This article is an abridged version of the chapter “With drafts on Tanks"From the book of A. Isaev" Ten myths of the Second World War "
Full ecstasy orgy of humiliation of cavalry reached in 90-x. Ideological blinders have fallen, and anyone who is not lazy, found it necessary to demonstrate their "professionalism" and "progressive views." Previously, the well-known domestic investigator of the initial period of the war, V. A. Anfilov moved to outright mockery. He writes: “According to the saying,“ Whoever hurts, he speaks about that, ”the inspector general of the Red Army cavalry, Colonel-General O.I. Gorodovikov spoke about the role of cavalry in the defense ... ". [40– C.48] Next - more. After scrolling through several pages of the same work, we are surprised to read about S.K. Tymoshenko at a meeting of the commanding staff in December 1940, such a comment by Viktor Alexandrovich: “Of course, the former division commander in the Cavalry Army of Budyonny couldn’t pay tribute to cavalry. “The cavalry in the modern war occupies an important place among the main arms of the armed forces,” he said contrary to common sense, “although there was little talk about it here at our meeting (they did the right thing. Auth.) In our vast theaters, cavalry will find wide application in solving the most important tasks of developing success and pursuing the enemy after the front has been broken. ” [40– C.56]
Was there a boy?
The thesis of the reassessment of the role of cavalry in the USSR simply does not correspond to reality. In the prewar years, the proportion of cavalry units was constantly decreasing.
The document, which quite unambiguously characterizes plans for the development of cavalry in the Red Army, is a report by the People’s Commissar of Defense to the Central Committee of the CPSU (B.), Dated 1937 in the fall, on the Red Army’s future development plan in 1938 – 1942. I quote:
a) Composition of cavalry in peacetime to 1.01.1938. Cavalry in peacetime (1.01.1938) consists of: 2 cavalry divisions (of which 5 is mountain and 3 are territorial), separate cavalry brigades, one separate and 8 reserve cavalry regiments and 7 cavalry corps directorates. The number of peacetime cavalry on 1.01.1938 – 95 690 people.
b) Organizational arrangements for the cavalry 1938 – 1942.
In the 1938 year:
a) the number of cavalry divisions is proposed to be reduced to 7 (from 32 to 25), by disbanding the 7 cavalry divisions using their personnel to replenish the remaining divisions and to strengthen the mechanized troops and artillery;
b) disband the two controls of the Cav [Alerian] Corps;
c) disband the two reserve cavalry [allery] regiments;
d) in the 3 cavalry [Aleri] corps, form one anti-aircraft artillery division (each 425 person);
e) reduce the composition of the cavalry division from 6600 man to 5900 man;
e) cavalry divisions OKDVA (2) to leave in the reinforced composition (6800 people). The number of mountain cavalry divisions have - 2620 man. " [25– KN.2, C.536]
The number of cavalry corps directorates decreased to 5, cavalry divisions to 18 (of which 4 in the Far East), mountain cavalry divisions to 5 and Cossack (territorial) cavalry divisions to 2. As a result of the proposed transformations, “peacetime cavalry as a result of the reorganization is reduced by 57 130 people and will have 138 people 560 people” (ibid.).
With the naked eye it can be seen that the document consists entirely of proposals of the form “reduce” and “dissolve”. Perhaps, after a rich repression in the army of 1938, these sensible plans on all sides were forgotten? Nothing of the kind, the process of disbanding the cavalry corps and reducing the cavalry as a whole did not stop.
In the autumn of 1939, the plans for cavalry reduction were put into practice.
The government-approved proposal from the People’s Commissariat of Defense against 21 in November 1939 provided for five cavalry corps as part of 24 cavalry divisions, 2 separate cavalry brigades and 6 reserve cavalry regiments. At the suggestion of NGOs from 4 in July 1940, the number of cavalry corps was reduced to three, the number of cavalry divisions - to twenty, the brigade remained alone and the reserve regiments - five. And this process continued until the spring of 1941. As a result, the cavalry divisions available in the USSR to 1938, 32, and the corps directorates to the beginning of the war, there remained the 7 corps and 4 cavalry divisions. Cavalry units were reorganized into mechanized ones. In particular, such a fate befell the 13 th cavalry corps, whose management and 4 division became the basis for the 34 mechanized corps. The commander of the cavalry corps, Lieutenant-General Dmitry Ivanovich Ryabyshev, led the mechanized corps and led him in June 8 to the battle against the German tanks under Dubno.
The theory of the combat use of cavalry in the USSR was done by people who looked at things soberly at things. This, for example, is a former cavalryman of the tsarist army, who became Boris Mikhailovich Shaposhnikov in the USSR as chief of the General Staff. He was the one who wrote the theory that became the basis for the practice of the cavalry in the USSR. It was the work "Cavalry (cavalry essays)" 1923, which became the first major scientific research on the tactics of cavalry, published after the Civil War. Work B.M. Shaposhnikova caused a great discussion at meetings of cavalry commanders and in the press: does the cavalry in modern conditions retain their former significance or are they only “riding infantry”.
