10/6/1917 Italy launches a new offensive on the Asiago plateau

Italy’s main effort against Austria-Hungary has been on the Isonzo. However, Cadorna has been planning for some time to hit the enemy on the Asiago plateau further to the west. Here the Austro-Hungarians are still entrenched in the strong positions here they retreated to after the failure of their Punishment Expedition last year. Defending a line of hills, their position is anchored by Mount Ortigara, an inhospitable pile of rock. Dislodging the Austro-Hungarians from here will not be easy, but Cadorna hopes that massed firepower and weight of numbers will do the trick.
The Italian assault here was to take place at the end of the month, but the start date was brought forward after the Austro-Hungarian counter-attack on the Isonzo. But this means that the infantry are having to attack in the middle of a summer storm. Low cloud cover has prevented Italian artillery from accurately targeting the enemy wire, but the Austro-Hungarian gunners still have a clear view of the ground across which the Italians will have to advance.

When the infantry go forward they find themselves stuck in a sea of mud. Progress is minimal and many find themselves trapped in front of the Austro-Hungarian wire, unable to advance or retreat. As can be imagined, casualties are horrendous.

Cadorna meets with Mambretti, the local commander. At this stage he is used to failure so the debacle appears not to overly trouble Cadorna. He and Mambretti agree that for now the assaults will halt, but when the weather improves the struggle for Mount Ortigara will resume.

images source:

Italian mountain troops before the battle (Wikipedia: Battle of Mount Ortigara)

Italian troops attack! (MetroPostcard.com: Belligerents and Participants in World War One: The Kingdom of Italy  pt1)

Explosion! (MetroPostcard.com: Belligerents and Participants in World War One: The Kingdom of Italy  pt1)

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