Italy declared war on Austria-Hungary yesterday with the war officially beginning at midnight. If the more bellicose members of the Italian public were expecting a rapid march to victory they are soon mistaken. The army is still being mobilised and is not expected to be ready until mid-June. There is some skirmishing along the border but no major engagements.
The Austro-Hungarians have been aware for some time that Italy is going to join the Allies. They are still shocked by the declaration of war. Italy has after all been allied to Austria-Hungary for more than thirty years. Emperor Franz Josef issues a message to his people denouncing Italy’s treachery. He also reminds them that in previous conflicts Austrian forces have always been able to defeat Italian armies.
Austria-Hungary’s commitments on the Eastern Front mean that there are few troops to spare for deployment against the Italians. Austro-Hungarian troops on the frontier are heavily outnumbered, but they have the advantage of terrain that favours the defender.
There is little action today between Italy and Austria-Hungary’s land armies, but at sea it is a different matter. The Austro-Hungarian navy sets sail from its naval base at Pula and bombards the Italian port of Ancona and other coastal targets. Austro-Hungarian ships also sink the Turbine, an Italian destroyer.
The war in the air too begins more promptly than on land. Austro-Hungarian aeroplanes drop bombs on Venice and other Italian targets.
Franz Josef (Wikipedia)