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'Allies are a Tiresome Lot' - The British Army in Italy in the First World War, John Dillon

'Allies are a Tiresome Lot' - The British Army in Italy in the First World War, John Dillon



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'Allies are a Tiresome Lot' - The British Army in Italy in the First World War, John Dillon

'Allies are a Tiresome Lot' - The British Army in Italy in the First World War, John Dillon

The Italian Expeditionary Force is one of the less familiar parts of the British war effort of the First World War. Although it gets mentioned in most wider accounts of the war, its actual role in the fighting in Italy is rarely examined in much detail other than in specialised works. There are now some good studies of the actual fighting carried out by the IEF - a defensive battle around Asiago and its participation in the battle of Vittorio Veneto. This book doesn't look at the actual battles fought by the British in Italy in any great detail, but instead focuses on a variety of themes - morale, discipline, relationship with the Italians and so on. The battles aren't ignored and several key events are examined, but largely to explore other topics.

The overall British attitude to the Italians changed dramatically over time. In 1914-15 one of the main aims of British foreign policy was to get Italy to enter the war, but once she was in the British military didn't really appreciate the difficulties faced by the Italians on their mountainous fronts, or the amount of casualties they had suffered during the many battles of the Isonzo. The attitude of the high command and of the soldiers to their allies is a key part of this study,

The author does a good job of comparing the conditions on the Italian and Western Fronts, using the available statistics to examine the level of punishments, the types of crimes being committed, the wounds suffered and so on. He then goes beyond the bare figures to look at what they might actually mean - one example being the greater number of accidental wounds suffered on the Italian front, which he suggests were caused by rock splinters being thrown up by enemy shelling. The problems of maintaining morale and discipline on a front that was a long way from home, not the centre of public attention, and generally much quieter than the Western Front take up much of the space.

I would suggest that this book is best read alongside one of the more traditional narratives of the British involvement in Italy in 1917-18, in which case it will very usefully fill the gaps, and give a wider understanding of the problems faced by the British in Italy, and by their Italian allies.

Chapters
1 - Italy's war prior to Caporetto: 'The all-important thing is to secure Italy's signature to the alliance'
2 - The dispatch of British divisions: 'It was like entering another world'
3 - Working with the Italians: 'Allies are a tiresome lot'
4 - The Medical Services in the IEF: 'I am in good health at present'
5 - Maintaining morale: 'Football was played during the morning'
6 - Crime and punishment: 'In war kid-glove methods cannot always be employed'
7 - The Austrian attack, June 1918: 'It was exciting when they came over the top'
8 - British participation in the Battle of Vittorio Veneto: 'A conscious thrill of victory'
9 - Post-armistice and demobilisation: 'It's about time we all got home'
10 - Conclusions

Author: John Dillon
Edition: Hardcover
Pages: 216
Publisher: Helion
Year: 2015



‘Allies are a Tiresome Lot’: The British Army in the First World War

This, the 12 th in the ever excellent Wolverhampton Military Series, published by Helion, is another good overview of Britain’s relative poorly covered involvement the war on the Italian Front during the Great War. It is no simple battle narrative: the two successful actions in which the British Army was involved, one defensive and effective, the other offensive - which although highly effective gained little thanks or recognition from the Italian - are covered concisely - in two chapters.

After an introduction to Italians’ politically motivated entry into the war against Austria-Hungary, and its stuttering performance at virtually every level of the army m until change of high command and the arrival of British and French support, John Dillon evaluates the internal aspects of British contingent in Italy led initially by Cavan, then Plumer, and finally, after its reduction in size, Cavan again.

The majority of the work reveals the vast differences which British troops - all Western Front experienced - enjoyed, faced, or were forced to overcome. As well sound analysis of the political, strategic and command decisions, it highlights the highly efficient work of a medical service on top of its game in this less, for the British, fatal war than France and Flanders. The author also evaluates the particular problems and difficulties which the army faced in Italy - supported by extensive statistical analysis - how they were confronted and overcome. Long periods of relative inaction, lack of home leave - a five day journey at least – all created concern about morale. Concerns were overcome only through constant vigilance by commanders - including a clearly more forgiving attitude to discipline than in France and Flanders – and by extensive organised activities, sport and by concert parties. Their value was shown in letters home, in which, inevitably, the soldiery groused to doctorate level. Always the letters seem to reflect the Tommy’s attitude -“we’re ‘ere because we’re ‘ere” – the strange food, foreigners, places, conditions and wine (made worse by the lack of beer).

Although the transfer of the divisions to France was initially popular in the ranks, the differences in the IEF’s war were many and various. Frequently, boredom became endemic for officers and other ranks alike. Nevertheless, casualties and deaths were proportionately fewer than in France and Flanders. Beyond that muddy morass, in Italy explosives replaced spades and entrenching tools to create dug outs and casualties were frequently caused by high velocity stone shards rather than shrapnel and shell splinters. Whilst, not unusually in modern histories, maps are wanting, photographs are small, in-page. Yet, John Dillon’s book another valuable, highly readable and sensibly priced addition to the Helion/Wolverhampton Military Series deserving of recommendation.

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'Allies are a Tiresome Lot' - The British Army in Italy in the First World War, John Dillon - History

The year 2014 saw the start of four years of centenaries associated with the First World War. In the decades since that conflict ended there have been many books, plays, films and television programs which have variously characterized the war as &lsquosenseless&rsquo and &lsquofutile&rsquo. In more recent years revisionist historians have attempted to &lsquocorrect&rsquo this portrayal it was a war that Britain had to be join to thwart German hegemonic ambitions, and British soldiers were not needlessly sacrificed on the wire of Flanders by Chateau Generals. Whether the reader prefers the Blackadder or the revisionist learning curve narrative of the war, it is invariably viewed through the prism of the Western Front. In so doing the war becomes a north-European event rather than one of global scope, with the mud of Passchendaele as the paradigm for the experience of all British soldiers.

