History of War

GORDON FLOWERDEW

“IT’S A CHARGE, BOYS, IT’S A CHARGE”
Gordon Flowerdew

The British cavalry training manual of 1907 stated that modern weapons would never replace “the speed of the horse, the magnetism of the charge, and the terror of cold steel”. It was an extraordinarily unrealistic statement, quickly proven wrong when war broke out just seven years later. However, old military traditions die hard. In 1918, when the Allied armies were seemingly on the verge of collapse, an intrepid young Canadian cavalry officer proved that, while the cavalry was no longer master of the battlefield, the spirit of the cavalier will never die.

On 21 March 1918 the German army launched Operation Michael, the first stage in its great Spring Offensive, which aimed to split the Allied armies and sweep the British out of Europe. Three German armies, led by battalions of well-trained storm troops, attacked the British Fifth and Third Armies along an 80-kilometre (50-mile) front, with the heaviest blow falling astride the Somme, where so much blood had been shed two years before. Within days, the British and French lines, undermanned

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