The Myth of Polish Cavalry Attacking Panzers
The cavalry charge at Krojanty is certainly less known than the myth it contributed to built, still maintained until recent years in some scholarly books and history classes in high schools and colleges. As a subject related to tanks we hope to contribute breaking the neck of this legend once and for all. This is however a tenacious image, born from a journalist confusion, turned into propaganda, and never fully debunked but by some specialist historians. We are left with the tenacious image of brave Polish cavalrymen charging head on, with lances and shining sabres, German Panzers in open field. A symbol of dashing, reckless bravery in face of certain death, sort of desperate last-ditch effort of an army reputedly devoid of tanks or any modern means of warfare. The image was so romantic and dramatic that it fuelled imagination of generations believing the German onslaught on Poland was something of a promenade, facing a supposedly ill-prepared army for modern warfare.
Despite the mechanized nature of ww2, and even ww1, the horse was still, like past centuries, a major asset for the military, through regular cavalry units proceeding with long traditions that will be gradually passed onto mechanized units, and for supplies and artillery that depended on countless workhorses. The Ardennes breed in particular of NW France and Belgium of which tens of thousands were captured by the Germans, still played a major role in towing artillery, a profusion which in some case led to ruthless management and massive losses due to exhaustion. It was then long before animal protection leagues. They were cheaper, plentiful and more “reliable” than artillery tractors of the time. This was still true in ww2, although motorization has been accepted and integrated en masse. The German Army in the campaign of 1940 still relied on nearly 25,000 horses mostly for supplies (about 500,000 when entering the war).
On the Eastern front alone, in two months, Dec. 1941-Jan. 1942, 179,000 horses died due to exhaustion and cold. On the cavalry side, some units kept the lance and sabre as their main weapons, with the pistol as sidearm, but the norm was the idea of a mounted infantry, that can quickly join point A to B and then dismount and take proper firing positions. In 1920 the young Red Army created an all-mounted army when attacking Poland, complete with chariot-based machine gun nests, artillery and mortars. In the Interwar, the British were the first to test large scale motorized warfare, resulting in the complete conversion of their cavalry units before 1939. Despite of this, most belligerents still counted a few traditional cavalry units like France, Germany, Hungary, Poland, Romania, Italy, Japan, China and the USSR.
Cavalry charges in WW1
Although the subject is somewhat far off the usual topic or armoured warfare, Polish Uhlans were not the last to orchestrate charges on the battlefield of ww2. Cavalry already operated en masse during the Great War on all fronts, at least on the opening stages of the conflict when the war was still mobile. In fact in August 22, 1914, the first British shot of the war in France was fired by a cavalryman, Edward Thomas of the 4th Royal Irish Dragoon Guards, near Casteau. Probably the last cavalry charge on the Western front was led by the 20th Deccan Horse, an Indian cavalry unit on July 14th, 1916 on High Wood, part of the battle of the Somme. Many dismounted cavalrymen were found in the trenches and in 1918 with the arrival of the Whippet Tank, there were already early attempts of mechanized cavalry. At the end of the war, operations became mobile again and former dismounted units were back in action. As in March 30, 1918, when Canadian cavalry charged German positions in the Battle of Moreuil Wood (Lord Strathcona’s Horse). They were very few cavalry vs cavalry clashes, but at least one opposing the 1st Cavalry Brigade and the German 4th Cavalry Division as a prelude of the First Battle of the Marne in September 1914.
Russian cavalry in ww1, Brusilov Offensive, June 1916.
The Western Front was only a small part of a bigger picture, a war fought worldwide, from Africa to the middle east, Russia or the Alps among others. In many cases cavalry was still an important asset. Although unfortunate at Gallipoli the Anzacs also fought mounted like the 4th and 12th Australian Light Horse Regiments that sabre charged decisively at Beersheba (Third Battle of Gaza) on 31 October 1917 (google “The Light horsemen” movie, 1987 for the picture).