Boris Mikhailovich quite intelligibly described the role of the cavalry in the new conditions and measures for its adaptation to these conditions:
“Changes made under the influence of modern weapons in the activities and device of the cavalry, are reduced:
In tactics. The modern power of fire made it extremely difficult for cavalry to engage in equestrian combat, reducing it to exceptional and rare instances. The normal type of cavalry battle is a combined battle, and the cavalry should not wait for action exclusively in the equestrian system, and, tying up the shooting battle, must lead it with full tension, trying to solve problems if the situation is not conducive to the production of equestrian attacks. Equestrian and foot fights are equivalent methods of action of the cavalry of our days.
In strategy. The power, destructiveness and range of modern weapons made it difficult for cavalry to work, but did not reduce its values and, on the contrary, it opens to the cavalry a true field of successful activity as an independent branch of the military. However, successful operational work of the cavalry will be possible only when the cavalry in its tactical activities show independence in solving problems in accordance with the current situation of warfare, not deviating from decisive action on foot.
In the organisation. The fight against modern weapons on the battlefield, bringing one in the cavalry closer to infantry actions, requires a change in the organization of cavalry closer to the infantry, marking a numerical increase in cavalry units and the division of the latter for foot combat similar to that adopted in infantry units. The addition of cavalry infantry units, even if moving quickly, is a palliative - the cavalry must independently fight the enemy’s infantry, gaining success on its own, so as not to limit its operational mobility.
In arms. The modern power of firearms to combat them requires the presence of the same powerful firearms in the cavalry. By virtue of this, the "armored cavalry" of our days must adopt for its riders a rifle with a bayonet, similar to infantry, a revolver, hand grenades and automatic rifles; to increase the number of machine guns in both divisional and regimental teams, to strengthen artillery, both in number and in caliber, by entering necessarily a howitzer and anti-aircraft guns; strengthen yourself with the use of armored vehicles with cannons and machine guns, light vehicles with the same means of fire, tanks and air assault squadrons. ” [41– C.117]
Note that the opinion expressed hot on the heels of after the Civil War (1923) was by no means affected by the euphoria of the use of cavalry in 1918 – 1920. The tasks and scope of the cavalry are quite clearly outlined and defined.
The opinion of S.M. Budyonny, often represented by a dull, stupid cavalryman, the enemy of army mechanization. In fact, his position on the role of cavalry in the war was more than balanced:
“The reasons for the rise or decline of cavalry should be sought in relation to the basic properties of this kind of troops to the basic data of the situation of a certain historical period. In all cases, when the war acquired a maneuverable character and the operational situation required the presence of mobile troops and decisive actions, the cavalry masses became one of the decisive elements of the armed forces. This is manifested by a known pattern throughout. stories cavalry; as soon as the possibility of maneuvering war was developed, the role of cavalry was now increasing and some operations ended with its blows. ” [42– C.180]
Semyon Mikhailovich indicates the scope of cavalry - maneuvering war, the conditions for which may arise at any stage of the historical development of tactics and technology. The cavalry for him is not a symbol, taken out of the Civil War, but a means of warfare that meets modern conditions:
"We are persistently fighting for the preservation of a powerful independent Red cavalry and for its further strengthening solely because a sober, realistic assessment of the situation convinces us of the undoubted need to have such cavalry in the system of our Armed Forces." [42– C.181]
No exaltation of cavalry is observed. “The horse will still show itself” is the fruit of an analysis of the current state of the Armed Forces of the USSR and its probable opponents.
What do the documents say?
If we turn from theoretical studies to documents, the preferred course of action of the cavalry becomes quite unambiguous. The cavalry combat regulations prescribed an offensive in the equestrian ranks only if "the situation is favorable (there is shelter, weakness or lack of enemy fire)". [43 – CH.1, C.82] The main program document of the Red Army of the 30-ies, the Field Manual of the Red Army 1936, read: “The strength of modern fire will often require cavalry on foot. The cavalry must therefore be ready for action on foot. " [44– C.13] Almost word for word, this phrase was repeated in the Field Statute of 1939 g. As we can see, in general, cavalrymen had to attack on foot, using the horse only as a vehicle.
