bridge under fire

Italians Begin Retreat to the Piave

November 4 1917, Cornino–Falling back from Caporetto and the Isonzo, the Italians attempted to hold a new line behind the Tagliamento.  However, the Italians had had little time to prepare any defenses, and had been demoralized by the retreat.  On November 2, Bosnian troops were able to force a crossing of the Tagliamento around Cornino, over a bridge constructed under fire by Austrian engineers.  By November 3, the Bosnians had established a secure bridgehead, and the Germans had established another one further south.  Early on November 4, Cadorna ordered another withdrawal, this time to the river Piave, another thirty miles to the west.

The Italian situation was growing more desperate; Cadorna even hinted that a separate peace would be possible if the defeats continued.  The Allies, desperate to shore up the Italians, began sending troops their way, with the first crossing into Italy on the 3rd; it would be some time, however, before they reached the front lines.  The British and French Prime Ministers left their capitals on November 4th, bound for an emergency conference at Rapallo to address the crisis.  The Germans and Austrians were growing more bullish; while they had already succeeded far beyond their initial expectations, there was now talk of capturing Venice.  Conrad, commanding Austrian troops in Tyrol, talked of launching an offensive south to try to cut off the bulk of the Italian army.  Ludendorff, however, still considered Italy to be a sideshow, and refused to commit any additional German troops.

Today in 1916: Betting Markets Narrowly Favor Wilson
Today in 1915: Kitchener Departs For Gallipoli
Today in 1914: “Battle of the Bees”