In Russia, the famous Brusilov offensive, mobilized 40 infantry divisions but also 15 cavalry divisions. At the beginning of the war, Nicolas II army could boast that its thirty-six cavalry divisions could be able to pierce through the German Army straight to Berlin. Reality of crossed fire by machine-guns quickly dismissed the idea at the battle of Tannenberg, wiping out scores of Don Cossacks units (some of the finest cavalrymen in the world). In June 1916 in Galicia, as Mackensen’s phalanx was routing Russian Infantry, the situation was reversed by General Poroshenko’s regiments of Don Cossaks, Kinburn Dragoons, and Chernagov Hussars creating havoc in the advancing, confident German infantry. They hacked their way to the rearguards, capturing supplies and machine guns and then rode back again into friendly lines, suffering in the process only 200 casualties. The effect was such for the Germans that Mackensen called off the attack, giving a restbite for the Russians to proceed an orderly retreat.
Extract from Spieleberg’s “War Horse” (2011)
Horse units in WW2
With the advent of the tank, still slow compared to cavalry standard, and despite at a clear disadvantage for reconnaissance because of the emergence of aviation, cavalry units were still enlisted in many countries when the hostilities broke out. They were however in clear minority compared to workhorses, mostly used for supplies, completing the lack of trucks for many infantry units.
WW2 French Cavalry: France could count on half a million horses, and retained in a mixed Light Cavalry Division (DLC) several horse brigades of 1,200 sabers each. They acted for reconnaissance as mounted riflemen, but were soon crushed by the offensive in 1940, and the only true cavalry units fighting for France until 1945 were found rather on the North African theater, squadrons of Moroccan and Algerian spahis, which after Tunisia, also fought in Italy and southern France.
WW2 British Cavalry:
By 1928 most traditional horse units started to be converted into their motorized equivalent. However in WW2 a number of horses were kept for supply and support, especially on the Mediterranean theater of operation. There were two mounted cavalry regiments in Palestine in 1940, and gradually the last units were motorized until late 1941. For the Empire however, still the Transjordan Frontier Force and the Arab Legion operated on horseback. By November 1940 all former twenty Indian cavalry regiments has been motorized, but some traditional units persisted nonetheless, like the Sikh sowars of the Burma Frontier Force that led the last British (and perhaps allied) sabre charge of the war. Led by Captain Arthur Sandeman of the 21st King George V’s Own Horse, this unit encountered Japanese infantry at Toungoo in central Burma and took heavy casualties.
WW2 American Cavalry:
By 1939 the United States Cavalry consisted of two mechanized and twelve horse regiments. Horses has been previously largely used on the Mexican frontier, and Panama canal zone. These wartime units comprised two horse regiments (which acted as portee, essentially a mounted light infantry which fought on foot on the spot), eighteen light tanks and a field artillery regiment. The large scale Louisiana Manoeuvers of 1940 however stressed the need of fully motorized units, while the jeep was introduced and the Armoured Corp created. The debate on the conservation of horse units raged on, until the office of Chief of Cavalry was eliminated in March 1942. The only American cavalry action of the war occurred when the Philippine Scouts (26th Cavalry Regiment) hold the attack of two Japanese armoured and two infantry regiments in December 1941, and later repelled a unit of tanks in Binalonan and multiplied hit-and-run delaying actions on the way to Bataan.
US Philippines Scouts and a M2 light Tank, fall 1941. This unit was involved in the last US history cavalry charge.
WW2 German Cavalry: Germany used as much as 2.7 million horses during the war, but maintained however in 1939 a single brigade, that was expanded six cavalry divisions and two corps HQ to fight on the Mountaineous Balkans and Eastern front. It should be noted that these were reinforced considerably by a few battalions of pro-German Don Cossacks fighting partisans in Yugoslavia (about 13,000 strong). A single cavalry division also served with Guderian’s Panzer Group. By mid-1944 it was converted as two brigades and a division and served together with Gustav Harteneck’s Cavalry and the Hungarian cavalry in BeloRussia.
German Cavalry on the Eastern front
The SS operated 23 paramilitary cavalry regiments in 1941 and there was a Waffen SS cavalry corp formed in 1940 to deal with partisans and guerillas in occupied territories. In 1942-43 this was reformed as the 8th SS cavalry division completed by volksdeutsche, but depleted, it was reformed and reinforced by German Hungarian cavalrymen in December 1943 as the 22nd cav. division (with organic AA and artillery units) and later in 1944 the 33rd SS Cavalry Division which operated for some time. The last cavalry operations of mixed German-Hungarian units occurred in the Lake Balaton offensive.