Naturally, new means of struggle were introduced into the rules of cavalry. The 1939 field manual indicated the need for cavalry in conjunction with technical innovations:
“The most appropriate use of cavalry units in conjunction with tank units, motorized infantry and aviation - in front of the front (in the absence of contact with the enemy), on the approaching flank, in the development of a breakthrough, behind enemy lines, in raids and pursuits. Cavalry units are able to consolidate their success and keep the terrain. However, at the earliest opportunity, they need to be freed from this task in order to save them for maneuver. The actions of the cavalry unit must in all cases be reliably covered from the air. ” [45– P.29]
Perhaps, all these phrases have fallen into oblivion in practice? We will give the floor to veteran cavalrymen. Ivan Alexandrovich Yakushin, lieutenant, commander of the anti-tank platoon of the 24 Guards Cavalry Regiment of the 5 Guards Cavalry Division, recalled:
"How did the cavalry in World War II? Horses used as a means of transportation. There were, of course, equestrian fights - saber attacks, but this is rare. If the opponent is strong, sitting on a horse and cannot cope with him, then the command is given to dismount, horse breeders take the horses and leave. And horsemen work like infantry. Each horseman took five horses with him and took them to a safe place. So the squadron accounted for several people of the grooms. Sometimes the squadron commander said: "Leave the whole squadron of two horse guides, and the rest in the chain, to help." Machine-gun carts that had survived in the Soviet cavalry found their place in the war. Ivan Alexandrovich recalls: “Tachanki were also used only as a means of transportation. In equestrian attacks, they did indeed unfold and, as in the Civil War, they spire, but this was rare. [...] And as the battle began, the machine gun was removed from the cart, the horse breeders were taken away, the cart was also leaving, and the gun remained.
N.L. Dupak (8-I Guards Cavalry Rivne Red Banner Order of Suvorov Morozov Division) recalls:
“I went to the equestrian attack only at the school, and so I didn’t have to chop down, and I didn’t have to meet with the enemy cavalry. The school had such learned horses that, even after hearing a pitiful "hurray", they were already rushing forward, and only hold them back. Snoring ... No, it was not necessary. Fought dismounted. Horse breeders took horses to shelters. True, it was often cruelly paying for it, because the Germans used to fire at them with mortars. The breeder was alone on the compartment of the 11 horses. ” 
Tactically, the cavalry was closest to the motorized infantry units and formations. Motorized infantry on the march moved on vehicles, and in battle - on foot. At the same time, no one tells us terrible tales about trucks with infantrymen ramming tanks and knocking bumpers into “Krupp steel”. The mechanism of combat use of motorized infantry and cavalry in World War II was very similar. In the first case, the infantrymen landed before the battle with the trucks, the drivers drove the vehicles into shelters. In the second case, the cavalry dismounted, and the horses were driven to the shelters. The scope of the attack in the equestrian system resembled the conditions for the use of armored personnel carriers such as the German “ganomag” - the enemy’s fire system was upset, his morale was low. In all other cases, cavalry in the cavalry and armored personnel carriers on the battlefield did not appear. Both the Soviet cavalrymen with their swords and the Germans attacking the coffin "ganomagahs" are nothing more than a cinematic stamp. BTR armor was designed to protect against long-range artillery debris in the original positions, not on the battlefield.
1941 Red Phoenix Bird
After all the reductions, the cavalry of the Red Army met the war as part of the 4 corps and 13 cavalry divisions. Staffing cavalry divisions 1941 city had four cavalry regiments, horse-artillery battalion (eight 76-mm guns and eight 122-mm howitzers), Tank Regiment (64 tank "BT"), anti-aircraft battalion (eight 76-mm anti-aircraft guns and two batteries of anti-aircraft machine guns), communications squadron, sapper squadron, and other rear units and institutions. The cavalry regiment, in turn, consisted of four saber squadrons, a machine gun squadron (16 heavy machine guns and four 82-mm mortars), regimental artillery (four 76-mm and four 45-mm guns), an anti-aircraft gun (three 37-mm guns and three quad maxims). The total regular strength of the cavalry division was 8968 man and 7625 horses, the cavalry regiment 1428 man and 1506 horses, respectively. The cavalry corps of the two-divisional structure approximately corresponded to the motorized division, possessing a somewhat lower mobility and lower weight of artillery salvo.
In June, the 1941 Cavalry Corps was stationed in the Kiev Special Military District in the 5 Bessarabian them. G.I. Kotovsky and 3 th them. Parkhomenko cavalry divisions, in the Odessa district was 14-th cavalry corps in the 2-th them. Mf Blinov and 5-th Crimean cavalry divisions. All these connections were old connections of the Red Army with stable military traditions.