Although Italy lost as many men as Britain (as a percentage of the population), its perceived status as the least of the Great Powers may account for its near absence from British histories of the war. This book details the steps by which Italy became a belligerent alongside Britain and France, rather than remain an ally of Germany and Austria-Hungary within the Triple Alliance. However, having elected to fight with the Entente &ndash but not declaring war on Germany until 1916 &ndash Italy effectively waged a &lsquoseparate&rsquo war, much to the frustration of the Allies. Then, in October 1917, the Italians suffered a crushing defeat when the Austro-German assault at Caporetto smashed the Isonzo front now the British and the French had to send divisions from Flanders to support their southern ally.

Using official documents and reports, as well as the personal letters and accounts of individual soldiers, this book draws out the demonstrable differences in the experience of those Tommies who fought on the Western and Italian fronts. But Italian military and political leaders did not make it easy for their allies to work alongside them. In the words of Sir William Robertson, &lsquoAllies are a tiresome lot&rsquo, and this account outlines why, for him and Sir Douglas Haig, their Latin ally fell into that camp.

Following the war, and the coming to power of Mussolini and the Fascists, Italian military historians were perceived by their British colleagues to have overemphasized their own country&rsquos achievements, while playing down those of their British and French allies. This, and their alliance on the side of Germany in the Second World War, may also account for Italy&rsquos near absence from British histories of the Great War. This book turns a spotlight on a theater of the war away from the Western Front it broadens the narrative beyond the mud and flat farmland of Flanders and recognizes the experience of those who fought and fell so much closer to Venice than to Ypres.

About The Author

John Dillon joined the RAF in 1963 and after some years as an apprentice and a Cranwell Cadet, he flew as a navigator on Vulcan bombers. He left the service in 1976 for a 30-year career in computers. Early retirement in 2005 was an opportunity to study for a history degree at Reading a First was followed by an MA and a PhD. His previous books (both with Helion) are Allies are a Tiresome Lot. The British Army in Italy in the First World War, and Battalions at War. The York and Lancaster Regiment in the First World War. John and his wife live in Berkshire where retirement allows time for his photography, military history, and travel.

REVIEWS

&ldquoThis is a well-structured book, combining academic rigour with a leavening of the human element, and informed by judicious viewing of the ground and how a &lsquoforgotten&rsquo front was and is commemorated. Another Helion success.&rdquo

- Newsletter of the Society of Friends of the National Army Museum

&ldquo &hellip This is a serious work, well researched and presented. He draws on a plethora of primary source material to provide not only the strategic perspective but also the soldier&rsquos narrative, weaving in many firsthand accounts into his writing. Helion has maintained its high standard of quality with the production value of this work.&rdquo

- War History Online

&ldquo &hellip A useful and readable contribution to the literature on the Great War&hellip&rdquo

- Journal of the Society for Army Historical Research

'Allies are a Tiresome Lot' - The British Army in Italy in the First World War, John Dillon - History

The year 2014 saw the start of four years of centenaries associated with the First World War. In the decades since that conflict ended there have been many books, plays, films and television programs which have variously characterized the war as &lsquosenseless&rsquo and &lsquofutile&rsquo. In more recent years revisionist historians have attempted to &lsquocorrect&rsquo this portrayal it was a war that Britain had to be join to thwart German hegemonic ambitions, and British soldiers were not needlessly sacrificed on the wire of Flanders by Chateau Generals. Whether the reader prefers the Blackadder or the revisionist learning curve narrative of the war, it is invariably viewed through the prism of the Western Front. In so doing the war becomes a north-European event rather than one of global scope, with the mud of Passchendaele as the paradigm for the experience of all British soldiers. Although Italy lost as many men as Britain (as a percentage of the population), its perceived status as the least of the Great Powers may account for its near absence from British histories of the war. This book details the steps by which Italy became a belligerent alongside Britain and France, rather than remain an ally of Germany and Austria-Hungary within the Triple Alliance. However, having elected to fight with the Entente – but not declaring war on Germany until 1916 – Italy effectively waged a &lsquoseparate&rsquo war, much to the frustration of the Allies. Then, in October 1917, the Italians suffered a crushing defeat when the Austro-German assault at Caporetto smashed the Isonzo front now the British and the French had to send divisions from Flanders to support their southern ally. Using official documents and reports, as well as the personal letters and accounts of individual soldiers, this book draws out the demonstrable differences in the experience of those Tommies who fought on the Western and Italian fronts. But Italian military and political leaders did not make it easy for their allies to work alongside them. In the words of Sir William Robertson, &lsquoAllies are a tiresome lot&rsquo, and this account outlines why, for him and Sir Douglas Haig, their Latin ally fell into that camp. Following the war, and the coming to power of Mussolini and the Fascists, Italian military historians were perceived by their British colleagues to have overemphasized their own country&rsquos achievements, while playing down those of their British and French allies. This, and their alliance on the side of Germany in the Second World War, may also account for Italy&rsquos near absence from British histories of the Great War. This book turns a spotlight on a theater of the war away from the Western Front it broadens the narrative beyond the mud and flat farmland of Flanders and recognizes the experience of those who fought and fell so much closer to Venice than to Ypres. Trade Books>Hardcover>Military History>WWI>WWI, Helion and Company Core >2