WW2 Hungarian Cavalry:
The Hungarians indeed mustered two traditional horse-mounted cavalry brigades at the beginning of the war and in 1941 participated in a “mad dash” from Galicia to the Donetz Basin. It was reorganized as the 1st Cavalry Division which took part in the defence of Warsaw in 1944 (part of Von Harteneck’s Cavalry Corps) whereas a second division briefly served from August on.
Combined Hungarian tanks and cavalry on the eastern front
WW2 Romanian Cavalry:
Romania also deployed 6 cavalry brigades (later division) on the eastern front, the largest contingent among axis allies. Some received a motorized regiment, and the 7th Cavalry Division was fully motorized. They served at Stalingrad (three lost), and Crimea (two partly rescued).
WW2 Italian Cavalry:
Another German’s ally, Italy, had traditional mounted regiments available for the North African campaign, squadrons of savari and spahis from Libya. There were also no less than 16 squadrons of Cavalleria Coloniale in East Africa. Two brigades charged and captured Kassala on July 4, 1940. On the eastern front, Mussolini sent the CSIR, a mobile force of 60,900 men and 4,600 horses to Ukraine. The 3rd cavalry division comprised two traditional units, the saber-wielding Savoia Cavalleria and Lancieri di Novara. Probably one of the most celebrated action occurred on August 24, 1942, when the Savoia Cavalleria charged the Red Army near Izbushensky and managed to repel two Soviet battalions while covering the retreat of the Italian Army.
The Savoia Cavalleria at Isbuscenskij, August, 24, 1942, one of the last and most famous cavalry charges of WW2.
USSR: Soviet Cavalry and Cavalry Mechanized Groups
The Soviets initially had prevention against cavalry, despite an early and extensive use in 1919-20 (1st Cavalry Army) and the throughout civil war, alongside rare armoured cars. All units were disbanded as mechanization was thought to replace these. The Soviet Army however could count on a total about 21 million horses in 1941, of which 11 millions were lost in 1941-42 and these were never really completed. 3.5 millions horses were used by the Red Army, mostly for supplies. Despite of this, there were no less than 32 divisions and two brigades of cavalry in 1938. At the outbreak of the war and until late 1940 these were completely reorganized, disbanded or integrated into mechanized and tank corps.
Mongolian Cavalry at Khalkin Gol in 1939
However these were revived, surprisingly after the setbacks of the Polish invasion and debacle in Finland. In the summer of 1941, four Cavalry Corps commands and thirteen Cavalry Divisions were available. These must have been reinforced by organic motorized units of tanks, trucks and artillery, but in reality were horse and foot only units, poorly commanded. They were quickly brushed away and as winter came, was left was reorganized into small light cavalry divisions. Most charges were poorly executed and resulted in very high casualties, but had better success when coordinated with organic mechanized infantry units and anti-aircraft artillery. These late winter cavalry Corps were massively engaged in the fall of 1941 and early 1942, but as poor tactics remains, what left of the 41 cavalry divisions was disbanded, short of horses.
Cossacks in ww2, guarding a POW camp.
In the fall of 1942 Stalin pressed the creation of Cavalry mechanized group (CMG), which integrated tanks and infantry, but the latter was mounted instead of being carried by trucks. On this account, 26 divisions were available in the end of 1943, mostly equipped with light tanks and 5,700 men each. On the tactical level, they were kept 12–15 kilometers behind the front line, waiting for the Tanks to create a breakthrough and then catch on as soon as the situation was stabilized. However mechanization, either through lend-lease or local mass production soon rendered obsolete these mixed units and cavalry units were gradually used for auxiliary offensive tasks when all-terrain mobility was required.
Soviet Cavalry, part of a CMG, 1944
These were frequently used to complete the encirclement and mopping up of routing and scattered retreating units. By 1945, seven cavalry corps has been reconstituted, each being allocated to a tank army. In the great offensive of June 1944 CMGs were deployed in areas where all-tanks units were not required or found impassable terrain. In late 1944 many of these units however were found devoid of tanks, only equipped with horse-towed 76 mm guns as antitank means. Interestingly enough, one of the last cavalry action of the war involved a mixed units of four Mongolian cavalry divisions, one Soviet cavalry division, and five mechanized brigades with heavy tanks under orders of General Issa Pliyev which operated in Mandchuria in August 1945, crossing the Gobi desert and aiming to Peking.
