Battle of Caporetto


Battle of Caporetto

Infobox Military Conflict
conflict=Battle of Caporetto
partof=the Italian Front (First World War)


caption=Battle of Caporetto and Italian retreat.
date=October 24–November 19, 1917
place=Isonzo valley, in present day Kobarid, Slovenia
casus=
territory=
result=Decisive Central Powers victory
combatant1=flag|Austria-Hungary|size=25px
flag|German Empire|size=25px
combatant2=flagicon|Italy|1861|size=25px Italy
commander1=flagicon|German Empire Otto von Below
commander2=flagicon|Italy|1861 Luigi Cadorna
strength1=410,000 men
strength2=350,000 men
casualties1=20,000 dead or wounded
casualties2=11,000 dead,
20,000 wounded,
275,000 captured
Campaignbox Italian Front The Battle of Caporetto (or Battle of Karfreit as it was known by the Central Powers; _sl. Bitka za Kobarid), took place from 24 October to 9 November 1917, near the present day town of Kobarid (Slovenia), on the Austro-Italian front of World War I. Austro-Hungarian forces, reinforced by German units, were able to break into the Italian front line and rout the Italian army, which had practically no mobile reserves. The battle was a demonstration of the effectiveness of the use of stormtroopers and the infiltration tactics developed in part by Oskar von Hutier.

Losses

Italian losses were enormous: 11,000 were killed, 20,000 wounded and 275,000 were taken prisoner; also 2,500 guns were captured by the Austrians (though many had been either spiked or had their firing mechanisms removed by the retreating artillerymen). Austro-Hungarian and German forces advanced more than 100 km in the direction of Venice, but they were not able to cross the Piave River, where the Italians (aided by French, British and American allies) established a new defensive line, which was held during the subsequent Battle of the Piave River and later served as springboard for the Battle of Vittorio Veneto, where the Austro-Hungarian army was utterly defeated.

The battle led to the conference at Rapallo and the creation of a Supreme War Council, with the aim of improving Allied military co-operation and developing a unified strategy.

Luigi Cadorna was in charge of the Italian forces and was forced to resign after the defeat. He was replaced by Armando Diaz and Pietro Badoglio.

This led governments to the realization that fear alone could not adequately motivate a modern army. After the defeat at Caporetto, Italian propaganda offices were established and cynically promised land and social justice to soldiers. Italy also accepted a more cautious military strategy from this point on. Just one fifth of the total 650,000 Italian casualties during the war occurred after Caporetto, a marked improvement.

After this battle, the term "Caporetto" gained a particular resonance in Italy. It is used to denote a terrible defeat - the failed General Strike of 1922 by the socialists was referred to by Mussolini as the "Caporetto of Italian Socialism".

The bloody aftermath of Caporetto was vividly described by Ernest Hemingway in his novel "A Farewell to Arms".

Rommel

Erwin Rommel added lustre to his military career leading a company of Württemberg mountain troops during this battle and capturing 3,000 Italians, winning a Pour le Mérite in process. His genius was shown by capturing Monte Matajur, southwest of Caporetto. Despite not having slept for 45 hours Rommel did not stop there, pushing on to take a garrison held town of Longarone. It was said "Rommel always remained the lieutenant, making snap decisions and acting on the spur of the moment."

References

Printed sources:
* Connelly, O. "On War and Leadership: The Words of Combat Commanders from Frederick the Great to Norman Schwarzkopf", 2002 ISBN 069103186X
* Morselli, M. "Caporetto 1917: Victory of Defeat?", 2001 ISBN 0714650730
* Reuth, R. G. "Rommel: The End of a Legen", 2005 ISBN 1904950205Websites:
* [http://www.freeinfosociety.com/site.php?postnum=792 "Erwin Rommel Biography"] at the Free Information Society, retrieved November 28 2007

External links

* [http://www.firstworldwar.com/battles/isonzo.htm FirstWorldWar.Com: The Battles of the Isonzo, 1915-17]
* [http://www.firstworldwar.com/maps/italianfront.htm Battlefield Maps: Italian Front]
* [http://www.worldwar1.com/itafront/isonzo11.htm 11 battles at the Isonzo]
* [http://www.potimiruvposocju.si/ The Walks of Peace in the Soča Region Foundation] . The Foundation preserves, restores and presents the historical and cultural heritage of the First World War in the area of the Isonzo Front for the study, tourist and educational purposes.
* [http://www.kobariski-muzej.si/ang/razstave.html The Kobarid Museum (in English)]
* [http://drustvo-soskafronta.si/ Društvo Soška Fronta (in Slovenian)]
* [http://prohereditate.com/en/ Pro Hereditate - extensive site (in En/It/Sl)] 12th Battle is also the subject of the novel "Caporetto" by the Swedish author F.J. Nordstedt (eg. Christian Braw), Stockholm 1972.


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