans reached the Arras-Corby line (15 km east of Amiens), capturing 90 thousands of prisoners and 1300 guns. The British army suffered a heavy defeat, and the junction of the French and English armies - broken. As in the days of the Marne Battle, Paris was under threat. It was possible to exploit tactical success, to achieve strategic results not through further frontal strikes, but with the help of a new maneuver — the goal of which was to seize Amiens and, with the threat of British communication, the final separation of the allies. Perform this task could only cavalry. Owing to her mobility, she, ahead of her allies on the paths of movement, could threaten their flank and rear.
The 26-27 March situation was favorable for the cavalry’s actions - if introduced into a breakthrough, it would have only the cavalry and advanced infantry units of the allies as the enemy (the main forces of the allied infantry that had been deployed in the area had not yet landed). But on the breakthrough section, the Germans did not have cavalry divisions - after all, all the 3 cavalry divisions that had remained with them by this time were on the Russian front, where their presence was considered more useful.
Describing the use of cavalry in the March offensive of the Germans, Field Marshal D. Haig, commander of the British army, noted that if the German command had only 2-3 well-trained cavalry divisions at hand, the German cavalry, having crashed between the French army, significantly complicated the allies task.
27. 05. 1918. Germans are again attacking the front from Oise to Reims. They are once again breaking through the French front (the breakthrough is hardly filled with the cavalry formations of the French arriving in time), but even now the Germans did not have cavalry for the development of the achieved success. If there were cavalry, it is difficult to predict where the May front would have stabilized.
Such inept use of cavalry is the fault of the German High Command. And we have to admit that the German command was not fully aware of the tasks that cavalry could perform.
We refer to the opinion of the authoritative and responsible participants of the war - the British commander-in-chief, Field Marshal D. Haig, the German General von Kul and the French General Lyaville-Delville. And the authoritative opinion of the named individuals allows us to say that the reduction of cavalry is one of the most important mistakes of the German High Command, which manifested itself most clearly and played a particularly destructive role in the decisive - final stage of world war.
Продолжение следует ...
- Oleynikov Alexey
- The results of the cavalry battles of the Old World. H. 1.
The results of the cavalry battles of the Old World. H. 2
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