WW2 Polish Cavalry:
Rooted in Medieval mounted knights, and immortalized with the XVIth century Winged Hussars of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. The latter distinguished themselves either against the Cossacks or the Ottomans from 1577 to 1683 (Battle of Vienna). The fame was revived in the Napoleonic era, and Polish Cavalry was recreated with Poland being re-established as a sovereign Nation in 1918. At that time the cavalry was a hotch-potch of different uniforms, equipment and tactics, some elements coming from Gemany, while others had Austro-Hungarian origins. 14 cavalry regiments were formed in late January 1919, and six cavalry brigades after March. Trained in both cavalry tactics and in trench warfare, they were the most professional troops available when the Polish-Bolshevik War broke out.
In addition every infantry brigade received a recon squadron of light cavalry. They were equipped with sabres, lances, pistols and cavalry shortened rifles. They proved their metal in the Battle of Warsaw and later the Battle of the Niemen, while the most important cavalry battle occurred near the village of Komarowo near Zamość, when the polish Cavalry clashed and routed the feared and massive Russian 1st Cavalry Army, almost surrounded. By numbers involved alone, the Battle of Komarów is considered nowadays as the greatest cavalry battle of the 20th century.
Polish Cavalry during maneuvers of the Army in late 1930’s.
In the interwar, cavalry units participated in various military exercises and new tactical developments in accordance to the arrival of tanks, including fast deployment of mixed mounted detachments using anti-tank rifles like the wz. 35 (Karabin przeciwpancerny wzór 35). Although small in caliber (7.92 mm) the very long barrel ensured a 1,275 m/s (4,180 ft/s) muzzle velocity. There was a 4-cartridge magazine, but instead of hardcore bullets, these were full metal jacket bullet weighing 14.579 g and the kinetic energy was 11,850 J, allowing to pierce through 15 mm of armour at 300 meters. About 3500 were built from 1935, conveyed to all frontline units in secrecy. After the war, many were captured by the Germans which pressed it into service as the Panzerbüchse 35(p), and about 800 were later given to the Italians as the Fucile Controcarro 35(P).
Polish cavalry in Sochaczew in 1939
In 1939 the Polish cavalry counted for 10% of the Army, and it has been reorganized into 11 cavalry brigades, each with 3-4 cavalry regiments with organic artillery, armoured unit and infantry battalion. On the tactical level, these units were considered as a mobile reserve and served as a mounted/mobile infantry that can quickly move to any point of operation and then dismount to operate, with a variety of armaments, including machine guns, rifles and anti-tank rifles, even mortars. Organically these units also received the support of 75 mm guns, tankettes, 37mm AT guns, and 40mm AA guns. The lance was more or less dropped at that point, but the traditional Szabla wz. 1934 sabre was retained. At multiple occasions they proved valuable for filling the gaps in the front and covering friendly units withdrawal.
In all these operations, the Polish Army fought at least fifteen major actions, and countless skirmishes in which the Polish cavalry units fought dismounted, but fifteen confirmed cavalry charges during the war. Most of them were successful. The first one, with sabres and lanced occurred on september 1, 1939, during the Battle of Krojanty (see later). The second one, the same day, involved the 19th Volhynian Uhlan Regiment (by lance) which fall in Mokra on some elements of the German 4th Panzer Division, routing these in panic. The Battle of Janów (same day) saw the first cavalry vs cavalry clash as the 11th Legions Uhlan Regiment encountered a German cavalry reconnaissance squadron. Both units withdrew after a short engagement. Another clash of the same order occurred the following day, this time with the 1st squadron of the 19th Volhynian Uhlan Regiment (Battle of Borowa Góra), routing the German cavalry unit.
On September 11, round Osuchowo the 1st squadron of the 20th Uhlan Regiment of King Jan III Sobieski pierced through German infantry line on the process of surrounding the unit. In the night of the 11-12 of september, a charge from 4th squadron of the 11th Legions Uhlan Regiment helped recapture the village of Kałuszyn. On September 13 at Mińsk Mazowiecki however, the 1st squadron of the 2nd Regiment of Grochow Uhlans failed to pierce through the German lines and was repelled. However the same day at Maliszewo the 1st squadron of the 27th Uhlan Regiment retook the village and made many prisoners in the process. On September 15 in Brochów some elements of the 17th Greater Poland Uhlan Regiment charged and later fought on foot (taking cover under enemy fire) German infantry positions.
