This recruitment poster shows heroic cavalry troops on the battlefield, their horses galloping past exploding shells. But this was a scene that rarely occurred on the Western Front, where most of the fighting was conducted through heavy artillery and infantry.
The poster reflects an early belief that cavalry units would play a decisive role in the conflict. Although they were successfully used in the Battle of Mons in the first few weeks of the war, they proved ineffective once the war became locked in trench warfare.
In spite of this, cavalry units continued to be maintained by Britain’s generals. This may have been because many of Britain’s military leaders, such as General Douglas Haig, were former cavalrymen who clung to a belief that horses would eventually be able to sweep into enemy trenches worn down by artillery.
This lingering belief in the utility of cavalry combat has often been cited as evidence of the incompetence of Britain’s generals. David Lloyd George complained about this in his 1934 memoir of the war, claiming of the ‘ridiculous cavalry obsession’ of his generals.