Toblerone Leichte Kavallerie

Switzerland, which has long cherished a rather unique military model, was one of the last in the world to retire its horse cavalry units, a tradition that dated back to 1647. 

The Swiss Parliament in December 1972 voted– narrowly– to disband their final 18 fine squadrons of dragoons (mounted infantry) and convert their remaining 2,600 spur-wearing cavalrymen, mostly reservists of course, to mechanized units and other assignments. At that time, Switzerland was the last country in Europe (outside of Russia) that still maintained mounted combat units. The decision didn’t go over well in the public and over 400,000 petitioned against the move– a large segment of the country’s 6 million population. 

Rudolf Gnagi, the defense minister in 1972, said that he sympathized with those who wanted to keep the formations but military necessity required modernization, after all, at the time the U.S. had all but thrown in the towel in Vietnam while the Soviets looked 10 feet tall and Switzerland could find itself in a real-live shooting war should Moscow make a move against NATO.

Strange how things are cyclical sometimes, eh?

Anyway, the long tradition of the Swiss dragoons has been maintained in modern times by at least two large reenactment units in the country, Schweizer Kavallerie Schwadron 1972 and Berner Dragoner 1779, with the dates pointing towards the era they depict. Over the past eight days, some 60 members in historic uniforms rode 140 miles over the mountains from Bière to Aarau, bivouacking along the way, to mark the 50th anniversary of the loss of Switzerland’s horse soldiers.

The gallery is great if nothing else.

Most of the horses are Swiss Warmbloods and Freibergers with detailed military saddles and packs while the uniforms cover several different periods including at least some riders– likely reservists– in the current TAZ 90 camo pattern with modern riding helmets.

One comment

  • Good afternoon,

    I am looking for a Marlin model 55 goose gun 12 gauge 3″ 2 shot magazine. Do you know where I might locate one.

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