It’s the 23rd of June 1915, the glorious Kingdom of Italy have just joined the Entente in the war against the Central Powers, they were promised territory, they didn’t get as much as they wanted, this failure was one of the reasons why.
It’s the end of June, 225.000 Italian soldiers attacked the Austro-Hungarian army across the valley of the river Isonzo, today called by its Slovenian name Soča, thousands of poor young boys flooded across the valley, under the fire of artillery and towards entrenched enemies on the opposing side, fourteen thousand dead for the Italians, ten thousand for the Austro-Hungarians, the Italians actually outnumbered their enemy 1:2.
The result? Two hills captured by the Italians, tactical victory to the Austrians, thus the first Battle ends.
The second? The Italians actually had some successes, it helped when they’ve got a quarter of a million men and the enemy has 78.000, unfortunately, the Italians also had Luigi Cadorna, an incompetent idiot if ever you ran into one, the very personification of Italian military prowess, brave soldiers, awful officers and absolutely staggeringly, incomprehensible, reprehensible and stupefying idiotic Leaders.
The battle ended when the RAN OUT OF BULLETS. Tactical victory to the Italians, the only lost 41.800 compared to 46.600, that’s a victory in World War One.
And then the Third Battle of the Isonzo, now Cadorna have actually learned something, after using the blood, sweat and fucking tears of some sixty thousand Italian boys, artillery is really awesome and frontal attacks WILL CONTINUE!
Hey, a step forwards, artillery is important, he’s learning. Not enough, the Italians would keep attack on limited fronts and through terrains that negated their massive numerical advantage, even if this was the first battle were, they actually had helmets.
Another Sixty thousand plus casualties for the Italians, some forty for the Austrians, failure for the Italians, even if loses were proportionally roughly the same.
The fourth, to damn cold, more casualties for the Italians, in the end December and the winter brought everything to standstill, why anyone would fight this kind of war in the middle of the winter is beyond anyone sane, but sanity isn’t a requirement for Generals after all.
The fifth was even more pointless than usual, basically a bit of sabre-rattling from the Italians, mainly just to keep the French at bay. The Italians took a mountain, huzza.
The Sixth Battle? Was a Victory for the Italians, this time to actually managed to get an entire city, paid fifty thousand casualties for it, that’s what frontal assaults do to an army.
The Seventh Battle? Inconclusive as they say, basically everyone died in roughly the same amount, pure attrition warfare.
The Eight battle, much the same, just more dead, fifty-sixty thousand on the Italian side, 38.000 on the Austrian side, the biggest splash was the death of Antonio Sant’Elia, of the leading lights of Futurist architecture (One of the predecessors to the later Art Deco movement), the battles become shorter and shorter, the armies are getting tired at this point.
The Ninth, the Austro-Hungarians are starting to lose the War of Attrition at this point and the Italians manage to advance, slowly, but an advance is an advance.
The Tenth had a change of plans, most of the previous attempts were narrow breakthroughs, this one was a forty kilometre massed assault against the Austrians, the Italians had a 1:2 advantage again, 400k against 200k, the result? Little territory was really gained, 150,000 Italians casualties, 125,000 Austrian, the war of Attrition was taking its toll on everyone at this point.
The Eleventh? 200,000 plus casualties spread across both sides, the Italians managed to move forward a little, the Austro-Hungarian armies were actually at their breaking point at this stage, one more assault would have broken them, too bad the Italians couldn’t attack again even if they wanted to.
But hey, the Royal Bavarian Infantry Lifeguards Regiment got a march out of it, it isn’t all bad.
And now for the final one: The Twelfth Battle of the Isonzo, which also have its very own name, the Battle of Caporetto, because guess what? The Germans have arrived, with all the cool tricks and clever tactics they’ve learned at the Western front and against the Russians, assault troopers, infiltration tactics and poison gas.
The Italians were absolutely fucking destroyed here, SIX HUNDRED THOUSAND casualties, the Second Army basically gone, the Italians had 800,000 soldiers against 350,000 Germans and Austro-Hungarians and they absolutely lost.
Unfortunately, the rest of the war being as it was, there really were no further opportunity or resources to carry on and knock the Italians out of the War, the Germans were starving at this point, literally.
Luigi Cardorna would later be promoted to Marshall of Italy by Mussolini, in a blatant attempt to pretend Italy won great Victories in the Great War and deserves much more. He’s son would actually do much better in World War Two, changing sides in the end and fighting against the Germans in Northern Italy.
Svetozar Boroević, the primary commander for the Austro-Hungarians, would be promoted to Marshall and ennobled during the war, sadly, his fellow Croats and south Slavs weren’t very welcoming, he was buried in Austria. The result? Italy’s poor performance during the war, resulting in them not really getting anything good, which was one of the issues exploited by the Fascist as they took over.