The cavalry corps were the most stable units of the Red Army in 1941. Unlike the mechanized corps, they were able to survive in endless retreats and 1941 environments. The P.A. Cavalry corps Belova and F.V. Kamkov became the "fire brigade" of the South-West direction. The first later participated in an attempt to release the Kiev "boiler". Guderian wrote the following about these events:
“September 18 has developed a critical situation in the Romny area. Early in the morning, on the eastern flank, a battle noise was heard, which became more and more intense during the subsequent period. Fresh enemy forces - the 9-I cavalry division and another division along with the tanks - advanced from the east on Romny in three columns, approaching the city at a distance of 800 meters. From the high tower of the prison, located on the outskirts of the city, I had a good opportunity to observe the enemy was advancing; the 24 tank corps was tasked to repel the enemy’s advance. To accomplish this task, the corps had at its disposal two battalions of the 10 Motorized Division and several anti-aircraft batteries. Due to the superiority of enemy aviation, our air reconnaissance was in serious condition. Lieutenant Colonel von Barsevish, personally taken off for reconnaissance, barely escaped the Russian fighters. Then came the raid of the enemy aircraft on Romny. In the end, we still managed to keep in our hands the city of Romny and the forward command post. [...] The threatened position of the city of Romny forced me on September 19 to transfer its command post back to Konotop. General von Geyer made it easier for us to make this decision with his radio message, in which he wrote: “The transfer of the command post from Romna will not be interpreted by the troops as a manifestation of cowardice on the part of the command of the tank group.” [37– С.299 – 300]
This time, Guderian does not have any excessive contempt for the attacking cavalrymen. The Romny did not become the last battle of the 2 Cavalry Corps. In late autumn 1941, the building of P.A. Belova played an important role in the battle of Moscow, where he received the title of Guards.
In early July, 1941 in the camps near the stanitsa of Urupskaya and near Stavropol began the formation of the 50 and 53 th cavalry divisions. The main personnel of the divisions consisted of recruits and volunteers of the Kuban villages of Prochnopok, Labinsk, Kurgan, Soviet, Voznesenskaya, Otradnaya, Terek Cossacks of the Stavropol villages Trunovskoe, Izobilnoe, Ust-Dzhegutinskoe, Novo-Mikhailovskoye, Troitskoe. 13 July 1941 began loading in echelons. The commander of the 50 division was Colonel Issa Alexandrovich Pliev, and the 53 division was brigade commander Kondrat Semenovich Melnik. 18 July 1941 of the division unloaded at the station Old Toropa, west of Rzhev. Thus began the story of another legendary cavalry corps - 2 Guards L.M. Dovatora.
Not only proven connections with long-standing military traditions won Guards ranks, but also newly formed corps and divisions. The reason for this, perhaps, is to be found in the level of physical training necessary for each cavalryman, which inevitably affected the moral qualities of the fighter.
1942 d. Instead of a breakthrough - raid
In the 1942 winter campaign, the newly formed cavalry divisions were actively used in battles. A typical example is the fighting on the southern sector of the front. E. von Mackensen, who fought there, subsequently recalled:
“At the time of receiving the command of the group in Stalino in the afternoon of 29 in January, the enemy was already dangerously close to the Dnepropetrovsk-Stalino railway and thus to the vital (as it was the only) railway supply line of the 17 army and 1 tank army. Focusing on the circumstances, initially it could only be about keeping the necessary communications and organizing the first defense. ” [48– S.58]
Only in the course of a stubborn struggle with the sappers from the pontoon battalions thrown into battle did the Germans manage to resist. His opponent was almost one cavalry: "The corps in the past eight weeks of combat fought against the Russian 9 rifle divisions, the 10 cavalry divisions and the 5 tank brigades." [48– S.65] The German commander is not mistaken in this case, he was really opposed by more cavalry than rifle divisions. Against the von McKenzen compound, the divisions of 1 (33, 56 and 68), 2 (62, 64, 70) battled against 5 (34, 60) I, the 79-I) cavalry corps, also the 30-I separate cavalry division of the Southern Front. The reasons for the wide use of cavalry in the battle of Moscow are quite obvious. At that time, there were simply no large mobile units in the Red Army. In the tank forces, the largest subunit was the tank brigade, which could be operatively used only as a means of infantry support. The association recommended at that time under the same command of several tank brigades also did not produce results. The only means allowing deep walks and detours was cavalry.
In the same scenario, the entry of cavalry into a deep breakthrough, the 1-th Guards Cavalry Corps PA A. acted. Belova. The ups and downs of the actions of the Western Front in the winter of 1942 are fairly well covered in memoirs and historical literature, and I will only allow myself to draw attention to several important details. Belov’s group was given really large-scale tasks. The Western Front Command Directive dated 2 in January 1942 stated:
“A very favorable environment was created for the entourage of the 4 th and 9 th armies of the enemy, and the main role should be played by the Belov strike group, operatively interacting through the front headquarters with our Rzhev group.” [TsAMO. F.208. Op.2513. D.205. L.6]
However, despite the losses incurred during the Soviet counteroffensive of December 1941, the troops of Army Group Center kept their controllability.
