Captured Italian soldiers are escorted to the rear by German soldiers during the Battle of Caporetto

Captured Italian soldiers are escorted to the rear by German soldiers during the Battle of Caporetto, 1917

The Battle of Caporetto (also known as the Twelfth Battle of the Isonzo or the Battle of Karfreit as it was known by the Central Powers) took place from 24 October to 19 November 1917, near the town of Kobarid (now in Slovenia), on the Austro-Italian front of World War I. The battle was named after the Italian name of the town of Kobarid (known as Karfreit in German).

Austro-Hungarian forces, reinforced by German units, were able to break into the Italian front line and rout the Italian army, which had practically no mobile reserves. The battle was a demonstration of the effectiveness of the use of stormtroopers and the infiltration tactics developed by Hauptmann Willy Rohr. The use of poison gas by the Germans played a key role in the collapse of the Italian Second Army. Initiated with a heavy artillery barrage of high explosives, gas and smoke, the combined force broke through the Italian Second Army’s lines almost immediately. They progressed a remarkable 25 km by the close of the day, adopting infiltration tactics and exploiting breaches in the Italian line with the use of grenades and flamethrowers.

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