The German offensive at Verdun has put the French under considerable pressure. To relieve it, Joffre is looking for his Italian and Russian allies to launch diversionary offensives on their fronts. Italy’s Cadorna wanted to wait until the spring thaw is further advanced but he could not resist Joffre’s pleading. So it is that Italian artillery has been pounding the Austro-Hungarians for the last two days along the Isonzo line. Now the infantry surge forwards.
The Fifth Battle of the Isonzo proceeds like its predecessors. The Austro-Hungarians offer dogged resistance. The Italians suffer heavy casualties and make minimal gains. What gains the Italians make are often lost to enemy counter-attacks. That an advance of a hundred metres up Mount Sabotino is seen as a major victory gives an idea of the static nature of the Isonzo’s bloody stalemate.