Jump to content
Great War Forum

Remembered Today:

Sign in to follow this  
Steven Broomfield

Great War Horses, BBC4

Recommended Posts

phil andrade

Shock and Awe in the Great War : Australian mounted style.

 

For those of us who know little about this theatre of the war - and I am one of them - this was a revelation and it made a big impact on me.

 

Very good and emphatically recommended.

 

Phil

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Ron Clifton

Liz

 

I thought that a few officers would have been able to ship their horses back at their own expense.

 

Ron

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Steven Broomfield
9 hours ago, squirrel said:

Must have missed the reference to the "few Jocks" that helped the Australians win the war.

 

51 Highlanders.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Gareth Davies

They were in France & Flanders.  52nd were in Palestine.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
squirrel
3 hours ago, Liz in Eastbourne said:

Ron

If they had wanted to, they might still have run up against the concern about disease spreading to Australia's livestock industry, as mentioned in this account:

 

https://www.awm.gov.au/about/our-work/publications/wartime/44/page54_bou

 

Liz

The way it was presented in the programme seemed to suggest that all 130,000 horses were destroyed - not at all like that account. Thanks for posting.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Liz in Eastbourne
55 minutes ago, squirrel said:

The way it was presented in the programme seemed to suggest that all 130,000 horses were destroyed - not at all like that account. Thanks for posting.

 

Yes, I thought so too, but wasn't sure if my memory was right.  But the wording of the script in places seemed to have been taken straight from this account.  

 

Liz

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
seaJane

I understood that some horses were sold on for British Army use, or did I mishear?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Liz in Eastbourne

No, you're right, Jane, and that's what it says in the account.  I think the fact that none of the horses went back to Australia, plus the sad stories, sticks in the mind as if they were all killed, but they weren't, as the article makes clear.

 

Liz

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Steven Broomfield
12 hours ago, Gareth Davies said:

They were in France & Flanders.  52nd were in Palestine.

 

I know. I was responding to Squirrel's reference (as I assumed) to 1066 and all that.

 

 

The ones that were destroyed were probably considerably better off than any sold for local use.

Edited by Steven Broomfield

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Gareth Davies

Sorry, was being slow.

 

What did you think of it?

Edited by Gareth Davies

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
squirrel
11 hours ago, Liz in Eastbourne said:

I think the fact that none of the horses went back to Australia, plus the sad stories, sticks in the mind as if they were all killed, but they weren't, as the article makes clear.

 

Liz

The somewhat sentimental presentation, using 21st century values regarding animals, stuck in the craw somewhat.

Horses at the time were used and abused the same as we use trucks, lorries, buses and cars today. Most of the horses lost in all theatres during WW1 were due to the weather conditions, lack of suitable forage and shelter and poor animal management in some circumstances rather than enemy action, even though the AVC and Remount Services were greatly improved after the disastrous loss of horses in the Boer War.

Edited by squirrel

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
mbriscoe

Just having a look through newspapers, to see if any mention of their return home but did not spot anything.  The Australian newspaper archive is free access

 

 

Noticed this in the British Newspaper Archive, shows many units were involved

Yorkshire Evening Post - Tuesday 24 September 1918

Reports that the "utter defeat of the cavalry would not have been possible but for General Allenby's bold use of cavalry".

 

It mentions British Yeomanry, Australian Light Horse, Indian Cavalry and French mounted troops.

 

"A regiment of Indian Lancers, acting as advance guard, had an opportunity wiiich all cavalry men_ desire. A Turkish battalion was lightly dug on flat about two miles from the entrance to the pass - The Lancers dashed out of the narrow defile, extended, and. galloping over this plain of Armageddon, crashed into the infantry machine gunners with the lance, killing ninety and wounding as many more. They took 410 prisoners. "

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
phil andrade

Squirrel,

 

There is , as you say, an annoying tendency to depict events of a century ago in a manner designed to flatter twenty first century sensibilities.

 

When it comes to the fate of horses, though, I have read accounts that bear out the sentiments that are apparent in the story we're discussing.

 

I don't have sources to hand, but I'm sure that Jack Sheldon- in one of his books about the German Army ( Ypres 1914, I think )  - relates a story of how the shooting of horses was so distressing that the local German commander insisted that the task be assigned to recruits from an urban background .

 

The farming soldiers were so upset that they were spared the duty.

 

I must admit that the anecdote surprised me...I would have thought that the rural population were inured to sentiment of that kind.

 

Phil

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Stuart24

There was some cracking original film footage, and for once the modern 'reconstructions' were pretty good too.  The script could have been worse but it also could have been better.  

 

What the Australians did at Romani was outstanding, no question, and I have immense respect for them for that, but how much screen time would it have taken to mention that the New Zealand Mounted Rifles were there right next to them?  There were several cases of this, where very little effort would have made the programme a lot fairer.

 

Apart from the account of Romani being misleading, I was amused by the capture of Beersheba being immediately followed by how the Ottoman 'gave up Jerusalem without a fight' (or words to that effect).  Technically true if looking at 8/9 December 1917, but it totally ignores 5 weeks of very hard fighting (including by the Light Horse) and leaves you with an utterly false impression of that campaign.  Oh, and they didn't seem to realise that the Ottomans did not surrender on the same day as the Germans.

 

Little things, I know, but they have a massive impact on how the documentary portrayed the campaigns and yet would have been easily fixed by very few words.