The breakthroughs, which the cavalry corps entered first, and then the 33-I army, were closed by the Germans by flank attacks. In fact, the surrounding troops had to go to semi-guerrilla actions. The cavalrymen in this capacity acted quite successfully. The Belova group received an order to enter their units only on June 6 (!!!) 1942 of the Partisan detachments, of which P.A. Belov formed rifle formations, again split up into separate units. An important role in the overall development of events was played by the mobility of the 1 Guards Cavalry Corps, provided by horses. Thanks to this corpus PA Belov managed to get to his not the shortest way, breaking the German barrier with his forehead, but in a roundabout way. In contrast, the 33 Army M.G. Efremova, not possessing the maneuverable capabilities of cavalrymen, in April 1942 was defeated when she tried to break into her band in the 43 army. The horses were transport and, however cynical it sounds, independently moving food stocks. This ensured greater stability of the cavalry in the not always successful offensive operations of 1942.
1942 Stalingrad - a forgotten feat of cavalry
The battle of Stalingrad became one of the decisive battles of the Second World War, the name of the city on the Volga became known to the whole world. The cavalry corps played a role in the offensive phase of the Battle of Stalingrad, which is difficult to overestimate. In any operation on the environment is required not only to cut off the path of retreat and supply lines surrounding, but to ensure the outer front of the ring. If you do not create a strong external front of the environment, then the enemy can unblock those who are surrounded by external strikes (usually an external line by mechanized connections), and all our labors go down the drain. They break through behind their backs as deep as possible to the rear of the enemy, seize key positions and occupy defenses.
At Stalingrad in November 1942, this role was assigned to three cavalry corps. The choice fell on the cavalry, since the Red Army at that time had few well-trained mechanized units. It must be said that the terrain in the Stalingrad area did not favor the use of cavalry. Large forest tracts, in which horsemen usually hid, were absent. On the contrary, the open terrain allowed the enemy to influence the cavalry corps by aviation.
The heaviest battles fell on the 4 Cavalry Corps. Ironically, he was the least equipped with the people and equipment of all three who participated in the operation. The corps arrived in the area of concentration after a long march (350 – 550 km). In parentheses, we note that the same march for a tank compound in the same period would have ended with a massive exit of tanks even before entering combat. According to the decision of the front command, two mobile connections were to be entered into the breakthrough: the 4 th mechanized corps, followed closely by the 4 th cavalry corps. After entering the breakthrough, the ways of the mechanized and cavalry corps diverged. The cavalrymen turned south to form the outer front of the encirclement, the tankers moved towards the shock group of the Don front to close the ring behind the back of the Paulus army. The cavalry corps was introduced into the November 20 1942 breakthrough. Romanian units were the opponents of the cavalry, and therefore the first target - Abganerovo - was captured on the morning of November 21 by an attack in the horse formation.
Large trophies, more 100 guns were taken at the station, warehouses with food, fuel and ammunition were captured. The hull losses were scanty compared to the achieved results: 81-division lost 10 people killed and 13 wounded, 61-I - 17 people killed and 21 wounded. However, the next task assigned to the 4 Cavalry Corps - to capture Kotelnikov, required 95 km to be overcome in a day, which is a nontrivial task even for a mechanized connection. Perhaps only the German motorcycle units reached this pace of advancement in the summer of 1941. In the morning of November 27, the 81 Cavalry Division reached Kotelnikov, but failed to capture the city. Moreover, here the cavalrymen were awaited by an unpleasant surprise in the face of the fresh 6 Panzer Division that arrived by rail from France. In Soviet literature, divisions from France often appeared on the battlefield, out of nowhere, but in this case everything is absolutely reliable. At the end of November 1942, the 6 Tank Division arrived from 27 in November in Kotelnikovo after rest and manning in France (the division suffered heavy losses in the winter of 1941 – 1942). After the recruitment and rearmament of the 6-I tank division was a serious force. In November, 1942 had a division consisting of 159 tanks (21 "Pz.II", 73 "Pz.III" with long-barreled 50-mm cannon, 32 "Pz.III" with short-barreled 75-mm gun, 24 "Pz.IV" "With a long-barreled 75-mm gun and 9 commander tanks). The overwhelming majority of the division’s tanks were the latest models capable of withstanding the T-34.
In fact, the Soviet 4 Cavalry Corps was in an extremely piquant situation. On the one hand, the formation of the external front of the encirclement demanded that our cavalrymen proceed to defense. On the other hand, it allowed the Germans to easily accumulate unloaded at railway stations in the area of Kotelnikov, or simply in the steppes from the platforms of people and the 6 armored division vehicles. First, the command gave the order to attack. In 21 h. 15 m. 29 November, the commander of the cavalry corps received from the headquarters of the 51 th army a second cipher telegram: “Fight for Kotelnikovo to continue all the time. To 12.00 30.11 pull up artillery, conduct reconnaissance. Attack of the enemy in Kotelnikovo in 12.00 30.12.42 ".
But on November 30, the commander of the 51 Army N.I. Trufanov suspended the operation, ordering parts of the 4 Cavalry Corps to stand up in defense, conduct reconnaissance to the west and south, bring up fuel and prepare for the capture of Kotelnikov.
