73 Ghost Riders: Operation Cowboy

Last year I talked to Mark Felton about the escape attempts of British VIP prisoners, held by the Italians. That was episode 49 Castle of Eagles, the book is possibly my favourite read of last year.

Well Mark is back, with another cracking story he’s managed to turn up in the archives, that of Operation Cowboy; the book is Ghost Riders.

Ghost Riders: When US and German Soldiers Fought Together to Save the World's Most Beautiful Horses in the Last Days of World War II
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It is April 1945 and the world's most prized horses are about to be slaughtered...As the Red Army closes in on the Third Reich, a German colonel sends an American intelligence officer an unusual report about a POW camp soon to be overrun by the Soviets. Locked up, the report says, are over a thousan over a thousand horses, including the entire herd of white Lipizzaner's from Vienna's Spanish Riding School, as well as Europe's finest Arabian stallions--stolen to create an equine "master race." The horses are worth millions and, if the starving Red Army reaches the stables first, they will kill the horses for rations. The Americans, under the command of General George Patton, whose love of horses was legendary, decide to help the Germans save the majestic creatures.

So begins "Operation Cowboy," as GIs join forces with surrendered German soldiers and liberated prisoners of war to save the world's finest horses from fanatical SS soldiers and the ruthless Red Army in an extraordinary battle during the last few days of the war in Europe. This is an epic untold story from the waning days of World War II.

Drawing from newly unearthed archival material, family archives held by descendants of the participants, and interviews with many of the participants published throughout the years, Ghost Riders is the definitive account of this truly unprecedented and moving story of kindness and compassion at the close of humanity's darkest hour.

It recounts the activities of an American unit which raced into Czechoslovakia to accept the surrender of a group of Germans, in doing so they manage to rescue a number of Allied POW’s, with the help of German POW’s they fight off a concerted attack by a SS Unit and then evacuate the mares of the famous Viennese, ‘spanish riding school’.