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A German soldier by the side of a water-filled crater, June 15, 1916. The handwritten note says it is 'The crater of St. Elleu', possibly St. Eloi, near Ypres.
Text:
'The crater of St. Elleu on Jun 15 1916' (Translation courtesy Thomas Faust, eBay's Urfaust.)

A German soldier by the side of a water-filled crater, June 15, 1916. The handwritten note says it is 'The crater of St. Elleu', possibly St. Eloi, near Ypres.

View from Chemin des Dames looking across the valley of the Ailette River towards Laon Cathedral in the city of Laon, France and barely visible in the distance. The Chapelle St. Berthe is down the slope in the near distance. Laon was one of the first-day objectives of French commander-in-chief Robert Nivelle's offensive in the the Second Battle of the Aisne.

View from Chemin des Dames looking across the valley of the Ailette River towards Laon Cathedral in the city of Laon, France and barely visible in the distance. The Chapelle St. Berthe is down the slope in the near distance. Laon was one of the first-day objectives of French commander-in-chief Robert Nivelle's offensive in the the Second Battle of the Aisne. © 2014 by John M. Shea

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.

Italy's armed forces at the ready in a 1915 postcard. In the foreground the artillery, infantry, an Alpine soldier (in feathered hat), and a Bersaglieri (in plumed headgear). Behind them are a bugler and lancer; in the distance marines and colonial troops. The Italian navy is off shore, an airship and planes overhead. On the reverse are the lyrics of a patriotic Italian March by Angelo Balladori, lyrics by Enrico Mercatali. It ends with a call to the brothers of Trento and Trieste, Austro-Hungarian territory with large ethnic Italian populations.
Reverse:
Marcia Italica
D'Italia flammeggin le sante bandiere
Baciate dal sole, baciate dal vento,
Su l'aspro sentier di Bezzecca e di Trento
De l'alma Trieste, sul cerulo mar.
. . . 
Fratelli di Trento, Triestini fratelli,
La patria s'è desta alla grande riscossa!
Dell'aquila ingorda la barbara possa
Dai liberi petti domata sarà!


Parole di Enrico Mercatali
Musica di Angelo Balladori.
Casa Editrice Sonzogno - Milano. 1915.

Italy's armed forces at the ready in a 1915 postcard. In the foreground the artillery, infantry, an Alpine soldier (in feathered hat), and a Bersaglieri (in plumed headgear). Behind them are a bugler and lancer; in the distance marines and colonial troops. The Italian navy is off shore, an airship and planes overhead. On the reverse are the lyrics of a patriotic Italian March by Angelo Balladori, lyrics by Enrico Mercatali. It ends with a call to the brothers of Trento and Trieste, Austro-Hungarian territory with large ethnic Italian populations.

Wooden cigarette box carved by Г. САВИНСКИ (?; G. Savinskiy), a Russian POW. The Grim Reaper strides across a field of skulls on the cover. The base includes an intricate carving of the years of war years, '1914' and, turning it 90 degrees, '1918.'
Text:
ПДМЯТЬ ВОИНЬ 1914-18
To memory of soldiers 1914-18
Reverse:
1914
1918
Г. САВИНСКИ (?)
G. Savinskaya

Wooden cigarette box carved by Г. САВИНСКИ (?; G. Savinskiy), a Russian POW. The Grim Reaper strides across a field of skulls on the cover. The base includes an intricate carving of the years of war years, '1914' and, turning it 90 degrees, '1918.'

Quotations found: 7

Monday, October 22, 1917

"The heavy rains of the last few days had turned the crater field into a morass, deep enough, especially around the Paddelbach, to endanger life. On my wanderings, I would regularly pass solitary and abandoned corpses; often it was just a head or a hand that was left protuding from the dirty level of a crater. Thousands had come to rest in such a way, without a sign put up by a friendly hand to mark the grave." ((1), more)

Tuesday, October 23, 1917

"The Chemin des Dames offensive was even more striking [than that at Verdun]. A six-day-and-night artillery bombardment by some 2,000 guns preceded the attack, with a field gun every 16 metres, a medium gun every 12.20 metres and a heavy gun every 82 metres along a 14-kilometre front. At 5.15 a.m. on the 23rd [October 1917] three army corps launched the infantry attack, accompanied by sixty-eight tanks. The infantry advanced in serried ranks, one unit following another. The Germans were first forced back behind the Ailette River and then compelled to withdraw from the whole Chemin des Dames position. The logistics for this attack included 400 trains each of thirty wagons carrying 120,000 shells. The casualties were small, 2,241 killed, 1,602 missing and 8,162 wounded." ((2), more)

Wednesday, October 24, 1917

"Between 8 and 9am groups of heavily armed Sturmtruppen advanced, supported by a close rolling barrage. They quickly infiltrated the Italian lines in order to destroy or capture artillery and command centres. During the first day many Italian artillery batteries did not fire a shot because they were awaiting orders. The utter confusion among the Italian defenders caused by a combination of incompetent officers, lack of communication and the devastating impact of the poison gas clouds amazed even the Germans. Halfway through 24 October large units of the Italian Second Army at both ends of the pincer were throwing down their arms, surrendering or running away in headlong retreat. The initial assault had achieved complete success." ((3), more)

