Red Army Horses (1941-1945) by Timur Muminov [Тимур Муминов] (13.8.2019) 

Transfer of a Horse to the Defence Fund From the Mamontovsky District – Altai Territory (1941)

Translator’s Note: I am building a compendium of Russian-language articles regarding all aspects of the Soviet Red Army Cavalry – involving recruits, swords, lances, horses, deployment and engagements, etc. This is designed to fill the void regarding genuine knowledge of this subject within the English-language, and to combat the Cold War disinformation and continuous anti-intellectualism being formulated and broadcast from the United States of America! When approaching the subject of ‘horses’ – the following article focuses upon the Great Patriotic War (1941-1945) throughout which the USSR lost around 41 million men, women and children fighting Nazi German aggression and attempts at genocide! According to the details presented in this article, the USSR lost over a million horses in these deadly four years! This did involve, on some occasions, the use of traditional Cavalry ‘charges’ directed at advancing Nazi German armour and infantry – particularly when no other Soviet Forces were available to form a ‘barrier’ between the fascists and their intended victims! These attacks, which usually ended with every horse and rider either killed or severely wounded, brought time for the people to organise defences, to evacuate areas that could not be defended, or allow the modern Red Army forces to take-up defensible positions! Furthermore, Soviet Cavalry could continue to operate in the cold when petrol ‘froze’ in its pipes and rendered machines useless! Finally, pulling and carrying heavy-loads was a vital part of the Soviet war effort and it is these horses that we should probably thank as much as those brave horses which ‘charged’ directly at advancing Nazi German troops! ACW (13.5.2022)  

During the Second World War – the “war of motors” – economic conditions and the level of technical development did not allow any warring state to completely abandon the use of horses in the army. Even the mechanized military monster of the Wehrmacht used, according to some sources, about three million horses. In the Soviet Union, the horse, all the more, remained an important factor in the combat effectiveness of the troops. 

After the Collectivization of agriculture was completed, the main source of horse stock for cavalry, artillery and military transport became the special fund known as the “Horse – Red Army” (LKA), created in all Collective Farms and State Farms by Decree of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR of August 20, 1939 and the decision of the Central Executive Committee and Council of People’s Commissars of the USSR of October 7, 1935. Up to 5% of the total livestock of the farm was determined for the LKA fund – and at the same time – usually the best livestock. Military horses had to be under the age of 7 years, height at the withers from 144 cm and above. They were divided into four categories: riding, artillery, pack and baggage. Military Repair Commissions purchased horses from the fund at certain rates, which were established by the Soviet State depending on the category, height at the withers, and the area where from which the horses were recruited. 

In the pre-war years, very great importance was attached to the organization of the LKA fund. For each district, with a plan established for the fund which involved approximately 70% of the horses recruited for riding, 25% for artillery usage and 5% for pulling carts. In general, there were about half a million horses processed by the fund throughout the country at any one time – of which 60% were adult animals and 40% young animals (from 1.5 to 3 years old). Horses ‘registered’ in the State Pedigree Books were exempt from military recruitment and not subject to enrolment in the fund. 

A Registration Card was set up for each horse processed by the fund. It recorded all the facts regarding the “biography” of each horse. No one could exclude a horse from the fund without the knowledge of the Head of the Military Registration and Enlistment Office. The Chairmen of Collective Farms and Directors of State Farms bore personal responsibility for the safety of the horses recruited and staff that administered the LKA fund in the name of the People they all served! 

A Special Instruction ordered that all “stock” animals (that is, those horses selected to be ‘Cavalry’ horses) should be kept (and looked after) in the stable separate from other the horses designated as ‘workers’ (which were also looked-after to a ‘different’ nutritional and conditioning high-degree reflecting their designated category) – and that individual buckets, brushes, combs, blankets and ammunition be carefully allocated for their use. It was forbidden to use “Military” horses for hard work including ploughing, transporting heavy loads, or carrying-out long trips – as these horses were simply not suited to these tasks. They were not allowed to tangle their feet while grazing. These special horses had to be looked after by a permanent groom “recruited from among the best Collective Farmers.” All persons associated with the maintenance of the fund’s horses were provided with cash bonuses. 

Certificate of Honour Issued by the Ministry of Agriculture (USSR) To The Groom of the Collective Farm – Trofim Dukhanin – “For the Motherland” – Mikhailovsky District, Ryazan Region – for Good Maintenance, Care and Conservation of the “Horse of the Soviet Army” Fund – Signed by the Deputy Minister for Horse Breeding S.M. Budyonny, 1950

The time of severe trials proved the expediency of organizing a special fund of selected horse stock. In total, about three million horses came from the national economy to the front. Even more of them would be needed if, thanks to a well-organized military Veterinary Service, the vast majority of slightly wounded and sick animals did not return to Service – but were returned to the Home-Front to continue their vital patriotic services. However, more than a million uncomplaining Soviet War-Horse died in the anti-fascist war! Already, by 1942, the USSR was short of horses – with the shortfall being met by purchases from its allies in Mongolia! 

