“Everything worked like clockwork...”

The Mechanization of British Regular and Household Cavalry 1918-1942

Roger Salmon

Date Published :
January 2022
Publisher :
Helion and Company
Series :
Wolverhampton Military Studies
Illustration :
50 b/w photos
Format Available    QuantityPrice
Binding. : Hardback
ISBN : 9781910777961
Pages : 328
Dimensions : 9.25 X 6 inches
Stock Status : Available
Binding. : Paperback
ISBN : 9781915070968
Pages : 326
Dimensions : 9 X 6 inches
Stock Status : Available


The mechanization of British and Household Cavalry regiments took place between the two World Wars and on into 1942. This book describes the process by which many horsed cavalrymen were retrained to operate and fight in Armoured Fighting Vehicles (AFVs) and the experiences of some of the men and regiments involved. Extensive use has been made of regimental and War Office archives, and particularly from the Imperial War Museum’s sound archives - the oral testimonies of soldiers who had experienced this huge change. A small number of veterans are, or were, still living and were interviewed by the author for this work. The reason given for the delay in cavalry mechanization - cited in some military histories and much influenced by the writings of Sir Basil Liddell Hart - was the reluctance by the cavalrymen to part with their horses and their technophobic attitude.

This book tests the accuracy of this assertion, together with what was the availability of suitable and sufficient armored fighting vehicles to replace the cavalry’s horses. Of special interest is the examination of the historical papers of the tank manufacturers Vickers, held at the Cambridge University Library, regarding tank development and production. This story of mechanizing the cavalry has been set against the backdrop of the social, economic and political climate of the 1920s and 1930s, and the pressure on politicians of the wider franchise and public opinion. In researching this aspect, the Britain by Mass Observation archives - held at the University of Sussex - have been most illuminating. The interwar impact on cavalry mechanization; the role of the British Army in general; disarmament; and rearmament are describe - again with illustrations from oral testimonies.

About The Author

Roger Salmon, the son of an interwar cavalry soldier, spent his working life (from 1962) in management and leadership in an industrial environment during an era when many technological and cultural changes were demanded. Retiring early from a successful


"This is an important book not just for cavalry mechanization but for British defence policy in the inter-war years. For too long, obstinacy and traditionalism in the cavalry regiments have been held up as the chief explanation for the slow pace of British Army mechanization, as the last protest of an obsolete military arm. Roger Salmon's book not only nails that particular myth, it also sets out in practical detail how, as well as why, the mechanization of the British cavalry took place, with all its wider consequences for the British Army and for the country's defence."

- Stephen Badsey, University of Wolverhampton

"Everything Worked like Clockwork ISBN
“ … a fascinating analysis of a unique period in the history of the arme blanche …”"

- Medal News

“Comprehensive, engagingly written and well researched, this book is particularly recommended; and as usual, plaudits to Helion for making another excellent example of British military historical research available at an accessible price.”

- Society of Friends of the National Army Museum

“It is difficult to find fault with this thoroughly readable and informative book, which will appeal to a wide audience.”

- Society of Army Historical Research

“ … will probably be the much-cited standard work on it subject for years to come.”

- Soldiers of the Queen

"Part of this analysis is absolutely fascinating..."

- Historical Miniatures Gaming Society

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