Sunday, 2 October 2016

Flames of War: Polish Cavalry - Regimental HQ

... and so it begins! The next large force in my Polish Flames of War collection that needs to be conquered before I suck up the courage to dive into the Black Brigade and all of its requirements for casting and sculpting!

So, Polish Cavalry then? What to say? Well, many people who are not steeped in history think that the Polish in 1939 were a little backwards in their choice of relying on cavalry, and getting them to charge tanks with lances and other such claptrappery!

Live Reenactors portraying a Polish cavalry squadron on the march

We should put this myth to rest post haste I think. Poland in the 30's was a chiefly agrarian culture with a very under developed transport infrastructure, because of these facts analyses that were completed throughout the twenties and thirties all determined that the mobility of horses across the Polish countryside was far more preferable that bottle necking traffic columns which would make very attractive targets for air attacks.

Despite propaganda which is still relatively common currency in amateur historical circles, the Polish cavalry, whilst being trained in fighting from horseback did not in fact do this under normal circumstances. The battle of Krojanty is an example of a Cavalry squadron fighting from horseback (this is also where the myth of Polish cavalry charging tanks with lances comes from by the way) but their normal operational doctrines was that they fought as mounted infantry. They would manoeuvre to their operational area by horseback, dismount and fight on foot.

Live Reenactors delivering that for which the Polish cavalry are so famous: a horse mounted can of whoop ass!

Poland was in the process of modernising some of its cavalry brigades in order to trial the use of motorised assets but on the whole, resistance to this idea was widespread and very effective... because of this by the time the second world war started the cavalry were still seen as the cream of the crop and the 12 Cavalry Brigades that Poland had would be relied on to carry the weight of the unreasonable strategic plans that had been conceived behind closed doors by individuals who had no business being in charge of a nations future!

I decided that I wanted to paint my force based on the 19th Volhynian Lancers regiment (19. Pulk Ulanow Wolynskich) which was one of the stalwart regiments that played such a major part in perhaps Polands most important and famous victory of the September '39 campaign... the battle of Mokra.

Polish reenactors advancing on horseback through the fog of war!

I thought that I would get my Regimental Commander out of the way as this would provide a pretext for me painting a lot more cavalry... and thus providing a get out of jail free card with 'she who must be obeyed' :D

I decided straight from the off that I wanted to have a hand painted regimental standard. The Polish, as far as I know never flew their banners loud and proud on the field BUT I have seen shots of the Polish in the field (not sure whether it was on exercise or actually on the battlefield) with the regimental banner pole with furled colours in their leather wraps... either way, it didnt matter to me! I wanted a full banner... and so I had to track down an image of the 19th Volhynian Uhlans banner... and find one I did!

The original 19th Volhynian Uhlans banner kept for posterity by a former member of the regiment.
On finding a good image of the banner I also noticed a few other things...the banner flew strips in the colour of the regiment and sported a Polish eagle on the top of the banner pole... this would need to be replicated!

The next thing was the colour of the horses! most people make an assumption that horse colour is arbritary, well I know from painting all of my Napoleonic troops that squadron horse colour is very VERY rarely arbitrary and because of this I needed to track down a guide for the horse colours... and this I also did!

Polish Horse Colours
1. Grey - Buglers, horse orchestras of particular horse regiments and horse artillery regiments, horse engineer squadrons, command teams of some cavalry regiments.
2. Bay - Most of the cavalry regiments or particular squadrons
3. Gold-Bay - Particular Squadrons in Cavalry Regiments
4. Brown - Cavalry Regiments that had Yellow facings, horse artillery regiments and liaison squadrons
5. Black - Horse Artillery Regiments
6. Chestnut - Some Cavalry Regiments or particular squadrons and platoon
So far so good. The final research step was to find out the colouration of their uniforms and I was lucky enough to find an image of uniform illustrations that just focused on the 19th Volhynians:

Uniforms of the 19th Volhynian Uhlans Regiment 1939

... so that was that. It was finally time to paint them... and make a flag! :D

The painting was pretty simple and other than the horse furniture was almost identical to my Polish infantry, except that all of their equipment straps were leather.

The flag took a little while to paint BUT paint it I did.. and all on a flag that measures no more than 15mm x 15mm and was made of a tin foil (?) butter lid. The Eagle that you can see on top of the banner pole was taken from an AB Miniatures 15mm French banner bearer from 1809. Theres no crown.. but then how many people would notice right?

The two base Regimental Command. 1iC with Banner and 2iC with Bugler

... and there we have it. My first foray into the heady world of Polish cavalry. Now I have to do a couple of different projects before I turn my attention back to the cavalry but you can be sure you havent heard the last of these bad asses!


  1. Replies
    1. Cheers Dave, I'm actually surprised how well the banner turned out. I normally cant hit a barn door with a paint brush! :D