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Italian Front (World War I)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Italian Front
Part of World War I
Italian front (World War I).jpg

From left to right: Ortles, autumn 1917; Verena [de; it], June 1915; Mount Paterno, 1915; Carso, 1917; Toblach, 1915.
Date23 May 1915 – 6 November 1918
(3 years, 5 months and 2 weeks)

Decisive Allied victory

 Kingdom of Italy
 British Empire
Czechoslovak Legion
 United States
 German Empire
Commanders and leaders
Kingdom of Italy Luigi Cadorna
Kingdom of Italy Emanuele Filiberto
Kingdom of Italy Armando Diaz
French Third Republic Jean César Graziani
British Empire Rudolph Lambart, Lord Cavan
United States William G. Everson
Austria-Hungary C. von Hötzendorf
Austria-Hungary Svetozar Boroević
Austria-Hungary A. von Straussenburg
German Empire Otto von Below

1915 – up to 58 divisions

 British Empire
1917 – 3 divisions
1918 – 2 divisions
Czechoslovak Legion
1918 – 5 regiments
Romanian Legion
1918 – 3 regiments
 United States
1918 – 1 regiment

1915 – up to 61 divisions

 German Empire
1917 – 5 divisions
Casualties and losses

Kingdom of Italy 2,150,000:[1][2]
651,000 dead
953,886 wounded
530,000 missing or captured
United Kingdom 6,700:
1,057 killed
4,971 wounded
670 missing/captured[3]
French Third Republic 2,872:
480 killed (700 died indirectly)
2,302 wounded
unknown captured

~2,160,000 casualties

Austria-Hungary 2,330,000:[2][4][5][page needed]
400,000 dead
1,210,000+ wounded
477,024 captured[6]
176,000 missing[7]
German Empire ?

2,330,000+ casualties
589,000 Italian civilians died of war-related causes

The Italian Front or Alpine Front (Italian: Fronte alpino; in German: Gebirgskrieg, "Mountain war") was a series of battles at the border between Austria-Hungary and Italy, fought between 1915 and 1918 in World War I. Following the secret promises made by the Allies in the Treaty of London, Italy entered the war in order to annex the Austrian Littoral and northern Dalmatia, and the territories of present-day Trentino and South Tyrol. Although Italy had hoped to gain the territories with a surprise offensive, the front soon bogged down into trench warfare, similar to the Western Front fought in France, but at high altitudes and with very cold winters. Fighting along the front displaced much of the civilian population, of which several thousand died from malnutrition and illness in Italian and Austrian refugee camps.[8] The Allied victory at Vittorio Veneto, the disintegration of Austria-Hungary and the Italian capture of Trento, Bolzano and Trieste ended the military operations.[9]

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  • ✪ The Edge of the Abyss - Mountain Warfare On The Italian Front I THE GREAT WAR Special
  • ✪ Italy in World War 1 I THE GREAT WAR Special
  • ✪ Italian front in World War I | The 20th century | World history | Khan Academy
  • ✪ Inside The Harsh Conditions Of Italy During WW1: First World War (WW1 Documentary) | Timeline
  • ✪ Alpine Combat The Italian front in Colour (WW1)


