"The First Casualty"

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King & Country

Although caught by surprise the Germans are certainly not unarmed, enemy bullets cut down one trooper and his horse.

On September 1, 1939 Hitler launched his armies on his neighbor Poland in a dazzling and deadly military display of combined arms that came to be known as “Blitzkrieg” or ‘Lightning War’. As vast columns of fast moving German armour smashed across the Polish frontier aerial armadas of ‘Stuka’ dive bombers, Heinkel, Junkers and Dornier bombers backed up by swarms of Messerschmitt fighters roamed and ruled the skies above. Descending from the clouds the German Luftwaffe bombed and strafed both the Polish military and civilians alike with merciless accuracy and devastating effect. Most of the Polish Air Force was destroyed in the first few days, both in the sky and on the ground. Long columns of civilian refugees were also attacked as they fled causing all kinds of mayhem and delays to the Polish troops attempting to make their way forward to battle the enemy.
One particular part of the Polish Army however was able to avoid much of the confusion and chaos of the roads, Poland’s famed Cavalry.
These mounted regiments and brigades could travel ‘cross country’ and use the woods and forests to provide ample cover from the eagle eyes of the German aviators. What this meant was that, on some occasions, they had the element of surprise with them when they came upon German armour and infantry that had halted to replenish supplies or had simply gone too far ahead of their support elements. Time and again Polish Cavalry charged forward with lance and sabre following in the centuries-old tradition of Poland’s famous horsemen. It’s no coincidence that Napoleon himself considered his Polish Lancers among his finest Light Cavalry regiments.