Sunday, July 04, 2010

It has long been family legend...

...that my father was among those who faced the last cavalry charge ever directed against the British Army. I remember him telling me about this when I was in my teens, and it all seemed slightly ridiculous - how could there have been men on horses, waving swords, charging across the landscape during the Second World War? To him, it was all just part of the wider wartime experiences (making fires out of camel dung, being cared for by silent nuns in an Italian hospital, making a tasty meal out of fried crushed Army biscuits and raisins - apparently v. tasty).

This week: confirmation. An obtituary in the Daily Telegraph was eye-catching as it showed a man in magnificent turbaned uniform - as a soldier in an Ethiopian cavalry unit he had taken part in the last cavalry charged directed at the British Army. They attacked a detachment of British troops, including Skinner's Horse and the Surrey and Sussex Yeomanry! So the legend was true, and my memory of Father sitting at home and telling me about it is accurate...as I read the newspaper, sitting in the train from Birmingham, I was transported to conversations of long ago...

5 comments:

Left-Footer said...

I,too, read the obituary.

Here in Poland, cavalry charges against German tanks, by uhłans, armed with sabres and Molotov cocktails, are still, just, a living memory.

But Poland has a long history of successful reckless gallantry, thanks to which, Europe is neither Nazi, Soviet, nor Muslim.

UKViewer said...

I was interested in this story. Perhaps remembering my late father's and Uncle's war stories.

A year or so ago I obtained my fathers Military Records from WW2 and actually had his war stories confirmed.

My Uncle's stories have also been confirmed particularly his escaping from a POW camp in Italy and fighting with the Italian Partisans for nearly a year before being recaptured. They actually made the National Press a few years ago.

As an Ex-Soldier myself, I also have war stories. But I don't wish to bore my grand children, instead I have recorded them for posterity for them to read after I have passed on.

There is always an element of truth in all war stories although the legends tend to expand as the years pass.

Nothing can actually tell of the real horror of being in those situations.

Our young soldiers today are fighting tooth and nail in Afghanistan and while I might not agree with them being there, it reinforces the view widely held that they are the best in the world.

Rich Leonardi said...

Great story, Joanna. I've heard about cavalry charges against the Nazis in Poland during WWII, but never involving the Brits.

My paternal grandfather, who was 54 when my late father was conceived, was an infantryman for the Italian army in WWI. When I was a boy in the 1980s, he would tell me about his adventures in North Africa. It seemed like another world then, and even more so now; he'd be 121 this year.

Big Sis said...

Please keep the newspaper for me or find a link, I want to see it too! It might be mentioned in the letters that I have. Or at least some of it.

Anonymous said...

My late grandfather was a U.S. Marine(4Th Marine Division)during WW2. He fought at Guadal Canal and Iwo Jima, and lived to tell about it. My mother gave his division's book and I understand that he was highly decorated. Thank you to all of you who have either served in harm's way, or in peace, and to those in your families who served.