[ED: Hardcover], [PU: Helion & Company Limited], The year 2014 saw the start of four years of centenaries associated with the First World War. In the decades since that conflict ended there have been many books, plays, films and television programmes which have variously characterised the war as senseless' and futile'. In more recent years revisionist historians have attempted to correct' this portrayal it was a war that Britain had to be join to thwart German hegemonic ambitions, and British soldiers were not needlessly sacrificed on the wire of Flanders by Chateau Generals. Whether the reader prefers the Blackadder or the revisionist learning curve narrative of the war, it is invariably viewed through the prism of the Western Front. In so doing the war becomes a north-European event rather than one of global scope, with the mud of Passchendaele as the paradigm for the experience of all British soldiers. Although Italy lost as many men as Britain (as a percentage of the population), its perceived status as the least of the Great Powers may account for its near absence from British histories of the war. This book details the steps by which Italy became a belligerent alongside Britain and France, rather than remain an ally of Germany and Austria-Hungary within the Triple Alliance. However, having elected to fight with the Entente- but not declaring war on Germany until 1916 - Italy effectively waged a separate' war, much to the frustration of the Allies. Then, in October 1917, the Italians suffered a crushing defeat when the Austro-German assault at Caporetto smashed the Isonzo front now the British and the French had to send divisions from Flanders to support their southern ally. Using official documents and reports, as well as the personal letters and accounts of individual soldiers, this book draws out the demonstrable differences in the experience of those Tommies who fought on the Western and Italian fronts. But Italian military and political leaders did not make it easy for their allies to work alongside them. In the words of Sir William Robertson,Allies are a tiresome lot', and this account outlines why, for him and Sir Douglas Haig, their Latin ally fell into that camp. Following the war, and the coming to power of Mussolini and the Fascists, Italian military historians were perceived by their British colleagues to have over-emphasised their own country's achievements, while playing down those of their British and French allies. This, and their alliance on the side of Germany in the Seconf World War, may also account for Italy's near absence from British histories of the Great War. This book turns a spotlight on a theatre of the war away from the Western Front it broadens the narrative beyond the mud and flat farmland of Flanders and recognises the experience of those who fought and fell so much closer to Venice than to Ypres., NL, [SC: 4.95], Neuware, gewerbliches Angebot, 224, Selbstabholung und Barzahlung, Banküberweisung, Internationaler Versand

[EAN: 9781910777329], HB 216 pages 15 b/w photos, 6 tables, 3 B&W mapsPublished Price £29.95 The year 2014 saw the start of four years of centenaries associated with the First World War. In the decades since that conflict ended there have been many books, plays, films and television programmes which have variously characterised the war as ‘senseless’ and ‘futile’. In more recent years revisionist historians have attempted to ‘correct’ this portrayal it was a war that Britain had to join to thwart German hegemonic ambitions, and British soldiers were not needlessly sacrificed on the wire of Flanders by Chateau-based Generals. Whether the reader prefers the Blackadder or the revisionist learning curve narrative of the war, it is invariably viewed through the prism of the Western Front. In so doing the war becomes a north-European event rather than one of global scope, with the mud of Passchendaele as the paradigm for the experience of all British soldiers. Although Italy lost as many men as Britain (as a percentage of the population), its perceived status as the least of the Great Powers may account for its near absence from British histories of the war. This book details the steps by which Italy became a belligerent alongside Britain and France, rather than remain an ally of Germany and Austria-Hungary within the Triple Alliance. However, having elected to fight with the Entente â€" but not declaring war on Germany until 1916 â€" Italy effectively waged a ‘separate’ war, much to the frustration of the Allies. Then, in October 1917, the Italians suffered a crushing defeat when the Austro-German assault at Caporetto smashed the Isonzo front now the British and the French had to send divisions from Flanders to support their southern ally. Using official documents and reports, as well as the personal letters and accounts of individual soldiers, this book draws out the demonstrable differences in the experience of those Tommies who fought on the Western and Italian fronts. But Italian military and political leaders did not make it easy for their allies to work alongside them. In the words of Sir William Robertson, Chief of the Imperial General Staff, ‘Allies are a tiresome lot’, and this account outlines why, for him and Sir Douglas Haig, their Latin ally fell into that camp. Following the war, and the coming to power of Mussolini and the Fascists, Italian military historians were perceived by their British colleagues to have over-emphasised their own country’s achievements, while playing down those of their British and French allies. This, and their alliance on the side of Germany in the Second World War, may also account for Italy’s near absence from British histories of the Great War. This book turns a spotlight on a theatre of the war away from the Western Front it broadens the narrative beyond the mud of Flanders and recognises the experience of those who fought and fell so much closer to Venice than to Ypres.

[EAN: 9781910777329], HB 216 pages 15 b/w photos, 6 tables, 3 B&W mapsPublished Price £29.95 The year 2014 saw the start of four years of centenaries associated with the First World War. In the decades since that conflict ended there have been many books, plays, films and television programmes which have variously characterised the war as ‘senseless’ and ‘futile’. In more recent years revisionist historians have attempted to ‘correct’ this portrayal it was a war that Britain had to join to thwart German hegemonic ambitions, and British soldiers were not needlessly sacrificed on the wire of Flanders by Chateau-based Generals. Whether the reader prefers the Blackadder or the revisionist learning curve narrative of the war, it is invariably viewed through the prism of the Western Front. In so doing the war becomes a north-European event rather than one of global scope, with the mud of Passchendaele as the paradigm for the experience of all British soldiers. Although Italy lost as many men as Britain (as a percentage of the population), its perceived status as the least of the Great Powers may account for its near absence from British histories of the war. This book details the steps by which Italy became a belligerent alongside Britain and France, rather than remain an ally of Germany and Austria-Hungary within the Triple Alliance. However, having elected to fight with the Entente â€" but not declaring war on Germany until 1916 â€" Italy effectively waged a ‘separate’ war, much to the frustration of the Allies. Then, in October 1917, the Italians suffered a crushing defeat when the Austro-German assault at Caporetto smashed the Isonzo front now the British and the French had to send divisions from Flanders to support their southern ally. Using official documents and reports, as well as the personal letters and accounts of individual soldiers, this book draws out the demonstrable differences in the experience of those Tommies who fought on the Western and Italian fronts. But Italian military and political leaders did not make it easy for their allies to work alongside them. In the words of Sir William Robertson, Chief of the Imperial General Staff, ‘Allies are a tiresome lot’, and this account outlines why, for him and Sir Douglas Haig, their Latin ally fell into that camp. Following the war, and the coming to power of Mussolini and the Fascists, Italian military historians were perceived by their British colleagues to have over-emphasised their own country’s achievements, while playing down those of their British and French allies. This, and their alliance on the side of Germany in the Second World War, may also account for Italy’s near absence from British histories of the Great War. This book turns a spotlight on a theatre of the war away from the Western Front it broadens the narrative beyond the mud of Flanders and recognises the experience of those who fought and fell so much closer to Venice than to Ypres.


