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occupied the spur to the northwest of Monte Pruche, Molino, in the Zara Valley (northwest of Laghi), and Scatolari, in the Rio Freddo Valley. The operations against Corno del Coston, Monte Seluggio, and Monte Cimono (northwest and north of Arsiero), the main points of Austrian resistance, were continued.
On the Asiago Plateau Italian detachments were pushed forward beyond the northern edge of Assa Valley. On the remainder of this sector there was a lull in the fighting, preparatory to further attacks on the difficult ground. In the Brenta Valley small encounters took place on the slopes of Monte Civaron north of Caldiera.
Monte Calgari, in the Posina Valley, was occupied by the Italians on July 3, 1916, while other detachments completed the occupation of the northern edge of the Assa Valley on the Asiago Plateau.
Between the Adige and the Brenta the Austrians on July 4, 1916, contested with great determination the Italian advance and attempted to counterattack at various points.
After several attempts, Alpine troops reached the summit of Monte Corno, northwest of the Pasubio.
In the upper Astico Basin they captured the crest of Monte Seluggio and advanced toward Rio Freddo.
Between the Lagarina and Sugana Valleys the Italian offensive was continued on July 5, 1916. In the Adige Valley and in the upper Astico Basin pressure compelled the Austrians to withdraw, uncovering new batteries on commanding positions previously prepared by them.
On the Asiago Plateau Italian artillery bombarded the Austrian lines actively. In the Campelle Valley the Austrians evacuated the positions they still held on the Prima Lunetta, abandoning arms, ammunitions and supplies.
The following day brought some new successes to the Italians on the Sette Comuni Plateau. With the support of their artillery they renewed their attack on the strongly fortified line of the Austrians from Monte Interrotto to Monte Campigoletto and captured two important points of the Austrian defenses, near Casera, Zebio and Malga Pozza, taking 359 prisoners, including 5 officers and 3 machine guns. Between the Adige and the Astico, north of the Posino and along the Rio Freddo and Astico Valleys there was intense artillery activity, especially in the region of Monte Maggio and Monte Camone. The same condition continued throughout July 7, 1916.
On July 8, 1916, Italian infantry advanced on the upper Astico in the Molino Basin and toward Forni. Dense mist prevented all activity of artillery on the Sette Comuni Plateau. In the northern sector the Italians stormed some trenches north of Monte Chiesa, and occupied Agnella Pass.
A great deal of the fighting, both during the Austro-Hungarian offensive in the Trentino and the Italian counteroffensive, took place in territory abounding with lofty mountain peaks. Though it was now midsummer, these were, of course, covered with eternal snow and ice. Austrians and Italians alike faced difficulties and hardships, the solution and endurance of which would have seemed utterly impossible a few years ago until the Great War swept away many long-established military and engineering maxims. An intimate picture of this new mode of warfare was given by a special correspondent of the London “Daily Mail” who, in part, says:
"The villages in the lower ground behind the front have been aroused from their accustomed appearance of sleepy comfort. In their streets are swarms of soldiers on their way to the front or back from it for a holiday. Thousands are camping out in the neighborhood of the villages or billeted on the inhabitants. Constant streams of motor vehicles rumble through the villages on their way up the steep road, bearing ammunition, food and supplies of all sorts, to the batteries, trenches and dugouts on the peaks.
The road over which these vehicles travel was before the war a mere hill path—now the military engineers have transformed it into a modern road, graded, metaled and carried by cunningly devised spirals and turns three-quarters of the way up the mountains.
"It is a notable piece of military engineering, but it is not merely that. It will serve as an artery of commerce when it is no longer needed for the passage of guns and army service wagons. There is nothing temporary or makeshift about it. Rocks have been blasted to leave a passage for it and solid bridges of stone and steel thrown across rivers.
"Because the Austrians started with the weather gauge in their favor, being on the upper side of the great ridges, it was necessary for the Italians to get their guns as high as they could. The means by which they accomplished this task was described to me. They would seem incredible if one had not ocular demonstration of the actual presence of the cannon among these inaccessible crags.
"There are some of them on the ice ledges of the Ortler nearly 10,000 feet above sea level, in places which it is by way of an achievement for the amateur climber to reach with guides and ropes and porters, and nothing to take care of but his own skin. But here the Alpini and Frontier Guides had to bring up the heavy pieces, hauling them over the snow slopes and swinging them in midair across chasms and up knife-edged precipices, by ropes passed over timbers wedged somehow into the rocks. I was shown a photograph of a party of these pioneers working in these snowy solitudes last winter. They might have been a group of Scott's or Shackleton's men toiling in the Antarctic wilderness.
