World War I: Italian Front

Italian World War I artillery
Figure 1.--This Italian photo postcard shows a group of children and men riding on a horse drawn cart carrying a long barreled cannon. The date or location is not indicated. The background suggests an Alpine location. It looks to have been taken on the Italian front either during or just before the War. (It was still common to move artillery with horses even during World War II.)

Italian General Luigi Cadorna assembeled 25 infantry and 4 cavalry divisions on the Austrian border. The Italian force was organized into four armies. Italy was the weakest of the major European powers. It was a poor country with a partly industrialized north. The Italian Army was thus not equipped for a modern war. The Italians had only 120 heavy or medium artillery pieces and about 700 machine guns. Cadorna despite the limitations of his forced launced the spring Isonzo Offensive (May 1915). The Austrians following the pattern of the Western Front, built a system of trench defenses. Four indesivive battles were fought on the Isonzo River. The Italian goal was to take Trieste, a largely Italian city on the Adriatic. The city was important to the Audstria because it was the Empire's only important port. Without Trieste, the Austro-Hungarian Empire was largely land-locked. The Italians took heavy casualties trying to break through the Italin trenches. In only 2 weeks of fighting, 60,000 Italians were killed. The Italian continued the attacks into the winter. Casualtied mounted and totaled 300,000 men by the time the offensived was ended. Despite the huge losses, Italy between 1915 and 1917, never penetrated more than 10 miles into Austrian territory.


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Created: 5:29 AM 3/10/2008
Last updated: 5:29 AM 3/10/2008