Thursday, February 11, 2016

Wehrmacht Reiterzugführer in Operation Barbarossa

Wehrmacht Reiterzugführer (commander of mounted infantry platoon) on the Eastern Front in the Russian campaign of 1941 (Operation Barbarossa). Contrary to common idea, the German Army made extensive use of the horse, both as a service animal in artillery and supply units and also in combat cavalry units. Germany had five or six full cavalry divisions - the 1st (served on the Eastern Front in 1941, and was then converted into a Panzer division); the 1st and 2nd Cossacks (formed in 1943 from pro-Nazi Russians, were mostly used for anti-partisan duty in Yugoslavia), and the 8th and 22nd SS Cavalry (raised in 1942 and 1944 respectively) which fought on the Eastern Front and in Yugoslavia. They also had several smaller (regimental or brigade-size) cavalry units. Also, at the start of Operation Barbarossa each infantry division had an integral cavalry battalion of just over 200 men. Gradually these were replaced by motorised reconnaissance forces.

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