". a damn nice thing . the nearest run thing you ever saw in your life . ' A Peninsular and Waterloo Anthology. Published 2015.

The soft-back, A4 sized book is illustrated extensively in colour across its 175 pages and includes:

  • The hitherto unpublished letters of the Luard brothers who fought in the 4th Dragoons in Spain and Portugal.
  • A study of the Daniel Maclise painting 'The Meeting of Wellington and Blucher after the Battle of Waterloo'.
  • Eight illustrated essays on Waterloo artefacts from the National Army Museum collection.
  • An examination of the invention and operation of the Shrapnel shell in Spain and the Netherlands, 1808-1815.
  • Two new accounts of the Battle of Waterloo.
  • Schematic artwork by Bryan Fosten of all of the British regiments at Waterloo.

All members received a copy as part of their subscription at the end of 2015, but anyone interested in the Napoleonic Wars may wish to acquire a copy. It was very well received by members as the following comments indicate:

"' . a damn nice thing . ' is. Well done to the Society."

"Warmest congratulations to you and the contributors on the Waterloo Special . You have done a marvellous job."

"What a super surprise, the Christmas present just arrived from SAHR! . You have worked extremely hard to edit this excellent commemoration of Waterloo and I am sure that every member will enjoy it."

". congratulations on producing a magnificent publication, beautifully presented and illustrated . "


On 3 October 1914, newspapers ran a story describing how Sir Arthur du Cros MP had offered to the War Office to raise, equip and maintain a motor ambulance convoy. It was “probably to be commanded by Captain George du Cros and the drivers will be expert mechanics supplied by Mr. du Cros“. Sir Arthur [&hellip]

Background The 11th (Service) Battalion of the Royal Scots (Lothian Regiment) went to France under the command of 27th Infantry Brigade of 9th (Scottish) Division in May 1915. It had participated in the Battle of Loos in late September 1915 and after a period in the Ypres salient moved with the division to take over [&hellip]


The History Book Club discussion

Please use this thread to discuss all aspects of this offensive, all battles, etc.

One good book that discusses this offensive and front is:

I have mentioned the two books below in a number of other threads but if anyone is really interested in reading further about the Italian Front during WW1 I would highly recommend these two titles. The first book is by far one of the best books covering the Italian Front during WW1.

by John R. Schindler
Publisher blurb:
This title is an account of the struggle between the Austrian and Italian armies along the Isonzo River during WWI. The battles of Isonzo were ferocious and caused over 1.75 million casualties. Schindler contends that the Habsburg Empire lost the war for military and economic reasons.

by Mark Thompson
Publisher blurb:
The Western Front dominates our memories of the First World War. Yet a million and half men died in North East Italy in a war that need never have happened, when Italy declared war on the Habsburg Empire in May 1915. Led by General Luigi Cadorna, the most ruthless of all the Great War commanders, waves of Italian conscripts were sent charging up the limestone hills north of Trieste to be massacred by troops fighting to save their homelands. This is a great, tragic military history of a war that gave birth to fascism. Mussolini fought in these trenches, but so did many of the greatest modernist writers in Italian and German - Ungaretti, Gadda, Musil, Hemingway. It is through these accounts that Mark Thompson, with great skill and empathy, brings to life this forgotten conflict.

The famous Isonzo River I have been reading about. Yes, the monarchies did not fare well with World War I.

Thank you Aussie Rick for both adds. It is hard to fathom a million and a half men dying in North East Italy!

It is strange isn't it, it does appear to be a forgotten conflict of WW1 and I found the book by John Schindler such an eye-opener and a great account of the Italian Front. Well worth the effort to read but I think its a pretty expensive book.

The Italians were often ridiculed and yet a million and a half men died in North East Italy during the war what a tragedy and such a shame that because of bias or whatever the reason they were not given their due. So awful for so many. Gallipoli, Isonzo, Verdun, Somme, all had their horrible story and too many deaths.

Why is the book so expensive?

Hi Bentley, all those places, the names ring with a resonance to our ears don't they? I think the cost is due to the publisher, a very specialist publishing house whose titles are always very pricey. I think its also now out of print.

Those names do now for sure. Out of print and a specialist publishing house would raise prices for sure.

This is of course the thread where you can discuss the Battle of the Isonzo (which is really a series of 12 battles. ).

"Battles of the Isonzo" were a series of 12 battles between the Austria-Hungarian and Italian armies in World War I. They were fought along the Isonzo River on the eastern sector of the Italian Front between June 1915 and November 1917. Most of the battles were fought on the territory of modern Slovenia, and the remainder in Italy.

During the First World War, the Isonzo valley was part of the Alpine sector of the Italian Front, along which the armies of Italy and Austria-Hungary clashed.

It is known as the Soška fronta in Slovene and is usually translated as the Isonzo Front by historians.

