12/10/1916 Eighth Isonzo ends as Cadorna squanders his chance of victory

That Italians are attacking again along the Isonzo. This is their eighth major offensive here since their government made the unwise decision to bring them into the war. Italian assaults on the Carso plateau have been repulsed, but further north initial progress has been striking: Italian troops have managed to advance several kilometres, capturing a number of artillery pieces.

Yesterday the Italians made more progress, but they lack the reserves to fully exploit their successes. Then an unexpected counter-attack by Austro-Hungarian troops (spearheaded by a unit of Czech troops, normally considered the Habsburgs’ least reliable nationality) unnerves Cadorna. There has also been a change in the weather, with a fog descending over the battlefield that appears to favour the defenders.

So Cadorna orders a halt to the offensive. He wants his men to regroup and prepare to launch a ninth offensive before the winter descends and makes further operations more or less impossible.

The Austro-Hungarians are astonished that the Italians have called off their attacks. Their casualties were mounting and they were finding it increasingly difficult to hold back the enemy. It looks to them like the Italians have halted their attack just as they were on the brink of a major victory. Knowing that this period of quiet is just a lull before the next battle, Boroevic orders his men to prepare new defensive positions and lobbies Conrad for the reinforcements he desperately needs.

The Italians and Austro-Hungarians have each suffered around 25,000 casualties in this short battle.

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