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There was then an artillery barrage and huge mines are detonated under two key Italian positions. Then the front was quiet until about AM when all the Italian wire and trenches to be attacked were bombarded by mortars. The assaults on the Italian trenches was spearheaded by the German storm troopers.

Victory or Defeat?

Soon they penetrated the almost undefended Italian fortifications in the valley, breaching the defensive line of the Italian defences. They experienced little or no opposition. The Germans coordinated their attacks by using the telephone and they used their new machine-gun to maximum effect. The German advance was commanded by General von Bellow in person.

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The Italians had to move forces from elsewhere as the Germans had punched a huge hole in their lines. The commander of the Italian forces in the area was very ill and asked permission to retreat.

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However, Cardona forbade him and demanded that he and his forces continue fighting. Cardona believed that the Italians could regroup. The Germans continued to press their advantage. The Italians could not regroup and Cardona ordered them to retreat beyond the River Taglaimento. However, the Italian retreat was very slow and they came under constant attack from the Austrians and Germans. By this time the Italian army was in full flight and thousands of disorganised and leaderless men had surrendered.

Cardona was no longer in control of the situation. In a matter of days, the Italian army had gone from a position of strength to one of great danger. The government in Rome was in a panic and worried if Venice was in danger.

Why did the Italians lose the Battle of Caporetto in WWI?

The Germans had been only anticipating some local success and hoped to relieve their Austrian allies. Instead, they had been able to cause the Italian front line to collapse. Even before the battle the Germans and the Austrians had problems supplying their forces. They had not the logistics to supply their army, especially after their rapid and unexpected advance. The rapid German advance meant that they could not be properly supplied. Perhaps just as significant the Germans and Austrians had not enough rations and this became a major problem for the generals.

The Allied blockade of the German Empire, which the German navy had been unable to break, was partly responsible for food shortages. The lack of provisions and the rapid advances, that involved night marches, meant that the Austrian and German troops are exhausted. As the advanced further, the exhaustion and the lack of supplies became a major problem and began to slow down the attack, according to Rommel.

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By the time the Central Powers forces had reached the Piave, they had virtually no supplies. Some ten British and French division had to be rushed to the new Italian defensive line in order to prevent another breakthrough by the Germans and Austrians. The Central Powers came to a halt and the battle of Caporetto was over. The battle was a great victory for Germany and Austro-Hungary. It changed the strategic situation on the southern front in their favour. The Austrians who had been on the point of collapse now had advanced into Italian territory.

Italy had suffered enormous losses - Italian losses were enormous: 10, killed, 25, wounded and , were, taken prisoner. The Central Powers suffered relatively light losses but the exact number of casualties is unknown. They had advanced almost miles and the new front between the two belligerents was the River Piave.

The defeat caused a rethink of Italian military strategy. After this defeat, the Italians adopted a cautious approach and did not go on the offensive again until the end of the war. Many historians have noted that Italy was no longer a major player in the war and no longer a threat to the Central Powers. Convinced that Austria-Hungary was readying for war, the Serbian government ordered the Serbian army to mobilize, and appealed to Russia for assistance.

According to an aggressive military strategy known as the Schlieffen Plan named for its mastermind, German Field Marshal Alfred von Schlieffen , Germany began fighting World War I on two fronts, invading France through neutral Belgium in the west and confronting Russia in the east. On August 4, , German troops crossed the border into Belgium.

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In the first battle of World War I, the Germans assaulted the heavily fortified city of Liege , using the most powerful weapons in their arsenal—enormous siege cannons—to capture the city by August Leaving death and destruction in their wake, including the shooting of civilians and the execution of a Belgian priest, whom they accused of inciting civilian resistance, the Germans advanced through Belgium towards France. In the First Battle of the Marne , fought from September , , French and British forces confronted the invading Germany army, which had by then penetrated deep into northeastern France, within 30 miles of Paris.

The Allied troops checked the German advance and mounted a successful counterattack, driving the Germans back to north of the Aisne River. The defeat meant the end of German plans for a quick victory in France.

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  5. Both sides dug into trenches, and the Western Front was the setting for a hellish war of attrition that would last more than three years. Particularly long and costly battles in this campaign were fought at Verdun February-December and the Battle of the Somme July-November German and French troops suffered close to a million casualties in the Battle of Verdun alone.

    This increased hostility was directed toward the imperial regime of Czar Nicholas II and his unpopular German-born wife, Alexandra. Russia reached an armistice with the Central Powers in early December , freeing German troops to face the remaining Allies on the Western Front.

    At the outbreak of fighting in , the United States remained on the sidelines of World War I, adopting the policy of neutrality favored by President Woodrow Wilson while continuing to engage in commerce and shipping with European countries on both sides of the conflict. In , Germany declared the waters surrounding the British Isles to be a war zone, and German U-boats sunk several commercial and passenger vessels, including some U. Widespread protest over the sinking by U-boat of the British ocean liner Lusitania —traveling from New York to Liverpool, England with hundreds of American passengers onboard—in May helped turn the tide of American public opinion against Germany.

    Germany sunk four more U. With World War I having effectively settled into a stalemate in Europe, the Allies attempted to score a victory against the Ottoman Empire, which entered the conflict on the side of the Central Powers in late After a failed attack on the Dardanelles the strait linking the Sea of Marmara with the Aegean Sea , Allied forces led by Britain launched a large-scale land invasion of the Gallipoli Peninsula in April The invasion also proved a dismal failure, and in January Allied forces were staged a full retreat from the shores of the peninsula, after suffering , casualties.

    British-led forces also combated the Ottoman Turks in Egypt and Mesopotamia , while in northern Italy, Austrian and Italian troops faced off in a series of 12 battles along the Isonzo River, located at the border between the two nations. British and French—and later, American—troops arrived in the region, and the Allies began to take back the Italian Front. The biggest naval engagement of World War I, the Battle of Jutland May left British naval superiority on the North Sea intact, and Germany would make no further attempts to break an Allied naval blockade for the remainder of the war.

    With Germany able to build up its strength on the Western Front after the armistice with Russia, Allied troops struggled to hold off another German offensive until promised reinforcements from the United States were able to arrive. On July 15, , German troops launched what would become the last German offensive of the war, attacking French forces joined by 85, American troops as well as some of the British Expeditionary Force in the Second Battle of the Marne.

    The first enemy troops reached Udine at around 3pm; it would soon become the new Austro-Hungarian HQ. The retreating Italians reached the Tagliamento on 31 October. By 3 November the enemy, too, had reached this river, as Italian troops fell back towards the Piave, around miles behind the original front.

    In the first five days of the battle, huge numbers of Italians were captured but as the retreat continued losses were increasingly caused by desertion. Hundreds of thousands of soldiers fled back into Italy from the positions they had conquered in the first two and a half years of the war. Luigi Albertini, editor of the daily newspaper Corriere della Sera , visited the front on 30 October Many men claimed that they had been told that the war was over, so it was not only permissible but sensible to head home. It was impossible to say whether they had voluntarily absconded or simply got lost in the chaos of the retreat. The speed and extent of the Austro-German offensive had taken the Italian forces by surprise, but it was equally unexpected to the attackers themselves. As a result, they struggled to capitalise on their advance. Bringing up fresh troops and keeping their artillery moving forward proved difficult owing to fleeing civilians, broken bridges and disordered roads, which had also delayed the Italian retreat.

    On the Battlefield of Caporetto - Exploring the Kolovrat I THE GREAT WAR Special