Did Polish Calvary charge German Panzers with lances?

Discussions on all aspects of Poland during the Second Polish Republic and the Second World War. Hosted by Peter K
Eugene (J. Baker)
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Post by Eugene (J. Baker) » 24 May 2004 11:53

Jeabgrow wrote: I know the Russians charged tanks with calvary but they were on a diffrent level.

Yes. I dont remember detailed info but there was antitank cavalry unit which operated mostly in winter and used horses in impenetrable terrains carrying mines and antitank rifles to prepare sharp actions. Of course it was not attacing tanks with sabre.

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Alter Mann
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Cavalry Attaking Armor

Post by Alter Mann » 24 May 2004 15:38

In 'Fighting In Hell' by Peter Tsouras, there are a number of incidents of Russian Cavalry attacking armored columns. Does anyone have any information about the actual methods used?

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Post by Fredd » 24 May 2004 19:57

Jeabgrow wrote: The Warsaw uprising and the heroic actions of the Polish Armies attached to other allied groups, proves that they were brave enough to charge tanks with calvary.
It had nothing to do with braveness, it's purest stupidity. Polish calvary manuals strictly forbade any charges against armored vehicles (not only tanks but armored cars, also). Don't mix two things - calvary charge against armour and calvarymen fighting against armour like ordinary infrantry.
British source:
Polish cavalry charge against German tanks never took place (see Norman Davies' "God's Playground.A History of Poland)

"There are many "myths" that surround the September Campaign; the fictional Polish cavalry charges against German tanks (actually reported by the Italian press and used as propaganda by the Germans), the alleged destruction of the Polish Air Force on the ground, or claims that Polish armour failed to achieve any success against the invaders."


Poland 1939: The Birth of Blitzkrieg (Campaign 107)
by Authors: Steve Zaloga , Howard Gerrard , Steven J. Zaloga , Ramiro Bujeiro

"The author puts to rest some of the "romantic myths" about the Blitzkrieg in Poland: namely the idea that the German Luftwaffe destroyed all of the Polish airforce while they were still on the ground, and that the Polish cavalry, armed with lances, would routinely take on German Panzer tanks!"
http://www.historyamericas.com/Poland_1 ... 64086.html

"Many myths surround the German invasion of Poland. The most widespread myth is that of the infamous Polish cavalry charge against German armor, which was originally reported by the Italian press, and became popular with German propagandists."
By Stephen Payne (no Pole)

Contrary to German and Italian propaganda, Polish cavalry brigades never charged tanks with their sabres or lances as they were equipped with anti-tank weapons such as 37mm Bofors wz.36 (exported to UK as Ordnance Q.F. 37mm Mk I) anti-tank guns, that could penetrate 26mm armour at 600m at 30 degrees. The cavalry brigades were in the process of being reorganized into motorized brigades." [1]

Another weapon was anti-tank rifle model 1935 (karabin przeciwpancerny wz. 35). Its caliber was 7.92 mm and it could penetrate 15mm armor at 300m at 30 degrees."

http://www.nationmaster.com/encyclopedi ... sh-history
(British or American)

Polish Militaria Collector’s Association in memory of Andrzej Zaremba
49 Parkville Avenue Apt. A-6 Brooklyn, New York 11230
Tel. (718) 633-3439

"In most instances, the information relating to Poland was completely inaccurate or purposely falsified. One example of media misinformation was the claim that Poland surrendered in three days and the ever-popular myth of Polish cavalry charges against German tanks during the September 1939 campaign in Poland."

"There are several myths that surround the Polish campaign in WWII. One common myth is that the Luftwaffe wiped out the helpless Polish air force on the ground in the opening days of the war. Certainly the Germans enjoyed air superiority and their planes caused tremendous damage, but in fact their attacks on Polish air bases proved utterly ineffective. The very first shots fired in the war came from German dive bombers at 4:30am, who struck an airfield in Poznan, but the base had already been evacuated. The Poles had secretly hidden their best aircraft at alternate bases, although it is true that the Luftwaffe did severely damage the bases themselves, their supply depots and the aircraft used for spare parts. However, no functioning Polish aircraft was destroyed on the ground until 14 September, two weeks into the war.

The most infamous myth is the fantasy that the Polish cavalry charged at German tanks. These units were thought to be the best horsemen in Europe, but were relied upon mainly for their cost-effectiveness, since few vehicles were available. Despite their antiquated means of travel, Polish cavalry were used primarily as heavy infantry for break-outs or surprise attacks. They carried machine guns, 7.92mm anti-tank rifles, and 37mm anti-tank guns which could easily take out German armor. Cavalry charges were not a standard tactic, but on the first day of the war a Polish cavalry regiment discovered a battalion of Germans in a field and led a charge against them. The Germans were caught off guard and suffered severe casualties, but were rescued by the advancing panzers, who opened fire on the exposed cavalry. The Poles fled, but only lost 20 men, including the commanding officer, Colonel Kazimierz Mastelarz. However, when Italian journalists visited the battlefield the following day, the Germans told them that the cavalry had charged against their tanks and were wiped out. This fabrication was put into print and the Nazi propaganda made sure it was widely publicized, and therefore widely believed."
by Brandon Kyle Leniart
This is part of the post by colleague of mine from a different forum but suits excellent.

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Alter Mann
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Polish Cavalry Charges

Post by Alter Mann » 24 May 2004 22:56

The account above agrees almost exactly with the account that I read. I don't think it was stupid at all since it did have a degree of success and produced few casualties on the Polish side.