Until 2 December, parts of the corps strengthened the occupied lines, brought fuel. Opponent tightened reserves and strengthened Kotelnikovo, Semichny, Majorsky, Pokhlebin. On December 3 on December 2 the order was received by the commander of the 51 army:
“The 4 of the Kav [Aleriy] Corps (without the 61 to the [Avaleriya] d [Ivizii]) with the 85 of the [Ankovy] br [Igada], covering itself from p. Don, by 11.00 2.12, reach the Mayorsky-Zakharov line and, by the end of 2.12, master the western part of Kotelnikov. One reinforced regiment to master the meliorative detour. Having mastered Kotelnikov, develop a strike along the railway to Dubovskoye. To the left comes 302-th with [trilkovy] d [iviziya], which by the end of 2 December should seize the eastern part of Kotelnikov. ”
The corps commander, in response, informed the commander of the 51 army about the absence of fuel in the 85 tank tank brigade. N.I. December 2 Trufanov ordered "the action of the order to seize Kotelnikov to suspend until a special order."
2 and 3 December, the corps and 85-th tank brigade units were replenished with fuel to one refueling. The headquarters of the 51 Army handed over the order: in the morning of December 3 to proceed with the execution of the order of the Army Commander from December 1 to seize Kotelnikov.
The delay was truly fatal. The commander of the 6 Panzer Division, Erhard Raus, later recalled: “I could not understand why the Russians stopped their advancement as soon as the first German units arrived, despite the fact that they had orders to seize Kotelnikov. Instead of attacking immediately, while they still had a quantitative advantage, the Russians passively watched the accumulation of our forces in the city. ” [50– P.144]
Finally, on December 3, the 4 Cavalry Corps (without J. Kuliev's 61 Cavalry Division), reinforced by the 85 Tank Brigade and the Katyush guards mortar division, came out of the occupied area. In 7 hours, the advanced units of the 81 Cavalry Division met with stubborn resistance in the Pokhlebin area, but they rejected the enemy and captured the village. According to German data, the losses of the attackers amounted to six tanks at the cost of complete destruction of a platoon of the newest 75-mm anti-tank guns. The cavalry division with reinforcements crossed the Aksai river and moved south to reach Kotelnikov from the rear. But further attempts to attack were repulsed by the enemy. By that time, prisoners from the 6 Panzer Division, indicating the arrival of this compound from France, were at the disposal of the Soviet command.
Assessing the situation and fearing the environment of the 81 Division in the Pokhlebin area, the commander of the 4 Cavalry Corps, Major General Timofey Timofeevich Shapkin, asked the 51 Army commander to withdraw the corps. The commander of the 51 Army ordered: “Perform a previously assigned task, taking possession of Major, Zakharov, and Semichny before dawn. The start of the offensive is 7.00 4.12.42. ”
A secondary report in the morning of December 4 to the commander of the 51 army about the need to withdraw the corps commander could not, because neither the commander of the general N.I. Trufanov, no chief of staff of Colonel AM Kuznetsov was not. Parts of the hull back in December 19 3 received orders to continue the offensive. But by that time the Germans had managed to concentrate sufficient forces for a counterattack, and had accumulated on the flanks of the Soviet cavalry that had broken into the depths of their defense. In fact, a full-fledged tank division lined up around a reinforced artillery cavalry division, possessing both qualitative and quantitative superiority. Already in 10 hours of 4 December, they opened high density artillery fire. In the middle of the day, all the 150 tanks of both tank battalions of the 6 tank division and infantry of the 2nd battalion of the 114 motorized infantry regiment on the Ganomag armored personnel carrier attacked the 81 cavalry division in the Pokhlebin area. All artillery, including the 1113 anti-aircraft artillery regiment arrived at night and anti-tank guns, took part in repelling a tank attack.
14.00 81 Cavalry Division was completely surrounded, tanks and motorized infantry Germans began to compress the resulting "boiler". The cavalrymen fought throughout the day, and with the onset of darkness they began to break in small groups from the encirclement.
Subsequently, Erhard Raus described the battle as his 6 tank division with the surrounded 81 cavalry division and the 65 tank brigade:
“By 10.00, the fate of the IV Cavalry Corps was decided. There were no longer any ways to retreat, despite this, the surrounded enemy showed fierce resistance for several hours. Russian tanks and anti-tank guns fought with the companies of the 11 Tank Regiment, rolling down the hills. The stream of tracers of armor-piercing shells continuously rushed up and down, but soon more and more tracers flew down and less and less in response to them from below. One volley after another fell upon Pokhlebin, raising the sultans of the black earth. The city began to burn. The sea of fire and smoke hid the terrible end of the brave garrison. Only individual shots of anti-tank guns met our tanks entering the city. The grenadiers who followed our tanks were forced to use hand grenades to break the resistance of the enemy, who fought hard for every house and trench. ” [50– P.150 – 151]
The losses of the 11 Tank Regiment of the 6 Tank Division amounted to the 4 of the tank, irretrievably lost (plus another, destroyed before December 3), and 12 temporarily out of service.