There were over a dozen fronts on which the First World War was fought, on or near five continents It was fought in deserts, in mud, in snow, on land, at sea, and in the air. And it was fought in the mountains. I’m Indy Neidell; welcome to a Great war on the road special episode about mountain warfare in the first world war. Fighting in cold climates like the arctic or high mountains was not a new concept when the war broke out. In 1590, 600 Finns on skis defeated a Muscovite invasion, and in 1747 the first official ski-corps was established in Norway. However, the first real mountain troops we would define as modern did not appear before the end of the 19th century when practical climbing gear and new climbing techniques were developed. This was because of a newfound European interest in mountaineering. The heights were romanticized and inspired poets and artists alike, and it was a new frontier for humankind to conquer, and a great achievement to master the highest peaks. All over the world, people began climbing mountains, the Alps, the Rocky Mountains, the Andes, even the mighty Himalayas were climbed for sport, and mountains even began to figure in military planning. War in 1866 had drawn a new border between Austria what would soon be Italy through the peaks and valleys of the Eastern Alps and the Western Dolomites. Alpine altitudes varied on an average of about 3,000 feet- 915m- above sea level, but could reach three times that. However, they were not as much of a continuous barrier as, say, the Pyrenees, since the Alps consisted of numerous ranges of varying heights, divided by deep cliffs and valleys. This is why you get somewhat fragmented tales of Alpine actions in the World War, as operations and skirmishes were fought by small detachments over different mountains and passes. Italy was the first nation to officially introduce a corps of mountain infantry, the Alpini. In 1872, a militia was raised from among the local Alpine population to defend the northern frontier of the newly founded nation. These locals had grown up there, and were experts in hiking and climbing in the treacherous climate. They were physically fit enough and brave enough for the steep ledges and were natural light infantry, trained in skiing, with climbing tackle, in sharpshooting, and in surviving the cold. Though surprisingly, they saw action in the deserts of the Italo-Abyssinian War and the Boxer Rebellion, this war was their real proving ground. Italy fielded over 78 Alpini battalions and over 3,000 km of trenches were blown into the mountains on the Italian side of the front alone. Over half a million soldiers were quartered in tiny huts on the mountainsides. They needed excellent rations, since over 4,000 calories a day were required to live and work in the harsh climate. Winter could come early- in 1916 it came already in September and October with temperatures down to nearly -30 degrees and 4 m of snow. Mules and men pulled or pushed ammunition and artillery up the steep slopes, and countless groups of Italian women worked daily to make winter garments for the men. Caps, flannel cloaks, scarves, and gloves were desperately needed by the men, who spent the days wrapped in furs with their faces greased with fat to protect them from the icy winds. A group could be cut off for weeks or even months by the elements or combat, and the Alpini endured what would surely have killed less experienced troops. There was also a certain mysticism among them. Historians speak of the Alpini sharing old faiths and tales from their ancestors. These were tales of vampires, fairies, and hobgoblins living in the mountains, but there was also a deep Catholic faith. This was very important to the men, as evidenced by the chapels and crosses all over the Alps, and the soldiers believed the saints protected them from danger. The surroundings and the seclusion also gave many a fatalistic outlook, and they volunteered for the most dangerous of missions. The Austrian defenders were equally at home in the mountains. Their mountain troops, the Alpen- and Kaiserjäger, had the same skill set as the Alpini, and were trained in the Lilienfeld ski techniques that originated in Norway and Greenland. They also used experienced climbers and mountaineers from the Transylvanian Alps, the Carpathians, and the Sudetenland as trainers, so nearly every Jäger battalion had a ski detachment. Franz Conrad von Hötzendorf, Austrian army Chief of Staff, had written down in preparation for his “Punishment Expedition”: “The most inaccessible regions of the Vosges mountains in France, the most difficult and irregular valleys and ranges of the Carpathians, and the labyrinth of the Balkan mountains were less of a barrier compared to these great, rocky mountains, steep valleys, precipices, and chasms. The Trentino.” The Austrians did have a more cautious approach since they were usually on defense. They engineered caverns and dugouts into the mountains, using the environment to their advantage, since digging a normal trench was pretty much impossible. They were also outnumbered, so they tried to fight the war from a distance as much as possible, using mountain guns, machine gun emplacements, and siege mortars from plateaus far away. “...tactically speaking in a war where there was some movement a succession of mountains were nothing to hold as a line because it was too easy to turn them. You should have possible mobility and a mountain is not very mobile... if the flank were turned, the best men would be left on the highest mountains. I did not believe in a war in the mountains... you pinched off one mountain and they pinched off another, but when something started, everyone had to get down off the mountains.” Ernest Hemingway, “A Farewell to Arms”. And it’s true that battle in the mountains was as harsh as the climate. The stones were as sharp as knives, cutting even the strongest boots to pieces. Ropes were cut, and high winds could blow soldiers off the mountain to their deaths. Glaciers were prepared with explosives, and that would bury the enemy in avalanches or rock falls. “White Friday” was December 13, 1916, when an entire Austrian barrack on Mount Marmolada was buried. 270 soldiers were killed there, but just that month, an estimated 9 to 10,000 soldiers were buried and killed by avalanches on the front. Italian sappers used gelatin tubes to destroy barbed wire, Austrian Jäger countered with hand grenades and superior mountain artillery. Exploding mortar shells caused razor sharp stone splinters to fly, devastating to eyes and faces, and once you reached enemy positions, there was only one available tactic, rushing the enemy. If the Italians forced the Austrians off a mountain top, the Austrians called in their artillery, bombing what was left of the position and the Italian survivors. And so it went on. Sappers and miners dug ever deeper into the rock, using dynamite to forever change the faces of the mountains. Actually you can see the Col Di Lana right behind us. The peak of the mountain was undermined by Italian sappers and on three different occasions, the summit was blasted off by huge explosions. The heavy fighting gave it the name “Col di Sangue” - Blood Mountain. Ammunition and supplies were brought up through tunnels dug with enormous drilling engines, and dugouts were built with hammers and electric drills. A lone sharpshooter could do massive damage to an exposed and slowly climbing enemy unit and control whole valleys: "The Schreckenstein not only barred the approaches to the head of the Travenanze valley from the south; it also gave Tyrolean sharpshooters an opportunity to keep the terrain as far as the Dolomite road under accurate fire." The Austrian marksmen scoped versions of the standard Mannlicher M.1895 straight-pull rifles, but also scoped versions of what was known as the "Mexican" - an export Mauser rifle produced by Steyr in Austria for the Mexican army, but since they hadn't been shipped, the order was cancelled, and the already produced "Mexicans" were adopted by the Austro-Hungarian Army. The Italians gave theirs the Carcano M91, often with French scopes. These men were known as Cecchino, derived from the slang term for Austrian Emperor Franz Josef, “Cecco Beppe”. Mountain warfare was a truly brutal part of modern war, and the men who fought and died were amazingly resilient and brave men. We cover all of the battles and even some of the small skirmishes of the war in the mountains of the Italian front in our regular episodes, today was just a brief look at some of the harshest conditions in this harshest of wars. If you want to know more about sharpshooters and snipers on the Western Front during World War 1, you can watch our special episode right here. Your support on Patreon means that we can film episodes at original World War 1 locations like here in the Dolomites. If you want to see more of that, consider supporting us on Patreon. Don’t forget to subscribe, see you next time.



