What was the purpose of a dragoon?
The word dragoon hails from a time when horses ruled the battlefield. While regular heavy cavalry was meant to fight while mounted, the purpose of a Dragoon trooper was mobility. These troops would ride to their specified location and dismount to then fight as a form of “light infantry.” They could fight from the saddle as well however were mainly trained to adopt infantry tactics when dismounted. This ability gave their commanders greater flexibility as their troops were trained in various tactical skills and situations.
During the formation of the 1st Polish Armoured Division, it was recognized that tanks unaccompanied by infantry would soon fall prey to personal anti-tank (A-Tk) weapons such as the panzerfaust. The study of blitzkrieg tactics had shown how important it was for armoured infantry to move at the same pace of the tanks. These troops would dismount from their vehicles in the heat of battle and remove pockets of enemy infantry resistance in support of the tank regiments. This was especially useful in built up areas such as villages where tanks are easy prey to the hunters. In turn, the tanks provided the anti-infantry firepower with the 75mm and 17 pound guns to support the dismounted troops. With this concept in mind the divisional reconnaissance regiment was reorganized and the 10th Dragoon Regiment was born. The regiment included A-tk guns, line infantry squadrons, heavy mortar and communications sections all designed to fight as in integral part of the fast moving armoured division.
By 1944 the International M5A1 halftrack was in full supply to the Allied armies. It had replaced the trusty horse to move approximately 9 men of a rifle section into combat. Although lightly armored the half track provided fast, mechanically reliable, off road mobility to the line squadrons of the regiment.
Below are block diagrams showing the specific composition of the regiment approximately in August of 1944 as they left for the Normandy campaign. The diagrams represent and administrative and combat chain. This is meant to illustrate the functional separation of roles between combat arms and support units. This of course is not mean to infer that support units were not on the front lines. This merely attempts to show how most regiments of the division were broken down operationally