This source has links to write-ups on all twelve battles:

Italian troops entrenched along the Isonzo river, World War I.

Here are another two books covering different aspects of the fighting on the Italian Front during WW1:

by John Wilks
Publishers blurb:
Rommel was but a lieutenant in 1917, assigned to one of the German mountain units sent to Italy for the new offensive. As the German and Austrian troops launched their surprise attack at Caporetto, Rommel often found himself in command of many times the number of troops normally led by one of his rank. Rommel led mountain infantry and machine-gunners in many daring advances over some of the world's roughest terrain, on one occasion taking 9,000 prisoners in a single day. Rommel came away from the campaign with Germany's most coveted decoration, and had laid the foundation of a legend.

by J Wilks
Publishers blurb:
After the Italian defeat at Caporetto, a British Expeditionary Force under General Plumer was despatched from France. This account describes the campaign which ended after the victory at Vittorio Veneto over the Austrians.

Here is a new book covering Caporetto and the Isonzo Campaign of WW1:

by John Macdonald
Description:
From May 1915 to October 1917 the armies of Italy and the Austro-Hungarian empire were locked into a series of twelve battles along the River Isonzo, a sixty-mile front from the Alps to the Adriatic. The campaign was fought in the most appalling terrain for combat, with horrendous casualties on both sides, often exceeding those of the more famous battles of the Great War. The twelfth and final battle, Caporetto, resulted in a devastating defeat for Italy and led to one of the greatest breakthroughs achieved during the entire conflict. Yet this massive struggle is too often neglected in histories of the war which focus on the fighting on the Western and Eastern Fronts. John Macdonald, in this accessible and highly illustrated account, aims to set the record straight. His description of the Isonzo battles, of the battlefields and of the atrocious conditions in which the soldiers lived and fought is supported by a graphic selection of original photographs that record the terrible reality of the conflict. The impact of the intervention of British, French and German troops is covered, as are the parts played by famous individuals - among them Rommel, Mussolini, Badoglio and Cadorna, the notorious Italian commander in chief. But it is the front-line experience of the common soldiers on both sides that is most powerfully portrayed. Caporetto and the Isonzo Campaign gives a fascinating insight into a conflict that was a pivotal moment in the history of Italy, Austria and the Balkans.

American Lions: The 332nd Infantry Regiment in Italy in World War I

Synopsis:
Told here is the riveting story of the 332nd U.S. Infantry Regiment in the Army in World War I. As Pershing's 'Propaganda Regiment' they were the only American regiment assigned to Italy, where they formed a phantom army that helped defeat the Austro-Hungarian Empire. The 332nd fought in the Vittorio-Veneto Campaign and following the armistice, served in the occupation of Austria, Dalmatia, and Montenegro.

The Forgotten Front: The British Campaign in Italy 1917-18

Synopsis:
The importance of the Italian front in the First World War is often overlooked. Nor is it realised that British troops fought in Italy. The Forgotten Front demonstrates Italy's vital contribution to the Allied effort, including Lloyd George's plan to secure overall victory by an offensive on this front. Although his grand scheme was frustrated, British troops were committed to the theatre and played a real part in holding the Italian line and in the final victory of 1918. George H. Cassar, in an account that is original, scholarly and readable, covers both the strategic considerations and the actual fighting.

Faced by stalemate on the Western Front, Lloyd George argued strongly in 1917 for a joint Allied campaign in Italy to defeat Austria-Hungary. Knocking Germany's principal ally out of the war would lead in turn to the collapse of Germany itself. While his plan had real attractions, it also begged many questions. These allowed Haig and Robertson to join the French high command to thwarting it. The disastrous Italian defeat at Caporetto in October 1917 led, however, to the deployment of a British corps in Italy under Sir Herbert Plumer, which bolstered the Italians at a critical juncture. Subsequently led by the Earl of Cavan, British troops fought gallantly at the battle of Asiago in February to March 1918 and contributed significantly to the final defeat of Austria-Hungary at Vittorio Veneto in October.

Battles in the Alps: A History of the Italian Front of the First World War

Synopsis:
Far removed from the bloody battles of attrition in the rain and mud of northern France, there raged another desperate struggle between two of Europe’s strongest yet most underrated powers, the Kingdom of Italy and the Empire of Austria-Hungary. Here, along a twisting, curving 475-mile-long battle line, fierce fighting was conducted among the lofty peaks and rugged countryside of the continent’s most notorious mountain range, replete with all the difficulties of weather and the awesome challenges of movement and supply. Contingents of troops from all of the major warring powers eventually became involved in this war of extremes. Before it was over, two and one-half million casualties had been suffered and the map of Europe had been changed forever. Battles in the Alps chronicles this important theatre of the Great War, and explains in text and in maps the consequences of Italy’s entry into hostilities and the changes resultant from its aftermath. Related incidents in the skies over the Front and on the waves of the adjacent Adriatic Sea are also narrated.

Mussolini in the First World War: The Journalist, The Soldier, The Fascist

How did Mussolini come to fascism? Standard accounts of the dictator have failed to explain satisfactorily the transition from his pre-World War I "socialism" to his post-war fascism. This controversial new book is the first to examine Mussolini's political trajectory during the Great War through his journalistic writings, speeches and war diary. The author argues that the 1914-18 conflict provided the catalyst for Mussolini to clarify his deep-rooted nationalist tendencies. He demonstrates that Mussolini's interventionism was already anti-socialist and anti-democratic in the early autumn of 1914 and shows how in and through the experience of the conflict the future Duce fine-tuned his authoritarian vision of Italy in a state of permanent mobilization for war.

I'm looking for a pre-1923 (public domain) english language text (novel or poetry) of the Italian involvement in WWI for a theatre piece I am devising. Any suggestions?