Pre-war period

While being a member of the Triple Alliance which consisted of Italy, Austria-Hungary and Germany, Italy did not declare war in August 1914, arguing that the Triple Alliance was defensive in nature and therefore Austria-Hungary's aggression did not obligate Italy to take part.[10] Moreover, Austria-Hungary omitted to consult Italy before sending the ultimatum to Serbia and refused to discuss compensation due according to the art. 7 of the Triple Alliance.[11] Italy had a longstanding rivalry with Austria-Hungary, dating back to the Congress of Vienna in 1815 after the Napoleonic Wars, which granted several regions on the Italian peninsula to the Austrian Empire.[10]

A pro-war demonstration in Bologna, 1914.
A pro-war demonstration in Bologna, 1914.

More importantly, a radical nationalist political movement, called Unredeemed Italy (Italia irredenta), founded in the 1880s, started claiming the Italian-inhabited territories of Austria-Hungary, especially in the Austrian Littoral and in the County of Tyrol. By the 1910s, the expansionist ideas of this movement were taken up by a significant part of the Italian political elite. The annexation of those Austrian territories that were inhabited by Italians became the main Italian war goal, assuming a similar function to the issue of Alsace-Lorraine for the French.[10] However, of around 1.5 million people living in those areas, 45% were Italian speakers, while the rest were Slovenes, Germans and Croats. In northern Dalmatia, which was also among the Italian war aims, the Italian-speaking population was only around 5%.[citation needed]

In the early stages of the war, Allied diplomats secretly courted Italy, attempting to secure Italian participation on the Allied side. Set up between the British Foreign Secretary Edward Grey, the Italian Foreign Minister Sidney Sonnino and the French Foreign Minister Jules Cambon, Italy's entry was finally engineered by the Treaty of London of 26 April 1915, in which Italy renounced her obligations to the Triple Alliance.[12]

On February 16, 1915, despite concurrent negotiations with Austria, a courier was dispatched in great secrecy to London with the suggestion that Italy was open to a good offer from the Entente. [ ...] The final choice was aided by the arrival of news in March of Russian victories in the Carpathians. Salandra began to think that victory for the Entente was in sight, and was so anxious not to arrive too late for a share in the profits that he instructed his envoy in London to drop some demands and reach agreement quickly. [...] The Treaty of London was concluded on April 26 binding Italy to fight within one month. [...] Not until May 4 did Salandra denounce the Triple Alliance in a private note to its signatories.[13]

On 23 May, Italy declared war on Austria-Hungary.[12]

Campaigns of 1915–1916

The Italian Front in 1915–1917: eleven Battles of the Isonzo and Asiago offensive. In blue, initial Italian conquests
Italian Alpini troops; 1915
Italian soldiers listening to their General's speech
Italian soldiers listening to their General's speech

During the Italo-Turkish War in Libya (1911–1912), the Italian military suffered equipment and munition shortages not yet repaired before Italian entry into the Great War.[14] At the opening of the campaign, Austro-Hungarian troops occupied and fortified high ground of the Julian Alps and Karst Plateau, but the Italians initially outnumbered their opponents three-to-one.

Battles of Isonzo in 1915

Austro-Hungarian 350 mm L/45 M. 16 naval guns
Austro-Hungarian 350 mm L/45 M. 16 naval guns

An Italian offensive aimed to capture cross the Soča (Isonzo) river, take the fortress town of Gorizia, and then enter the Karst Plateau. This offensive opened the first Battles of the Isonzo.

At the beginning of the First Battle of the Isonzo on 23 June 1915, Italian forces outnumbered the Austrians three-to-one but failed to penetrate the strong Austro-Hungarian defensive lines in the highlands of northwestern Gorizia and Gradisca. Because the Austrian forces occupied higher ground, Italians conducted difficult offensives while climbing. The Italian forces therefore failed to drive much beyond the river, and the battle ended on 7 July 1915.

