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Battle of San Matteo

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Geregistreerd op: 11-6-2007
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BerichtGeplaatst: 21 Sep 2008 21:47    Onderwerp: Battle of San Matteo Reageer met quote

46į22′44″N, 10į34′0″E

The Battle of San Matteo took place in the late summer of 1918 on the Punta San Matteo (3678 m) during World War I. It is sometimes called the highest battle in history (though it was surpassed, at 5600m, by the Kargil Conflict in 1999).

At the beginning of 1918 Austro-Hungarian troops set up a fortified position with small artillery pieces on the top of the San Matteo Peak, being able from their high position to bomb the road to the Gavia Pass and thus harass the Italian supply convoys directed to the front line.

On August 13, 1918 a small group of Italian Alpini (307th Company, Battaglione Ortler) conducted a surprise attack taking the fortified position, half of the Austro-Hungarian soldiers were taken prisoner and the other half fled to lower positions.

The loss of the San Matteo Peak constituted a loss of face to imperial Austria, and reinforcements were immediately sent to the region while the Italians were still organizing their defence on the top of the peak.

On September 3, 1918 the Austro-Hungarian started operation "Gemse", an attack aimed to retake the mountain. A large scale artillery bombardment, followed by the assault of at least 150 KaiserschŁtzen (3rd Regiment from Dimaro) was eventually successful and the lost position was retaken. The Italians, who already considered the mountain lost, began a counter-bombardment of the fortified positions, causing many victims among both the defending Italian and the Austro-Hungarian troops.

It must be noted that the base of the peak lies at 2800m altitude, and that it takes a four-hour ice climb up a glacier to reach the top.

The Austro-Hungarians lost 17 men in the battle and the Italians 10. This was the last Austro-Hungarian victory in World War I. The Armistice of Villa Giusti, concluded on November 3, 1918 at 15:00 at Villa Giusti (near Padova/Italy) ended the Alpine War in these mountains on November 4th, 1918 at 1500 h.

In the summer of 2004 the frozen bodies of three KaiserschŁtzen were found at 3400m, near the peak.

San Matteo Memorial
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