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The forgotten British soldiers of Italian WWI battle

 
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BerichtGeplaatst: 26 Jun 2011 10:15    Onderwerp: The forgotten British soldiers of Italian WWI battle Reageer met quote

The forgotten British soldiers of Italian WWI battle

Many tourists visit northern France and Belgium to see the cemeteries where soldiers killed in World War I are buried, but other British WWI war graves are less well-known or remembered, as army chaplain Andrew Martlew observes.
If the soldiers who lie in the British military cemetery at Granezza had died a few months earlier, their graves would have had a constant stream of visitors and their memorials at Tyne Cot or the Menin Gate would have been part of our national folklore.
But in the mountains of northern Italy, I was the first British person to sign the visitors' book this year, and hardly anyone remembers that the British fought alongside the Italians in World War I.

They became the first British troops to cross the pre-war boundaries into enemy territory. They advanced so fast that it was two days before their rations caught up with them

In the autumn of 1917, the British Army was fighting the third Battle of Ypres, the one they called Passchendaele.
The Italians were fighting the Austrians, and the Germans, at the twelfth Battle of the Isonzo, the one they called Caporetto - and they were losing, terribly.
Ernest Hemingway tells the story in A Farwell To Arms, and an English nurse is at the heart of that book - but the British soldiers who came to strengthen the new front line seem to have disappeared from sight.


Pre-battle tea
They zigzagged without military sense as they followed fissures in the limestone. And when incoming artillery fire struck the rock, shrapnel from the shells was augmented by razor-sharp splinters of rock.
And there they stayed, up in the hills of the Asiago Plateau, through the summer of 1918, until 1 November.

Early that morning, with so little notice that the British troops did not get their pre-battle cup of tea, they attacked, and found the Austrian Army crumbling before them.
They became the first British troops to cross the pre-war boundaries into enemy territory. They advanced so fast that it was two days before their rations caught up with them - through woods, up and down precipitous slopes that dropped hundreds of feet at a time until, on 4 November 1918, their armistice was signed.

But there had been a cost.
Not the slaughter of the Somme, perhaps, but the sons of 712 families lie in the five small cemeteries in the woods along unpaved roads in the hills around Asiago.
Like all Commonwealth war cemeteries, they are immaculate. Surrounded by walls of rough-hewn grey granite blocks, the grass is neat - the tidy plants along the rows of white headstones waiting to flower in the clear mountain sunlight, and the only sound, beyond the wind whispering through the trees, is birdsong, pure and sweet.

Thin black cross
But the memorial that affected me most, as I traced the British progress, was not a British cemetery, nor yet the white arch of marble that towers over the town of Asiago, where both Italian and Austrian bones are interred together.

The cemetery is a reminder of times of alliance and animosity
What touched me most was a modern war memorial in a medieval village a few kilometres from Trentino, at a place where British soldiers stopped at the end of the war.
Carved in black on a gleaming slab of polished cream stone and separated by the upright of a thin black cross are 17 Italian names from WWI - when we were allies - and seven from WWII - when, for some of the time, we were enemies.

Perhaps that is why, as the fascists took control of Italy, the British role in the Italian war was quietly put out of sight.
Although the British cemeteries survived, as silent, perhaps inconvenient, but still protected witnesses of a former alliance. As they do to this day.

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http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/programmes/from_our_own_correspondent/9522135.stm
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BerichtGeplaatst: 17 Jul 2011 8:39    Onderwerp: Reageer met quote



De begraafplaats ligt ongeveer 9 km van Asiago/Lusiana.
GPS CoŲrdinaten: N 45.808267, E 11.531417.
142 WO I graven

Er zijn nog vier andere in de regio:

Magnaboschi British Cemetery
GPS CoŲrdinaten: N 45.825734, E 11.460714.
183 WO I graven

Boscon British Cemetery
GPS CoŲrdinaten: N 45.837037, E 11.481528.
166 WO I graven

Barenthal Military Cemetery
GPS CoŲrdinaten: N 45.841042, E 11.524057.
116 WO I graven

Cavalletto British Cemetery
GPS CoŲrdinaten: N 45.799845, E 11.510324.
100 WO I graven
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BerichtGeplaatst: 26 Okt 2012 20:51    Onderwerp: Reageer met quote

Hier een link waarop alle Britse eenheden te vinden zijn die vochten in Italie in de Eerste Wereldoorlog: http://www.1914-1918.net/italy.htm.

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