Use of horses...

Discussion in 'General' started by chipm, Sep 15, 2019.

  1. chipm

    chipm Well-Known Member

    Did anybody use Horses/Animals as much as The Wehrmacht did.?
    I kind of thought that The Russians would have, but maybe they did not have that many (horses) to begin with, or maybe they had "enough" trucks.?

    Perhaps the guys in the Burma/China theater used quite a few mules.?

    Does anybody know, circa 1941, did any of the guys in Wehrmacht Logistics comment or pontificate about the lack of trucks...did it worry the Logistic/Supply guys.?

    Thank You
  2. CL1

    CL1 116th LAA and 92nd (Loyals) LAA,Royal Artillery

  3. Gary Kennedy

    Gary Kennedy Member

    The Red Army had a large reliance on horses. The 1941 Rifle Division was authorised over 3000 horses (some riding, mostly draught horses) and around 450 lorries. By the end of 1942 the Rifle Division was down to 1700 horses and just over 120 motor vehicles.

    The Far East and Italy both offered terrain that meant a lot of horse and mule power was required, even though British and Commonwealth forces had long moved onto motor power.

    Chris C likes this.
  4. Robert-w

    Robert-w Well-Known Member

    According to a report in the US Intelligence Bulletin March 1946 Germany didn't just use a huge number of horses for logistics but also in a cavalry role. The Battle of France wasn't all tanks as the Germans used cavalry to mop up the various pockets of French infantry. Cavalry was also used in the Balkans and in the Soviet Union - primarily in anti partisan work.

    1939 - 1943 a German Infantry Division had 1,100 horse drawn vehicles and 5,300 horses. Divisions on the Eastern Front had 6,000 horses. From 1944 it had 1,400 horse drawn vehicles and 4,600 horses. That's a lot of gee gees. Germany had huge horse breeding and rearing establishments in East Prussia. In 1942 the German high command sent a document to Himmler protesting against the proposed liquidation of the ghettos in Poland and Ukraine. This was not for any moral or humanitarian reason but because all their harnesses were being made in Ghetto workshops.

    What is not known is just how many extra horses were needed to transport fodder to the German Army's divisional horses.

    The Soviets did use horses both for logistics but also for cavalry operations against German supporting partisan units. However the USA supplied large number of trucks under lend lease to supplement Soviet production. Many of these were shipped across the Pacific to Vladivostok in Soviet Ships which could pass through Japanese controlled waters unmolested as the USSR and Japan were not at war.
    Dave55 likes this.
  5. Shiny 9th

    Shiny 9th Member

    Mules definately used in Burma. Think there is at least one thread about them. Lots of references to them in various accounts, including below. They were used to take supplies forwards. Many of them were killed by enemy fire. They were difficult to handle and were flown into Burma with many protests!
  6. Dave55

    Dave55 Atlanta, USA Patron

    I don't know what they said but if 60,000 horses were landed in Operation Sea-lion they'd have to get about 1000 tons of food for them across the channel every day. :(
    Chris C likes this.
  7. Robert-w

    Robert-w Well-Known Member

    Which is probably one reason why Sealion planning was predicated on capturing a major port ASAP.
  8. CL1

    CL1 116th LAA and 92nd (Loyals) LAA,Royal Artillery

    Neigh neigh thrice hay
  9. chipm

    chipm Well-Known Member

    The Wehrmacht must have had quite a few soldiers in the roles of Vets and Teamsters.
    It would make, IMHO, a very interesting documentary.
  10. Robert-w

    Robert-w Well-Known Member

    Not to mention Farriers, Blacksmiths, Wheelwrights, Wainwrights, Riding masters etc. Quite a bit of Germany's agricultural output must have gone in producing oats and hay to feed them.
    I've not seen confirmation but there are accounts that in the closing days of the war the Luftwaffe were using horses to tow aircraft on and off the runways to avoid burning increasingly scarce fuel in taxying.
  11. Dave55

    Dave55 Atlanta, USA Patron

    It was terrible for them in the Falaise Pocket.
  12. Robert-w

    Robert-w Well-Known Member

    Yes but even greater numbers suffered on the Eastern Front - especially in the winter when huge numbers died of cold, starvation and overwork.
  13. chipm

    chipm Well-Known Member

    Yes, i had heard similar stories as well.
    The Germans did not give up without a fight, did they.

