Battle of Caporetto IntroductionBetween October 24th and November 19th of 1917 the World War One battle of Caporetto took place on the wars Austro-Italian front; it would be the worst military defeat in Italy's history. This was the decisive engagement of numerous battles dubbed the Battles of the Isonzo which took place between Austro-Hungarian forces and Italian forces from 1915 through 1917. Below you will find a list of interesting facts about the Battle of Caporetto including who won, where it was fought, and why it was important.
Click here for a great selection of Amazon.com books about WW1 battles.
Battle of Caporetto Interesting Facts
- The Battle of Caporetto is also called the Twelfth Battle of the Isonzo, the Battle of Kobarid, and the Battle of Karfreit.
- The combined Austrian and German forces were commanded by the Prussian General, Otto von Below.
- Italy's army was led by Luigi Cadorna and Luigi Capello. After the battle Cadorna was replaced as Chief of General Staff and Luigi Capello was removed from command.
- The Battle of Caporetto was the 12th, and final, battle in a series of battles called The Battles of the Isonzo, which were fought along the Isonzo River. At the time of WW1 the Isonzo River was just within Austria's border (now present-day Slovenia) with Italy. The river basically stretches north to south flowing into the northern Adriatic Sea.
- The Austro-Hungarian Army had built numerous fortifications along its border with Italy on the mountains that flanked the Isonzo River prior to Italy entering World War One on May 23rd 1915 on the side of the Allies.
- An interesting fact about this battle is that the author Ernest Hemingway wrote about the Italian retreat in his famous novel "A Farewell to Arms", which was his first best- seller.
- After their entry into WW1 the Italian army had tried numerous times to dislodge the Austrians from their defensive positions along the Isonzo River. At first the Italians had no success but in August and September of 1917 they started to make progress. Germany fearing that Austria's (their ally) positions were about to collapse sent reinforcements to protect their border. This set the stage for the Battle of Caporetto.
Battle of Caporetto Details
- Although it had been the Italians who had been the aggressors during the Battles of the Isonzo it was the Austrians, reinforced by the Germans, that attacked on October 24th of 1917 to begin the final of the battles of the Isonzo; which was the Battle of Caporetto.
- The battle began with the Germans unleashing a poison gas attack against the Italian positions; this killed hundreds of Italian soldiers and forced thousands to flee for their lives.
- The German poison gas attack that started the Battle of Caporetto was immediately followed by a huge bombardment of Italian positions by over 2000 artillery pieces.
- After the poison gas attack and the devastating artillery bombardment the combined Austrian and German forces launched an infantry attack that met very little resistance from the scattered Italian forces.
- The Italians retreated quickly pursued by Austrians and Germans. Eventually, on November 7th of 1917, with their attackers supplies running thin, the Italians were able to dig in along the Piave River and halt the German advance.
- The Battle of Caporetto was a staggering loss for Italy resulting in 10,000 killed, some 30,000 wounded, and approximately 265,000 soldiers taken prisoner.