Despite a professional officer corps, severely under-equipped Italian units lacked morale.[15] Also many troops deeply disliked the newly appointed Italian commander, general Luigi Cadorna.[16] Moreover, preexisting equipment and munition shortages slowed progress and frustrated all expectations for a "Napoleonic style" breakout.[14] Like most contemporaneous militaries, the Italian army primarily used horses for transport but struggled and sometimes failed to supply the troops sufficiently in the tough terrain.

Two weeks later on 18 July 1915, the Italians attempted another frontal assault against the Austro-Hungarian trench lines with more artillery in Second Battle of the Isonzo, and despite initial success, the forces of Austria-Hungary beat back this bloody offensive, which concluded in stalemate and exhaustion of weaponry on 3 August 1915.

The Italians recuperated, rearmed with 1200 heavy guns, and then on 18 October 1915 launched Third Battle of the Isonzo, another attack. Forces of Austria-Hungary again repulsed this Italian offensive, which concluded on 4 November without resulting gains.

The Italians again launched another offensive on 10 November, the Fourth Battle of the Isonzo. Both sides suffered more casualties, but the Austro-Hungarian forces repulsed this Italian offensive too, and the battle ended on 2 December for exhaustion of armaments, but occasional skirmishing persisted.

After the winter lull, the Italians launched the Fifth Battle of the Isonzo on 9 March 1916, and captured the strategic Mount Sabatino. But Austria-Hungary repulsed all other attacks, and the battle concluded on 16 March in poor weather for trench warfare.

The Asiago offensive

Following Italy's stalemate, the Austrian forces began planning a counteroffensive (Battle of Asiago) in Trentino and directed over the plateau of Altopiano di Asiago, with the aim to break through to the Po River plain and thus cutting off the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th Italian Armies in the North East of the country. The offensive began on 15 May 1916 with 15 divisions, and resulted in initial gains, but then the Italians counterattacked and pushed the Austro-Hungarians back to the Tyrol.

Later battles for the Isonzo

The Austro-Hungarian supply line over the Vršič pass, October 1917
The Austro-Hungarian supply line over the Vršič pass, October 1917

Later in 1916, four more battles along the Isonzo river erupted. The Sixth Battle of the Isonzo, launched by the Italians in August, resulted in a success greater than the previous attacks. The offensive gained nothing of strategic value but did take Gorizia, which boosted Italian spirits. The Seventh, Eighth, and Ninth battles of the Isonzo (14 September – 4 November) managed to accomplish little except to wear down the already exhausted armies of both nations.

The frequency of offensives for which the Italian soldiers partook between May 1915 and August 1917, one every three months, was higher than demanded by the armies on the Western Front. Italian discipline was also harsher, with punishments for infractions of duty of a severity not known in the German, French, and British armies.[17]

Shellfire in the rocky terrain caused 70% more casualties per rounds expended than on the soft ground in Belgium and France. By the autumn of 1917 the Italian army had suffered most of the deaths it was to incur during the war, yet the end of the war seemed to still be an eternity away.[17] This was not the same line of thought for the Austrians. On 25 August, the Emperor Charles wrote to the Kaiser the following: "The experience we have acquired in the eleventh battle has led me to believe that we should fare far worse in the twelfth. My commanders and brave troops have decided that such an unfortunate situation might be anticipated by an offensive. We have not the necessary means as regards troops."[18]

Tunnel warfare in the mountains

A mine gallery in the ice at Pasubio
A mine gallery in the ice at Pasubio
Trenches at the mount Škabrijel in 1917
Trenches at the mount Škabrijel in 1917

From 1915, the high peaks of the Dolomites range were an area of fierce mountain warfare. In order to protect their soldiers from enemy fire and the hostile alpine environment, both Austro-Hungarian and Italian military engineers constructed fighting tunnels which offered a degree of cover and allowed better logistics support. Working at high altitudes in the hard carbonate rock of the Dolomites, often in exposed areas near mountain peaks and even in glacial ice, required extreme skill of both Austro-Hungarian and Italian miners.

Beginning on the 13th, later referred to as White Friday, December 1916 would see 10,000 soldiers on both sides killed by avalanches in the Dolomites.[19] Numerous avalanches were caused by the Italians and Austro-Hungarians purposefully firing artillery shells on the mountainside, while others were naturally caused.

In addition to building underground shelters and covered supply routes for their soldiers like the Italian Strada delle 52 Gallerie, both sides also attempted to break the stalemate of trench warfare by tunneling under no man's land and placing explosive charges beneath the enemy's positions. Between 1 January 1916 and 13 March 1918, Austro-Hungarian and Italian units fired a total of 34 mines in this theatre of the war. Focal points of the underground fighting were Pasubio with 10 mines, Lagazuoi with 5, Col di Lana/Monte Sief also with 5, and Marmolada with 4 mines. The explosive charges ranged from 110 kilograms (240 lb) to 50,000 kilograms (110,000 lb) of blasting gelatin. In April 1916, the Italians detonated explosives under the peaks of Col Di Lana, killing numerous Austro-Hungarians.

