BATTLE OF VITTORIO VENETO | ITALY IN WW1

The Battle of Vittorio Veneto was fought from 24 October to 3 November 1918 near Vittorio Veneto during the Italian Front of World War I. The Italian victory marked the end of the war on the Italian Front, secured the dissolution of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and contributed to the ending of the First World War less than two weeks later. Most Italians see Vittorio Veneto as the final culmination of the Risorgimento nationalist movement, in which Italy was unified.

On 24 October, the anniversary of the Battle of Caporetto, the offensive opened. A first attack in the Monte Grappa sector was launched to attract the Austrian reserves. The flooding of the Piave prevented two of the three central armies from advancing simultaneously with the third; but the latter, under the command of Earl Cavan, after seizing Papadopoli Island farther downstream, won a foothold on the left bank of the river on 27 October. The Italian reserves were then brought up to exploit this bridgehead. Svetozar Boroević von Bojna, the Austro-Hungarian commander, ordered a counter-attack on the Italian bridgeheads on the same day, but his troops refused to obey orders, a problem confronting the Austrians from that time on, and the counter-attack failed. After crossing the Piave River, the Eighth Italian Army, led by General Enrico Caviglia, took Vittorio ("Veneto" was added to the name only in 1923) and advanced in the direction of Trento, threatening to block the retreat of Austrian forces. On 28 October, Czechoslovakia declared independence from Austro-Hungary. The next day the South Slavs proclaimed independence, and on 31 October Hungary withdrew from the union, officially dissolving the Austro-Hungarian state. On 28 October, under these new political and military conditions, the Austro-Hungarian high command ordered a general retreat. Vittorio Veneto was seized the next day by the Eighth Italian Army, which was already pushing on to the Tagliamento river. Trieste was taken by an amphibious expedition on 3 November. The 12th Italian army, commanded by French General Jean Graziani, continued to advance, supported on the right by the 8th Army. The result was that Austria-Hungary lost about 30,000 casualties and between 400,000–500,000 prisoners (50,000 by 31 October; 100,000 by 1 November; 428,000 by 4 November). The Italians suffered 37,461 casualties (dead and wounded), including 145 French and 374 Britons. On 29 October, the Austro-Hungarians asked for an armistice. On 30 October, the Austro-Hungarian army was split in two. The armistice was signed on 3 November at 15:20, to become effective 24 hours later, at 15:00 on 4 November.

The Austrian command ordered its troops to cease hostilities on 3 November. Following the signing of the armistice, Austrian General Weber informed his Italian counterparts that the Imperial army had already laid down its weapons, and asked to cease combat immediately and to stop any further Italian advance. The proposal was sharply rejected by the Italian General Badoglio, who threatened to stop all negotiations and to continue the war. General Weber repeated the request. Even before the order to cease hostilities, the Imperial Army had already started to collapse, beginning a chaotic retreat. Split in two the Imperial army collapsed, starting a chaotic retiring, since October, 28. Italian troops continued their advance until 3 p.m. on 4 November. The occupation of all Tyrol, including Innsbruck, was completed in the following days.

Under the terms of the Austrian-Italian Armistice of Villa Giusti, Austria-Hungary’s forces were required to evacuate not only all territory occupied since August 1914 but also South Tirol, Tarvisio, the Isonzo Valley, Gorizia, Trieste, Istria, western Carniola, and Dalmatia. All German forces should be expelled from Austria-Hungary within 15 days or interned, and the Allies were to have free use of Austria-Hungary’s internal communications. They were also obliged to allow the transit of the Entente armies, to reach Germany from the South. The battle marked the end of the First World War on the Italian front and secured the end of the Austro-Hungarian empire."The Battle of Vittorio Veneto during October and November saw the Austro-Hungarian forces collapse in disarray. There after the empire fell apart rapidly." Marshall Cavendish Corporation: History of World War I. As mentioned above, on 31 October Hungary officially left the personal union with Austria. Other parts of the empire had declared independence, notably what later became Yugoslavia. The surrender of their primary ally was another major factor in the German Empire's decision that they could no longer continue the war."...  Ludendorff wrote: In Vittorio Veneto, Austria did not lose a battle, but lose the war and itself, dragging Germany in its fall. Without the destructive battle of Vittorio Veneto, we would have been able, in a military union with the Austro-Hungarian monarchy, to continue the desperate resistance through the whole winter, in order to obtain a less harsh peace, because the Allies were very fatigued." On 30 October the Wilhelmshaven mutiny erupted, shortly afterwards the German Revolution of 1918–1919 started to spread from Kiel. In early November, the Germans requested an armistice.

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