29/6/1916 Chemical warfare arrives on the Isonzo

In the Trentino, Italian troops are attacking the Austro-Hungarians, trying to dislodge them from their recent gains. The Italians find the going tough, as the enemy have prepared their positions well.

Meanwhile all is not quiet in the Isonzo sector. While the Trentino Offensive threatened to knock Italy out of the war, skirmishing continued here as the Austro-Hungarians sought to distract the Italians and prevent them from bringing men away to the west. These diversions have continued even after the end of the Punishment Expedition.

Today near Mont San Michele the Austro-Hungarians have a new present for the Italians. They release a cloud of phosgene and chlorine against them, the first time poison gas has been used on the Italian Front. The Italians have been issued with gas masks but many have mislaid them, thinking they will not be needed. Those who manage to find theirs then discover that they are ineffective against phosgene. Some 2,000 men die in the gas attack, with another 5,000 injured.

The Austro-Hungarians tentatively occupy the Italian positions, afraid of their own poison. Italian reserves evict them later in the day, finding the trenches still occupied with their gassed comrades.

image source (Storia e Memoria di Bologna)

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