Sixth Battle of the Isonzo

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Sixth Battle of the Isonzo
Part of the Italian Front
(First World War)
Date 6 August-17 August 1916
Location Gorizia - Doberdò del Lago, Italy; Opatje selo & north-western Kras, Slovenia
Result Italian victory
Belligerents
Italy Italy  Austria-Hungary
Commanders and leaders
Luigi Cadorna Svetozar Boroević
Strength
22 divisions 9 divisions
Casualties and losses
51,000 (21,000 dead) 41,835 (8,000 dead)

The Sixth Battle of the Isonzo also known as the Battle of Gorizia was the most successful Italian offensive along the Soča (Isonzo) River during World War I.

Background[edit]

Franz Graf Conrad von Hötzendorf had reduced the Austro-Hungarian forces along the Soča (Isonzo) front to reinforce his Trentino Offensive. Italian Chief-of-Staff Luigi Cadorna made good use of railroads to quickly shift troops from Trentino back to the Isonzo line for an offensive against the weakened Austro-Hungarian defenses.

Battle[edit]

On 6 August the offensive was launched against Gorizia. The offensive was concentrated in two zones: the hilly area west of the Soča (Isonzo) river near Gorizia the westernmost edge of the Kras plateau near Doberdò del Lago. In the Battle of Doberdò, the Italians managed to conquer the main transport road leading from the coast town of Duino to Gorizia, thus securing their advance to Gorizia from the south. The Austro-Hungarian forces had to retreat on the line east of Gorizia (Mount Škabrijel), leaving the heavily damaged town to the Italians.

On 8 August, Gorizia fell to Cadorna and a bridgehead was finally established across the Soča (Isonzo) River. The Austro-Hungarians shifted troops to the Gorizia sector to prevent a breakthrough. Content with having established the bridgehead, Cadorna ended the offensive on 17 August.

The attack on Gorizia was the most successful Italian offensive along the Isonzo lines and greatly boosted Italian morale. In the wake of the battle Italy finally declared war against Germany, on 28 August.

In later years, historians maintained that that battle (with 21,000 dead on the Italian side) was a useless and limited conquest, perhaps Cadorna's only victory. In reality, the Austrians, who were short on troops (having to fight on two fronts), retreated to Slovene territory where Cadorna sacrificed thousands of soldiers in futile attempts to advance toward Ljubljana and Trieste. The Austrians, who were better equipped, preferred to preserve their forces. The Italian generals, in an attempt to make up for their poor equipment, committed the Italians to frontal assaults, resulting in massive casualties.

If one compares the number of dead Italians and the number of dead Austrians, the one sided-ness of the proportion highlights the high cost to this limited victory. In addition, like all other battles on the Soča (Isonzo), there were many missing soldiers, victims of the superior Austrian artillery.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  • Tucker, Spencer The Great War:1914-18 (1998)

External links[edit]