1917: Germany arrives on the front

The Battle of Caporetto and the following Italian retreat to the Piave river, October–November 1917.
The Battle of Caporetto and the following Italian retreat to the Piave river, October–November 1917.

Following the minuscule gains of the Tenth Battle of the Isonzo, the Italians directed a two-pronged attack against the Austrian lines north and east of Gorizia. The Austrians checked the advance east, but Italian forces under Luigi Capello managed to break the Austrian lines and capture the Banjšice Plateau. Characteristic of nearly every other theater of the war, the Italians found themselves on the verge of victory but could not secure it because their supply lines could not keep up with the front-line troops and they were forced to withdraw. However, the Italians had nearly destroyed the Austro-Hungarian army on the front, forcing them to call in German help for the much anticipated Caporetto Offensive.

The Austrians received desperately needed reinforcements after the Eleventh Battle of the Isonzo from German Army soldiers rushed in after the Russian offensive ordered by Kerensky of July 1917 failed. The Germans introduced infiltration tactics to the Austrian front and helped work on a new offensive. Meanwhile, mutinies and plummeting morale crippled the Italian Army from within. The soldiers lived in poor conditions and engaged in attack after attack that often yielded minimal or no military gain.

On 24 October 1917 the Austrians and Germans launched the Battle of Caporetto (Italian name for Kobarid). Chlorine-arsenic agent and diphosgene gas shells were fired as part of a huge artillery barrage, followed by infantry using infiltration tactics, bypassing enemy strong points and attacking on the Italian rear. At the end of the first day, the Italians had retreated 19 kilometres (12 miles) to the Tagliamento River.

When the Austrian offensive routed the Italians, the new Italian chief of staff, Armando Diaz  ordered to stop their retreat and defend the fortified defenses around the Monte Grappa summit between the Roncone and the Tomatico mountains; although numerically inferior (51,000 against 120,00) the Italian Army managed to defeat the Austro-Hungarian and German armies in the First Battle of Monte Grappa.

1918: The war ends

Second Battle of the Piave River (June 1918)

Austro-Hungarian trench in Ortler Alps, 1917
Austro-Hungarian trench in Ortler Alps, 1917

Advancing deep and fast, the Austrians outran their supply lines, which forced them to stop and regroup. The Italians, pushed back to defensive lines near Venice on the Piave River, had suffered 600,000 casualties to this point in the war. Because of these losses, the Italian Government called to arms the so-called 99 Boys (Ragazzi del '99); the new class of conscripts born in 1899 who were turning 18 in 1917. In November 1917, British and French troops started to bolster the front line. Far more decisive than Allied troops was Franco-British (and US) help providing strategic materials (steel, coal and crops - provided by the British but imported from Argentina - etc.), which Italy always lacked sorely. In the spring of 1918, Germany pulled out its troops for use in its upcoming Spring Offensive on the Western Front. As a result of the Spring Offensive, Britain and France also pulled half of their divisions back to the Western Front.

The Austrians now began debating how to finish the war in Italy. The Austro-Hungarian generals disagreed on how to administer the final offensive. Archduke Joseph August of Austria decided for a two-pronged offensive, where it would prove impossible for the two forces to communicate in the mountains.

The Second Battle of the Piave River began with a diversionary attack near the Tonale Pass named Lawine, which the Italians repulsed after two days of fighting.[20] Austrian deserters betrayed the objectives of the upcoming offensive, which allowed the Italians to move two armies directly in the path of the Austrian prongs. The other prong, led by general Svetozar Boroević von Bojna initially experienced success until aircraft bombed their supply lines and Italian reinforcements arrived.

The Italian front in 1918 and the Battle of Vittorio Veneto.
The Italian front in 1918 and the Battle of Vittorio Veneto.
Italian troops landing in Trieste, 3 November 1918
Italian troops landing in Trieste, 3 November 1918

The decisive Battle of Vittorio Veneto (October–November 1918)

To the disappointment of Italy's allies, no counter-offensive followed the Battle of Piave. The Italian Army had suffered huge losses in the battle, and considered an offensive dangerous. General Armando Diaz waited for more reinforcements to arrive from the Western Front. By the end of October 1918, Austro-Hungary was falling apart. Czechoslovakia, Croatia, and Slovenia proclaimed their independence and troops started deserting, disobeying orders and retreating. Many Czechoslovak troops, in fact, started working for the Allied Cause, and in September 1918, five Czechoslovak Regiments were formed in the Italian Army.

