Cadorna on inspection Mount Pasubio

An intelligent and cultured but narrow minded piedmontese aristocrat, [he could sing whole passages of the operatic arias which appealed to the conventional taste of the social elite of his day] Cadorna was a competent historian who documented his own Great War campaigns after 1919, having signally failed as a battlefield commander due to his unimaginative frontal assault tactics and napoleonic delusions of grandeur. The son of his liberal catholic father, who had led the assault of the Bersaglieri [Sharpshooters] at Porta Pia which closed the Risorgimento, Cadorna was a martinet convinced that iron discipline was necessary if the unity of command and effectiveness of the army were to be preserved. He thus oversaw the employment of the firing squad to punish indiscipline and desertion `to encourage ' the troops, particularly between the Austrian Spring Offensive or `Strafexpedition / Punitive Expedition' of 1916 and the rout of Caporetto in Autumn 1917, during which period he bitterly and quite wrongly complained to the Italian Government that the Italian socialist movement was systematically demoralising the army via pacifist propaganda behind the lines. He entertained but did not act upon ultranationalist suggestions that he assume the dictatorship of Italy, although he maintained covert surveillance on the elected government he was supposed to be serving. He was dismissed, as he complained, `like a bullocky' after Caporetto.

Photograph from Rocca `Cadorna'

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