First Battle of the Isonzo

First Battle of the Isonzo
Part of the Italian Front
(World War I)

Eleven Battles of the Isonzo
June 1915 — September 1917
Date23 June – 7 July 1915
LocationSoča 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
Luigi Cadorna,
Emanuele Filiberto
Pietro Frugoni
Svetozar Boroević
Géza Lukachich von Somorja
Novak von Arienti
225,000 (18 divisions, 252 battalions, 111 cavalry squadrons, 700 guns) 115,000 (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

5th Army
VII Corps XVI Corps XV Corps
1st Infantry Division 57th Infantry Division61st Infantry Division20th Infantry Division58th Infantry Division
17th Infantry Division18th Infantry Division50th Infantry Division
187th Infantry Brigade6th Mountain Brigade16th Mountain Brigade14th Mountain Brigade81st Honvéd Infantry Brigade
39th Honvéd Infantry Brigade2nd Mountain Brigade12th Mountain Brigade5th Mountain Brigade4th Mountain Brigade
10th Mountain Brigade1st Mountain Brigade13th Mountain Brigade7th Mountain Brigade15th Mountain Brigade
8th Mountain Brigade3rd Mountain Brigade
93rd Infantry Division
VII Corps in KostanjevicaXVI Corps in DornbergXV Corps in Kneža
2nd Army3rd Army
VII CorpsX CorpsXI CorpsVI CorpsII Corps
IV Corps
13th Infantry Division14th Infantry Division20th Infantry Division19th Infantry Division21st Infantry Division
12th Infantry Division11th Infantry Division4th Infantry Division3rd Infantry Division32nd Infantry Division
7th Infantry Division8th Infantry DivisionBersaglieri DivisionAlpini Group A and Bhalf 29th Infantry Division
XIV Corps
half 29th Infantry Division22nd Infantry Division28th Infantry Division30th Infantry Division23rd Infantry Division
27th Infantry Division33rd Infantry Division1st Cavalry Division2nd Cavalry Division3rd Cavalry Division
Pietro FrugoniEmanuele Filiberto
2nd Army in Udine3rd Army in Cervigano

See also

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


Further reading

External links

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

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