By October 1918, Italy finally had enough soldiers to mount an offensive. The attack targeted Vittorio Veneto, across the Piave. The Italian Army broke through a gap near Sacile and poured in reinforcements that crushed the Austrian defensive line. On 3 November, 300,000 Austrian soldiers surrendered.

On 3 November, the military leaders of the already disintegrated Austria-Hungary sent a flag of truce to the Italian commander to ask again for an armistice and terms of peace. The terms were arranged by telegraph with the Allied authorities in Paris, communicated to the Austrian commander, and were accepted. The Armistice with Austria was signed in the Villa Giusti, near Padua, on 3 November, and took effect at three o'clock in the afternoon of 4 November. Austria and Hungary signed separate armistices following the overthrow of the Habsburg Monarchy and the collapse of the Austro-Hungarian Empire.


Cumulative casualties of the numerous battles of the Isonzo were enormous. Half of the entire Italian war casualty total – some 300,000 of 600,000 – were suffered along the Soča (Isonzo). Austro-Hungarian losses, while by no means as numerous were nevertheless high at around 400,000 (of an overall total of around 1.2 million casualties).[citation needed]

Despite Italian casualties outnumbering Austro-Hungarian ones by roughly 1.5 to 1, and Austria-Hungary's population outnumbering Italy's by 1.5 to 1, the Italians had a major advantage in having to fight on only one major front, whereas Austria-Hungary also had to fight Serbia, Russia, and Romania over the course of the war. Italy also had a considerably faster population growth rate than Austria-Hungary did at the beginning of the war, giving it an additional demographic advantage.

Occupation of northern Dalmatia and Tyrol

By the end of hostilities in November 1918, the Italian military had seized control of the entire portion of Dalmatia that had been guaranteed to Italy by the London Pact.[21] From 5–6 November 1918, Italian forces were reported to have reached Lissa, Lagosta, Sebenico, and other localities on the Dalmatian coast.[22] In 1918, Admiral Enrico Millo declared himself Italy's Governor of Dalmatia.[21] After 4 November the Italian military occupied also Innsbruck and all Tyrol by 20-22000 soldiers of the III Corps of the First Army.[23][24]

Enrico Toti, Italian patriot and hero of World War I.(From Italian weekly La Domenica del Corriere, 24 September 1916).
Enrico Toti, Italian patriot and hero of World War I.
(From Italian weekly La Domenica del Corriere, 24 September 1916).
Italian propaganda poster in 1917
Italian propaganda poster in 1917