"By means of a suspension railway made of wire rope with sliding baskets stretched across chasms of great depth, oil, meat, bread and wine are sent up, for the soldier must not only be fed, but must be fed with particular food to keep the blood circulating in his body in the cold air and chilling breezes of the snow-clad peaks. Kerosene stoves in great numbers have been sent aloft to make the life of the mountaineer soldiers more comfortable.”
On July 9, 1916, there was bitter fighting between the Brenta and the Adige. Strong Alpine forces repeatedly attacked the Austrian lines southeast of Cima Dieci, but were repulsed with heavy losses. Shells set fire to Pedescala and other places in the upper Astico Valley. An attempt by the Austrians to make attacks on Monte Seluggio was checked promptly.
In the Adige Valley another intense artillery duel was staged on July 10, 1916. On the Pasubio front the Italians captured positions north of Monte Corno, but the Austrians succeeded in obtaining partial repossession of them by a violent counterattack. On the Asiago Plateau Alpine detachments successfully renewed the attack on the Austrian positions in the Monte Chiesa region.
The next day, July 11, 1916, the Italians again made some progress in the Adige Valley, north of Serravalle and in the region of Malga Zugna, and reoccupied partially some of the positions lost on the northern slopes of Monte Pasubio on the previous day. Heavy artillery duels took place in the Asiago Basin and on the Sette Comuni Plateau.
The Austrians promptly responded on July 12, 1916, by attacking in the Adige Valley, after artillery preparation on an immense scale, the new Italian positions north of Malga Zugna. They were driven back in disorder, with heavy loss, by the prompt and effective concentration of the Italian gunfire.
Fighting in the Adige Valley and on the Sette Comuni Plateau continued without cessation during the next few days without yielding any very definite results. In that period there also developed extremely severe fighting at the head of the Posina Valley. During the night of July 13, 1916, the Italians succeeded in carrying very strong Austrian positions south of Corno del Coston and east of the Borcola Pass, notwithstanding the strong resistance of the Austrians and the difficulty presented by the roughness of the ground. During the night the Austrians launched several violent but unsuccessful counterattacks in which they lost heavily.
In spite of violent thunderstorms, seriously interfering with artillery activity, fighting continued in this sector on July 14 and 15, 1916. Italian troops made some progress on the southern slopes of Sogli Bianchi, south of Borcola and the Corno di Coston and in the Boin Valley, where they occupied Vanzi on the northern slopes of Monte Hellugio.
Austrian reenforcements arrived at this time, and as a result a series of heavy attacks was delivered in the upper Posina
area in an attempt to stop the Italian advance between Monte Santo and Monte Toraro. Italian counterattacks, however, were launched promptly and enabled the Italian forces to maintain and extend their lines. Throughout the balance of July, 1916, the Italian troops succeeded in continuing their advance, although the Austro-Hungarian resistance showed no noticeable abatement and frequently was strong enough to permit not only very effective defensive work, but rather considerable counterattacks. However, all in all, the Italians had decidedly the better of it. Step by step they pushed their way back into the territory from which the Austro-Hungarian offensive of a few weeks ago had driven them.
On July 18, 1916, the Italians gained some new positions on the rocky slopes of the Corno del Coston in the upper Posina Valley. Four days later, July 22, 1916, they captured some trenches on Monte Zebio on the Sette Comuni Plateau. The next day, July 23, 1916, between Cismon and Aviso they completed the occupation of the upper Trevignolo and St. Pellegrino Valleys, taking the summit of Monte Stradone and new positions on the slopes of Cima di Bocche.
On the Posina-Astico line at daybreak of July 24, 1916, after a fierce attack by night, they captured Monte Cimone, for the possession of which violent fighting had been in progress for days.
Further north, Alpine troops renewed their efforts against the steep rock barrier rising to more than 2,000 yards between the peaks of Monte Chiesa and Monte Campigoletto. Under heavy fire from the Austrian machine guns they crossed three lines of wire and succeeded in establishing themselves just below the crest.
Again and again the Austrians launched attacks against the Italian positions on these various mountains without, however, accomplishing more than retarding the further advance of General Cadorna's forces.
The second anniversary of the outbreak of the Great War, August 1, 1916, found the Italians on the Trentino front still strongly on the offensive and well on their way trward regaining