Caporetto 24 October–1 November 1917


Map Code: Ax00256

By October 1917, the Isonzo theatre had settled into a western front in miniature with generally minor movements in the front line bought at disproportionately high human cost. The arrival of the Germans changed all that. Overruling the Austro-Hungarian commanders, they decided on an assault at Caporetto, bolstered by six divisions of German troops, with the use of poison gas to clear the defences. Launched at 2 am on 24 October, the plan worked perfectly. Following the gas with a massive bombardment, and stormtroopers with flamethrowers and grenades, a complete breakthrough was achieved. So rapid was the advance that, although the Italian troops fought back bravely, the whole front buckled and then collapsed. The Italian Chief of Staff, Luigi Cardona, compounded matters by delaying the order for a full retreat. By the time the Italians tried to regroup at the River Tagliamento, the advancing German troops were already crossing the rive

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