Italian Army Order of Battle as of 24 May 1915



  1. ^ Mortara 1925, pp. 28–29
  2. ^ a b Clodfelter 2017, p. 419.
  3. ^ Statistics of the Military Effort of the British Empire During the Great War 1914–1920, The War Office, p. 744.
  4. ^ Bodart, Gaston: "Erforschung der Menschenverluste Österreich-Ungarns im Weltkriege 1914–1918," Austrian State Archive, War Archive Vienna, Manuscripts, History of the First World War, in general, A 91. Reports that 30% of Austro-Hungarian killed/wounded were incurred on the Italian Front (including 155,350 out of 521,146 fatalities). While the casualty records are incomplete (Bodart on the same page estimates the missing war losses and gets a total figure of 1,213,368 deaths rather than 521,146), the proportions are accurate. 30% of casualties equates to 363,000 dead and 1,086,000 wounded.
  5. ^ Heinz von Lichem, "Gebirgskrieg," Volume 3. States that 1/3 of Austro-Hungarian casualties were incurred on the Italian Front, which if true would equate to 400,000 killed, 1,210,000 wounded, and 730,000 missing/captured.
  6. ^ Tortato, Alessandro: La Prigionia di Guerra in Italia, 1914-1919, Milan 2004, pp. 49-50. Does not include 18,049 who died. Includes 89,760 recruited into various units and sent back to fight the AH army, and 12,238 who were freed.
  7. ^ Total missing/captured is given by Clodfelter as 653,000; total number of prisoners is well-documented by Italian sources as 477,024.
  8. ^ Petra Svoljšak (1991). Slovene refugees in Italy during First World War (Slovenski begunci v Italiji med prvo svetovno vojno), Ljubljana. Diego Leoni – Camillo Zadra (1995), La città di legno: profughi trentini in Austria 1915–1918, Trento-Rovereto 1995.
  9. ^
  10. ^ a b c Nicolle 2003, p. 3
  11. ^ "Expanded version of 1912 (In English) - World War I Document Archive". Archived from the original on 14 January 2018. Retrieved 29 April 2018.
  12. ^ a b Nicolle 2003, p. 5
  13. ^ Smith, Denis Mack (1997). Modern Italy: A Political History. Ann Arbor: Univ. of Michigan Press. p. 262. ISBN 0-472-10895-6.
  14. ^ a b Keegan, John (1999). The First World War. Knopf, N.Y. pp. 226, 227. ISBN 0-375-40052-4.
  15. ^ Keegan, John (1998). "The War Beyond The Western Front". The First World War. Random House (UK). p. 246. ISBN 0091801788.
  16. ^ Keegan, John (1998). "The Breaking of Armies". The First World War. Random House (UK). p. 376. ISBN 0091801788.
  17. ^ a b (2001), Keegan (2001), p319
  18. ^ Keegan (2001), p322
  19. ^ Thompson, Mark (2008). The White War: Life and Death on the Italian Front, 1915–1919. London: Faber & Faber. ISBN 0-571-22333-8.
  20. ^ "From the website of the museum of the war on Adamello". Archived from the original on 22 July 2011. Retrieved 29 April 2018.
  21. ^ a b Paul O'Brien. Mussolini in the First World War: the Journalist, the Soldier, the Fascist. Oxford, England, UK; New York, New York, USA: Berg, 2005. Pp. 17.
  22. ^ Giuseppe Praga, Franco Luxardo. History of Dalmatia. Giardini, 1993. Pp. 281.
  23. ^ Low, Alfred D. (1974). The Anschluss Movement, 1918–1919, and the Paris Peace Conference. Philadelphia: American Philosophical Society. p. 296. ISBN 0-87169-103-5. Jump up ^
  24. ^ Andrea di Michele. "Trento, Bolzano e Innsbruck: l'occupazione militare italiana del Tirolo (1918-1920)" (PDF) (in Italian). Archived (PDF) from the original on 22 August 2017.
  25. ^ Compiled from information in L’Esercito italiano nella grande guerra, Vol I-bis, pp. 75-104
  26. ^ Roman numerals indicate battalion numbers; missing numbers were with the Colonial Army
  27. ^ The other 3 batteries were assigned to XIV Corps.
  28. ^ 75 mm Krupp cannon (75/27 Model 1906).
  29. ^ One squadron attached to 1st Army.
  30. ^ The heavy field artillery batteries were armed with Krupp 149/12 howitzers, which were essentially Krupp 15 cm M. 1913 howitzers.
  31. ^ 11 June 23rd squadron of mobile militia cavalry; 29 June 21st squadron of mobile militia cavalry: both arrived & attached to V Corps. Attached: 305 mm howitzer battery 5 (arr. 1 June).
  32. ^ 4 June 4th Group of mobile militia cavalry (Squadrons 7 & 8) arrived and attached to 15th Division.
  33. ^ Five batteries arrived on 26 May; the other two batteries assigned to XIV Corps.
  34. ^ Deport 75 mm cannon (75/27 Mod. 1911).
  35. ^ Under command of the Presidio of the Verona Fortress
  36. ^ Under command of the Presidio of the Verona Fortress [Lieutenant General Gaetano Gabbo] (together with five batteries of 87 B, 1 battery of 149 G. & 2 batteries of 57)
  37. ^ Under command of the Presidio of the Verona Fortress.
  38. ^ 2 June 1st Group of mobile militia cavalry (Squadrons 1 & 2) arrived and attached to 32nd Division.
  39. ^ 3 June 14th Light Cavalry Regiment of Alessandria arrived and attached to IV Corps. Also on 3 June 2nd Group of mobile militia cavalry (Squadrons 3 & 4) arrived and attached to IV Corps.
  40. ^ 1st Co in the colonies; replaced with 1st bis Co.
  41. ^ 4 June 15th Light Cavalry Regiment of Lodi (Squadrons 2-6) arrived and attached to XII Corps. Squadron 1 was in Libya.