By the mid-1950s, in connection with the abolition of the Cavalry and the mechanization of troops – the need for horses in the Armed Forces was sharply reduced. However, the size of the fund, renamed the “Horse of the Soviet Army”, remained at the pre-war level: on April 1, 1955, 530,590 horses were ‘selected’ for potential purchase under Special Conditions. At the same time, only 6,799 horses were actually purchased from the fund for the army in 1953, 6,833 in 1954, and only 36 in 1955 (with the ‘selected’ horses returned to their farms)! In 1956, there were still 26,900 horses “in Service”, which were expected to be further reduced. In the event of mobilization according to the plan, only 60,000 horses would be required – mainly for carrying and transporting baggage. Therefore, in the winter of 1956, USSR Minister of Défense G.K. Zhukov recognized the further maintenance of the fund as inexpedient and burdensome for the national economy. The fund was abolished. 

Russian Language Article:

Лошадь для красноармейца 

Тимур Муминов 

13 августа ’19 

В ходе Второй мировой — «войны моторов» — экономические условия и уровень технического развития не позволили ни одному воевавшему государству полностью отказаться от использования в армии лошадей. Даже механизированный военный монстр вермахта использовал, по некоторым данным, примерно три миллиона голов. В Советском Союзе лошадь тем более оставалась важным фактором боеспособности войск. 

После завершения коллективизации сельского хозяйства основным источником конского состава для кавалерии, артиллерии и войскового обоза стал специальный фонд «Лошадь — Красной Армии» (ЛКА), создаваемый во всех колхозах и совхозах по Указу Президиума Верховного Совета СССР от 20 августа 1939 года и постановлению ЦИК и СНК СССР от 7 октября 1935 года. В фонд ЛКА определялось до 5% общего поголовья хозяйства, при этом — самого лучшего поголовья. Военные лошади должны были быть возрастом до 7 лет, ростом в холке от 144 см и выше. Они делились на четыре категории: верховые, артиллерийские, вьючные и обозные. Военно-ремонтные комиссии приобретали лошадей из фонда по определённым расценкам, которые устанавливались государством в зависимости от категории, высоты в холке и района заготовки лошадей. 

В предвоенные годы организации фонда ЛКА придавалось очень большое значение. Для каждого района устанавливали план поставки лошадей в фонд, причём примерно 70% лошадей должно было быть верховых, 25% — артиллерийских и 5% — обозных. В целом по стране в фонде находилось около полумиллиона лошадей, из них — 60% взрослых животных и 40% молодняка (от 1,5 до 3 лет). Лошади, занесённые в государственные племенные книги, зачислению в фонд не подлежали. 

На каждую лошадь фонда заводилась учётная карточка. В ней отражались все факты её «биографии». Исключить лошадь из фонда без ведома начальника райвоенкомата не мог никто. Персональную ответственность за сохранность живой силы фонда ЛКА несли председатели колхозов и директора совхозов. 

Специальная инструкция предписывала содержать в конюшне «фондовых» животных отдельно от остальных рабочих лошадок, выделять для них индивидуальные вёдра, щётки, скребницы, попоны и амуницию. Воспрещалось использовать «военнообязанных» коней на тяжёлых работах: пахоте, перевозке тяжестей, в дальних поездках. Им нельзя было спутывать ноги на выпасе. Ухаживать за ними надлежало постоянному конюху «из числа лучших колхозников». Всем лицам, связанным с содержанием лошадей фонда, предусматривались денежные премии. 

Время суровых испытаний доказа ло всю целесообразность организации специального фонда отборного конского поголовья. Всего из народного хозяйства на фронт попало около трёх миллионов лошадей. Их потребовалось бы ещё больше, если бы благодаря чётко организованной военно-ветеринарной службе не возвращалось в строй подавляющее большинство легко раненных и заболевших животных. Однако более миллиона безропотных тружеников войны погибло. Как известно, уже в 1942 году лошадей пришлось закупать в Монголии. 

К середине 1950-х годов в связи с упразднением кавалерии и механизацией войск потребность Вооружённых сил в лошадях резко сократилась. Однако размеры фонда, переименованного в «Лошадь Советской Армии», оставались на предвоенном уровне: на 1 апреля 1955 года в особых условиях содержалось 530 590 голов. При этом для армии в 1953 году из фонда было закуплено всего 6799 лошадей, в 1954 году — 6833, а в 1955 году — лишь 36 голов! В 1956 году «на службе» всё ещё оставалось 26 900 лошадей, которых ожидало дальнейшее сокращение. В случае мобилизации по плану потребовалось бы только 60 000 лошадей — главным образом обозных. Поэтому зимой 1956 года министр обороны СССР Г.К. Жуков признал дальнейшее содержание фонда нецелесообразным и обременительным для народного хозяйства. Фонд упразднили. 

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