On September 19 the Battle of Wólka Węglowa saw the ulk of the 14th Regiment of Jazlowiec Uhlans did a recon, and after reinforcement of the 9th Regiment of Lesser Poland Uhlans charged and open the way for retreating troops (Battle of Bzura) towards Warsaw and Modlin. The operation was repeated in Łomianki. on September 21 at Kamionka Strumiłowa the 3rd squadron of the 1st Mounted Detachment fall on German troops preparing an assault, stopped it, forcing the troops to retreat. At Krasnobród, on September 23 the 1st squadron of the 25th Wielkopolska Uhlan Regiment retook the town after a charge, and despite heavy opposition, defeating also a counter charge by a German cavalry unit (8th Infantry Division), capturing the hilltop, HQ and making about 100 prisoners.
On September 24 at Husynne a reserve squadron of the 14th Regiment of Jazlowiec Uhlans renforced by mixed units including mounted police charged and routed Soviet infantry on the advance, before being stopped by a tank force. The last charge of this campaign occurred on September 26 at Morańce when the 27th Uhlan Regiment twice charged an entrenched German infantry battalion in the village of Morańce. Although repelled with heavy casualties the Germans sent out a soldier with a white flag and after a parley the Germans withdrew.
Map of the event at Krojanty, 1st September 1939
The Krojanty charge
Probably the most famous of these cavalry charges, this event was abundantly covered as a cavalry vs tank clash -which never happened in any way.
It took place on the evening of September 1, 1939, near the Pomeranian village of Krojanty. The clash was part of the larger Battle of Tuchola Forest and its fame came after reporters arrived at the scene, seeing the remains of the charge. Polish infantry was then following the Prussian Eastern Railway to railroad about 7 kilometres from the town of Chojnice. At 5 am, elements of German 76th Infantry Regiment, 20th Motorised Division was attacked. Just before, Polish Cavalry intercepted German infantry en route to Dantzig, screening their advance and slowing it. At 8 am, Polish Border Guard clashed with German advance and retreated to the river Brda. Covering the action were the 18th Pomeranian Uhlan Regiment, which was later the center of this event.
An opportunity presented itself as a group of German infantry were found resting in a clearing in the Tuchola Forest (near the railroad crossroads of Chojnice – Runowo Pomorskie line). After report, Colonel Kazimierz Mastalerz decided to order Eugeniusz Świeściak commanding the 1st squadron to suprise charge at 19h pm with the two squadrons while the two other motorized ines (TK tankettes) were held in reserve, as a backup. The surprise was total, German troops were found totally unprepared and quickly routed, fleeing in terror. The Polish Cavalry then occupied the clearing. But the rest was short, as German armored reconnaissance vehicles (pat of Aufklärungs-Abteilung 20) appeared from the forest road and quickly deployed, opening a withering fire of Mg.34s and 20 mm autocannons out on the open. The Polish cavalry was cut to pieces, dispersed, most galloping for cover behind a nearby hillock. In this second clash, Commander Świeściak was killed, as well as a third of both squadrons. The action was however succesful as halting the German advance, allowing the Polish 1st Rifle battalion and National Defence battalion Czersk to orderly retreat. Without the intervention of General Guderian, the 20th Motorised Infantry Division has considered a tactical retreat which was likely to happen, fearing other attacks. He also added in his memoirs “the panic of the first day of war was overcome quickly”.
Aftermath and creation of the myth
The following day, the 18th Pomeranian Uhlans Regiment was decorated by General Grzmot-Skotnicki with his own Virtuti Militari, the highest award for valor. At the same time, German war correspondents arrived at the scence of the battlefield, together with two Italian journalists. In the meantime tanks had arrived on the scene and were stationary, so the picture showing both tanks and corpses of Polish horses and cavalrymen scattered around with broken lances and sabres. Without much indication, one journalist, Indro Montanelli, sent home a dramatic depiction of brave Polish lancers charging German tanks.
