Friday, January 13, 2012

"War Horse" cavalry charge reality-based?

The opening of the battle sequences in "War Horse" features a cavalry charge against a German camp. Is it based in reality?
Thus far I have not been able to turn up a British cavalry charge that closely resembled Steven Spielberg's spectacular creation. And spectacular it was, from the moment the troopers rise out of the ground cover, and gallop forward, swords aiming for men on foot and caught unaware. Unfortunately there are many precedents for Great War cavalry charging machine guns, as the movie scene played out. As historian Keith Mitchell put it in an address, "Once again the British cavalry proved that brave men on horseback were no match for machine guns".
Perhaps the filmmaker had in mind the charge of Flowerdew's Squadron at Moreuil Wood on March 30th, 1918. There were major differences between the reality and the movie scene, however. Flowerdew was not captured, but was killed. And the enemy was not helpless, but waiting with rifle, machine gun, and artillery.

2 comments:

Pat and Marcus said...

I don't think it portrays an actual charge, and indeed there'd be some problems with that in that the German defense in that is unrealistic. Still, it can probably be taken as representative of the many small cavalry actions that occurred in the opening months of the war, such as described in Anglesey's book on the British cavalry.

Robert Mackay said...

Pat and Marcus--thanks for the thoughtful comment. I am enjoying checking in on your various sites.

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