The losses of the 81 cavalry division in the battle of Pokhlebin killed, wounded and missing were 1897 man and 1860 horses. Parts of the division lost fourteen 76,2-mm guns, four 45-mm guns, four 107-mm mortars, eight 37-mm anti-aircraft guns. The division commander, Colonel V.G. Baumshtein, Chief of Staff Colonel Terekhin, Chief of the Political Department of the Regimental Commissar Turbin. All this happened a few days before the events described in the “Hot Snow” of Bondarev. Despite the tragic outcome of the battle for Kotelnikovo, the Soviet cavalry played an important role in the initial stage of the defensive battle against attempts to unlock Paulus’s army. The 81 Cavalry Division led an isolated battle in the depth of enemy building in the separation of 60 – 95 from its neighbors against a large reserve of Germans. If it were not there, nothing prevented the 6 Panzer Tank Division from spending time and, with the arrival of the first echelons, moving closer to Stalingrad, disembarking at stations north of Kotelnikov. The presence of the Soviet cavalry made it necessary to sustain a pause for the period of arrival of the main forces of the division in Kotelnikovo and then spend time on defensive, and then offensive battle with it.
Only December 12, the main forces of their Kotelnikovskoy grouping go over to the counter-offensive in order to break the encirclement from the southwest, compressing F. Paulus's 6 army near Stalingrad. In the period of December 12 – 17, the 4 Cavalry Corps, together with other units of the 51 Army with heavy fighting, ensured the concentration of the 2 Guards Army.
Despite the lengthy story about Cannes near Pokhlebin, the commander of the 6 Panzer Division, Raus, seriously assessed the threat from the remnants of the 4 Cavalry Corps:
“It was also impossible to ignore the remnants of the 4 Cavalry Corps, concentrated in the area of the Upper Yablochny and Upper Kormoyarsky (on the flank of the 6 Tank Division. - AI). According to our estimates, it was dismounted cavalry, reinforced by 14 tanks. These forces were not enough for a tank division, but they threatened our supply lines. ” [50– P.157]
It so happened that the feat of the 2 Guards Army on the Myshkovka River was repeatedly sung in literature and on the silver screen. The actions of those who ensured the deployment of the 2 Guards Army unfortunately remained unknown. This was particularly true of cavalry, in particular the 4 Cavalry Corps. Therefore, for many years, cavalry bore the stamp of an obsolete and non-patronized branch of service. Without him, in fact, the entourage of the army of Paulus near Stalingrad could fail.
1945 Last battle
The cavalry found its use even in such a highly fortified area as East Prussia. Here is what KK writes about the use of cavalry corps in the East Prussian operation. Rokossovsky: “Our equestrian corps N.S. Oslikovsky, bursting ahead, flew into Allenstein (Olsztyn), where several trains with tanks and artillery had just arrived. With a dashing attack (of course, not in the equestrian ranks!), Stunning the enemy with guns and machine guns, the cavalrymen captured echelons. It turns out that the German units relocated from the east to close the gap made by our troops. ” [52– C.303] We see that Konstantin Konstantinovich, just in case, for heard stories about drafts on Krupp armor, specifies - “not in a horse system”, with an exclamation mark. Indeed, the 3 Guards Cavalry Corps, already familiar to us, was introduced after breaking through the enemy defenses and moved to Allenstein on horseback, after which he entered the battle on foot. From the air corps N.S. Oslikovsky was supported by the 230-I assault air division, covered by the 229 th fighter aviation division. In short, the cavalry corps was a full-fledged mobile unit, the “obsolete” of which consisted only in the use of horses instead of cars.
Wehrmacht motorization is usually greatly exaggerated, and, worst of all, they forget about the purely cavalry units that existed in each infantry division. This is a reconnaissance detachment of regular 310 people. He almost completely moved in the equestrian system - it included 216 riding horses, 2 motorcycle and the whole 9 car. The divisions of the first wave had armored cars, in the general case, the reconnaissance of the Wehrmacht infantry division was carried out by a quite ordinary cavalry squadron, reinforced by 75-mm light infantry and 37-mm anti-tank guns.
In addition, in the Wehrmacht at the time of the outbreak of war with the USSR, there was one cavalry division. In September 1939, she was still a cavalry brigade. The brigade included in Army Group North participated in the battles of Narew, storming Warsaw in mid-September 1939. In the fall of 1939, it was reorganized into a cavalry division and as such participated in the campaign in the West, ending it on the coast Atlantic. Before the attack on the USSR, it was included in the 2-th tank group of Heinz Guderian. The division quite successfully operated in conjunction with tank formations, maintaining their rate of advance. The problem was only supplying her 17 000 horses. Therefore, it is in winter 1941 – 1942. It was reorganized into the 24 tank division. The revival of the cavalry in the Wehrmacht took place in the middle of 1942, when the Army Group North, Center and South formed one cavalry regiment each.
