Talk:Battle of Caporetto

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Intro and Info box[edit]

I amended the intro to clarify that not the whole Italian Army was routed (otherwise the battle would have decided the war on the Italian Front, which it did not) but one of the 4 armies making up the Regio Esercito was routed, and the other 3 armies were forced/able to retreat to Piave river and stop the Austro-German advance there. This topic is also linked to the Info box Strength and Casualties: at the start of the battle the attackers were about 350'000 and the defenders 250'000, the rout of the latter forced a much larger number of Italians to retreat and a number of prisoners, stragglers and deserters totaling more that the initial 250'000: I am going to put in the number citing the source book I have. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 13:32, 7 November 2016 (UTC)


The decimazione was not illegal but a practice officialized by Cadorna in 1916 [1]

Nonostante tutto ciò Cadorna non era del tutto soddisfatto del lavoro dei Tribunali, lo si legge nella circolare n° 10.261 del 22 marzo 1916 in cui incitava i propri comandanti ad istituire senza riguardo Tribunali Straordinari. Come se non bastasse, con un preciso ordine Cadorna rese ufficiali le fucilazione per decimazione scrivendo in una circolare "……mezzo idoneo a reprimere reato collettivo è quello della immediata fucilazione dei maggiori responsabili, allorché l’accertamento dei responsabili non è possibile, rimane il dovere e il diritto dei comandati di estrarre a sorte tra gli indiziati alcuni militari e punirli con la pena di morte..... — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 04:06, 5 November 2006‎ (UTC)

  • As I suppose that not all readers of English Wikipedia can actually understand Italian language, I try to translate the previous lines:
  • "Besides all this, Cadorna was not satisfied with Tribunals' work, since on his bulletin n° 10.261, wrote on 22 March 1916,he urged his commanders to institute without any respect Extraordinary Tribunals. Moreover, with a precise order Cadorna made official the "decimazione" shooting, writing in another bulletin that "...idoneous mean to reprime collective fault is the immediate shooting of primary responsibles, and when it is not possible accerting responsibilities, commanders have the duty and right to extract by lot among the suspects some troopers and punish them with death penalty..."

Austro-hungarian regimental tiles[edit]

I'm quite unhappy about the names of the Austro-Ungarian rgts, as my only source is a 1914 list, and I strongly suspect that by 1917 at least some regiment could had changed its name. Does anybody have access to a 1917 list? --Arturolorioli (talk) 15:40, 12 August 2011 (UTC)

Orders of Battle[edit]

Are they necessary? What do they contribute to the article? Are they better suited as a link to their original source at the bottom? As it is right now they are a massive eyesore and they break the flow of the article. I'll leave them for the time being and allow for discussion but I'm inclined to at least move them to the end of the article if not delete them completely. --Kampfers (talk) 00:16, 13 December 2011 (UTC)

Good point. I moved the order of battle content to Battle of Caporetto order of battle.--Labattblueboy (talk) 16:56, 24 July 2012 (UTC)

Rommel in lede[edit]

User:Jonas Vinther has added this paragraph to the lede section. I have reverted it as I do not feel that it is appropriate. The lede is a summary of the article, and adding the Rommel paragraph is incorrect. The article itself mentions his achievement, and is in my opinion sufficient. I will repeat this on the talk page. Hamish59 (talk) 20:33, 6 February 2014 (UTC)

Alright. If you say so, I won't take it any further. Jonas Vinther (talk) 13:55, 3 April 2014 (UTC)

Thank you very much. Hamish59 (talk) 21:58, 6 February 2014 (UTC)

350,000 Missing = POWs or Dead???'[edit]

Almost amused by the fine work a Italian fifth column have done here, no mention of the enormous casualties suffered in battle (40k killed 20k wounded). (talk) 15:19, 6 August 2014 (UTC)

  • Something doesn't seem right here: the text and with two references says: "Italian losses were enormous: 10,000 were killed, 30,000 wounded and 265,000 were taken prisoner... 3,152 artillery pieces, 3,000 machine guns and 1,712 mortars were lost ... In contrast, the Austro-Hungarians and Germans only sustained 70,000 casualties." Ignoring the number of Italians taken prisoner, it would seem that the Italians generated many more casualties than their attackers. Is there an extra decimal point inserted here, or just what am I not getting? --2600:6C48:7006:200:D84D:5A80:173:901D (talk) 02:06, 24 October 2017 (UTC)
    • Well, prisoners are still casualties and are being considered as such in that paragraph. The Italians were on the defensive in mountainous terrain from prepared defensive positions, which usually puts the attacker at a disadvantage. Furthermore the Italians were able to defeat the Austro-Hungarians and Germans when they advanced too far beyond their supply lines at the First Battle of Monte Grappa, which overlaps with Caporetto. So yes, the Italians did inflict more killed and wounded on the attackers. Alcherin (talk) 12:14, 24 October 2017 (UTC)


