Customer Reviews: World War II US Cavalry Units: Pacific Theater (Elite)
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VINE VOICEon December 8, 2009
When one thinks of the US cavalry in WW2 one usually thinks of tankers, especially those of Patton's 3rd army in their amazing drive through France in 1944. Certainly one does not think of the most mechanically advanced army in the world having a large number of horse mounted regiments but in 1941 as the US entered the Second World War they had 10 such mounted regiments and it is their story Rottman tells in this all too brief Osprey book.

While the 26th Cavalry was already in the Philippines and launched the last cavalry charge of the US Army the rest of the regiments were stateside and it proved too difficult to ship out and maintain horses in the far east and so the units were dismounted and fought as infantry.

In the 1930's the world's military's were trying to balance the development of armor with the known cavalry doctrines. In the UK they merely changed horse cavalry into tankers and carried on. In the US the tanks were developed separately and cavalry troops were allowed to maintain their peculiar numbers and customs. So although, for example, the 112th Cavalry regiment was deployed as an infantry regiment, their numbers were only half that of an infantry formation and they often lacked the heavy support weapons of infantry units, a fact area commanders were often unaware of as they made their plans.

As the war progressed these units often distinguished themselves in hard fighting and Rottman follows their career and battle honors through the end of the war when the regiments of the US 1st Cavalry Division occupied Tokyo.

Constricted by Osprey's requirements the book is much too short for the topic but it is a very good start. If I have a complaint it is two fold. Firstly there are NO maps. Not a single one. This certainly would have been a help to keep track of the action, especially in the Philippines where much of the action took place. Secondly, and here I think it's the constraints of the book more than the author's choice, the book follows the campaigns of the cavalry men but once ashore at Leyte they were, for all intents and purposes, infantry and are included in the order of battle as any other unit. As this can be covered in many other works covering the fall of the Philippines, I would have preferred more on the intricacies of the Cavalry units. Were there idiosyncrasies in gear beyond the lack of heavy weapons? Were there prejudices for or against them from `infantry' officers? For example some of the photos show troopers marching in riding boots, not combat boots, and even privates armed with pistols. How long did these `oddities' last under jungle conditions?

Since Rottman does mention a few problems with senior officers being unaware of the differences between infantry and cavalry units he clearly knows thy are out there but does not have the space to devote to that side he focuses on the combat records of the units he wishes to praise. I would certainly hope he'll be able to follow this up in a larger venue in the future.

Overall a good start on an interesting topic. It has it's weakness but I think these come more form Osprey's limitations than the author's choice.
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on November 20, 2009
This book provides a fascinating and fairly detailed overview of the large US cavalry units which saw action in the Pacific War. Comprehensive information on these units is difficult to find, so it fills an important gap.

The book is, in essence, divided into two parts. The first provides a brief (8 page) organisational history of the US Army and National Guard's cavalry units up to World War II. While comprehensive and interesting, this material is somewhat awkwardly written at times and seems to have been compressed. The second part is much stronger, however. It opens with an excellent two page summary of how the dismounted cavalry units were organised and how this structure compared to that of infantry battalions - I've been looking for this information on the internet without success for years, so this was very valuable. The book then provides fairly detailed accounts of the war service of the 26th, 112th and 124th Cavalry Regiments and the 1st Cavalry Division. These accounts cover the units' deployments, combat actions and organisational changes and appear to be quite comprehensive. Several task organisation tables are included for the main deployments of cavalry units, and these do a great job of illustrating how the units were structured in combat and the supporting units which were assigned to them.

Unlike many Osprey publications, this book contains interesting and well-considered analysis of the units it describes. Rottman states that "there is no answer" to the question of why the dismounted cavalry regiments remained on a unique cavalry-based organisation until 1945 rather than the standard infantry organisation. He then goes onto describe the limitations this organisation imposed on the units, which often lacked the strength to properly exploit success and rapidly lost effectiveness in combat as they couldn't sustain losses to the same extent as regular infantry units. The accounts of the units' service also include several occasions where they were given inappropriate assignments as staff officers were unaware that their structure differed from other infantry units. I was a bit disappointed though that there wasn't a clear description of how the commanders of the cavalry units adapted the standard infantry doctrine Rottman states they used to match the capabilities of their units.

The visual appearance of the book is a bit disappointing. While its many photos are well-chosen, the quality of the reproductions is often low (particularly for photos from the Texas Military Forces Museum). Some of the eight full-page colour drawings also seem to be below the usual standard for Osprey publications, and look a bit cartoonish. A map of the Philippines showing the main areas where US cavalry units fought would have also been valuable, but space constraints might have ruled this out.

In summary, this book is a valuable addition to the literature on the US Army in the Pacific War, particularly for its coverage of the organisational history of these units, and is well worth its price.
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on January 3, 2013
Another Elite quickie history with much focus on the dismounted Texas ARNG cavalry units employed as infantry in the Pacific.
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on October 4, 2011
very beautifull book who show by detail the use of US cavalry in the pacific during world war 2 with picture and profils
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on November 5, 2009
I have been buying Osprey book for a number of years. Outside of the 1st Cavalry Division fighting dismounted in the Pacific Theater cavalry units are rarely covered in any detail. Unfortnately, this book is lacking in detail, poor quality photgraphs, and task organizations. No mention of the divisional recon troops. Overall, I was disappointed.
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on June 5, 2010
A good view of the history and use of cavalry units in WWII, most in the Pacific theater.
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