The 1. Kavallerie-Division was formed on 25 October 1939 from 1. Kavallerie-Brigade and expanded 20 November with the addition of Reiter-Regiment 21 and Reiter-Regiment 22.
It was restructured February 1940 with II./Reiter-Regiment 21 being disbanded and the personnel being distributed to the other regiments.

In the campaigns in western Europe it fought in the Netherlands before moving into France assigned to 4. Armee. The division crossed the Somme on 7 June and fought near Meulen. On 18-19 June it fought around Saumur and an attempt to capture a bridge across the Loire failed when it was blown up with the patrol still on it. It had reached La Rochelle when the fighting in France ended.
During the fighting near Saumur the officer cadets from the French army's Cavalry School in Saumur, the École de cavalerie de Saumur, un the command of Superintendent Colonel Michon defended four bridges of the Loire leading to combat between the graduates of the German cavalry school and the graduates of the French cavalry school. In the end the French were forced to surrender with the German divisional commander Kurt Feldt praising the cadets in his after action report.

After the French surrender it remained in France on occupation duty until early in the summer of 1941 when it was sent east in preparation for the invasion of the Soviet Union. The divisions took part in Operation Barbarossa assigned to XXIV Armeekorps and fought on the southern sector of the Eastern Front seeing action at the Berezina and Dniepr rivers and especially during the fighting to clear the Pripet Marshes of by-passed Red Army units.
It was withdrawn to France in November, its 17.000 horses handed over to infantry division. The “Schlußappell”, the last parade, was held at Gomel 5 November 1941 before dismounting and on 28 November it was officially transformed into 24. Panzer-Division.

Known war crimes

On 16 June 1940 soldiers from the division shot an unknown number of prisoners from the 26th RTS (Régiment de Tirailleurs Sénégalais), a colonial unit recruited from Senegal, near Chartres. (1)

Commanders

General der Kavallerie Kurt Feldt (25 Oct 1939 - 28 Nov 1941)

Area of operations

Poland (Sep 1939 - May 1940)
Holland & France (May 1940 - June 1941)
Eastern front, southern sector (June 1941 - Nov 1941)

Holders of high awards

Holders of the German Cross in Gold (12)
Holders of the Knight's Cross (5)
- Brakat, Otto 27.07.1941 Unteroffizier Gruppenführer i. d. 2./Radf.Abt 1
- Edelsheim Reichsfrhr von, Maximilian 30.07.1941 Oberstleutnant Kdr Radf.Abt 1
- Feldt, Kurt 23.08.1941 Generalmajor Kdr 1. Kav.Div
- Lengerke von, Wilhelm 31.08.1941 Oberstleutnant Kdr I./Reiter-Regiment 1
- Michael, Georg 19.01.1941 Leutnant d.R. Zugführer i. d. 6./Reiter-Regiment 22

Order of battle

Reiter-Brigade 1
- Reiter-Regiment 1
- Reiter-Regiment 2
- Reiter-Regiment 21
- Reiter-Regiment 22
- Radfahr-Abteilung 1
Reitendes Artillerie-Regiment 1
Panzerabwehr-Abteilung 40
Pionier-Bataillon 40
Nachrichten-Abteilung 86
Brigade-Nachschubführer 40

Insignia

Personnel of this unit wore a semi-official badge on the left side of the field and service cap which took the form of “Der springende Reiter”, the divisional emblem.

Footnotes

1. "Hitler's African Victims: The German Army Massacres of Black French Soldiers in 1940" by Raffael Scheck, page 116.

Sources used

Dr Jeffrey T. Fowler - Axis Cavalry in World War II
Raffael Scheck - Hitler's African Victims: The German Army Massacres of Black French Soldiers in 1940
John E. Strandberg - Horsepower: The use of horses by the German armed forces during World War II (in Military Advisor Vol 21, No 4)
Georg Tessin - Verbände und Truppen der deutschen Wehrmacht 1933-1945
Gordon Williamson - German Army Elite Units, 1939-45
Gordon Williamson - World War II German Battle Insignia

Reference material on this unit

W. Behrens - Geschichte des Reiter-Regiment 1 Teil 1: Friedensjahre 1919-1939
Dietrich Kuehn - Geschichte des Reiter-Regiment 1 Teil 2: 1939-1941
Dietrich Kuehn - Geschichte des Reiter-Regiment 1 - Panzergrenadier-Regiment 21 Teil 3: 1942-45
Franz Kurowski - Major Georg Michael: Als Kämpfer an den Brennpunkten der Ostfront
F.M. von Senger und Etterlin Jr. - Die 24. Panzer-Division vormals 1. Kavallerie-Division 1939-1945

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