Thursday, 25 September 2014

On Horseback

"Have You Seen Any Germans Pass this Way?"
Captioned "A unique war photograph taken last week on a Belgian highway. It shows a scouting part of French dragoons who are endeavouring to get in touch with the German Uhlans."

I have read various reports of the "last" cavalry charge in World War 1 which all have different times, years, places and participants but when this photo was taken and used on the front page of The War Illustrated on 29 August 1914 the realisation that barbed wire, trenches and machine guns had changed the face of warfare had not dawned.   Despite this the horse remained an essential part of the war for transport but conditions for them as for their solders companions were horrendous, 8 million horses died.  The peaceful interlude of the photograph is indeed the calm before the storm.  At the outbreak of war the French had 32 dragoon regiments.  The use of the world Uhlan for the German cavalry was a term used for all types of German cavalry regiments by the British but in actuality there were only 26 Uhlan regiments of the Polish style who were dismounted in the early weeks of the war and served as cavalry rifles, all were disbanded in 1918.
Photo from "The History Place"
Here are the men the French dragoons were "endeavouring to get in touch with".  A charge against the Belgian positions by the Uhlan cavalry armed, like the French, with lances.



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