A special feature of the organization of the regiment was the presence in its composition of an armored battalion with a company of motorized infantry on the 15 semi-tracked armored personnel carrier "ganomag." In addition, by the middle of 1942, cavalry appeared among the troops, which are usually associated with "tigers" and "panthers" - SS men.
Back in 1941, the 1 Cavalry SS brigade was formed in Poland, deployed by the 1942 summer in the 1 Cavalry SS division. This division participated in one of the largest battles of the Army Group Center - a reflection of the Soviet offensive in the Rzhev region, conducted as part of Operation Mars in November-December 1942. The appearance of the Tigers and the Panthers did not lead to the destruction of German cavalry .
On the contrary, in 1944, the individual army cavalry regiments were reorganized into 3 and 4 cavalry brigades. Together with the 1 of the Hungarian cavalry division, they made up the cavalry corps Von Hartenek, which participated in the battles on the border of East Prussia, in December 1944 it was transferred to Hungary. In February, the brigade reorganized 1945 (!!! - AI) into divisions, and in March of the same year they took part in the last German offensive in World War II - the counter attack of the SS tank army at Lake Balaton. In Hungary, the two SS cavalry divisions, 8, Florian Geyer, and 22, Maria Theresa, formed in 1944, also fought. Both were destroyed in the “boiler” at Budapest. The 1945 Cavalry SS division "Lutzov" was formed from the remnants of the divisions that had jumped out of the entourage of the 37 in March.
As we see, the Germans did not disdain this kind of troops like cavalry. Moreover, they ended the war, having several times more cavalry units available than at its beginning.
Tales of stupid, backward cavalrymen, rushing to tanks with sacks, are at best a delusion of people poorly versed in tactical and operational matters. As a rule, these errors are the result of the dishonesty of historians and memoirists. The cavalry was quite adequate in time to the means of conducting maneuverable military operations in 1939 – 1945. This was most clearly demonstrated by the Red Army. The cavalry of the Red Army in the prewar years has undergone a sharp reduction. It was believed that it could not seriously compete with tank and motorized units on the battlefield. Of the 1938 cavalry divisions and 32 corps controls available to 7 by the start of the war, only 4 corps and 13 cavalry divisions remained. However, the experience of the war showed that the cavalry hastened with the reduction of cavalry. Creating only motorized parts and connections was, firstly, unaffordable for the domestic industry, and secondly, the nature of the terrain in the European part of the USSR in many cases did not favor the use of motor vehicles. All this led to the revival of large cavalry formations. Even at the end of the war, when the nature of the hostilities changed significantly as compared with the 1941 – 1942, the Red Army successfully operated the 7 cavalry corps, 6 of them bore the names of the Guards. In fact, during the sunset, the cavalry returned to the 1938 standard, the 7 cavalry corps directorates. The Wehrmacht cavalry experienced a similar evolution - from one brigade in 1939 to several cavalry divisions in 1945.
In 1941 – 1942 Horsemen played a crucial role in defensive and offensive operations, becoming the indispensable "quasi-infantry" of the Red Army. In fact, cavalry until the appearance in the Red Army of large independent mechanized formations and formations was the only maneuverable means of the operational level. In 1943 – 1945, when the mechanisms of tank armies were finally debugged, cavalry became a subtle tool for solving especially important tasks in offensive operations. Tellingly, the number of cavalry corps was approximately equal to the number of tank armies. There were six tank armies in 1945, seven cavalry corps. Most of those and others wore the title of the Guard at the end of the war. If tank armies were the sword of the Red Army, then cavalry was a sharp and long sword. A typical task for cavalrymen in 1943 – 1945. was the formation of the external front of the environment, a breakthrough far into the depths of the enemy’s defenses at a time when the old front fell apart and a new one had not yet been created. On a good highway, cavalry, of course, lagged behind motorized infantry. But on unpaved roads and in a wooded and marshy area, it could advance at a rate quite comparable to that of a motorized infantry. Moreover, unlike motorized infantry, the cavalry did not require the constant delivery of many tons of fuel. This allowed the cavalry corps to advance deeper than most of the mechanized formations and to ensure a high rate of advance of armies and fronts in general. The breakthroughs of cavalry to a greater depth allowed the forces of the infantrymen and tankers to save.
Argue that cavalry is a backward branch of the armed forces, only by thoughtlessness of the leadership remained in the Red Army, can only a person who does not have the slightest idea about the tactics of cavalry and vaguely imagines its operational use.