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Post by Downtown » 23 Jun 2004 23:23

Does anyone have any more specifics on the individual calvaryman disabling a tank by severing a fuel line?

Recently had communications with an individual who claims his grandfather "Charged" after German tanks, the quicker he got there, the quicker he could set them on fire.

Anyone able to support incidence of this occuring?

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Alter Mann
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Cavalry attacking tanks

Post by Alter Mann » 24 Jun 2004 14:53

Welcome to the forum, Downtown.

I would be surprised if this happened very often. The fuel lines would be in the engine compartment, since the German tanks didn't use external add-on tanks like the Russians did. The engine compartment doors would usually be bolted shut in combat situations. I suppose it might be possible to stick a sabre through a vent in the engine compartment doors and cut a fuel line, if you had a pretty good idea where it was, but this would be a very risky activity if any other German tanks or troops were in the area. I also seem to remember that the engine compartment vents were covered with wire screens to avoid things like this.

But I wasn't there, so . . .

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Post by Liluh » 28 Jun 2004 15:04

Setting a tank on fire with just a sabre? It`s quite unbelivable for me. In any case, cavarlyman could use a granade to come close and drop it in some vunlerable part of tank or armoured car, but again, I can`t think of many cases like that as cavarly dragged small AT-guns along and could simply use it, and they did.

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Alter Mann
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Cavalry and Tanks

Post by Alter Mann » 28 Jun 2004 16:04

I'm not so sure that most grenades would have been effective. I have heard that Molotov cocktails, pole charges and magnetic mines were used to some effect, and it is quite possible to kill the crew and possibly destroy the tank by dropping a grenade in an open hatch, but, because of this, hatches were usually kept shut in close quarters situations.

BTW, I recently re-read a book about the Korean conflict and it mentions that the Communist Chinese made at least one cavalry charge, but not against AFVs.

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Post by tom_deba » 25 Jul 2004 21:20

Mostly it is myth creatted by German propaganda. Even though there were desperating attemts of cavalry - but not to atack the tanks, but to escape from the sack or difficult situation and evacuate to save place.

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David C. Clarke
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Post by David C. Clarke » 25 Jul 2004 21:48

There were similar incidents in Russia, where Soviet cavalry had to run a guantlet of German tank fire in order to either break out of an encirclement or break through German lines to operate in the rear areas of the German forces. I imagine, had things turned out differently, Nazi propagandists today would be talking about Soviet cavalry attacking panzers!

Best Regards,

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Hans Kloss
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Post by Hans Kloss » 31 Jul 2004 13:52

Isn't this myth based on footage of Polish cavalry charge from German propaganda film "Feldzug in Polen" ? I vaguely remember scene and discussion that followed.Apparently when played in slow motion frames it can be clearly see that "Polish" lancers (or uhlans) were actually wearing German helmets.Germans also used Czech Avias B-534 (bi plane) with Polish markings for scenes of air battles

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Polish Army 1939

Post by gmt » 05 Aug 2004 20:08

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Post by Fubbik » 04 Oct 2004 16:55

The Polish soldiers were not more stupid than any others. They were as brave as the German soldiers. During the war I never heard Germans speak of the Polish with the contempt they did of the French. The Poles lost the war because they did not have enough equipment, and what they had was inferior.

The Polish cavalry fought like all modern cavalry of the time, dismounted. I believe the cavalry affair with tanks happended like _The_General_ says, to avoid being cut down from behind after a chance meeting with tanks. The footage one sees about this incident is a German propaganda film.

The story of cutting the fuel pipe with sabre seems apocryphic to me.

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Post by Kicius » 04 Oct 2004 17:58

I'm not sure if it wasn't said before but:

Polish cavalry regiment consisted of:
36 officers
213 NCO's
625 soldiers (uhlans-ułanów, mounted rifleman-strzelców konnych or szwoleżerów) - the names was only tradition. There were no differences in structure or armament. Just little differences in uniforms - mainly hats.

it means - 874 man

They had

880 horses
1 car
1 motorcycle
36 bicycles
86 wagons
6 field kitchens
13 taczanek (?)
1 chaplain wagon

And they were armed with:

616 sabres
108 lances (in september campaign only few regiments had lances in use. It was against regulations- because they were withdrawn shortly before the war.)
133x pistols
709x rifles - each soldier had 5 AP rounds in standard issue(?)
18x LMG - each gunner had 20 AP rounds (1 magazine)
12x HMG
12x AT rifles - as in the upper link
4x AT guns - 37 mm Bofors wz. 36

Each regiment also had artillery suport:

4x 02/26 76,2 mm guns from Horse Artillery Batalion (Dywizjon)

Infantry regiment - about 3300 soldiers was armed with -

9x AT guns
2x infantry guns
About - 30 AT rifles
(92x in Infantry Division - 3 regiments - 9 battalions)

It means that cavalry has much more AT weapons per capita than infantry.

Maybe this will clear some things of.

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Post by Mateusz » 05 Oct 2004 13:40

Please, don't believe in German propaganda!!! Polish cavalry has never attacked tanks using sabres or lances!!!

Against German tanks Polish cavalry was mainly using 37 mm Bofors AT guns or AT rifles (kb ppanc. wz. 35). These types of weapon were extremely effective (they were able to destroy all German tanks/armoured vehicles at that time).

On the Sep 1st 1939 Wolynska Brygada Kawalerii ('Wolyn' Cavalry Brigade) began fighting with German 4th Tank Division (equipped with 300 tanks) in the Mokra area (southern Poland). During 1 - 2 days Poles destroyed 80 German tanks (!!!). Do you think they used sabres and lances against them???


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