Saturday, February 11, 2012

The Front Among Rocks and Ice - The Great War in the Dolomites, part one.

The Front Among Rocks and Ice - The Great War in the Dolomites, part one.

"The front among rocks and ice" were the words of the war veteran Gunther Langes. In my opinion this is the best brief description of the war in the Dolomites - a lonely frontline, not so famous as the Western Front.

Certainly most of us have heard something about this front and the conditions there. But do we really know what the term "high altitude mountain war" means? The term "high altitude" is not an exaggeration here - it was a mountain warfare at the elevation of 3000 meters over the sea level, or higher. 

And no one has planned it at the beginning. The Italian plan was short and simple - to cross the mountain passes quickly, advance to the valleys and march towards Vienna. This was the plan, but the reality was much different...

There is nothing better than photos, to show the specific of the Italian Front. I hope that those pictures would help you to understand the extreme conditions of the war in the Dolomites. The photos were found in the internet and I added some explanations there, based on some books and articles of the Italian front.

The famous group of mountains called Drei Zinnen / Tre Cine di Lavaredo (2.999m)
Position 1 - Italian searchlight, position 2,3 - Italian cannon.

Trofana III (3.237m), Trofana II (3.243m) 
Position 1 - six Italian cannons and two searchlights.

Trofana I (3.225m)
Position 1 - tunnel, at the end of it the charge of 35.000kg of the explosives; position 2 - "August", Italian post and the way to it; position 3 - "Scudo", Italian post with machine gun and snipers, the way is the rope ladder; position 4 - Italian post at 2.900m, machine gun and mortar, the way to that post.
At the top of Trofana I - two Italian cannons and a searchlight.

Trofana I, general view.
Position 2 - Forcella di Rozes, an Austro-Hungarian post. Almost all Italian positions at Trofana were higher than the Austro-Hungarian ones.

Kleiner Lagazuoi (2.756m)
Position 1 - the debris made by Austro-Hungarian mine, 23.000kg of the explosives, 14.1.1917; position 2 - the debris made by Italian mine, 33.000kg of the explosives, 20.6.1917; position 3 - to place the Italian mine, a 1100m long tunnel was made.

Sasso di Stria,(2.477m)
This was a fortified Austro-Hungarian post, unfortunately there was no safe way to get there. As the casualties of the supply-carriers were higher than the casualties in the fight, a special tunnel was made for the purpose of supplying the positions.

To be continued...


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