Thursday, October 25, 1917

"During the morning of the 25th, an image of disaster emerged from the information reaching the Supreme Command: breakthroughs all along the front; morale collapsing; thousands of men making their way to the rear. The first towns west of the mountains were already threatened. Defence on the hoof was not working. Cadorna's best if not only chance of avoiding catastrophe was to pull back the Second Army to a line far enough west to regroup before the enemy reached them. Capello advised a general retreat to the River Torre or the Tagliamento. When Cadorna disagreed, Capello took himself off to hospital in Padua. Next morning, he offered to return; Cadorna declined: he had enough on his plate without an ailing and probably sulking Capello. Where the two men saw eye to eye was in blaming many regiments for not doing their duty." ((4), more)

Friday, October 26, 1917

"Everywhere we saw traces of death; it was almost as though there wasn't a living soul anywhere in this wasteland. Here, behind a disheveled hedge, lay a group of men, their bodies covered with the fresh soil that the explosion had dropped on them after killing them; there were two runners lying by a crater, from which the acrid fumes of explosive were still bubbling up. In another place, we found many bodies in a small area: either a group of stretcher-bearers or an errant platoon of reservists that had been found by the center of a ball of fire, and met their end. We would surface in these deadly places, take in their secrets at a glance, and disappear again into the smoke." ((5), more)


Quotation contexts and source information

Monday, October 22, 1917

(1) German Lieutenant Ernst Jünger on the battlefield over which the Third Battle of Ypres was fought. Men drowned in the water and mud of shell holes, and in mud from which they could not be extricated.

Storm of Steel by Ernst Jünger, page 196, copyright © 1920, 1961, Translation © Michael Hoffman, 2003, publisher: Penguin Books, publication date: 2003

Tuesday, October 23, 1917

(2) Chemin des Dames, between Soissons and Reims, France, had been the site of the disastrous Nivelle Offensive in April, 1917. In May and June nearly half the French Army mutinied, refusing to take part in pointless and suicidal attacks. In ending the mutinies, French commander in chief Henri Pétain promised his army that he would make greater use of artillery and other weapons before any infantry assault, and that his objectives would be clear and limited. Beginning in August he demonstrated these principals in actions supporting the British in the Third Battle of Ypres and at Verdun where a six-day bombardment by 3,000 guns firing 3,000,000 shells preceded the attack. The October 23 Malmaison Offensive, named for an old fort retaken by the French in the attack, ended with a German retreat and the capture of the heights of Chemin des Dames.

Paths of Glory: The French Army 1914-18 by Anthony Clayton, page 149, copyright © Anthony Clayton 2003, publisher: Cassell, publication date: 2005

Wednesday, October 24, 1917

(3) After suspending the Eleventh Battle of the Isonzo on September 12, 1917, Italian commander in chief Luigi Cadorna, concluded that his army was in no condition to resume the offensive until the spring, and that the Austro-Hungarian forces arrayed against him would not attack. Although his told his commanders to put their forces on the defensive, General Luigi Capello, commander of the Second Army, did not do so, hoping to launch a further attack. On October 24, German and Austro-Hungarian forces launched the Twelfth Battle of the Isonzo, the Battle of Caporetto, using 'Hutier tactics' first used in the German capture of Riga in Russia. German General Oskar von Hutier trained his troops for specialized actions: initial infiltration and advance by small groups bypassing enemy strong points, specialized groups to neutralize those defenses including machine gun nests and artillery positions, and 'mopping up' forces to consolidate the advance. Capello's Second Army found the enemy both before and behind it, and began to collapse.

Caporetto and the Isonzo Campaign: The Italian Front 1915–1918 by John MacDonald with Željko Cimprić, page 163, copyright © John MacDonald, 2011, 2015, publisher: Pen and Sword Books, publication date: 2011

Thursday, October 25, 1917

(4) After suspending the Eleventh Battle of the Isonzo on September 12, 1917, Italian commander in chief Luigi Cadorna, concluded that his army was in no condition to resume the offensive until spring, and that the Austro-Hungarian forces arrayed against him would not attack. Although he told his commanders to put their forces on the defensive, General Luigi Capello, commander of the Second Army, did not do so, hoping to launch a further attack. On October 24, German and Austro-Hungarian forces launched the Twelfth Battle of the Isonzo, the Battle of Caporetto, using 'Hutier tactics' first used in the German capture of Riga in Russia. German General Oskar von Hutier trained his troops for specialized actions: initial infiltration and advance by small groups bypassing enemy strong points, specialized groups to neutralize those defenses including machine gun nests and artillery positions, and 'mopping up' forces to consolidate the advance. Capello's Second Army found the enemy both before and behind it, and began to collapse.

The White War: Life and Death on the Italian Front, 1915-1919 by Mark Thompson, page 311, copyright © 2008 Mark Thompson, publisher: Basic Books, publication date: 2009

Friday, October 26, 1917

(5) German Lieutenant Ernst Jünger on the battlefield over which the Third Battle of Ypres was fought. The Canadian Corps attacked on October 26, 1917, advancing 500 yards, and German wounded coming to the rear were making 'exaggerated and unclear statements about a British advance' (p. 197). Jünger was sent to get clear information, noted the new front line on his map, and returned under artillery and machine gun fire, encountering more wounded as he returned across the battlefield he describes. The Canadians suffered 3,400 casualties in the attack. The British Third Battle of Ypres was the German Second Battle of Flanders.

Storm of Steel by Ernst Jünger, page 198, copyright © 1920, 1961, Translation © Michael Hoffman, 2003, publisher: Penguin Books, publication date: 2003


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