Simon, I couldn't find much, but these may be of use:

Touring the Italian Front 1917-1918: British, American, French & German Forces in Northern Italy

The guide describes the ground and operations covered by the British, French and US Expeditionary Forces deployed from France to the area North of Venice between November 1917 and Spring 1919. These Forces supported the Italians after their disastrous defeat at Caporetto and helped stem the Austrian and German onslaught.This is the first guide to the Allied contribution and the Piave Defence line. The guide also covers the rear areas - supply and repair services, training and recreation. It also describes the movement to Italy and subsequent service and care of the 16,000 British and 20,000 French horses and mules.

The Beginning of Futility:Diplomatic, Political, Military and Naval Events on the Austro-Italian Front in the First World War 1914-1917

Based on half a century of interviews with surviving veterans, research trips to official archives in Vienna, Rome, London, Paris, and Berlin, many visits to the sites of battle, and a close reading of secondary sources, this work takes the reader on almost a day-by-day journey alongside the Italian peasants in uniform, and their Austrian and German counterparts, who fought and died in the mountains of Northern Italy during the Great War. The author recounts the complicated military events from the perspective of both sides, assessing the strategic and tactical decisions that led to such carnage on this often overlooked front in the war.

Futility Ending in Disaster :Diplomatic, Military, Aviation and Social Events in The First World War On The Austro-Italian Front 1917

As noted in Volume I (The Beginning of Futility) after the Allies had induced Italy to join them against the Central Powers, the Italian Army used the lives of its illiterate peasant fanti as coin advancing to finally endanger Austro-Hungarian defenses. By August, 1917, Vienna’s generals were convinced that with German help they had to counterattack while Gen. Eric Ludendorff was wary of giving assistance. Finally he was won over after hearing a bold and daring plan later known as blitzkrieg. Italian Intelligence warnings of an enemy offensive were discarded as it was “too late in the year.”

On October 24,1917, Austro-German forces unleashed the first blitzkrieg battle of the century which the Italian Army as the Anglo-French in France in May 1940 could not handle. Using the four commandments of blitzkrieg (deception, infiltration, isolation , annihilation), they quickly advanced 100 miles through the confused Italian defenses halting at the Piave River and adjacent mountains. Unable to handle the assault, many disheartened troops had fled, but later, with heroic deeds, halted the enemy advance. Notwithstanding the great victory, Vienna was negotiating a separate peace with Lloyd George and President Woodrow Wilson both of whom who did not believe the Allies could win.

Disaster Ending in Final Victory: The Dissolution of te Astro-Hungarian Empire:Diplomatic, Military, Aviation and Social Events in The First World War On The Austro-Italian Front 1918

The Beginning of Futility and Futility ending in Disaster discussed Italy's joining the allies and going on the offensive against Austria-Hungary. With Berlin's assistance deep penetrations were made into Italian territory resulting in allied troops coming to Italy's assistance while secret negotiations for a separate peace with Vienna between U.S. President Wilson and England's Prime Minister Lloyd George failed. A repeat Habsburg offensive was halted followed by the issuance of the Manifesto which would place the empire's ethnics as independent nations under the Habsburg crown a move which led to the disintegration of the Habsburg Army and Empire.

An upcoming book:
Release date: July 19, 2015

Allies are a Tiresome Lot: The British Army in Italy in the First World War

The year 2014 saw the start of four years of centenaries associated with the First World War. In the decades since that conflict ended there have been many books, plays, films and television programs which have variously characterized the war as ‘senseless’ and ‘futile’. In more recent years revisionist historians have attempted to ‘correct’ this portrayal it was a war that Britain had to be join to thwart German hegemonic ambitions, and British soldiers were not needlessly sacrificed on the wire of Flanders by Chateau Generals. Whether the reader prefers the Blackadder or the revisionist learning curve narrative of the war, it is invariably viewed through the prism of the Western Front. In so doing the war becomes a north-European event rather than one of global scope, with the mud of Passchendaele as the paradigm for the experience of all British soldiers.

Good adds, as usual, Jerome. Thanks.

Caporetto 1917: Victory or Defeat

The Battle of Caporetto in October 1917 was almost a catastrophic event for Italy. Eighty years after the event, this work reconsiders the meaning of that event in the wider framework of World War I. Following the Central Powers' breakthrough on the Isonzo front, there followed a huge collapse of the Italian army, which lost over half its men and material. Having suffered such losses, Italy was on the brink of total collapse. Yet, by December 1917, Italy had overcome the crisis and remained in the conflict. How did it manage to do this?

For Mario Morselli, the answer lies in the poor performance of the Central Empire's military leadership after the initial success of the offensive. In the weeks following the breakthrough, the Austro-Hungarian and German generals proved unable to surmount a series of strategic situations, which negated the value of the original breakthrough. Morselli notes that forcing a surrender was a secondary war aim for the German generals the recall of German troops to the Western Front was crucial to Italy's survival.

Having read several books about Caporetto, this sounds quite interesting.

Jerome wrote: "The Beginning of Futility:Diplomatic, Political, Military and Naval Events on the Austro-Italian Front in the First World War 1914-1917

[bookcover:The Beginning of Futility:Diplomatic, Political. "

Only avaliabe as an ebook ?

Dimitri wrote: "Jerome wrote: "The Beginning of Futility:Diplomatic, Political, Military and Naval Events on the Austro-Italian Front in the First World War 1914-1917

[bookcover:The Beginning of Futility:Diploma. "

According to Amazon, print copies do exist.

I am cross-posting this from another topic.

It is amazing that so much remains of the Italian Front of WWI. This book would be an excellent guide to anyone going to Italy or to the armchair historian.

