This video is part of a series of 20 animated maps.

View series: The first World War, 1914-1918

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The Battle of Caporetto

This map is part of a series of 20 animated maps showing the history of The first World War, 1914-1918.

From 1915, the Italian army redoubled its offensives on the Isonzo front.

In spite of tremendous loss of life, it was unable to break through the Austrian front in the direction of Trieste.

In autumn 1917, German troops arrived to reinforce the Austrian divisions and went on the offensive on 24 October.

After a preparatory barrage by the artillery, some of the guns firing gas shells, the Austro‑German troops infiltrated the Italian lines, using a technique devised on the Eastern Front. They advanced very rapidly and, in order to avoid encirclement, the Italian forces had to abandon hard‑won ground, captured only months before.

The Dolomites front also had to be abandoned very soon afterwards and, in order to avoid total disaster, the Italian army withdrew back to the Piave where it set up a new line of defence.

With support from Anglo‑French divisions dispatched as reinforcements, the Italians managed to stabilize the front, but 300,000 men were taken prisoner during the retreat, which was seen as a disaster all over Italy.