First Battle of the Isonzo

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First Battle of the Isonzo
Part of the Italian Front
(World War I)
Italian Front 1915-1917.jpg
Eleven Battles of the Isonzo
June 1915 — September 1917
Date 23 June – 7 July 1915
Location Soča river, north-west Slovenia from the mountain Krn to the Gulf of Trieste
Result Austro-Hungarian tactical victory
 Kingdom of Italy  Austria-Hungary
Commanders and leaders
Kingdom of Italy Luigi Cadorna
Kingdom of Italy Emanuele Filiberto
Kingdom of Italy Pietro Frugoni
Austria-Hungary Svetozar Boroević
Austria-Hungary Géza Lukachich von Somorja
Austria-Hungary Novak von Arienti
(18 divisions
252 battalions
111 cavalry squadrons
700 guns)
(8 divisions
84 battalions
13 cavalry squadrons
356 guns)
Casualties and losses
14,947 9,950

The First Battle of the Isonzo was fought between the Armies of Italy and Austria-Hungary on the Italian Front in World War I, between 23 June and 7 July 1915.

The aim of the Italian Army was to drive the Austrians away from its defensive positions along the Soča (Isonzo) and on the nearby mountains.

Although the Italians enjoyed a 2:1 numeric superiority, their offensive failed because the Italian commander, Luigi Cadorna, employed frontal assaults after impressive (but short) artillery barrages. The Austrians had the advantage of fighting from uphill positions barricaded with barbed wire which were able to easily resist the Italian assault.

The Italians had some early successes. They partially took Monte Nero (Monte Krn), took Monte Colowrat, and captured the heights around Plezzo. However, they were unable to dislodge the Austro-Hungarian troops from the high ground between Tolmino and the Isonzo, which would later form a launching off point for the Caporetto Offensive. The heaviest fighting occurred around Gorizia. In addition to the natural defenses of the river and mountains, bastions were created at Oslavia and Podgora. The fighting at Gorizia consisted of street-by-street urban combat interspersed with artillery fire. Italian troops, such as the Italian Re and Casale Brigades, were able to advance as far as the suburbs but could get no further and were driven back. They made small footholds at Adgrado and Redipuglia on the Karst Plateau south of Gorizia but were unable to do much else.

On the Austrian-Hungarian side two commanders distinguished themselves: Major General Géza Lukachich von Somorja, commander of the 5th Mountain Brigade, who retook Redipuglia, and Major General Novak von Arienti who retook Hill 383 with his 1st Mountain Brigade.

Early in July the commander of the Austrian Fifth Army, General Svetozar Boroević, received two reinforcement divisions, which put an end to the Italian efforts at breaking through the Austrian lines.

The final Italian gains were minimal: in the northern sector, they conquered the heights over Bovec (Mount Kanin); in the southern sector, they conquered the westernmost ridges of the Kras plateau near Fogliano Redipuglia and Monfalcone.

Involved units[edit]

5th Army
VII Corps XVI Corps XV Corps
1st Infantry Division 57th Infantry Division 61st Infantry Division 20th Infantry Division 58th Infantry Division
17th Infantry Division 18th Infantry Division 50th Infantry Division
187th Infantry Brigade 6th Mountain Brigade 16th Mountain Brigade 14th Mountain Brigade 81st Honvéd Infantry Brigade
39th Honvéd Infantry Brigade 2nd Mountain Brigade 12th Mountain Brigade 5th Mountain Brigade 4th Mountain Brigade
10th Mountain Brigade 1st Mountain Brigade 13th Mountain Brigade 7th Mountain Brigade 15th Mountain Brigade
8th Mountain Brigade 3rd Mountain Brigade
93rd Infantry Division
VII Corps in Kostanjevica XVI Corps in Dornberg XV Corps in Kneža
2nd Army 3rd Army
VII Corps X Corps XI Corps VI Corps II Corps
IV Corps
13th Infantry Division 14th Infantry Division 20th Infantry Division 19th Infantry Division 21st Infantry Division
12th Infantry Division 11th Infantry Division 4th Infantry Division 3rd Infantry Division 32nd Infantry Division
7th Infantry Division 8th Infantry Division Bersaglieri Division Alpini Group A and B half 29th Infantry Division
XIV Corps
half 29th Infantry Division 22nd Infantry Division 28th Infantry Division 30th Infantry Division 23rd Infantry Division
27th Infantry Division 33rd Infantry Division 1st Cavalry Division 2nd Cavalry Division 3rd Cavalry Division
Pietro Frugoni Emanuele Filiberto
2nd Army in Udine 3rd Army in Cervigano

See also[edit]

Solkan (left) and the Soča (Isonzo)
Austro-Hungarian trench at the Soča (Isonzo)


  • Österreichisches Staatsarchiv/Kriegsarchiv Wien
  • L'esercito italiano nella grande guerra (1915–1918) Volume I - IV / Roma: Ministerio della Guerra - Ufficio Storico, 1929–1974
  • Ministero della Guerra Stato Maggiore centrale - Ufficio Storico. Guerra Italo-Austriaca 1915-18. Le medaglie d'Oro. Volume secondo - 1916. Roma: 1923
  • Österreich-Ungarns letzter Krieg 1914-1918 Band II Verlag der Militärwissenschftlichen Mitteilungen Wien 1931-1933
  • Anton Graf Bossi-Fedrigotti: Kaiserjäger - Ruhm und Ende. Stocker Verlag, Graz 1977

Further reading[edit]

  • Macdonald, John, and Željko Cimprič. Caporetto and the Isonzo Campaign: The Italian Front, 1915-1918. Barnsley, South Yorkshire: Pen & Sword Military, 2011. ISBN 9781848846715 OCLC 774957786
  • Page, Thomas Nelson, (1920) "Italy and the World War". New York, Charles Scribner's Sons, Full Text Available Online.
  • Schindler, John R. (2001). Isonzo: The Forgotten Sacrifice of the Great War. Praeger. ISBN 0275972046. OCLC 44681903. 

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 45°56′33″N 13°36′09″E / 45.94250°N 13.60250°E / 45.94250; 13.60250