Tenth Battle of The Isonzo River – Trotsky Arrives in Petrograd I THE GREAT WAR Week 147


Before the long winter of 1916/1917, the Italian
army had launched nine Battles of the Isonzo River, hoping to breakthrough the Austro-Hungarian
defenses. And now winter is over, and that means it’s
time for the 10th Battle of the Isonzo River. I’m Indy Neidell; welcome to the Great War. Last week the Allied five-nation army attacked
and lost all along the line in Macedonia. The French took Craonne in the west, and the
British took heavy casualties at Bullecourt, prompting Winston Churchill to ask Parliament
why the British weren’t waiting for American help to arrive before attacking. But if there was any uncertainty in the British
government, it was nothing compared to that in Russia. On the 12th, General Lavr Kornilov, Commandant
of Petrograd, and Alexander Guchkov, Minister of Marine and War, resigned. The 16th saw a new coalition cabinet, with
Alexander Kerensky the new Minister of War. Now, the day before that, the Petrograd Soviet,
one of two factions vying for control in Russia, issued a manifesto demanding a platform of
peace without annexations or indemnities. The Provisional Government, the other faction,
rejected calls for peace, and Kerensky even wanted to renew offensive operations. As if that wasn’t confusing enough, Leon
Trotsky arrived in Petrograd this week. Also, the Provisional Government admitted
six moderate members of the Petrograd Soviet into its ranks this week. They were Mensheviks, a socialist faction
in Russia, whom Trotsky had once led, and whom the Bolsheviks under Lenin vehemently
opposed. Trotsky now agreed with much of the Bolshevik
positions, but did not join them at this point. Also in Russia, in Kronstadt Naval Base in
the Gulf of Finland, the Kronstadt Soviet – led by 3,000 Bolshevik sailors – declared
independence from the Provisional Government. This infuriated Lenin because he didn’t
think the Bolsheviks were ready to make their move and he didn’t want anyone jumping the
gun. He ordered them to call off their actions,
which they soon did. But whether or not there would be more Russian
attacks in future, there were British ones this week. But the Battle of Arras did finally come to
an end on the 17th, the day the British army took the village of Bullecourt after over
a month of trying. The British had taken 159,000 casualties in
39 days (Cheerful Sacrifice), which works out to 4,000 per day. That’s over 1,000 more per day than they
took at the Somme last year, and is actually the highest daily average casualty total the
British army would take in any of its major offensive battles of the whole war. Jonathan Nicholls in “Cheerful Sacrifice”
estimates the German losses at around 120,000. However, in spite of the tremendous casualties,
the British had managed to push the Germans back between 3 and 9 km on a front of over
30km. British Commander in Chief Sir Douglas Haig’s
men had made advances greater than at any time since the beginning of trench warfare
in 1914, had taken over 20,000 prisoners and 254 big guns, and the tank was now a part
of an infantry advance. Speaking of tanks, a side note here – this
week on the 14th at Mainz, the first German tank trial was held. But the British Offensive wasn’t the only
one coming to an end. As I mentioned last week, the spring actions
in Macedonia were now winding down, the Allies unable to advance. After unsuccessful attacks this week, they
withdrew beyond the Struma River and made a series of easily reinforced bridgeheads
should the Bulgarians attack. The Bulgarians welcomed the rest, though,
and put out placards that read, “we know you’re going back to the hills, so are we”
(Gilbert). One thing of note that happened there this
week, though, was the Battle of Raviné Hill. This was the first engagement of the Greek
army under the Salonika government, so not the Greek Royal government. After a French artillery barrage, three Greek
companies attacked Bulgarian positions on May 14th and captured the hill. The counter bombardment was fierce, the Greeks
taking 75% casualties and being forced to abandon the hill, but French and Greek forces
did retake it that night. This helped the Greek reputation in Entente
countries, who often viewed Greece as an enemy after armed Royalist confrontations with allied
troops last December. There was even action this week elsewhere
in the region. The Serbian rebels had been defeated in the
Toplica Rebellion a few weeks ago, but those remaining had resorted to guerilla warfare. On the 15th, rebels under Kosta Pechanac set
fire to several Bulgarian border villages and the Serbian town of Bosilegrad, which
was predominantly inhabited by Bulgarians. They could move pretty freely because some
of them were dressed in captured Bulgarian uniforms and if they were questioned they
said they were escorting captured Serbian bandits. Their number is unclear, with reports ranging
from a few dozen up to around 200. We do have a better report of the death toll
– 33 civilians – who were killed before the houses were set on fire. 317 houses in Bosilegrad were burned. But if things were winding down in the Balkans,
