17/9/1916 The Seventh Battle of the Isonzo draws to a close

Italy’s seventh offensive along the Isonzo started only a few days ago. However progress has been minimal so now Cadorna suspends the assaults. Losses have been heavy, with the Italians taking as many as 17,000 casualties in the short battle. At 15,000 casualties, Austro-Hungarian losses have been heavy too, thanks to Italian artillery and Boroevic’s insistence that counter-attacks be immediately launched to recapture lost positions.

Cadorna starts preparations for the next battle, hoping that sooner or later he will be able to smash through the Austro-Hungarians. On the other side, Boroevic begs for reinforcements. His men are starting to feel the strain. There have been reports of desertions in units composed of Bosnian Serbs, whose loyalty to the Empire is distinctly suspect. Men from other ethnic groups remain more reliable, especially Bosnian Muslims, Croats and Slovenes. A feature of the Austro-Hungarian army at war is that some men will fight well on one front but not on others. Croat and Czech troops have a poor reputation on the Russian front, but against the Italians they have shown more spirit. Apart from the Bosnian Serbs, the southern Slav troops (Slovenes, Croats and Bosnian Muslims) may in part be fighting to defend their homes from incorporation into the Kingdom of Italy.

Conrad listens to Boroevic’s appeals for more men, but there are not many to spare. Brusilov’s offensive is still pressing Austria-Hungary in Galicia while the Romanians are still pushing into Transylvania. Two divisions are released to Boroevic, but this still leaves him heavily outnumbered by the Italians. His men do their best to prepare for the next onslaught.

image source:

Bosnian Muslim soldiers (Illyria Forums)

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