War of Attrition On The Italian Front – The Ninth Battle of the Isonzo I THE GREAT WAR Week 119

War of Attrition On The Italian Front – The Ninth Battle of the Isonzo I THE GREAT WAR Week 119


You have to really believe in your battle plan to repeat it again and again when it repeatedly fails to give you the breakthrough victory you’re after. Italian Army Chief of Staff Luigi Cadorna did just that, because this week he launched the Ninth Battle of the Isonzo River. I’m Indy Neidell. Welcome to the Great War. Last week, the big news was the recapture of Fort Douaumont by the French at Verdun. That battle had raged for eight months and it now looked like the French had the upper hand. The Germans also lost a bit of ground at the Somme, but the mud of the battlefield there prevented major action. German-led forces were advancing in Romania though, taking the Cernavodă-Constanța railway line and pushing to the Danube River. Here’s what came next. New action on the Italian Front. After the Eighth Battle of the Isonzo two and a half weeks ago, the Carso Plateau was in horrendous condition, thanks to the colossal Italian artillery bombardment. So the Austro-Hungarian engineers had been hard at work, fixing whatever fortifications they could salvage and making new machine gun posts and trenches. Austro-Hungarian general Svetozar Boroević von Bojna did manage to take two of its most damaged divisions out of the front lines. But he couldn’t afford to relax, because intelligence said that Italian Army Chief of Staff Luigi Cadorna was planning another final push before winter shut down large scale operations. This was true. Boroević had faced overwhelming odds in both the Seventh and Eighth battles and had avoided defeat. But he was well aware that his exhausted troops were near to collapse. His losses, unlike those of the Italians, were mostly irreplaceable. And he knew that when the Italians resumed the attack, it would be with even more men and more guns and morale was collapsing. Austro-Hungarian soldiers had surrendered in large amounts for the first time during the last battle. He pleaded with his superior, Conrad von Hötzendorf, for more troops knowing he could expect no German help, since their High Command thought of the Italian Front as only a diversion. But he was mistaken. Because German Chief of Staff Paul von Hindenburg was now worried enough about an Austrian defeat and an Italian advance into Central Europe, that he allowed one Austro-Hungarian division to move from the Russian Front to the Italian Front. Conrad, for his part, managed to get Boroević’s men some steel helmets and a few more big guns. Cardona’s plans for the Italian attacks of the Ninth Battle of the Isonzo were exactly the same as those for the Eighth. And his superiority in men and artillery would be around 3 to 1. And it happened this week. Actually, it started last week. The preliminary artillery barrage began on the morning of October 25th. But a dense fog stopped the shelling in the afternoon. The next day, the fog had lifted. So the barrage resumed and carried on for three days. The results were enormous. Thousands of Austrian casualties and the destruction of many of their trenches and machine gun nests. On October 31st, began what was pretty much a carbon copy of the Eighth Battle. That afternoon, Italian infantry probed for weak spots and the next day every one of Cadorna’s guns opened up their annihilation fire on the Imperial front lines. When the guns went silent, waves of infantry poured out onto the stunned defenders. On the northern flank, 12,000 Italians attacked on a front of only around 400 meters. Unfortunately for them, this was one place where the machine guns had not been knocked out and the Austrian lines held with heavy casualties on both sides. But on the northern Carso, the Duke of Aosta’s men began to systematically rolled back the Austrians, taking 8,400 prisoners and the Austrians were close to collapse. Archduke Joseph’s men had no reserves to stabilize the line or organize a retreat to the second defense line. Still, as the day turned to evening and evening to night, they managed to counter attack and regain some of their lost positions. But they were taking big casualties and in the morning, the Italians repeated yesterday’s procedure and there was no alternative but Austrian retreat. It was total chaos. And yet by the night, they managed to reach the second line without collapse. Of course, there would be a new Italian offensive the next morning. South of Gorizia, the situation was much the same. The Austrians bravely and barely held their ground, but the assault on November 3rd finally caused them to fall back. A