 

Cheers

Stuart

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Stuart24
On 06/09/2017 at 22:21, John_Hartley said:

I think I understand that there are cavalry units and there are mounted infantry units. Assuming I'm right, which is the Light Horse, please?

 

And what's the difference between the two (assuming there is a difference)?

Hi John,

 

Technically there are three types of mounted troops:

 

Cavalry are supposed to ride and fight on horseback.  They are organised into squadrons and troops.

Mounted Riflemen ride on horse and fight on foot.  They are organised as cavalry, in squadrons and troops.  The Light Horse and New Zealand Mounted Rifles were this, as technically were the British Yeomanry.

Mounted Infantry ride on horse and fight on foot.  However, they are organised as infantry, in companies and platoons.  The Imperial Camel Corps followed with pattern.

 

Cheers

Stuart

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
phil andrade

If this was a piece of Australian triumphalism, then I'm bound to ask  why the heck not ?

 

I, too, noticed that the Kiwis barely got a mention.

 

There was sufficient acknowledgement of the British participation : indeed, I couldn't help smirking when I saw that the original surrender document that the Australian cavalry commander procured at Damascus alluded to surrendering to the British forces.

 

Aussies have every right to cherish this feat of arms.

 

It would be most un-British of us to rain on their parade !

 

Phil

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Stoppage Drill
20 minutes ago, Stuart24 said:

Hi John,

 

Technically there are three types of mounted troops:

 

Cavalry are supposed to ride and fight on horseback.  They are organised into squadrons and troops.

Mounted Riflemen ride on horse and fight on foot.  They are organised as cavalry, in squadrons and troops.  The Light Horse and New Zealand Mounted Rifles were this, as technically were the British Yeomanry.

Mounted Infantry ride on horse and fight on foot.  However, they are organised as infantry, in companies and platoons.  The Imperial Camel Corps followed with pattern.

 

Cheers

Stuart

What about the Royal Artillery Mounted Rifles ?

 

Organised in Batteries ?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Stuart24
43 minutes ago, Stoppage Drill said:

What about the Royal Artillery Mounted Rifles ?

 

Organised in Batteries ?

I don't know - I've only ever seen references to the RAMR during the Boer War, which is a bit outside my area.

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Steven Broomfield
3 hours ago, Gareth Davies said:

Sorry, was being slow.

 

What did you think of it?

 

Forgiven (I can't believe you thought I didn't know the difference between the Highland Division and the Lowland Division!!!)

 

Not seen it yet: probably watch it over the weekend. I'll report back.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Steven Broomfield
1 hour ago, Stuart24 said:

 

 

Cavalry are supposed to ride and fight on horseback.

 

Cheers

Stuart

 

By 1914 I would amend that to

 

The primary role of cavalry was to ride and fight on horseback, but they were armed, equipped and trained to fight on foot if required.

 

They were, therefore, infinitely more adaptable than MI, who could not fight mounted - a fact recognised in the British Army when MI units were done away with between the South African and Great Wars.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Gareth Davies
7 minutes ago, Steven Broomfield said:

 

Forgiven (I can't believe you thought I didn't know the difference between the Highland Division and the Lowland Division!!!)

 

Not seen it yet: probably watch it over the weekend. I'll report back.

 

I like to keep you on your toes.  

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Stuart24
1 hour ago, Steven Broomfield said:

 

By 1914 I would amend that to

 

The primary role of cavalry was to ride and fight on horseback, but they were armed, equipped and trained to fight on foot if required.

 

They were, therefore, infinitely more adaptable than MI, who could not fight mounted - a fact recognised in the British Army when MI units were done away with between the South African and Great Wars.

Yes, basically in 1914 all cavalry (except lancers?) could fight as mounted riflemen - trained to ride on the march, to scout, and also if necessary use the 'arme blanche' and charge, but with their primary fighting role was on foot (as when they were sent to Gallipoli dismounted).  I know this caused a lot of resentment, and I must admit I'm not sure of the exact official definitions by 1914.  I know the army itself had a lot of problems working out what to do with horsemen - Brian Bond's chapter in Michael Howard's 'The Theory and Practice of War' (Cassell & Co., 1965) gives a good overview, and I've read some interesting more recent material on it by Stephen Bawdsey, although the reference escapes me at the moment.

 

I know that the Yeomanry Cavalry had been re-designated as MR, and had their swords withdrawn, some time after the Boer War.  This led the Worcester Yeomanry (and maybe some other units) to privately purchase swords so they could maintain the 'cachet' of being cavalry.

Edited by Stuart24

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Steven Broomfield

Lancers, too, were trained to fight on foot. I might have mis-read your comment, but no regular cavalry went to Gallipoli - plenty of Yeomanry, but no cavalry.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Stuart24
10 minutes ago, Steven Broomfield said:

Lancers, too, were trained to fight on foot. I might have mis-read your comment, but no regular cavalry went to Gallipoli - plenty of Yeomanry, but no cavalry.

Yes, sorry - Friday afternoon!  I was lumping all British mounted troops together.

 

I thought lancers would probably the same, but had the sudden thought of what would they do with their lances?  In holsters on the saddles, or did horse-holders also become lance-holders?  Like I said - Friday afternoon and powers of coherent thought slowly draining.

Edited by Stuart24

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Sign in to follow this  

×
×
  • Create New...