Over the Top

Italian infantry charging into No Man's Land in mountainous terrain during the Great War. The racial and class slur that Italian troops would not fight should have been laid to rest by the Great War, as the nationalist historian Piero Pieri noted in his `L'Italia nella Prima Guerra Mondiale 1915-18'. Indeed in the rout after Caporetto, the Austrians sought to undermine the confidence of the rank and file in their commanders by leafleting the retreating mass of soldiery, hailing them as brave opponents massacred by their own generals in senseless attacks.The analysis was interested, being intended to demoralise, and all the more so for being uncomfortably close to the truth.

Photo from Silvestri `Isonzo 1917' Einaudi Torino 1965