  42. ^ Table on allocation of mountain batteries (L'Esercito italiano nella grande guerra, Vol I-bis, p. 98) lists both 13th Group & 14th Group with the 36th Field Artillery.
  43. ^ 1st Group was with 23rd Division; 3rd Group was with 24th Division.
  44. ^ The 149 A cannon was a 149 mm cannon (model 149/35 A) with a steel barrel first manufactured in 1900 to replace the older 149 G (149/23).
  45. ^ The 149 G cannon was a 149 mm cannon (model 149/23) with a cast iron barrel first manufactured in 1882.
  46. ^ The 70 mm pack mountain gun (model 70/15) was introduced in 1904. The gun could be broken down into 4 pieces for transport by pack animals.
  47. ^ Attached for the “first bound forward”: 149 G batteries 1-4.
  48. ^ On 26 May His Royal Highness assumed command of the 3rd Army, which from 24 to 26 May was held temporarily by General Garioni.
  49. ^ 28 May the 17th Light Cavalry Regiment of Caserta arrived and was attached to VI Corps. The regiment arrived with 5 squadrons, with 1st bis Squadron replacing 1st Squadron, which was in Libya.
  50. ^ The other squadron of this regiment was attached to the Carnia Zone command.
  51. ^ A Krupp 75 mm cannon designed for horse artillery (75/27 mod. 1912).
  52. ^ The 2nd Group of this regiment (batteries 4 & 5) was assigned to 1st Cavalry Division
  53. ^ 10 June the 29th Light Cavalry Regiment of Udine arrived and was attached to VII Corps. Also attached: 310 mm howitzer battery 6 (arr. 10 July)
  54. ^ Detached to 1st Cavalry Division, VI Corps
  55. ^ One battalion detached to 2nd Cavalry Division
  56. ^ 1st bis Co replaced 1st Co which was in the colonies.
  57. ^ 1st bis Co replaced 1st Co which was in the colonies; one battalion detached to 2nd Cavalry Division.
  58. ^ 2 June the 11th Light Cavalry Regiment of Foggia arrived and was attached to this corps.
  59. ^ the Brigade headquarters and 10th Infantry Regiment detached to 2nd Cavalry Division.
  60. ^ Detached from the Queen's Brigade.
  61. ^ Attached: 149 A batteries Nos 8 & 9; 305 mm howitzer batteries Nos 1 (arr. June 1) & 2 (arr. June 2); 280 mm howitzer battery Nos 4 (arr. 6 June), 5 (arr. 3 June), 6 (arr. 3 June) & 7 (arr. 6 June); 210 mm howitzer battery No 2 (arr. 30 May); 210 mortar batteries Nos 7, 8 (both arr. 3 June), 9 (at Belluno 31 May), 10 & 11.
  62. ^ The other three batteries were assigned to 31st Division.
  63. ^ Controlled by the High Command. Attached: 149 A batteries Nos 2-6 (still at Stretti); 310 mm howitzer batteries Nos 3 & 4 (both arr. 1 June); 280 mm howitzer batteries Nos 1-3 (on 24 May via RR directed to Stazione for the Carnia ); 210 howitzer battery No 1 (on 24 May at Spillimbergo); 210 mm mortar batteries Nos 1, 2 (May 24 both at Spilimbergo), 3 (29 May at Chiusaforte), 4 (May 24 at Spilimbergo), 5 & 6.
  64. ^ Comando Supremo, headed by Lieutenant General Count Luigi Cadorna.
  65. ^ 30 May the 2nd Bersagliari Cyclist Battalion left Rome to join this corps.
  66. ^ 29 May the 3rd Group of Mobile Militia cavalry (Squadrons Nos 5 & 6) arrived and were attached to 26th Division. 11 June the 9th Group of Mobile Militia cavalry (Squadrons Nos 17 & 18) arrived and were attached to 29th Division.
  67. ^ 6 June the 18th Light Cavalry Regiment of Piacenza arrived and was attached to X Corps; the regiment arrived with 5 squadrons ( Nos 1, 2, 4, 5& 6) with Squadron No 3 in Libya. 5 June 1st Bersagliari Cyclist Battalion left Naples to join this corps.
  68. ^ 5 June the Royal Piemonte Cavalry Regiment (-) (Squadrons Nos 3, 4 & 5) joined XIII Corps; the other two squadrons were attached to XIV Corps.
  69. ^ 3 June the 10th Group of Mobile Militia cavalry (Squadron Nos 19 & 20) arrived and were attached to 25th Division.
  70. ^ 1 June the 6th Group of Mobile Militia cavalry (Squadron Nos 11 & 12) arrived and were attached to 30th Division.
  71. ^ 12 June the 8th Group of Mobile Militia cavalry (Squadron Nos 15 & 16) arrived and attached to 31st Division.
  72. ^ 5 June Squadron Nos 1 & 2 of Royal Piemonte Cavalry Regiment joined XIV Corps; the rest of the regiment joined XIII Corps.
  73. ^ 30 June the 7th Group of Mobile Militia cavalry (Squadron Nos 13 & 14) arrived and was attached to 28th Division.
  74. ^ 3 June the 4th Bersagliari Cyclist Battalion left Turin to join this division.
  75. ^ Squadron No 2 in Libya.
  76. ^ a b c d e f g Under the command of the Piazza di Venezia
  77. ^ The Trappani Brigade was constituted in Palermo on 14 January 1915 with 3 regiments 143rd, 144th and 149th. In May it was dissolved. On 4 May the 149th Regiment was transferred to Brindisi, where it remained at the disposition of the Navy until, on June 23, it moved into a war zone (Treviso) at the disposition of the High Command. On 6 May the 143rd Regiment (composed of troops from both the 143rd and 144th Regiments) sailed for Libya. The remaining troops of the 143rd and 144th Regiments reformed on the 144th Regiment HQ. On 4 July the 144th Regiment left for Spresiano. On 4 July the brigade reformed with two regiments: 144th (9 companies) and 149th (12 companies).
  78. ^ Detached to Brundisi; rejoined 4 July


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