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Cambrai Question


n cherry
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Hopefully this isn't too much of a stupid question but looking at the battle, the plan was in part for the tanks to crush the wire, the infantry to mop up and the cavalry to exploit the gains.....

Given that crushed barbed wire still hurts if you walk on it......how did the horses cross it......did they lay down special walkways......??????

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Hopefully this isn't too much of a stupid question but looking at the battle, the plan was in part for the tanks to crush the wire, the infantry to mop up and the cavalry to exploit the gains.....

Given that crushed barbed wire still hurts if you walk on it......how did the horses cross it......did they lay down special walkways......??????

The initial tanks did a lot of wire crushing. Then specially adapted tanks used grapnels and steel cable to drag enough back into great piles to create pathways for both infantry and cavalry. See Bryn Hammond's excellent book.

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Just reading about Third Army closing in on Cambrai in October 1918. Lots of artillery, but would tanks have been in action here and also used in a far more different role than Nov.'17?

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Special walkways were also built. They were called 'tracks'. The Cavalry Track Battalions had responsibility for their creation. The 4th Cavalry Division, for example, created their track battalion from 20 British officers and more than 500 dismounted Indian NCOs and sowars. Prior to Cambrai, they practised on reconstructions of the German trench lines, working on bridging trenches and the myriad of other tasks needed to create the tracks. Although the wire-pulling tanks could create broad gaps, even small remnants of barbed wire could incapacitate the horses. So a major task included tidying up behind the tanks.

At Zero Hour, a British officer, known as the 'track leader' accompanied the infantry attack. He was supported by 26 men, carrying notice boards for each trench. Once the board was placed into position, the rest of the men got to work creating the bridges and clearing up the intervening ground.

The British cavalry became very proficient at this process, which played an important part of their success in the Battle of Amiens.

Robert

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Just reading about Third Army closing in on Cambrai in October 1918. Lots of artillery, but would tanks have been in action here and also used in a far more different role than Nov.'17?

Tanks were most certainly used in the second battle of Cambrai. Mainly Mk V and MkV* but also some whippets (Medium A) and Mk IVs. This battle saw the debut of the American 301st with Mk V and V* tanks. One of the obstacles was the Canal Du Nord and four older tanks (Mk IIs?) were fitted out as bridging tanks intended to drive into the canal however they all broke down before reaching it - despite this all but one of the fighting tanks assigned to this part of the battlefield managed to cross the canal. Fontaine Notre Dame was captured this time as was Bourlon Wood, the attack on these being closely coordinated with an air attack on German anti tank guns. 10,000 prisoners and 200 guns were taken in the opening stages of this battle.

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Thank you for enhancing my reading, Centurion.Those additional details are really interesting. I am beginning to understand the battles with tanks and co-ordinated attacks by air , troops and artillery. What really becomes clear is the constant movement forward, but not becoming isolated, and vulnerable. This is new territory for me so forgive the ignorance please.

Phil.

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