final Italian breakthrough was inevitable. But one man, Hungarian captain Peter Roosz and his men, a battalion made of Austrians, Hungarians, Romanians and Bosnians, made the difference. He had been an undistinguished officer so far. But now, he led his single battalion out to face six battalions of cracked Italians in vicious combat on the Carso. Swords, bayonets, rocks, you name it. His men managed to hold off the Italians for hours. And as evening came, so too did the Austro-Hungarian 14th Division, finally arriving from the Eastern Front. And that was basically the end of the Ninth Battle of the Isonzo River. There was another failed Italian assault the next day, but that was really it. Both armies now prepared to face the onset of winter. Austrians were going back and forth on another front this week as well in the Transylvanian mountains. Well, it was Austrians, Germans and Romanians all playing give and take this week. On the 28th, the Romanians took 2,000 prisoners in the Valea Jiului–the Jiu Valley. And over the next couple of days, pushed the Germans back there and in the Vulcan Pass. On the 31st, the Austrians were stopped at Torzburg Pass, but as November began, they advanced in the Torzburg, Predeal and Roten Turm passes. Still though, at the end of the week, the situation in the mountains looked good for King Ferdinand’s Romanian armies. The Central Powers hadn’t made any real gains and Berlin and Vienna had even admitted in the press that Romania had recaptured Rusnâ, a border position east of the Predeal Pass. On the other Romanian Front in Dobrogea, Russian general Vladimir Sakharov took command of the Russian forces there and prepared to fight the Bulgarian forces. Here’s a little side note about something Russian from that front. Georgy Zhukov, who had won the St George’s Cross in Romania, was blown from a horse and his hearing was damaged. He was sent to hospital but later wrote that he was delighted that he’d been posted to an active combat regiment. He would be Chief of Staff of the Soviet Army in World War Two, led the counter offensive at Stalingrad, and accepted the German surrender after the capture of Berlin. He would later be Soviet Minister of Defense. And another individual side note. Philosopher and logician Ludwig Wittgenstein, though pessimistic about his nation Austria-Hungary winning the war, gave the Austrian Treasury a million crowns to buy a 12-inch howitzer. It was his income from the past three years. We also saw some action at sea this week, though really there was action at sea every week. On the 28th, the Donaldson liner SS Marina was sunk by a sub with six Americans on board. On the 29th, the neutral Greek volunteer transport Algeniki was torpedoed. Observers wondered how long before these sinkings caused the US to declare war on Germany. Also, US president Woodrow Wilson told the Cincinnati Chamber of Commerce: “I believe that the business of neutrality is over. The nature of modern war leaves no state untouched.” This is true, because neutral Greece was certainly affected considering a Five Nation Army was using Greece as a base of operations. That army had some success this week on the Macedonian Front. Repeatedly repulsing Bulgarian attacks the 28th, and with the British taking Barakli, Juma and Kumli. The French advanced in Macedonia as well, but more importantly on the Western Front, followed up last week’s success at Verdun. On the 1st, the Germans evacuated Fort Vaux and on the 3rd, The French advanced to the outskirts of Vaux itself. And here’s another note to end the week. The great German flying ace Oswald Boelcke died October 28th. He was, in many ways, the father of fighting tactics in the air. He died after a mid-air collision with fellow German ace Erwin Böhme. Böhme and Boelcke had, together with Manfred von Richthofen, the future Red Baron, been in a dogfight with several British fighter planes at the time. And another week of war comes to an end. A battle beginning and ending on the Italian Front. The Romanians holding their own in the mountains, and the Bulgarians losing ground in the Balkans. The death of a German national hero, and more deaths at sea that perhaps pulled America closer to joining the war. I think it was pretty true that Wilson said: “The nature of modern war leaves no state untouched.” True for this war at any rate. How can you avoid it? And what would happen afterwards? Well, we’ve got some serious foreboding this week when the Russian Army Censorship Bureau reported soldiers saying: “…after the war…we’ll have to settle accounts with the internal enemy.” Whatever your history teachers told you, this was not going to end well for anybody.

