WW II military words (long!)

Jim Rader jrader at M-W.COM
Fri Jun 11 15:26:25 UTC 1999

A minor correction to Mike Salovesh's account of horses and combat:
though the German army in World War II did not employ cavalry, the
horse was a basic means of transporting materiel and artillery.  Only
a small part of the Wehrmacht was fully mechanized.  My father, who
served as a medic with an infantry regiment in Italy during the war,
recalled seeing many German horses, both alive and dead.  The U.S.
Army also used animal transport in Italy:  mules carried food,
medical supplies, and ammunition over mountain trails.  Trails were
resorted to more frequently than roads, which were blocked, mined, or
under observation by artillery spotters.

Jim Rader

> "Red-leg" and "Yellow-leg" originally referred to the stripes on trouser
> legs in artillery and cavalry uniforms. In Col. Magruder's day, the U.S.
> Army still put cavalrymen on honest-to-God horses, and it still used
> mules to haul cannons.  The horses weren't fully phased out of combat
> units until the invasion of Poland made it obvious that "hoss calvary"
> was not likely to be of much use.  That should have been clear from what
> machine guns did to trench warfare during WW I, but sometimes you have
> to hit mules and generals over the head with a board to get their
> attention.

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