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all of the ground which they had lost in June and July, 1916, before the Austro-Hungarian offensive had been brought to a standstill, while the Austrians were yielding only under the force of the greatest pressure which their opponents could bring to bear on them.
MINOR OPERATIONS ON THE AUSTRO-ITALIAN
FRONT IN TRENTINO OFFENSIVE
UST as soon as the Austro-Hungarian forces began to con
centrate their activities in the latter part of May, 1916, on their drive in the Trentino, military operations in the other sectors of the Austro-Italian front lost in importance and strength. During the greatest part of both the Austro-Hungarian drive and the Italian counteroffensive in the Trentino-May to July, 1916-operations along the rest of the Austro-Italian fronton the northwestern frontier of Tyrol, along the Boite River in the northeastern Dolomites, in the Carnic and Julian Alps, and on the Isonzo front-were practically restricted to artillery duels. Only occasional, and then but very local infantry engagements took place, none of which had any particular influence on general conditions in these various sectors. However, as the Italian counteroffensive in the Trentino progressed, there developed from time to time minor operations along the other parts of the front. Quite a number of these were initiated by the AustroHungarians, undoubtedly in the hopes that they might thereby reduce the Italian pressure on their newly gained successes in the Trentino. Others found their origin on the Italian side, which at all times attempted to avail itself of every opportunity to extend and strengthen its positions anywhere along the front. And as the Austrian resistance against the Italian counteroffensive stiffened and showed no signs of abatement, General Cadorna, in undertaking operations in other sectors of the front than the Trentino, was undoubtedly influenced by motives similar to those guiding his opponents. He, too, hoped to impress his adversary
sufficiently by minor operations in sectors unconnected with the Trentino, to reduce their strength there.
Considerable light is thrown upon the organization of the Italian army, which made it possible to carry on successfully these operations, in the following article from the pen of the special correspondent of the London “Times”:
"I have been allowed to visit the offices of the general staff at army headquarters and those of the administrative services at another point within the war zone. This is not a favorable moment for describing how the army machinery works; but there is no harm done in saying that all these services appear to run smoothly, have good men at their head, and produce good results.
“I was particularly struck by the maps turned out. They do great credit to the Military Geographical Institute at Florence, and to the officers at headquarters who revise the maps as new information pours in. All the frontiers have been well surveyed and mapped on scales of 1:25,000, 1:50,000, 1:100,000, and 1:200,000. These maps are very clear and good. I like best the 1:100,000, which is issued to all officers, and on which operation orders are based. The photographs are also very fine, and the panoramas excellent, while the airmen's photographs, and the plans compiled from them, are quite in the front rank.
“The service of information at headquarters also appears to me to be good. There are more constant changes in all the Italian staffs than we should consider desirable, and officers pass very rapidly from one employment to another, but in spite of this practice the information is well kept up, and the knowledge of the enemy's dispositions is up to standard, considering the extraordinary difficulty of following the really quite chaotic organization of the Austro-Hungarian forces.
"I am not sure that I like very much the liaison system in Italy. The comparatively young officers intrusted with it report direct to army headquarters, and on their reports the communiqués are usually based. These officers remind us of the missi dominici of the great Moltke, but on the whole I confess that the system does not appeal to me very much.
"All the rearward services of the army are united under the control of the intendant general, who is a big personage in Italy. He deals with movements, quarterings, railways, supply, munitions in transit, and, in fact, everything except drafts and aviation, both of which services come under the general staff. There is a representative of the intendant general in each army and army corps. An order of movement is repeated to the intendant general by telephone and he arranges for transport, food, and munitions.
“The means of transport include the railways, motor lorries, carts, pack mules, and porters. The railways have done well. They had 5,000 locomotives and 160,000 carriages available when war broke out, and on the two lines running through Venetia, they managed during the period of concentration to clear 120 trains a day. Between last May 17 and June 22, 1916, for the purposes of General Cadorna's operations in the Trentino, the railways carried 18,000 officers, 522,000 men, about 70,000 animals, and 16,000 vehicles, with nearly 900 guns. These figures have been given by the Italian press, so there is no harm done by alluding to them. The railway material is much better than I expected it to be, but coal is very dear.
