The Battle of Vittorio Veneto

The Battle of Vittorio Veneto

The Battle of Vittorio Veneto was the last decisive battle to take place in northern Italy during World War One. It also marked the end of the Austro-Hungarian Empire after the governing regime collapsed.

Before the battle, the Italian Army had lost 300,000 men at Caporetto in 1917 and the morale was at an all-time low. In an effort to turn the tide and push the Austro-Hungarian Army out of Italy, it was vital that they were successful in Vittorio Veneto.

Under the command of Armando Diaz, the Italian Army managed to secure the front line alone the Piave River in June 1918 following a major attack from the enemy. However, this victory cost them 100,000 men and only pushed morale even lower.

The Italian Prime Minister Orlando was desperate for a successful campaign as he believed it would boost his popularity and also boost their chances of making strong territorial demands against the Austrians at a future peace settlement. Field Marshal Foch, Supreme Commander of the Allied Forces was a supporter of this plan, but Diaz felt it should only go ahead once his army was ready.

The Italian Army use a captured Austrian machine gun

The Italian offensive against Austro-Hungarian forces at Vittorio Veneto was eventually launched on 23rd October 1918. The area was chosen as it would force the enemy to split its army in two, and Diaz believed it would force the army into meltdown.

A attack was launched along a line that stretched from Venice to Bormio, with 54 Italian divisions attacking alongside three French and British divisions. They faced 52 Austro-Hungarian divisions and also had an advantage in terms of artillery weapon numbers.

The first problem faced by the Italians during the attack was the crossing of the River Piave, which was flooding. However, once this was achieved they managed to launch a relentless attack on the enemy, which was on the verge of collapse.

Vittorio Veneto was recaptured on 30th October, allowing the 10th Italian Army to push towards Udine, the Third to push towards Latisana and the First Army to target Trent.

Within just 10 days, the Italian Army had recaptured a significant area of lost land, while successfully killing 35,000 Austrians and leaving 100,000 wounded and at least 300,000 as prisoners of war. In contrast, the Italians lost just 5,800 men, with 26,000 wounded.

A truce was finally signed on 2nd November, and soon afterwards the Austro-Hungarian Empire collapsed and fragmented into smaller nation states.

MLA Citation/Reference

"The Battle of Vittorio Veneto". HistoryLearning.com. 2019. Web.