they were heating up on the Italian front. The 10th Battle of the Isonzo River began
this week, and this time the Italians were also using British artillery. At dawn on May 12th, over 3,000 big guns began
to pound the Austro-Hungarian positions. They fired all that day and the next, and
till noon on the 14th. This was a bigger barrage than anything they’d
tried before and it destroyed fortified positions all over, killing thousands of the enemy. When it stopped, three divisions of the Plava
Corps charged the slopes of Hill 383 and attacked its Hungarian defenders. Hill 383 was known as Bloody 383 and was true
to its reputation, machine guns, mortars, and artillery tore apart the massed Italian
infantry. The defenders also took huge losses, though,
and they were unable to bring up any more ammunition or reserves, so eventually, determined
and repeated Italian attacks took the hill. It had taken two years for them to do so. Downriver, Zagorra fell after a brave defense
by Serbs and Croats, but it wasn’t the worst loss that day for the Imperial Austrian army. A few more kilometers down the Isonzo River,
a barrage of high explosive shells rained down on the Hungarians holding Mount Santo
and a surprise attack put it in Italian hands. The news of these victories spread through
the army and Parliament, and were in fact victories to rival those at the beginning
of the 6th battle last August. And much like that battle, Italian celebrations
now were premature. See, Mount Santo was kind of a pivot for the
whole front, so Austrian Major General Guido Novak von Arienti assembled all the mountain
troops he could get his hands on and launched a surprise attack at midnight, taking back
the summit. Over the next few days the Italians would
repeatedly try and retake it, but it remained in Austrian hands. For the rest of the week, Luigi Capello’s
Army of Gorizia attacked on the central front again and again. On the 18th, the “Iron General” Maurizio
Gonzaga did manage to capture Mount Vodice, but otherwise the enemy lines held firm and
most of the Bainsizza Plateau remained Austrian territory. This was not the Italian plan for phase one
of the battle, as a breakthrough would ideally cause the Austrians to move troops northward,
so in phase two the Italians could breakthrough further south on the Carso Plateau. Here’s an Italian soldiers’ jingle from
the battle I found in Martin Gilbert’s “The First World War”. General Cadorna wrote to the queen,
“If you want to see Trieste, buy a postcard”. And the week comes to an end, with more confusion
in Russia, the Allies ending offensives in the west and in the Balkans, and the Italians
beginning a huge new one. I’ve mentioned the British and Russian leadership
today, so I’ll end with that of the Germans. The German General staff had such huge war
aims that they could only be realized with a German military victory. Hopes for that were running very high at this
point. The Western Front was holding, Russia was
in disarray, and sinkings at sea were growing and growing. Admiral Eduard von Capelle told the Reichstag,
“I am fully and firmly convinced that the war will end by October.” Chief of Staff Paul von Hindenburg wrote that
Germany had become so strong that the Western Front could stand up to any attack. And all this month German intelligence reported
increasing concern in Allied Capitals. Quartermaster General Erich Ludendorff said
that he had info that “England could, under no conditions, prosecute the war for more
than three months longer, and this, on account of the shortage of foodstuffs.” At a champagne dinner this week, the Kaiser
himself toasted the Allied defeats in Arras, on the Aisne, and in Champagne, saying, “We
have gained a famous victory!” Even Chancellor Bethmann-Hollweg, often the
voice of pessimism or reality, told the Reichstag this month that Germany’s military situation
had never been more favorable. Well… maybe. I mean, the country had serious food and supply
issues by now. We’ve talked before about the Turnip winter
and civilian starvation, and the Hindenburg Programme was not working out as expected
by this time. It was supposed to ease the burden on the
troops by substituting machines, but Germany could not keep up with British and French
combined production, and the men, horses, and everything else taken from agricultural
production for the army and munitions caused food shortages and inflation. The workers were in the streets. And Germany’s allies? Except Bulgaria, who wasn’t interested in
fighting anywhere except the Balkans, they were in worrisome condition. But hey, as Bethmann-Hollweg said, “Germany’s
MILITARY situation had never been more favorable”. Well, then it must be time to celebrate! If you want to learn more about Paul von Hindenburg
and why he was so confident check out our biography episode right here. Our Patreon supporter of the week is Jakub
Weberschinke. Help us out on Patreon if you want more maps,
more animations and more glorious content. Don’t forget to subscribe, see you next
time.

