Horse cavalry units were still used well into World War II and beyond. While they did not seem very effective against tanks and other infantry units, horses still had their uses.
Defending the Philippines
In fact, the U.S. used a horse cavalry unit in April 1942 as a way to defend the Philippines. The Japanese attacked the Philippines on the same day they attacked Pearl Harbor.
Troops began landing on the islands quickly after the initial attack. The U.S. troops were not ready for a fight. U.S. Gen. Douglas MacArthur wanted a quick mission to stop the Japanese attack.
His solution was calling in the 26th Cavalry. The cavalry was made of U.S. officers and Filipino soldiers. While they excelled at riding out and taking care of business, not many of them had been in combat.
The cavalry was used as the lookouts and information scouts for the Army and was tired. However, the Japanese were on their way to Manila on December 22.
Last Line Of Defense
The 26th Cavalry was the last line of defense to keep Manila standing. The scouts went ahead to reach Morong before the Japanese. The plan was to stop the Japanese from crossing the Batalan River to buy some time. However, it didn’t go quite to plan.
The Japanese showed up on the bridges ahead of schedule. The 26th had a task to do without much planning. Col. Clint Pierce ordered the men to charge, and they did with their pistols in hand, even though the Japanese had infantry and tanks. The men charged with such fever that the Japanese troops broke rank and went back across the river to regroup.
Even the tanks stopped their forward advance. According to First Lt. Edwin Ramsey, “Bent nearly prone across the horses’ necks, we flung ourselves at the Japanese advance, pistols firing full into their startled faces.”
A few returned our fire but most fled in confusion. To them we must have seemed a vision from another century, wild-eyed horses pounding headlong; cheering, whooping men firing from the saddles.First Lt. Edwin Ramsey
The cavalrymen stood firm and stopped the Japanese from crossing the river.