26/5/1917 Once again, Italy runs out of steam on the Isonzo

Italian troops are attacking the Austro-Hungarians again on the Isonzo. In this tenth battle, Cadorna has alternated between attacking the Carso Plateau and mountainous positions further north around Gorizia. For the last few days the focus has returned to the Carso. After a bombardment of an intensity not previously seen here, the Italian infantry have made considerable gains, advancing up to two kilometres. The Austro-Hungarians appear to be on the brink of collapse, with many prisoners being taken by the Italians.

But today the tide turns. Boroevic, the Austro-Hungarian commander, has brought men south from the Gorizia sector to reinforce the Carso. The Germans have also permitted the transfer of two Austro-Hungarian divisions from the Eastern Front (where Habsburg units fight under German command). The Italians meanwhile are exhausted after their efforts of the past few days and also running low on artillery ammunition. Their attacks run out of steam and the front begins to stabilise.

The failure of another offensive to smash the Austro-Hungarians may be beginning to demoralise the Italian rank and file. Their commanders too are feeling the cold hand of pessimism on their shoulders. The Duke of Aosta, local commander of the assaults on the Carso, remarks that he fears the war could go on for another ten years. Others note that the men appear increasingly despondent, with some reporting that they wept as they went into battle, knowing that they were going to their deaths. Still, unlike the French, the Italian infantry continue to obey orders to attack. Perhaps one more battle of the Isonzo will be the one that sees them finally win victory over the Austro-Hungarians.

image sources:

Guns (Metropostcard.com)

Emanuele Filiberto, Duke of Aosta (Wikipedia)

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