The Guardians of Silence: A Photographic Journey of the Italian Front in WWI

The front that stretched between Italy and Austria in the first World War It was one of the most impressively fortified in the whole theater, encompassing substantial fortresses on both sides of the Great Plateaus of Trentino.

A century later, the front remains remarkably visible—worn by time and neglect, but nonetheless standing as a marker of the hostilities along what has for decades now been a peaceful border. Inspired by the centennial, photographer Andrea Contrini set out to explore the remnants of the front, and the result is this stunning full-color book. From the heights of crumbling fortress walls to the depths of forgotten caves, Contrini captures the physical remains of the deadly history of the region—all set amid breathtaking mountain scenery. Through Contrini’s lens, the Italian-Austrian front, and by extension the experiences of the men who struggled and died there, comes to life once more, a reminder of the war’s incredible physical and human toll.

I would love to have this book, but the cover is in Italian. Do you know if the text is? Is there an English version?

I think there is. it is my understanding that if a book synopsis on GR is in English, then there is an English text volume.

An upcoming book:
Release date: August 19, 2018

Hell in the Trenches: Austro-Hungarian Stormtroopers and Italian Arditi in the Great War

The Austro-Hungarian Storm Troopers and the Italian Arditi of World War I were elite special forces charged with carrying out bold raids and daring attacks. These units were comprised of hand picked soldiers that possessed above average courage, physical prowess as well as specific combat skills. Many military historians have argued that World War I was mainly a static war of positional attrition, but these special shock troops where responsible for developing breakthrough tactics of both fire and movement that marked a significant change in strategy. Both armies used the special assault detachments to capture prisoners, conduct raids behind enemy lines and attack in depth in order to prepare the way for a broad infantry breakthrough. The book traces the development of Austrian and Italian storm assault tactics in the context of trench warfare waged in the mountainous front of the Alps and the rocky hills of the Carso plateau. It not only examines their innovative tactics but also their adoption of vastly improved new weapons such as light machine-guns, super-heavy artillery, flame throwers, hand grenades, daggers, steel clubs and poison gas.

This book offers a historically dense narration of the organizational development of the shock and assault troops, of their military operations and it also covers their combat methods. The bulk of the chapters are devoted to the historical reconstruction of the assault detachments combat missions between 1917-18 by utilizing previously unreleased archival sources such as Italian and Austrian war diaries, official manuals, divisional and High Command reports and the soldiers own recollections of the war. Finally, it offers a comprehensive description of their uniforms, equipment, and weapons, along with a large number of illustrations, maps and period photographs rarely seen.

This epic trial of military strength of these special storm troops cannot be properly understood without visiting, and walking, the battlefields. The appendix thus offers the reader a series of walks to visits key high mountain fortifications in the Italian Dolomities, many of which have attained almost legendary status.


BEF Mutinies in WWI

The US on the other hand had the manpower to bleed the Germans to death and the industrial capacity to take advantage of the newest tech (Like being able to with time mass produce tanks in a way that the other fighting powers just couldn't).

Except that virtually all the AEF's tanks, aircraft, machine guns and artillery had to be supplied by the Entente in 1917-18. Partly the result of emphasizing sending troops to Europe but also the result of capacity limitations in US industry. The US troops contribution was also hampered by an unwillingness to accept the tactics that had been developed by the British and French over the previous years, leading to the US 1st Army repeating the kind of mistakes the British made in 1916. Had the war gone on into 1919 then the US forces would doubtless have been the decisive factor and the British forces new that, which is one more reason why large scale mutinies amongst the British and Commonwealth troops was unlikely.

The Canadians and the Australians did make some pretty decisive contributions during the 100 Days, largely because of high quality leadership from Currie and Monash, both strongly supported by Haig, and benefitting greatly from the all arms approach the Entente had perfected by 1918.

Father Maryland

Except that virtually all the AEF's tanks, aircraft, machine guns and artillery had to be supplied by the Entente in 1917-18. Partly the result of emphasizing sending troops to Europe but also the result of capacity limitations in US industry. The US troops contribution was also hampered by an unwillingness to accept the tactics that had been developed by the British and French over the previous years, leading to the US 1st Army repeating the kind of mistakes the British made in 1916. Had the war gone on into 1919 then the US forces would doubtless have been the decisive factor and the British forces new that, which is one more reason why large scale mutinies amongst the British and Commonwealth troops was unlikely.

The Canadians and the Australians did make some pretty decisive contributions during the 100 Days, largely because of high quality leadership from Currie and Monash, both strongly supported by Haig, and benefitting greatly from the all arms approach the Entente had perfected by 1918.


This article aims to write the army transport mule, which has previously been neglected in the equine historiography of the conflict, into the story of the First World War. It does not aim to tell the entire story of the role of mules in the war, as this deserves fuller investigation. Instead, it focuses on how various British sources depicted the army transport mule and how the actual involvement and treatment of these animals on the Salonica Front accorded with these perceptions.

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Annual Booklist 2020-2021 : Andrew Lock

Andrew Lock is a PhD candidate at the University of Suffolk, researching the BEF&rsquos tactical progress in late 1916 and early 1917, with special focus on Fourth and Fifth Armies&rsquo pursuit of the German retreat to the Hindenburg Line. He is a battlefield guide, working with Anglia Tours, and has become a trustee of the Great War Group (https://greatwargroup.com/), a new organisation dedicated to promoting education and remembrance across all nations and theatres involved in the First World War.

With the hundredth anniversary of the Unknown Warrior being laid to rest in Westminster Abbey and the unveiling of the Cenotaph, we acknowledge that the centenary of the Great War is now very much over. While public perceptions of the Great War may not have altered significantly in the last six years, some excellent new work has been produced during that time to help our understanding of the conflict. Especially prominent during this period has been the literature coming from the University of Wolverhampton: here are a few that I have enjoyed reading and refer back to in my own research, plus one slightly older work which remains my favourite.

