Patton's Iron Cavalry - The Impact of the Mechanized Cavalry on the U.S. Third Army Page: 17
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MAJ Bradford Chynoweth published an article extolling the virtues of cavalry tanks.20 These
views were reinforced by British experiences in Palestine during the First World War, when
United Kingdom cavalry forces equipped with armored cars and light tanks assisted Field
Marshall Edmund Allenby in defeating superior Turkish forces. British experimentation with
medium tanks in 1925 also sparked Cavalry interest, as the branch had always been more
concerned with the marriage of firepower and mobility than the infantry. Cavalry Branch's
desire for fast 'cavalry tanks' inspired a decade-long Army association with the inventor J.
Walter Christie to create such a vehicle. Christie produced a number of very fast prototypes, but
their failure to meet army specifications meant that none of them ever went into production in the
In April of 1930, Colonel James Parsons, commandant of the United States tank school,
argued for the establishment of six tank divisions, one assigned to each field army. These tank
divisions would essentially replace the role of cavalry in many respects, as Parsons argued that
these formations could "[cover] the advance and flank of the main force, [exploit] a
breakthrough..., [seize] strategical (sic) positions and filling gaps in the line."22 This proposal
was a significant affront to the Cavalry Branch, as Infantry Branch controlled all the tanks in the
Army. Thus, these new divisions would essentially place most of the Cavalry's functions under
the purview of the Infantry or some other organization that was not Cavalry. Due to resistance
from the Cavalry Branch, as well as many of the other branch chiefs, Parson's idea was defeated
and promptly ignored.
20 George F. Hofman, "Demise of the US Tank Corps and Medium Tank Development Program," Military
Affairs, Vol. 37, No. 1 (Feb 1973): 23.
21 George F. Hofman, "A Yankee Inventor and the Military Establishment: The Christie Tank
Controversy," Military Affairs, Vol. 39, No. 1 (Feb 1975): 17.
22 George F. Hofman, Through Mobility We Conquer- The Mechanization of U.S. Cavalry (Lexington:
University of Kentucky Press, 2006), 124.
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Nance, William Stuart. Patton's Iron Cavalry - The Impact of the Mechanized Cavalry on the U.S. Third Army, thesis, May 2011; Denton, Texas. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc68023/m1/23/: accessed December 16, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; .