100 thoughts on “War of Attrition On The Italian Front – The Ninth Battle of the Isonzo I THE GREAT WAR Week 119

  1. It's looking bad for Germany, I blame shit allies, and the russians not surrendering like any normal country would have with those causalties and so much domestic unrest.

  2. can u make video on about colonist or slaves (black people & others) fought in the battlefield of ww1, because i think so ,most the soldiers were colonist fighting there #

  3. This is probably a bit nitpicky, but I think the image at 6:59 is Vasily Chuikov, not Georgy Zhukov. He was also a notable leader at Stalingrad, but at a lower tactical level, while Zhukov was an operational planner.

    Great Work guys, love that you mentioned my favorite Marshal!

  4. Luigi cadorna is actually smart in a way he made the Austro Hungarians weaker and weaker after every battle

  5. You (and history in general!) are being really harsh to Cadorna – but I do admit it's amusing!

    Given the configuration of the terrain along the Isonzo, there are no chances for 'something new'. Italians attacked with more and more men and artillery with every passing battle, which is about all they could have done.

    What Cadorna was really bad at was exploiting any success his troops made, as he was really slow (as you noted yourself). I have to admit I watched all the videos concerning Isonzo battles from 6th (you got some valleys wrong there :P) to this one.

    The most obvious new tactics Italians employed in the last 3 battles was a step back as Cadorna sent his troops into attack quite literally touching shoulder to shoulder – something he apparently has not done in the past and obviously, he learned the lesson that has been learned by every other warring nation.

    I am looking forward to the next 3 battles and please please give San Gabriele the attention it deserves! 😀

  6. my teacher said Ok we are studying ww1 has anyone study this before and I said I've been studying for 2 and a half years

  7. In the Austro-Hungarian army the Hungarian soldiers were considered to be more trustworthy and disciplined than soldiers from other ethnic groups. Around half of the austro-hungarian casualties are ethnic Hungarians.
    For example – the k.u.k 83th infantry regiment from szombathely – one of the most decorated unit of the k.u.k army in the war.

  8. The macedonian front is open a couple of months now and still not a single map was shown. I'm a little bit disappointed at this point. A map is not so hard to find or make…

  9. cadorna and his colonal were having setting in hiams office,
    col:"sir how is the plan, we are awaiting orders"
    cadonra:"yees, this time i have a brilliant plan, plan sooo devious no one would expect it"
    col:"let me guess, are we going to charge them"
    cadorna:"how did you know that.. it was a top classified plan"
    col:"because that was our plan the last time, and the 7 times before it"
    cadorna:"that is what makes it soo brilliant about this plan… becuase we used it the last 8 times it is undoubtebly they will not expect it, especially their well defended trenches and lines"
    col:"mama mia"

    meanwhile at the austrian side,
    hotzendorf:"hmmm, cadorna used the same plan for the last 8 times, hmmm he must have something new up his sleeve… ohh well time to tell my major my genius plan"

    and so iszano battles raged on

  10. Indy some comments Boelcke the German ace was only fighting 2 DH2s of 24 Squadron RFC not several.

    Russians besides talking about getting after the "Internal Enemy" is only part of the Russian Army problems; Rations to the troops were being cut at this time, inflation was really hurting the families of the Russian soldiers, It was also believed that the upper classes started the war to kill off the peasants to get their land. The army was having morale problems do to heavy casualties. There were incident where russian soldiers were refusing to obey orders. Russian Generals were calling artillery fire on their own men to get them to advance.

  11. I am wondering if when President Wilson used the term "State" in Michigan, was he talking about states as the term is used in the United States or more like "Countries"?

  12. All the major battles for 1916 seem to provide experimental proof of Einstien's definition of Insanity:

    "Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results."

    Question: The book with the large red title on Indy's book shelf, is it Verdun and who is the author? I need another book to add to my tsundoku.

  13. Sorry guys, but the picture of the Soviet officer at 7:00 is Lieutenant General Vasily Chuikov, commander of the 8th Guards Army, hero of the battles of Stalingrad and Berlin.

  14. For anybody Indy ? You mean oppressive empires? Good riddance. Many nations regained independence and people rejoice over this.

  15. Indy Captain Peter Roosz was awarded the Knights Cross of the Maria Theresea Order. The highest Austrian award. He was commander of the IV battalion 61st Infantry Regiment 17th Infantry division. this is from Austria-Hungary's last war 1914-1918 www.comroestudios.com/StanHanna the Austrian official history of the war in English and in German

  16. At this point, I'm just waiting for the Italian Army to mutiny and just slay Cadorna already. I'm actually curious if there were ever large-scale mutinies in the Italian armies during the first world war, like there were in the French and Russian armies

  17. I suspect that when Einstein once described insanity as "doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result" he might have been referencing Luigi Cadorna.

  18. Cadorna's Aid: Gee Cadorna, what do you want to do this Battle of the Isonzo River?
    Cadorna: The Same thing we do every Battle of the Isonzo River..

  19. Why didn't Italy try to do any naval invasions to AU and vice versa? Seems to me opening another front would be to their advantage.

