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Battle of Caparetto

Map of northeastern Italy, the border with Austria-Hungary, and the northern Adriatic. Red lines mark railroads and red dots forts.
Text:
Südl. Kriegsschauplatz, 1. Italienisch-Österr.-Ungarn Grenzgebiet (Southern theater of operations. 1. Italian-Austrian-Hungarian border area)
Reverse:
Postkarte des südlichen (Ital.-Österr.-Ungar.) Kriegsschauplatzes Nr. 1. Import.
Logo LB

Map of northeastern Italy, the border with Austria-Hungary, and the northern Adriatic. Red lines mark railroads and red dots forts.

Image text

Südl. Kriegsschauplatz, 1. Italienisch-Österr.-Ungarn Grenzgebiet



Southern theater of operations. 1. Italian-Austrian-Hungarian border area



Reverse:

Postkarte des südlichen (Ital.-Österr.-Ungar.) Kriegsschauplatzes Nr. 1. Import.

Logo LB

Other views: Larger, Larger, Back

In two and a half years and eleven Battles of the Isonzo River, Italian forces had crossed the Austro-Hungarian river that roughly paralleled the border, but with many casualties and to no great depth. Although fighting a less costly defensive war on the Italian front, Austria-Hungary been battered by Russia. Concerned her ally could collapse, and, with quiet on the Eastern Front after upheaval in Russia freeing up troops, Germany sought to help its ally defeat Italy.

Identifying the town of Karfreit, Caparetto in Italian, and the Second Army holding it, as a weak point in the Italian line, the Germans and Austro-Hungarians created a new army under a German commander for its offensive. On October 24, 1917, after a violent but brief artillery barrage, the newly formed army advanced in heavy rain.

The Italian Second Army collapsed before the Central Power assault, and began falling back so quickly that the attackers could not keep up with the retreat of 1,000,000 soldiers. The offensive extended across the entire front. Attacking through mountain passes, the Austro-Hungarians trapped Italian units in the Dolomites. In the Trentino, they advanced. Italian forces that might have held had to retreat to keep pace with the dissolving Second Army.

The Italian retreat continued for 70 miles, and only stopped on the Piave River. Parts of the Second Army were bolstered by French and British divisions sent to Italy.

There were 700,000 Italian casualties. As many as 400,000 of them deserted, and 200,000 were taken prisoner. In a pattern that will happen again, German and Austro-Hungarian soldiers are delayed for food and the spoils of war.

1917-10-21

1917-11-12