I think per WP:Bold, revert, discuss "decisive" had better be discussed before reinstating. I do see that we have an article decisive victory which makes the unreferenced claim that Pearl Harbor was a 'tactically' decisive victory for the Japanese (about 7 years ago Albrecht tagged this as OR) . The accepted definition however is an event that decides an ultimate outcome. Sparafucil (talk) 05:01, 11 January 2015 (UTC)

The wider issue, as I see it, is that we have two competing definitions of "decisive" floating around Wikipedia, which seem to be applied rather haphazardly according to the whims and secret loyalties of various editors—the colloquial (i.e. dictionary) definition, that I applied earlier, versus what I might call the "military-theoretical" definition: the notion of a "strategy of annihilation through decisive battle" (which, in its most fundamentalist version, is not merely annihilation but a "war-ending" or "campaign-ending" battle). The problem, of course, is that the vast majority of Wikipedia articles use some form of the colloquial definition, as very few battles in history were "decisive" in the military-theoretical sense: in our current treatment of the War of the Spanish Succession, France suffers a long string of "decisive" defeats yet continues fighting, emerging as somewhat a victor—according to the fundamentalist vision, the war should have ended at Blenheim (even Cannae, the mother of all decisive battles, was not really "decisive" in the most fundamentalist sense (the Romans recovered and won the war).)
What I would propose as a compromise, then, is "decisive tactical victory," defined as "a victory that results in the completion of a tactical objective as part of an operation or a victory where the losses of the defeated outweigh those of the victor." This takes into account the fact that Caporetto was not decisive in the strategic sense, as the Italians were able to hold the Piave River line. Albrecht (talk) 17:09, 12 January 2015 (UTC)
From Template:Infobox military conflict'"'result – optional – this parameter may use one of several standard terms: "X victory", "Decisive X victory" or "Inconclusive". The choice of term should reflect what the sources say. In cases where the standard terms do not accurately describe the outcome, a link to the section of the article where the result is discussed in detail (such as "See the 'Aftermath' section") should be used instead of introducing non-standard terms like "marginal" or "tactical" or contradictory statements like "decisive tactical victory but strategic defeat". It is better to omit this parameter altogether than to engage in speculation about which side won or by how much." Uspzor (talk) 20:48, 12 January 2015 (UTC)
Careful; we can easily find sources that explicitly use the word "decisive," i.e. here, here. It's also my contention that "decisive" is a fair shorthand, on balance, of how the sources describe the result ("decisive defeat" for the Italians, perhaps, rather than "decisive victory" for the k.u.k., but that's just a question of optics). But just out of curiosity: what, in your opinion, would be a fair rendering of the sources (which use such words as "disaster," "debacle," and "worst defeat in Italian military history")? The fact that you're only concerned with removing the qualifier "Decisive," rather than replacing it with any of the much harsher descriptions found in the various sources, makes me wonder what your motivation here truly is. Albrecht (talk) 21:20, 12 January 2015 (UTC)
There's really no call to insinuate bad faith: the edit summaries are quite clear that the motivation is a desire for precision in the use of language as opposed to colloquialism (is there a dictionary that gives such a coll. definition, I wonder?). What's wrong with "massive defeat"? Sparafucil (talk) 23:21, 12 January 2015 (UTC) Or, since you've edited the page again, why is "decisive tactical victory" better than "overwhelming victory"? Sparafucil (talk) 23:28, 12 January 2015 (UTC)
I wouldn't contend that decisive is "better" in the sense of being "more accurate" ("overwhelming," or any number of words, could describe the outcome just as well), but all other things being equal, I would opt for the "standardized term" (per WP:MILHIST) rather than customizing a term for this article.
I'm also struggling to understand the source of opposition to my edit; considering that Caporetto is widely recognized as one of the most spectacular victories / worst disasters of the war, "Decisive" would seem much closer to the letter and spirit of the sources than simply "Central Powers victory." It may not be grounds to insinuate bad faith, as you say, but it is, at the very least, puzzling. Albrecht (talk) 23:56, 12 January 2015 (UTC)
1st - there's clearly no consensus on this change you're trying to made.
2nd - there are plenty of sources attesting that it wasn't decisive as [2], [3] and [4] (just took a look on the first five result).
3rd - The WP policy stats: "It is better to omit this parameter altogether than to engage in speculation about which side won or by how much."
I see no discussion here that indicates that there are consensus as to what result goes in the infobox. If there isn't consensus then leave it blank and take your's, hopefully reliably, cited statements into the Aftermath section of this article as stated by the infobox policy. Uspzor (talk) 00:24, 13 January 2015 (UTC)