    When you see Photos/Video of that event, it seems like between every burned up Tank/Truck is a dead horse with its' feet in the air. Those poor animals.
    WW2 was a God-Awful thing. :blank:

    Just like the soldiers.
    I imagine some of the horses might have been eaten.?
    But i could be way off-base with that.......

    "The Eastern Front"....... talk about losing the lottery.
  14. Dave55

    Dave55 Atlanta, USA Patron

    They were definitely eaten all over Europe. A childhood neighbor who grew up in Norway during the war.told us about it first hand.

    Men could at least attempt to take whatever cover they could find while being bombed or shelled but horses had no concept of what was going on.
  15. canuck

    canuck Token Colonial Patron

    Many German soldiers, captured in Normandy, were completely dumbfounded that the Allies had no horses and totally unaware of the degree of mechanized transport.
  16. bamboo43

    bamboo43 Very Senior Member

    Mules and ponies were used extensively in Burma. They too often became meat on the hoof when rations were difficult to find:
    Chindits with Four Legs
    CL1 likes this.
  17. Harry Ree

    Harry Ree Very Senior Member

    It might be that one of the factors was that full mechanisation of the Wehrmacht suffered from the overall vision of Hitler and his plans for Lebensraum .From the Hossbach Protocol (Conference) on 5 November 1937 there was the option to go to war in 1943-1945 which was not taken up.Hitler was determined to go to war for reasons which are now all too apparent but he could not resist the temptation to strike early giving that Ribbentrop had assured Hitler that GB would not uphold their guarantee of the security of Poland.

    Further his assessment was that the equipment of the Wehrmacht as well as the creation of the officer corps was nearly completed.However Hitler thought that Germany's relative strength would decrease in relation to the rearmament which by then would have been carried out by the rest of the world.It was while the rest of the world was preparing its defences that Hitler decided to take the offensive.It was stated that nobody knew what the situation would be in 1943-1945.Only one thing was certain,that Germany could wait no was recorded, if still living was unalterable in his resolve to solve Germany's problem of space at the latest by 1943-1945.It would appear that Hitler was also held concerns regarding the aging of the NSDAP movement and its leaders.

    Without doubt,the Hossbach Protocol gave history more than an insight to Hitler's vision for the future.... Hossbach took the minutes of the highly secret conference but some reference that his copy was unauthorised......later used in evidence by the Allies during the Nuremberg Tribunal.
  18. Robert-w

    Robert-w Well-Known Member

    It's exceedingly doubtful that waiting until 1943 would have resulted in a mechanised German Army. German industry was simply not equipped organisationally, methodologically or culturally for the level of mass production necessary and it takes a lot of time and effort to change those sorts of things
  19. Robert-w

    Robert-w Well-Known Member

    There were still horse mounted cavalry units in the Indian Army, indeed one of these made one of history's last cavalry charges against the Japanese
  20. Harry Ree

    Harry Ree Very Senior Member

    Regarding mechanisation of the Wehrmacht, 1943 was 6 years or so from the decisions made at the Hossbach Protocol.Just as Hitler went to war with insufficient stocks of oil reserves,he went to war with the Wehrmacht not fully converted to mechanisation.His priorities are laid out in Hossbach and being a gambler he made his decision to go to war with other factors,which would be important to others engaged in battlefield leadership, being discarded.

    Keitel,"the lackei" was the man who took the blame for the deficiency in Wehrmacht mechanisation in postwar assessments made by surviving senior officers........ Keitel was not available to counter the charge.

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