  20. Is it just me or does every Russian soldier seem to wear his cap tilted right, I mean I get if it's a style but almost every Russian soldier I have ever seen in this series wears his hat tilted right, the direction doesn't even change it's always to the right side, was that how the cap was mean't to be worn or were Russian soldiers required to wear their hats tilted to the right?

  21. grabs hair and pulls out a few How are these military commanders so optimistic!? I hear Indy say 'Cadorna launched the 9th battle of the Isonzo' and I'm just appalled. Thinking of how many men died for fruitless strategies that seem trivial at best, I am trying to understand why these Commanders were so oblivious. Having an attitude is one thing, these men just seem to disregard anyone that wasn't them.
    How can someone be THAT blind to elementary truths?!

  22. i have family in 'the Carso' and spend a lot of time there, as a child. I still remember the amount of bullets,bombs, bajonets and even complete skeletons that where found when a new house was build. Even after a fierce rain fall large amounts of WW1 stuff emerge to the surface 80 plus years after these battles. Inconceivable how much shots there have been fired in those few years. .

  23. September 1916 marks my grandmothers 100th birthday. She was somehow immaculately conceived while my great-grandfather was supposed to be at the Izonso front, doing what Cadorna told him.
    The Holy Ghost must have been hanging out in the hayloft during 1915, cos family history has it, my great-grandmother went up there with food at some point every day. Kept at it until the end of the war, when her husband miraculously showed up.
    Years later, after both 1st and 2nd WWs had ended, great-gramps and one comrade were both rewarded medals of bravery for being the only survivors out of their regiment.
    I never met him irl, but my mom says he laughed his ass off about that medal.
    His advice is passed on through the generations to this day: If you see a war, run the other way.
    Never mentioned anything about some asshat named Cadorna.
    Good on you, great-gramps.

  24. Italian generals: you cant just keep attacking the same place you need to change your strategy
    cadorna: that's where your wrong kiddo

  25. Cadorna was insane the man practiced the ancient Roman Army discipline method of decimation that's just insane. How does any commander think that's an effective way dealing with moral and discipline. Assuming there's an afterlife I wonder if they made peace with God?

  26. I am sure this is the last battle of the Isonzo River! It has to be! I mean, nine battles in the same region is just getting ridiculous!

  27. Cadorna seems to follow the same philosophy as the teacher from Pink Floyd's The Wall.
    "WroOOOng! Do it again!"

  28. Can you imagine if Italy joined the CPs Cardona and Conrad brilliant  strategies combined the entente would've be screwed 😀

  29. the US stopped being neutral in 1914 – and can be counted as one of the Allies practically from the beginning of the war based on their munitions sales

  30. Cadorna was bad like Nivelle, Mangin, Potiorek, Conrad and the british generals of the Somme and Gallipoli. Everyone remembers Cadorna, but forgets all the others butchers of the war.

  31. My great grandfather was one of the Empire soldiers who got a steel helmet that day, he soon after was knocked down by a ricochet bullet that hit the helmet, it saved his life.

  32. The Definition of Insanity is, Doing the Same thing Over and Over again, Expecting Different Result<<< Seriously that means you are actually INSANE…. WW1 Generals were insane, some Inbreed royal and complete morons….. could this be a cause of ove educated to the point of Ego so large you are moronic

  33. I thought for a while Conrad von hotzendorf was a bad general, Cadorna makes him look like a tactical mastermind.

  34. Madness is repiting again and again the same thing and expect different results. But no one told this to Cadorna

  35. There are manny modern wars, nobody really cares about. Pretty much everybody is untouched by the atrocities comitted there. Humanity has learned nothing. Maybe the internet will help us learning. This channel certainly does. Thx, and have fun!

  36. After 9 battles, you should abandon that front to favor a weak position in Austria-Hungary. Such as the Dalmatia islands.

  37. Luigi Cadorna: " I've got a great new plan for a surprise offensive. If we attack in the exact same spot like we did the other 8 times it will catch the Austrians off guard. They will never see it coming."

  38. Why do we consider Isonzo as 10 separate battles but battles like Verdun and the Somme as one? Each of these 'battles' look like operational pauses in the same battle instead of separate battles.

  39. What an idiot. Wittgenstein saved his money for 3 years and then blew it to buy a howitzer for the army.

  40. I can't imagine an much easy job than the job of the Austria-Hungary Intelligence service trying to predict the next Cardona offensive.

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