Second battle of Isonzo, 18 July-3 August 1915

The second battle of the Isonzo followed on directly from the first battle, with a gap of only eleven days. The Italians fought with the same eighteen divisions that had ended the first battle, giving them 260 infantry battalions in the Second and Third Armies, while the Austrians had been reinforced up to 129 battalions. Cadorna put his faith in a better organised, shorter sharper artillery bombardment, but the Italian artillery in 1915 was not capable of destroyed strong lines of barbed wire.

The initial Italian attack produced 4,000 prisoners of war, but very few territorial gains. Mt San Michele was captured on 20 July, but the Austrians recaptured it on 22 July. On the Carso Mt. Sei Busi  was captured and retained, giving the Italians a foothold on the plateau. However, an attack from Mt. Sei Busi on 2 August was quickly driven back. The offensive died away as the Italians began to run out of artillery shells.

The second battle of the Isonzo cost the Italians 41,886 casualties. The Austrians suffered 46,640 casualties over the slightly long period of 15 July-15 August, with 12,290 recorded as missing (amongst them were the 4,000 prisoners captured by 22 July).

The Italian attack did achieve some successes, amongst them the capture of Mt. San Michele on 20 July, and of Mt. Sei Busi (on the Carso) on 26 July, but an attempt to advance further from Mt. Sei Busi on 2 August was quickly driven back, whi. The Italians had captured 4,000 POWs by 22 July. The offensive came to an end as the Italians began to run out of artillery ammunition. Two further Italian offensives would follow in 1915 (third and fourth battles of the Isonzo), with equally little success.

Caporetto and the Isonzo Campaign, The Italian Front 1915-1918, John Macdonald with Zeljko Cimprié. An excellent study of the First World War on the Italian front, focusing on the twelve battles of the Isonzo, one of the most costly campaigns of the entire war. A good background to the campaign is followed by useful accounts of each of the battles, something quite difficult to find. [read full review]
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Books on the First World War | Subject Index: First World War

How to cite this article: Rickard, J (31 August 2007), Second battle of Isonzo, 18 July-3 August 1915 , http://www.historyofwar.org/articles/battles_isonzo2.html

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