The story could have been denied, but German propaganda machine quickly found a way to exploit it, creating a myth that was used to show (in Die Wehrmacht, published on 13 September) that the Poles had gravely underestimated German weapons. It went as far as pretending Polish propaganda suggested that German armored vehicles were still part training vehicles, and had only flimsy sheet metal inherited from Versailles Treaty limitations. The myth however endured as after the end of the War, Soviet propaganda made it and example of stupidity of pre-war Polish commanders careless of their soldiers. The myth perdured still in the 1990s, as shown by many generalist publications about WW2.
One of the numerous illustrated work trying to depict the imagined Polish lancers charge against tanks
But the Poles were certainly not deprived of antitank weapons: These mixed units of cavalry and mechanized cavalry counted antitank rifles like the standard karabin przeciwpancerny wz.35, seen on the back of many cavalrymen. In addition these units were supplied with heavier antitank weapons: Some TKS tankettes were given the Polish 20 mm autocannon FK-A Wz.38, which proved its deadly efficiency, in particular in the hands of men like Orlik. Light antitank guns were also towed by horses like the 37 mm Bofors wz.36 which was able to penetrate 26 mm of armour at 600 m at 30 degrees. It could disable Panzer IIIs when used on the right spot.
WW2 cavalry tactics
In the battle of Krojanty the charge was put to good use again infantry resting, of a motorized units comprising mostly trucks and field guns, nothing really threatening for a cavalry. That explained why it was so efficient. In case of an encounter, even with armoured reconnaissance vehicles which were certainly less well protected and armed than tanks, cavalry retreated best as it could, avoiding direct combat.
Aftermath of the charge at Krojanty (Narodowe Archivum Cyfrowe)
In the battle of Mokra, mounted infantry rode over behind the attacking German armor with tankettes throwing smoke grenades to cover the approach. They did repel the German support infantry, forcing part of the German armored regiment to continue their advance without infantry support. In most cases, cavalry was seen as a way to transport quickly on the most forbidding terrains and in relative quietness compared to tanks, units that can operate with the same armaments and tactics as regular infantry, with machine guns, mortars, grenades, and anti-tank rifles. But tactically these units generally operated on the rearguard of the armoured “fist” of divisions, so behind the tanks, on the following “soft belly” of accompanying support infantry that was to take care of the units crushed and scattered by the initial armoured breakthrough.
Could cavalry would have been successful against tanks ?
Although the case never really presented itself, a specialized cavalry corps with men all equipped with special shaped-charge or phosphorus and sticky grenades, anti-tank rifles, armor-piercing rifled grenades, and perhaps even towed 37 mm guns could have been lethal if deployed quickly on the right spot to take on tanks in the flanks, or ambushing an armoured column. We certainly can imagine dashing cavalrymen jumping from their horses to the last tanks of a column, climbing over it, opening the hatch to throw a grenade of molotov cocktail, and therefore disabling tanks up in the tank column. But it was without any thoughts of commanders busy scanning the horizon from their cupola, having both intercom and radio contact with each others. The fact was horses were big, conspicuous and not protected targets. Combined rapid fire and shrapnells would have been absolutely devastating in an orderly, jam-packed frontal cavalry charge in any case, and it seems ludicrous to think any commanders, even the least imaginative and least informed, could even consider taking on such tanks with lances and sabres. On of the great advantages of cavalry, especially when combined with modern, motorized support, was heir ability to cross impassable terrains for tanks, like rocky, forested areas, favouring close screening of enemy columns and waiting for the right timing to operate skirmishing tactics with great effects;
Nazi Propaganda – “Der Pimpf” cover.
Polish Uhlan with an wz. 35 anti-tank rifle.
To close this chapter, it must be said that experts believed that smaller and less well-documented cavalry charges occurred later on in World War II and as late as the 1970s in Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe), Mozambique (Portuguese Cavalry) until 1974. During Operation Enduring Freedom, Operational Detachment Alpha 595 teams were covertly inserted into Afghanistan (October 19, 2001) using horses due to the mountainous terrain. There is also a permanent, active military cavalry unit in India today, the 61st Cavalry.
Western Chinese cavalry unit training – Is horse cavalry still relevant today?
Links & Resources
The Krojanty charge on wikipedia
Creation of a myth – the Krojanty charge
The Krojanty myth on skeptoid.com
Polish Cavarly in WW2
Soviet Cavalry Mechanized groups in WW2
Cavarly in WW2
Cavalry in WW1
ww2 cav in militaryhistorynow.com
Video – cinematographical reconstitution of the Savoia Cavalleria charge