Friday, February 15, 2013

The Canadian Cavalry in the Last 100 Days (Part 2)

The Second Battle of Le Cateau
ww1 british cavalry troop in the charge c1914In October 1918 Le Cateau was an important transportation hub some eight or ten miles behind the German front lines. Early in the Great War General Horace Smith-Dorrien fought a brutal delaying action against the onrushing Germans in the same location. But now, the Allies were driving the Germans back.The immediate aim of the Allies was to take the town and cut the enemy’s lines of communication. They attacked with artillery and infantry over a wide front. The infantry had pushed as hard as they could but were stopped due to the enemy’s resistance and the fatigue of their men. 
The cavalry was ordered to carry out an attack. Centred on a Roman road, with the (British) 6th Cavalry Brigade to the right of it, and the Canadian Cavalry Brigade to the left, the mounted troops charged up through the stalled infantry.
The ferocity of the battle can be imagined from the comment by a British cavalry officer, Lieutenant Bickersteth: “the bursting H.E. (high explosive), the rattle of machine-gun fire, both from the ground and from the air, the explosion of the bombs dropped by the aeroplanes—all contributed to make the noise absolutely deafening.”

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