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Battle of the Piave ( June 15-24, 1918)

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BerichtGeplaatst: 22 Jun 2011 19:03    Onderwerp: Battle of the Piave ( June 15-24, 1918) Reageer met quote

Battle of the Piave ( June 15-24, 1918)

Short Summary:

BATTLE OF THE PIAVE (June 15-24, 1918). In June 1918, after the failure of their first three drives on the western front, the Germans were in desperate need of manpower. They therefore urged the Austrians to attack to put Italy out of the war, so that Austrian troops could be sent to the western front. The Austrian offensive against the Italian position on the Piave failed because of the dispersion of effort and the well-planned Italian defense.


In the spring of 1918 the Germans began a series of five drives on the western front designed to win the war before American forces could effectively intervene. Locked in a death struggle, each side asked its ally on the Austro-Italian front to attack. The Germans urged an all-out Austrian attack to drive Italy from the war, so that Austrian troops could be transferred to the western front (the 7 German divisions in Italy had already been shifted); Foch wanted an Italian offensive on the Trentino front to circumvent such a move. In March, 6 of the 11 Anglo-French divisions in Italy were sent back to the western front; the remainder moved to the mountains of the Trentino front in preparation for an offensive there. In April, 2 Italian divisions went to France. Diaz saw no advantage in an offensive against the Trentino and vetoed the idea; the Austrians proceeded to attack.

In all, 58 Austro-Hungarian divisions were assembled for the drive; Diaz had 57, including the 5 Anglo-French divisions. Conrad, demoted after his abortive Asiago offensive, commanded in the Trentino; Boroevic, on the Piave front. Because of conflicts of personality and inadequate lateral communications, the Austrian forces, including reserves, were divided almost equally between the two sectors, thus denying the possibility of a concentrated effort anywhere on the front. On June 13, a diversionary effort was launched at Tonale Pass to the west of the Trentino; on June 15, the main attack began. By evening minor gains had been made in the Trentino, but these were wiped out by counterattacks and heavy artillery fire on the next day. Boroevic had better initial success in the Piave River sector. Crossings were effected at three points; at one an advance of three miles was made. For eight days the Austrians and Italians struggled fiercely in attack and counterattack. Aircraft and artillery struck at the Austrian floating bridges, and the Piave rose sharply to further threaten their destruction. With supplies and ammunition beginning to run out and harassed by Italian counterattacks, Boroevic ordered his troops back across the Piave on the night of June 22-23; the movement was completed on June 24.

Foch, who on July 1, 1918, had become supreme commander of all Allied forces, urged Diaz to exploit this victory and to launch a general offensive in coordination with an Allied offensive against the Soissons salient on the western front, scheduled for mid-July. He judged the Austro-Hungarian Army to be in a state of collapse and ripe for a final push, but Diaz and his principal aide, Gen. (later Marshal) Pietro Badoglio, thought otherwise. Diaz pointed to the Austrian failure in the river operations and was doubtful of Italian success in repeating the venture in reverse, particularly with his armies in their present state, for the Battle of the Piave had been hard fought. He preferred to reorganize, re-equip, and launch a deliberate offensive when he was fully prepared.
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