Point by point:

  1. The mere fact that we disagree already means there is no consensus; I also disagree with you, meaning there is no consensus around your edit. This kind of truism does little to bolster either side.
  2. Three sources ≠ "plenty" (considering you ran a Google search specifically for Caporetto + "not decisive", three is rather few). Of the three, Tucker (p. 265) only states that Caporetto was not decisive "from a strategic perspective," which I specifically conceded above and which explains my labeling it a "decisive tactical victory"; Ferro does not mention Caporetto in the slightest; and Tucker (p. 1284) is discussing whether propaganda was decisive or not decisive in bringing down the Central Powers! Seriously?! What this means is that, for now, you have furnished a total of zero RSs attesting that Caporetto was not a decisive tactical victory for the k.u.k.
  3. No one here is "engaging in speculation about which side won or by how much" (in the sense of: "Who won the Battle of Jutland?"); the sources are unanimous on this: the Austrians won, and by a lot. Again: on what grounds are you opposing a term commonly used on Wikipedia to denote a victory of great magnitude, which a preponderance of sources agree that Caporetto was? Albrecht (talk) 01:34, 13 January 2015 (UTC)
Whether or not WP has its own definition (and I can't easily spot it in Wikipedia:Manual of Style/Military history), "commonly used on Wikipedia" is beside the point since we're talking about an English word with a precise definition which is understood by general readers, and even by military historians. One may say that commanders acted decisively in in the heat of battle, that particular tactics were decisive in the outcome of the battle, even that the Italians 'decided' how far the Austrians ultimately advanced. That is not the same as calling the battle "decisive" when it did not determine the war's outcome. Sparafucil (talk) 09:53, 13 January 2015 (UTC)
I don't recall suggesting that Wikipedia had its own definition of "decisive"; on the contrary, language being a slippery thing, Wikipedia editors—and military historians as well, for that matter—obviously disagree on its meaning (some editors use it very liberally; others, apparently, very cautiously): neither Lake Erie nor New Orleans "determined the outcome" of the War of 1812, though they did bring to an end the stalemated fighting on Lake Erie and around New Orleans, just as Caporetto brought to an end the stalemated fighting on the Isonzo (there was a Twelfth Isonzo; there was no Thirteenth). In this sense, I disagree that there's one "precise definition which is understood by general readers"; the definition you're advancing ("decisive" = "decided the war's outcome") is what I called the "fundamentalist" approach: this "decisive battle" is a concept in military theory (i.e. Napoleon's strategy of annihilation as seeking one decisive engagement, as opposed to a war of position), and very rarely a historical reality. "Decisive" is much more commonly used in a limited (operational) context, i.e. deciding a campaign rather than a war (whose outcomes are usually political in nature; hence why the military-theoretical "decisive battle" is more of a thought experiment or ideal type than anything else).
Essentially, if the standards you are trying to apply here really did prevail throughout Wikipedia, there would, in fact, be only "Fifteen Decisive Battles" (maybe several score, realistically) on this site. The fact that this patently is not the case should be reason to rethink your approach.
But, again, this is all a moot point, really, since I've trying to find a mutually-acceptable word capturing the scale and magnitude of the outcome. Needless to say, I would appreciate more effort to address the problem constructively. Albrecht (talk) 16:36, 13 January 2015 (UTC)
P.S. I see the article has remained stable with "overwhelming victory": just so we're clear, I intend to respect this compromise (I'm still baffled by the logic at work here, but there are surely better things to do than quibble endlessly over one word). Albrecht (talk) 21:13, 13 January 2015 (UTC)
I've never been a big fan of qualifying results in military conflict article side boxes; far better to just factually state how the end result differed from the start when possible. I get that most people like the simplicity of just saying who won or lost, though, so my question is, what's wrong with just "Central Powers Victory?" Let the sources have their say in the Aftermath section and let the reader decide for himself how "decisive" or "overwhelming" the battle was from reading more than just the figurative headline. Just a couple more pennies. Milhisfan (talk) 23:41, 28 January 2015 (UTC)
Agreed. AdjectivesAreBad (talk) 12:59, 12 August 2015 (UTC)
If you are "not a big fan" of what is actually a fairly common editorial practice, I suggest you start your campaign to remove these qualifiers over at Battle of Trafalgar, Battle of Waterloo, and Battle of Blenheim. I wish you luck in this quest. Albrecht (talk) 21:24, 5 September 2015 (UTC)
This isn't even remotely similar to Trafalgar and Waterloo, and Blenheim at least knocked out a country of the war, but you are right on this one, blame the usual Anglo-Saxon bias there. AdjectivesAreBad (talk) 22:18, 5 September 2015 (UTC)
The goalposts are moving around, here: whereas before, you were attacking the very practice of including qualifiers in the Result field, now you are contending that there are legitimate applications, just not here (in which case, see above for examples of "decisive" victories that didn't knock any belligerents out of a war). The point is, you can't select pet articles in which to implement your particular vision of what the Results field "should be": since "decisive" is patently enshrined in editorial practice throughout WP:MILHIST, the onus is very much on you to demonstrate convincingly that it does not belong here. "I am not a fan of it" is not reason enough. Albrecht (talk) 00:28, 6 September 2015 (UTC)
Of course we can only put our views in selected articles, no one can spread his reach over every single wiki article. There are plenty of articles that use adjectives in every absurd way possible, but I can't do nothing about cause someone will find anything on google and claim he was right. That's why to deal with these conflicting views the aftermath section should be used "instead of introducing non-standard terms like "marginal" or "tactical" or contradictory statements like "decisive tactical victory but strategic defeat"." AdjectivesAreBad (talk) 16:23, 7 September 2015 (UTC)
My dear AdjectivesAreBad, you know very well that that was an extremely selective rendition of the usage guidelines on the Military conflict Infobox, which actually states:

this parameter may use one of several standard terms: "X victory", "Decisive X victory" or "Inconclusive".

Also, the claim that we are introducing a wacky or fringe twist on the result is getting a little tiresome to refute, when Caporetto was patently — and is universally recognized in RSs — as one of the most cataclysmic defeats suffered by any participant in the Great War. The notion that the Infobox should make no attempt to render the scale of this defeat (contrary to established practice throughout WP:MILHIST) I find a little hard to justify. Albrecht (talk) 17:20, 9 September 2015 (UTC)
I already said that "Decisive" is a valid qualifier, and it was already said that there are sources that don't consider Caporetto "decisive". The standard guideline stats that in case of dispute this should be treated in the body of the article, and not in the infobox. — Preceding unsigned comment added by AdjectivesAreBad (talkcontribs) 03:28, 10 September 2015 (UTC)
No. The notion that we are attempting to bludgeon a nuanced debate into an oversimplified qualifier is a red herring, and involves a distortion of both the discussion above and of the mainstream scholarly view. What we've established is that one source suggests that Caporetto was not decisive strategically (meaning that it was decisive in every other sense), while the great mass of sources describe it as "decisive" in some fashion ("a military catastrophe with few comparisons in the history of war" ; "overwhelming defeat" ; "grievous defeat" ; "an unprecedented catastrophe for Italian arms" ; "overwhelming victory" ; "the most disastrous reverse" ; "débâcle" ; "one of the few clear cut victories obtained by either side in World War I". This sounds fairly unanimous to me. Albrecht (talk) 18:22, 10 September 2015 (UTC)

Some infobox numbers[edit]

The infobox states that there were: 10,000 dead, 30,000 wounded, 265,000 captured and 350,000 missing Italian soldiers, which means there were 655,000 casualties and loses of the total 400,000 Italian soldiers that were engaged in the battle. This information is obviously incorrect and should be fixed. (talk) 10:51, 12 August 2015 (UTC)

A large number of casualties were stragglers, men of disbanded units, disintegrated during the retreat, who managed to reach the Piave: they were not killed, wounded or taken prisoners, but it took months to re-equip and re-insert them in fighting units so they were unavailable to stop their enemy advance on Grappa and Piave. Hundreds of thousands Italians were not casualty in any sense because neither involved in fighting yet they were forced to retreat to avoid encirclement: should they be counted as engaged in the Battle? — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 08:26, 1 December 2016 (UTC)


