TimelineMapsSearch QuotationsSearch Images

Follow us through the World War I centennial and beyond at Follow wwitoday on Twitter

Battle of the Piave

Austro-Hungarian trench art pencil drawing on pink paper of a soldier in a ragged, many-times-patched uniform, labeled 'Bilder ohne Worte' (No Comment, or Picture without Words). Kaiser Karl who succeeded Emperor Franz Joseph is on reverse. The printed text on the reverse is in Hungarian and German.
Text:
Bilder ohne Worte

Austro-Hungarian trench art pencil drawing on pink paper of a soldier in a ragged, many-times-patched uniform, labeled 'Bilder ohne Worte' (No Comment, or Picture without Words). Kaiser Karl who succeeded Emperor Franz Joseph is on reverse. The printed text on the reverse is in Hungarian and German.

Image text

Bilder ohne Worte



No Comment

Other views: Larger, Back

After the disaster at Caparetto, and the replacement of Luigi Cadorna with General Armando Diaz, the Italian position improved and morale strengthened. In early 1918, in preparation for its Western Front offensives, the Germans withdrew their forces from Italy. Absent German officers and troops, Austria-Hungary made its bid to defeat Italy.

Conrad von Hötzendorf, replaced as Austro-Hungarian Chief of the General Staff by Arthur Arz von Straußenburg, commanded the Austro-Hungarian Tenth and Eleventh Armies in Trentino. Svetozar Boroević, now Field Marshal, commanded the Fifth and Sixth Armies on the Venetian plain. Boroević reported his troops were in no condition for an offensive, but Emperor Karl, pressed for an offensive by the Germans, pressed him.

On June 13, Conrad launched a diversionary attack with the Eleventh Army at the Tonale Pass near the Swiss border.

Two days later, on June 15, 1918, Boroević launched his forces along the Piave River as Conrad attacked in the north. Boroević crossed the Piave along a front of over 20 miles from the mouth of the Piave upriver, and made smaller gains further north, but Allied air attacks and high water made it difficult for him to resupply his forces. Austro-Hungarian planes were no match for the Allies: water-cooled engines froze and incendiary bullets ignited the planes' fabric. On June 20, 1918, Kaiser Karl called off the offensive. Boroević withdrew during the night of June 22-23.

Austria-Hungary destroyed much of its remaining military power in the battle. It had sent its last 29 supply trains to the front. It had lost 269 of 382 planes. Its machine guns froze. Austria-Hungary suffered as many as 150,000 casualties including 11,643 dead and 24,474 prisoners of war. The Allies lost 84,830 including 8,030 dead.

1918-06-15

1918-06-23