18/7/1915 The Second Battle of the Isonzo: Italy attacks again

The first Italian attempt to break the Austro-Hungarians along the Isonzo failed. Now, less than two weeks later, the Italians are having another go. By now their army is at last fully mobilised and they hope to apply lessons learned from their previous mistakes.

The assault is preceded by a heavy artillery bombardment, intended to stun and devastate the Austro-Hungarians. The results are less impressive than they hoped, however. The Italians have not pinpointed all the defenders’ positions accurately, so not all the shells land where they should. The Austro-Hungarians have also in many cases cut deep dug-outs into the rocky landscape, in which they are able to shelter. Still, there are no shelters for the Austro-Hungarian reserves behind the frontline; the artillery wreaks a heavy toll on them.

The Italians are concentrating their efforts on taking Mont San Michele, on the Carso plateau. Taking the peak should put Gorizia in their grasp. In the afternoon the infantry moves forward. In an effort to reduce officer casualties, an instruction has been issued that they are to wear the same uniforms as their men. Unfortunately there has been insufficient time to implement this, so most of the officers are still wearing the distinctive uniforms that mark them out as targets. Their habit of marching in front of their units with drawn sabres also makes it easy for the enemy to pick them out.

Progress is slow, but there is progress. Italian forces manage to overrun the enemy’s forward positions. The real work will begin when they move further up the slopes towards the main Austro-Hungarian lines.

Meanwhile, the Italians are also attacking at sea. A naval squadron has set sail from Brindisi to attack the coastal railway in Dalmatia. Their shelling of the line near Ragusa Vecchia is not challenged by the Austro-Hungarian surface fleet. However, an enemy submarine fires a torpedo, singing the Giuseppe Garibaldi and putting the rest of the squadron to flight. Following the sinking of the Amalfi on the 7th, the Adriatic is increasingly looking like an unsafe area of operations for the Italian fleet.

image sources:

Isonzo front (WorldWar1.com)

Guiseppe Garibaldi sinking (Wikipedia)

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