VI. The World Wars and the Interwar Period, 1914–1945 > B. World War I, 1914–1918 > 9. The Italian Front, 1916
  The Encyclopedia of World History.  2001.
(See 1915)
9. The Italian Front, 1916
The Austrian chief of staff, Conrad von Hötzendorff, had for some time been urging upon the German high command the desirability of massing troops in the Trentino for an attack upon the Italian rear and flank, but Falkenhayn had flatly refused to contribute forces that he needed for the operations at Verdun. The Austrians decided to make the try alone. As many troops as possible were withdrawn from the Russian front and prepared for an advance on the Asiago plateau.  1
1916, May 15–June 3
The Austrian offensive in the Trentino. After initial setbacks, the Italians recovered lost territory, but at a cost of 150,000 men.  2
During the first part of 1917 the Italian effort continued to center on the Isonzo (tenth battle (May 12–June 8) and eleventh, and last, battle (Aug. 17–Sept. 12)). As result of two years of operations the Italians had advanced only about ten miles, or halfway to Trieste.  3
In part the Italian failure was due to inadequate artillery and ammunition. Gen. Luigi Cadorna had urged Britain and France to send supplies and men in large numbers, so that a knockout blow might be delivered against war-weary Austria. Foch and Lloyd George favored this plan, but Haig had his way and proceeded to the offensive in Flanders.  4
Meanwhile Ludendorff decided to follow the annihilation of Serbia and Romania with a similar assault on Italy. Six divisions of German troops were sent to reinforce the nine Austrian divisions on the Isonzo front. It was decided to attack on the Upper Isonzo, near Caporetto, in the hope of breaking through and advancing as far as the Tagliamento River.  5
Oct. 24–Dec. 26
THE CAPORETTO CAMPAIGN. After a complete rout of the Italians on the first day, Italian forces, bolstered by British and French troops, held firm at the Piave River. The Italians had lost almost 300,000 men taken prisoner and even more than that in deserters.  6
Nov. 7
Cadorna was replaced by Gen. Armando Diaz, who devoted himself to establishing a defensive position and above all to restoring the morale of the troops.  7
The Encyclopedia of World History, Sixth edition. Peter N. Stearns, general editor. Copyright © 2001 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Maps by Mary Reilly, copyright 2001 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.