Poland’s cavalry brigades were considered the elite by the time of the Nazi invasion in September 1939, relying on their horses for battlefield mobility and infantry support. Known as uhlans or lancers, they were trained to dismount and fight on foot if necessary. During the 1939 Polish Campaign, a prevailing myth emerged of a suicidal cavalry charge at German tanks; but this story is a myth, a result of misreporting and propaganda intended to portray the Polish military as archaic and foolhardy (it must also be said that German and Soviet forces also relied heavily on horses at this time).
Polish cavalry uniform consisted of a four-pocket khaki woollen tunic (varying between brown and green shades), a French-style ‘Adrian’ steel helmet, breeches with leather along the inseam, and spurred boots. A leather belt and Y-straps supported ammunition pouches, a bayonet and entrenching tool. Additional equipment included a haversack and/or gas mask.
As well as their traditional sabres and lances, cavalrymen also carried 7.92mm bolt-action carbines (based on the Mauser 1898 model), wz.35 anti-tank rifles and the wz.28 squad light automatic (based on the Browning Automatic Rifle).
By Ibrahim Zamir