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Cavalry charge

First World War Audio Archive

Just then the cavalry came up over behind us and stormed

Hill 62 Memorial Belgium.

Peronne Wood. Boy, that’s the greatest sight I ever saw in my life. You’ll never see that again. Cavalry charge as far as you could see. And they came up over kind of a contour you know

Courtrai Memorial Belgium.

and the sun was setting behind them, man oh man. Went down through, went down through and over this railway track and up into the Wood and kept going, and hundreds of horses lay dead.

Le Quesnel Memorial Belgium.

You could have walked from one dead horse to the other, just like stepping stones. They were all, they all were killed in

Gueudecourt Memorial France.

one burst of a machine gun. I presume that’s what happened. For some, there was just another little bit of a contour, a draw you’d call it, to the right of us where this railway embankment..

Dury Memorial France.

The railway embankment was a little bit higher, and when they jumped over the railway embankment, the horses had a tendency to kind of of congregate in this bit of a draw and that's where

Monchy Memorial France.

the enemy machine gun (inaudible). It’s too bad they couldn’t stay in the, for some particular reason, I don’t know, well maybe they couldn’t hold the horses or something like that, the speed they were coming, but they could have kept them at

Passchendaele Memorial Belgium.

the same interval they had back behind, they wouldn’t have lost so many. But the horses seemed to, and I don’t presume it was the riders that were trying to get them all congregated in that,

Masnières memorial France.

you know, crowded right in together, a bunch of them anyway. There were one or two cavalrymen killed and not 1, 2, 3 with the number of horses. And sabers stuck in the ground here and there.

Bourion Wood Memorial France.

That was the charge of the whole Canadian and British, of the whole British Army Cavalry made that particular charge.

Courcelette Memorial France.

You couldn’t see the end of it, you know, beautiful sight. And then they call it, they called it the charge of Peronne Wood

Beaumont-Hamel Memorial France.

but there must have been something else because Peronne Wood wasn’t that big, I would say, but the heavy guns were in Peronne Wood. These were the heavy guns that were firing on the railway at Amiens twenty-three miles away. We were twenty-three

St. Julien Memorial Belgium.

miles east of Amiens. I never could figure out why they used the cavalry to charge heavy guns. What could they do that we couldn’t do? Well, maybe they could get in there and slash

Canadian National Vimy Memorial France.

with their sabers you know. I mean, it’s more than we could do with one machine gun. We were bound to have... even one machine gun would have done.

Mr. MacLeod describes the impressive sight of a full cavalry charge and the high mortality of the horses because of well-positioned German machine gunners. He questions why the cavalry would have been chosen to attack heavy gun emplacements in Batume-Peronne Wood.

James Neil MacLeod

James Neil MacLeod was born on November 12, 1899. Left school to enlist in Sherbrooke, Quebec, on December 10, 1915. Mr. MacLeod was a member of the 117th Battalion in Canada and England, joining the 24th Battalion for his tour of duty in Europe. He participated in many major battles: Arras, Vimy, Amiens, Somme and Michael Offensive. He was wounded in the elbow August 27, 1918. After his discharge, Mr. MacLeod lived in Quebec, moved to New York state to work for the New York Central Railroad. Married Mae R. Mulvaney in 1927. Mr. MacLeod died June 8, 1981.

Meta Data
Veterans Affairs Canada
Person Interviewed:
James Neil MacLeod
War, Conflict or Mission:
First World War
German Michael Offensive
117th Battalion

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