Cavalry! Charge!

Ludwig von Gress

We remember a few of them, such as the Charge of the Light Brigade at Crimea or the entirely mythical Polish cavalry charge against German tanks, as examples of foolishness, if not successful; and as the examples of heroism and superior generalship in other cases. Such as, for example, that Australian charge in Palestine exactly 97 years ago, [NNUS] thought, strictly speaking, it was the mounted infantry doing the dirty work, not cavalry.

In case you have forgotten, the Charge of the Light Brigade was a charge of British light cavalry under Lord Cardigan against Russian forces in Crimea on 25 October 1854; just about 160 years ago. Due to the fog of war the Light Brigade was sent on a frontal assault against a Russian artillery battery, with disastrous results.

Cavalry.italian.chargeThe charge of the Savoia Cavalleria under command of Colonel Bettoni near the hamlet of Isbushenskij (Избушенский) on Don river on 23rd August 1942 is largely forgotten. Yet it was successful and was one of the last, if not the last great cavalry charge in history, involving 600 Italian horsemen on the one side and dug-in 2000 soldiers of the 812th Siberian Infantry Regiment on the other side. Sabres and hand-grenades against rifles, sub-machine guns, machine guns, mortars and cannon. Soviets were routed and the breach between the Italian army and the German 6th Army was, temporarily, closed.

Of Savoia Cavalleria 32 cavalrymen had died, 52 were wounded and over 100 horses were lost. The Russian loses were 150 dead, 300 wounded, 500 prisoners, 4 cannons, 10 mortars and 50 machine guns.

Afterwards some German liaison cavalry officers, deployed at the left of the Savoia, who had witnessed everything, expressed their admiration to Bettoni saying: “Colonel, this kind of things, we cannot do them any more”. It seems that nobody can.

The regiment standard, captain Abba and major Modigliani, both of whom died in action, were awarded a gold medal. 54 silver medals and 49 war crosses were also awarded. In 1952 Francesco De Robertis made the movie based on the Isbuscenskij Charge “Carica Eroica”.


About Ludwig von Gress

Born in communist Europe, interested in defence matters on a macro scale, with a cavalry “devil may care spirit” from his grandfather and cautious effectiveness of asymmetric warfare approach from his guerilla father. He sometimes despairs that he may be the only one taking the defence of Australia seriously.
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3 Responses to Cavalry! Charge!

  1. Karolina says:

    Very interesting article.

  2. Karolina says:

    Very interesting.

  3. queman says:

    No charge, please. We watch TV free.

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