Saturday, January 12, 2013

"Horsemen in No Man's Land": A Review

David Kenyon at work
photo from

My post of 3 January 2013 features a cover shot of "Horsemen in No Man's Land", subtitled "British Cavalry and Trench Warfare 1914-1918". It appropriately features photos of Indian Army and British troopers.
The author, Dr. David Kenyon, is a British military historian and archaeologist who was featured in "Man & Horse", one of Yap Productions' videos featured numerous times on history television. As I recall Kenyon's part of the program, he was explaining that a man on horseback is in fact difficult to hit with a machine gun; no doubt even more difficult if the man and horse are galloping at the gunner with hard steel extended. Personally, I would not like to be in the boots of either of the participants.
"Horsemen in No Man's Land", ISBN 978-1-84884-364-6, was published in 2011 in the UK by Pen & Sword Military. In it, the author posits that contrary to popular belief the cavalry was no less effective than any other arm of the military, on those occasions when it was properly led and battlefield communication problems did not arise.
A second conclusion is that casualty rates in the cavalry were pretty much the same as in other branches, although higher among the officer corps. He also reminds us that much of the time the cavalry were in the trenches along with their infantry brothers, and not going for leisurely gallops across the rolling hills of Picardy.
Interesting quotes are used. One example, from a cavalryman, argues that if infantry officers used the horses available to them, they would have lived longer! Presumably because they'd be moving faster, even though presenting a bigger target. I am not sure many infantry subalterns would have accepted the advice.
Dr. Kenyon has presented a factual, well documented reassessment of the use of cavalry in the Great War. Highly recommended.

No comments:

Post a Comment