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DETAIL OF AUSTRIAN OFFENSIVE, MAY, 1916

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not been cut down. I was shown small tins of meat, taken from the knapsack of a prisoner, and several carried 3-ounce tins of a good quality of butter. In another sector I saw Bosnian prisoners wearing a gray fez, and looking much like Turkish troops. They also impressed me as very fit men; in fact, all the prisoners taken recently would seem to be of strong fiber, and far better equipped than Austrian troops which I have seen elsewhere.

“It is evident that the Austrian commanders have assembled the pieked troops of the Dual Monarchy for the storming of these Trentino heights. Everything would point to the fact that they are making a supreme and final effort to win the war. Prisoners confirm this by stating that the war cannot go on much longer.

"Are the last good reserves being used up in this battle? Yesterday morning an Italian patrol coming in from the night's tour of inspection of their positions bring in a prisoner. He is R burly, thick-lipped peasant boy of twenty, dressed in a Russian uniform. On his loose-fitting blouselike tunic, torn in many places, is pinned a black and yellow ribbon, and hanging from a thin remaining strand shines the silver medal of St. George. An Italian subaltern takes charge of the prisoner.

“ 'A Russian refugee,' the officer remarks, in answer to my look of surprise at the sight of a Russian prisoner being brought in by an Italian patrol on the Trentino front. The Russian smiles good-naturedly, as he feels secure, now that he is among friends. In due time he will be repatriated, or perhaps join the Russian corps in France. We leave him busy over a big bowl of macaroni.

“ "There are close to 20,000 Russian prisoners of war employed by the Austrians along our front, repairing roads, making trenches, and engaged on other 'noncombatant military duties,' the officer informed me. 'A few manage to escape into our lines nearly every day, but many more Russian dead lie in the silent crevasses of our high mountains who have lost their lives while attempting to escape.

“'You see, they need the men,' he concluded, as we watched an endless stream of fresh Italian troops winding their way up from the valley."

CHAPTER XXXV

THE

ITALIAN COUNTEROFFENSIVE

IN Τ Η Ε TRENTINO

HARDLY had the Austro-Hungarian offensive shown signs

of weakening when the Italians themselves began to attack the invaders. The first indication of this change was gleaned from the wording of the official statements, covering military operations on the Italian front for June 9, 1916. No longer is there any mention of Austro-Hungarian advances, but on the contrary this term appears now in the reports concerning the military operations of the Italian troops, who are also reported as "making attacks.” Of course, this turn in affairs developed slowly in the beginning.

Thus, although on June 9, 1916, the Italian troops attacked at many points along the entire front between the Adige and Brenta Rivers, most of these attacks were repulsed by the Austro-Hungarians, who were still able to claim the capture of some 1,600 prisoners. At the same time Italian forces began to push back the invaders at some points and were able to advance in the upper Arsa Valley in the Monte Novegno region, between the Posina and Val d'Astico, as well as on the western slopes of Monte Cengio. Artillery duels were maintained along the entire balance of the front to the sea. Austrian aeroplanes dropped bombs on various localities in the Venetian plain, while an Italian squadron shelled Austro-Hungarian positions in the Arsa Valley and the Val d'Astico.

Much the same was the result of the fighting on June 10 and 11, 1916. On the former day the Austro-Hungarians concentrated their efforts still more and restricted themselves to an attack against a small portion of the Italian front southeast of Asiago. After an intense bombardment strong forces numbering about one division repeatedly attacked the Monte Lemerle positions. They were repulsed with very heavy losses by counterattacks.

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From the Adige to the Brenta the Italian offensive action was increasing. Infantry, effectively supported by artillery, made fresh progress along the Vallarsa height, south of the Posina, in the Astico Valley, at the Frenzela Valley bridgehead, on the Asiago Plateau, and to the left of the Maso torrent.

During the following day Austro-Hungarian artillery intensely bombarded the Italian positions near Conizugna in the Lagarina Valley. In the Arsa Valley, in the Pasubio sector, on the Posina, and on the Astico line Italian infantry advance continued despite violent artillery fire and a snowstorm.

Two Austrian counterattacks toward Forni Alti and Campigliazione were repulsed with very heavy losses. In the plateau of the Sette Comuni, southwest of Asiago, Italian advanced detachments, after passing the Canaglia Valley, progressed toward the southeastern slopes of Monte Cengio, Monte Barco, and Monte Busibello. In the Sugana Valley detachments progressed toward the Masso torrent, repulsing two Austrian counterattacks near Sucrelle. Along the remainder of the front there were artillery duels and bomb-throwing activity by small detachments. Austrian aeroplanes dropped bombs on Vicenza, hitting the military hospital, and also attacked Thiene, Venice, and Mestre, causing slight damage.

Still further ground was gained by the Italian forces on June 12, 1916, in spite of the most obstinate resistance.

in the Lagarina Valley, by a strong attack after artillery preparation, the Italians carried the strongly fortified line from Parmesan, east of the Cima Mezzana, to Rio Romini. The Austro-Hungarians immediately launched violent counterattacks, but were always repulsed.

Along the Posina-Astico front there was an intense bombardment by both sides. Austrian infantry, which succeeded in penetrating Molisini, was driven out by gunfire, pursued and dispersed.

In the Sugana Valley on the night of June 12, 1916, and the following morning, Austrian detachments attempting to advance east of the Maso torrent were repulsed with very heavy losses.

Once more the Austro-Hungarians attempted to wrest the initiative from their opponents, without, however, succeeding to any extent. On the Posina front on the evening of June 12, 1916, after violent artillery preparation, they attacked Monte Forni Alti, the Campiglia (both southwest of Posina), Monte Ciove and Monte Brazonne (both south of Arsiero), but were everywhere repulsed with heavy losses.

During the day they bombarded with numerous batteries of all calibers the Italian positions along the whole front from the Adige to the Brenta, especially in the Monte Novegno zone. The Italian troops firmly withstood the violent fire and repelled infantry detachments which attempted to advance.

Austro-Hungarian hydroaeroplanes attacked the station and military establishments at San Giorgio di Nogaro, as well as the inner harbor at Grado.

More and more it became evident that the Austro-Hungarian drive in the Trentino region had definitely been stopped or abandoned. From time to time, it is true, the Austrians returned to the offensive. But this was always of local importance only and restricted in strength and extent. The Italians, on the other hand, not only maintained their new offensive movement, but even extended gradually its sphere.

Two attempted attacks by the Austro-Hungarian forces in the region of Monte Novegno, made in the direction of Monte Ciove and Monte Brazonne, were repulsed. But on Monte Lemerle, against which the Austrians had launched without success a very violent attack only a few days before, they now surprised a hostile detachment near the summit and captured the mountain completely, taking 500 prisoners.

Italian activity was renewed again on the Isonzo front. After intense artillery preparation a Naples brigade, supported by dismounted cavalry detachments, in a surprise attack, penetrated Austrian lines east of Monfalcone. The trenches remained in Italian possession after a severe struggle, during which 10 officers, 488 men, and 7 machine guns were captured.

Italian squadrons of aeroplanes bombarded the railway station at Mattarello, in the Lagarina Valley, and encampments at the

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