TimelineMaps

Follow us through the World War I centennial on Follow wwitoday on Twitter

Battle of Caporetto

A crazed Great Britain urges a broken Russia, a nose-picking, dozing Italy, and a sullen France to continued offensives in a German postcard imagining the November 6, 1917 Entente Ally Conference of Rapallo after the Twelfth Battle of the Isonzo. The Battle, also known as the Battle of Caporetto, was a disastrous defeat for Italy and the first Austro-Hungarian offensive on the Isonzo Front. The Austrians had significant German support.
Text:
Entente Konferenz der XII. Isonzoschlacht
Entente Conference of the Twelfth Battle of the Isonzo

A crazed Great Britain urges a broken Russia, a nose-picking, dozing Italy, and a sullen France to continued offensives in a German postcard imagining the November 6, 1917 Entente Ally Conference of Rapallo after the Twelfth Battle of the Isonzo. The Battle, also known as the Battle of Caporetto, was a disastrous defeat for Italy and the first Austro-Hungarian offensive on the Isonzo Front. The Austrians had significant German support.

Image text

Entente Konferenz der XII. Isonzoschlacht



Entente Conference of the Twelfth Battle of the Isonzo

Other views: Larger

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, Caporetto 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 would recur on the Western Front, German and Austro-Hungarian soldiers delayed to eat, drink, and seize the spoils of war.

1917-10-21

1917-11-12