Austria-Hungary’s Campaign against Italy

  • Mark Cornwall


The military disaster which overtook the Italians at Caporetto in October 1917 has never been attributed to any great extent to the machinations of ‘enemy propaganda’. More conventional ‘military’ reasons are usually cited in explanation. General Luigi Cadorna, the overbearing and inflexible Chief of Staff of the Italian army, had since May 1915 concentrated almost overwhelmingly on offensive operations against Austria-Hungary on the Giulian front. He had launched 11 major battles on the river Isonzo, ‘beating inexorably on the iron doors of the enemy’, in the hope that eventually the break-through would come and carry his troops forward to Trieste and Vienna.1 The result was that the Italians had little experience of defensive warfare except during Austria’s Trentino offensive in May 1916; and the deficiencies in Cadorna’s defences and disposition of reserves in the weeks before Caporetto showed that few lessons had been learnt. Similarly, Italian tactics had generally not kept pace with those of their allies on the Western Front: the Italians were especially backward in their use of artillery, failing to coordinate artillery fire with infantry operations.


Central Power Peace Treaty Italian Force Western Front Junior Officer 
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© John Mark Cornwall 2000

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  • Mark Cornwall

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