While it may be considered something of a cliché to start a modern Great War reading list with a Gary Sheffield title, there is no reason to see this as problematic. Though possibly not Sheffield&rsquos best-known work I recommend Command and Morale: The British Army on the Western Front 1914-1918 (Pen & Sword, 2014). With the better part of 25 years of reflecting on Forgotten Victory and everything that came along thereafter, Command and Morale is a work to which I habitually refer when considering the links between the generals and the men. It adeptly addresses controversial moments and individuals, and directs the scholar on to further useful and relevant material. In addressing morale, Sheffield analyses the emotional elements of the conflict in a manner which puts us closer to understanding what motivated the fighting men, and challenges the idea of Tommy Atkins as a hapless victim. While scholarly, the structure of the book leaves a more casual reader able to dip in and out, and so should not be seen as an exclusively academic work.

A book I was directed to after a Western Front Association branch talk, which has helped me to understand the BEF&rsquos manpower struggles, is Alison Hine&rsquos Refilling Haig&rsquos Armies: The Replacement of British Infantry Casualties on the Western Front, 1916-1918 (Helion, 2018). Hine helps explain concepts such as the process by which conscription was introduced, and provides a new perspective on the BEF&rsquos restructuring of early 1918. One feels, having read this work, that previously held ideas such as the War Office deliberately holding back men from travelling to the front, are overstated. Although the manpower problems for Britain&rsquos armies were severe and the demand for men across various government departments, as well as the Army, was huge, the systems in place for raising, training and deploying soldiers held up well. As such, this is a valuable piece of writing.

Through the centenary, and thankfully, continuing on afterwards, volumes focused on each year of the war have been produced by Helion and edited by Spencer Jones. At All Costs: The British Army on the Western Front 1916 (Helion, 2018) is the latest edition, with a 1917 volume on the way. 20 Authors contributed to At All Costs, with essays on subjects such as tactical analysis, logistics, training and commemoration. In a similar manner to Command and Morale, this gives what is a fairly hefty volume a &lsquobite-size&rsquo quality, while scholars will appreciate the high standards of research and astute summaries. For those who prefer their Great War action from a little earlier in the conflict, Stemming the Tide and Courage Without Glory cover the actions of 1914 and 1915 respectively, and are of similar style and quality.

Moving away from the Western Front briefly, the Italian front seems to have come more in to the public eye in recent times, possibly as a result of the ultimately unsuccessful efforts to have Walter Tull issued with a posthumous Military Cross for his bravery shown there in early 1918. While there are plenty of good reads on this theatre, John Dillon&rsquos &lsquoAllies Are A Tiresome Lot&rsquo: The British Army in Italy in the First World War (Helion, 2015) is a modern look at the myriad challenges facing the British force, including coalition friction, discipline, and medical services. Dillon addresses some of the long-held views about the pointlessness of the Vittorio Veneto campaign, and paints a picture of a somewhat less unpleasant existence for the British soldier, relative to his compatriots who had remained in France and Flanders.

Finally, the book which I see as being in no small part responsible for my fascination with early 1917 on the Western Front: Jonathan Nicholls&rsquos Cheerful Sacrifice (Leo Cooper, 1990). Nicholls makes good use of accounts to build the reader&rsquos connection to the action, this classic work on the Battle of Arras echoes the style of Middlebrook&rsquos The First Day on the Somme. As such, it is immensely readable and at times, quite emotional. Although Cheerful Sacrifice is now thirty years old, it remains the best account of the whole of the Arras campaign and reveals progress in the BEF from the previous year, but also shows that Haig&rsquos armies still had much to learn.

With that in mind, I&rsquod like to see more critical work on the first half of 1917, in particular the way we look at the Messines Ridge offensive. Although this offensive is traditionally viewed as having been successful, there are two aspects of Plumer&rsquos assault which leave questions unanswered: firstly, was there ever any discussion of quick capitalisation on a victory, in which case were the logistics of crossing the devastated zone considered? secondly, if was Messines Ridge was so important to an advance out of the Ypres salient, why was it not attacked as part of the breakout in 1918? I have no answers as yet, but if nobody gets there first, I plan to investigate once my other projects are complete!

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Researching Individuals in WW1 Records

You may first want to search the WW1 Draft registration cards for basic information on individuals (see Draft cards section below). Nearly all men between the ages of 18-45 registered during the years the draft was implemented, about 23% of the U.S. population.

If you are interested in researching military service records, this article will provide you with a good overview of military records at the National Archives.

African Americans - WW1

Blacks in the Military, resources compiled by NARA's Archives Library Information Center (ALIC)

Deaths - WW1

Draft Registration Cards - WWI

Background

The WWI draft registration cards consist of approximately 24,000,000 cards of men who registered for the draft, about 23% of the population in 1918. The cards are arranged by state. Not all of the men who registered for the draft actually served in the military, and not all who served in the military registered for the draft.

The WWI Selective Service System was in place from May, 1917 to May, 1919. There were 3 registrations:

  1. June 5, 1917 -- all men ages 21-31
  2. June 5, 1918 -- those who attained age 21 after June 5, 1917
  3. Sept. 12, 1918 -- all men ages 18-45

What Can You Find in the Cards?

While the 10-12 questions varied slightly between the 3 registrations, information one can find there generally includes:

  • full name
  • date and place of birth
  • race
  • citizenship status
  • occupation and place of employment
  • personal description
  • nearest relative (last two versions)
  • signature

The draft cards contain no information about an individual's military service. They are not service cards. Learn more about the draft registration cards

View Registration Cards Online

World War I Draft Registration Cards, digitized on the FamilySearch website (free)


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