The forgotten front: the British campaign in Italy, 1917-1918
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.
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Setting the Scene
The Conflict over Aid to Italy
Crisis in Italy
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10th Army 14th Corps 23rd Division 2nd Army 48th Division 4th Army 7th Division advance Allied Anglo-French artillery Asiago attack Austrian battalions battle Battle of Asiago bridge Brigade Brigadier-General British divisions British troops Cabinet Cadorna Caporetto Cavan to Wilson CIGS Comando Supremo conference defence Delme-Radcliffe Diaz divisions in Italy Edmonds and Davies enemy Fanshawe fighting Flanders flank Foch forces France front line George's German guns Haig papers Haig's Hankey diary Hankey papers headquarters High Command Honourable Artillery Company ibid infantry Isonzo Italian army Italian front Italy Italy's Lloyd George London machine-gun Major-General March miles military Monte Grappa Nivelle November October offensive Office operations Painleve Papadopoli Petain Piave Prime Minister Prince of Wales reinforcements reserve Robertson papers Robertson to Haig Rodd Royal Welch Fusiliers sector sent September 1917 soldiers Sonnino Staff strategy Supreme War Council telegram tion Trentino Vittorio Veneto western front Wilson papers