"The motor lorries work well. There are three types in usethe heavy commercial cars, the middleweight lorries, which carry over a couple of tons, and the lightweights, taking about one and a half tons. These lorries form an army service. Each army park has a group of lorries for each army corps forming part of the army, and each group has two sections for each division. The motor cars of the commanders and staffs are good. I traveled several thousand miles in them, and having covered 300 miles one day and 350 another, am prepared to give a good mark to Italian motor-car manufacturers, and also to Italian roads and Italian chauffeurs.
"I may also point out that the army has hitherto administered the Austrian districts which have been occupied on various parts of the front, and has had to deal with agriculture, roads, births, deaths, marriages, police, and a great many other civil matters. As I had once seen a French corps of cavalry farming nearly
5,000 acres of land I was prepared to see the Italian army capable of following suit; but I fancy that if Signor Bissolati is to take over all these civil duties General Porro will be far from dis pleased.
"There is the little matter of the 4,000 ladies who remain at Cortina d'Ampezzo while their men are away fighting in the Austrian ranks, and there are such questions as those of the Aquileia treasures, which have fortunately been preserved intact. I must confess that it is a novelty and a pleasure to enter an enemy's territory and sit down in a room marked Militär Wachtzimmer, with all the enemy's emblems on the walls, but on the whole I liked best the advice evitare di fumare esplosioni painted by some Italian wag on an Austrian guardhouse, and possibly intended as a hint to Austro-German diplomacy in the future.
“The Italians regard Austria as we regard Germany, and Germany as we regard Austria. Austria is the enemy, but at the same time, while every crime is attributed to Austria on slight suspicion, I find no unworthy depreciation of Austrian soldiers. I am told that while Austrian discipline is very severe, and the officer's revolver is ever quick to maintain it, the Austrian private soldier has a sense of deep loyalty toward his emperor, and that this is a personal devotion which will not easily be transferred to a successor. In meeting the Kaiserjäger so often the Italians perhaps see Austria's best, but the fact remains that the Italian has a good word for the Austrian as a soldier, and that I did not see many signs of such willful and shameless vandalism by the Austrians as has disgraced the name of Germany in Belgium and in France. Even towns which are or have been between the contending armies have not, I think, been willfully destroyed, but they have naturally suffered when one army or the other has used the town as a pivot of defense.
“The officers who have to keep the tally of the Austrian forces and to locate all the divisions have my deepest sympathy. Long ago the Austrian army corps ceased to contain the old divisions of peace times, but one now finds army corps with as many as four divisions, while the division may be composed of anything from two to eight battalions. A certain number of the divisions reckoned to be against the Italians on the whole front are composed of dubious elements, and there are some sixty Austrian battalions of rifle clubmen.
“The Austrians shift regiments about in such apparently haphazard fashion that it is hard to keep track of them. They may take half a dozen battalions from different regiments and call it a mountain group. In a week or two they will break it up and distribute the battalions elsewhere. They usually follow up their infantry with so-called march battalions, but whether these bat talions are 100 or 1,000 strong seems quite uncertain. Some surprise occurs elsewhere, and away go some of the march battalions. They may lose prisoners, say, on the Russian front, and the Russians naturally believe that the regiment and the division to which the regiment belongs are all on the Russian front, whereas only one weak battalion of drafts may be there and all the rest may still be against the Italians. The Austrians also take a number of regiments from a division and send them elsewhere, leaving a mere skeleton of the divisional command behind.
“For these reasons one must regard with a good deal of scepticism any estimate which professes to give an accurate distribution list of the Austrian army. Also it is difficult to believe that any real esprit de corps can remain when such practices are common, and we are reduced to the belief that the only real soldier of the army is the personal devotion to the emperor of which I have already written.
“I could not find time to study the Italian air service, but foreign officers with the army speak well of it. The Austrian airmen deserve praise. They watched us daily and bombed with pleasing regularity.
"My view of the war on the Italian front is that Italy is in it with her whole heart, and has both the will and the means to exercise increasing pressure on Austria, whom she is subjecting to a serious strain along 400 miles of difficult country. I think that few people in England appreciate the special and serious difficulties which confront both combatants along the Alpine
S-War St. 5