Tidied references and citations, split aftermath into sections. The footnotes re: casualties in the infobox shouldn't really be there, they should go into the casualties section and the result criterion was inconsistent with Template:Infobox military conflict criterion Result

result – optional – this parameter may use one of several standard terms: "X victory", "Decisive X victory" or "Inconclusive". The choice of term should reflect what the sources say. In cases where the standard terms do not accurately describe the outcome, a link to the section of the article where the result is discussed in detail (such as "See the 'Aftermath' section") should be used instead of introducing non-standard terms like "marginal" or "tactical" or contradictory statements like "decisive tactical victory but strategic defeat". It is better to omit this parameter altogether than to engage in speculation about which side won or by how much.

Regards Keith-264 (talk) 09:07, 28 October 2015 (UTC)

Not to reopen this mighty can of worms, but "Decisive X victory" is the standard term that most accurately renders what the bulk of the sources say. Albrecht (talk) 18:20, 28 October 2015 (UTC)
I'm not so sure, since some of them use it in the Clausewitzian sense of a battle with political consequences, rather than to mean "big" On the whole I'd prefer to keep the lid on too. ;O)) Regards Keith-264 (talk) 18:44, 28 October 2015 (UTC)

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Italian rout or retreat?[edit]

It was very obviously the entire Italian army that was routed - although like all such incidents it started somewhere - and as always some soldiers retreated while others (in this case very many) simply fled. Remember the lead section is a summary - we fill in broad outlines, to be 'coloured in" and detailed in the main article. --Soundofmusicals (talk) 22:28, 7 November 2016 (UTC)

Rout has a much stronger meaning that retreat:

Basically a routed army cease to be effective as a fighting force, it is reduced to a mob with little left in heavy equipment; a retreated army may well conserve 100% of it military potential.

Now about the facts: it was not the ENTIRE Italian army that was routed, as in the opinion of Soundofmusicals, which is put forth in the intro. If it was so, the war would have been won on the Italian front and Italy kicked out of the conflict, which did not happen; one of the four armies making up the Regio Esercito was routed, opening such a gap in the front that the other three were forced to retreat, albeit conserving the majority of the war potential, to the shorter line of the Piave. The result was the loss of about 700'000 men (Silvestri, Caporetto, p. 231) out of an army of 2'000'000 (Silvestri, Caporetto, p. 87): enough were efficient to stop the Germans and Austo-Ungarian in front of Grappa and Piave.

Therefore tha intro shouldbe edited: you want to keep it simple, fine, so I suggest "the 2 Italian Army was routed and the rest of Italian Army was forced to retreat".

Of course almost everything stated above is true enough. The point is that we are not talking about the whole article, but the first line of the lead paragraph - a "balanced assessment" at this stage is not possible, how ever much we want the article as a whole to set everything in context. "Rout" is indeed a strong word - but it is the normal English for what happened at Caporetto, like it or not. A euphemism, like "forced retreat" may well be more diplomatic and kinder to national sensitivities but this is an encyclopedia, when all is said and done. The Italians were able to recover brilliantly (or the Austrians and Germans failed to follow up their victory - depending on your point of view) - but that is another story. The first sentence of an encyclopedia article needs to be very highly specific to the case (all else confusion!). --Soundofmusicals (talk) 00:55, 25 November 2016 (UTC)

Thanks for agreeing about the reconstruction, I agree we are talking about the first line of the lead paragraph and it should be very specific, not including the whore reconstruction above, the problem is the leading line is now incorrect and generates confusion in the reader, as it writes "rout the Italian Army" confusing reader to think that the entire ground forces were routed, which was not. Thank you for your consideration about national sensitivity, but really that is not my point, as the article already states the world Caporetto is in Italian language synonym of a terrible defeat. My point is that the defeat was total i.e. a rout for an Italian army (the second), not the Italian Army.

Please sign your posts with four of these signs (~) so we know who we're speaking to! To the point - We already mention the "Austro-German forces" - for the moment at least can we just refer to the "Italian forces" opposing them? (I have made this change - as you will notice). The paragraph still probably needs some work. --Soundofmusicals (talk) 23:31, 25 November 2016 (UTC)