100 thoughts on “Tenth Battle of The Isonzo River – Trotsky Arrives in Petrograd I THE GREAT WAR Week 147

  1. The lyrics of the Italian song were mistranslated, it would be:
    "General Cadorna wrote to the queen
    "If you want to see Trieste I'll send to you a postcard""

    The whole song is:

    Il general Cadorna ha scritto alla regina
    «Se vuoi veder Trieste te la mando in cartolina»

    Bom bom bom
    al rombo del cannon

    Il general Cadorna si mangia le bistecche
    ai poveri soldati ci dà castagne secche

    Bom bom bom
    al rombo del cannon

    Il general Cadorna è diventato matto
    chiamà il '99 che l'è ancor ragazzo

    Bom bom bom
    al rombo del cannon

    Il general Cadorna ha perso l'intelletto
    chiamà il '99 che fa ancor pipì nel letto

    Bom bom bom
    al rombo del cannon

    Il general Cadorna ha scritto la sentenza:
    «Pigliatemi Gorizia, vi manderò in licenza»

    Bom bom bom
    al rombo del cannon

    Il general Cadorna 'l mangia 'l beve 'l dorma
    e il povero soldato va in guerra e non ritorna

    Bom bom bom
    al rombo del cannon.

    Which means:

    General Cadorna wrote to the queen
    "If you want to see Trieste I'll send to you a postcard"
    Bom bom bom
    To the roar of the cannon

    General Cadorna eats the steaks
    Poor soldiers give us dried chestnuts

    Bom bom bom
    To the roar of the cannon

    General Cadorna has become crazy
    He calls '99 that he is still a boy

    Bom bom bom
    To the roar of the cannon

    General Cadorna lost intellect
    He calls '99 who still peeks into bed

    Bom bom bom
    To the roar of the cannon

    General Cadorna wrote the sentence:
    "Get me Gorizia, I will send you a license"

    Bom bom bom
    To the roar of the cannon

    The general Cadorna eats, drinks and sleeps.
    And the poor soldier goes to war and does not return

    Bom bom bom
    To the roar of the cannon.

  2. The background music towards the middle of the vid reminds me of the music from the game Squad Assault 2.

  3. Trotsky never actually led the Mensheviks, who were quite loosely organised in any case. If there was a definite leader of them it was another figure by the name of Yuliy or Julius Martov. Trotsky lacked any organised following despite being well-known.

  4. Allied meeting in 1917
    Britain:Alright guys lets show what did we get for these 3 years ! Italy you first
    Italy:a hill

  5. Do you guys add your own audio to the film you show or do the videos have their own audio?

  6. RE the German leadership: Oh dear God, how blind can these people be!!!??? (never mind, I should know by now -__- )

  7. What are those "Spikey" things on his desk, his right our left???
    Are they meant to be used against horses, or truck tires???

  8. don't forget, take the time to watch the ads! Indy n the crew will appreciate it!

  9. https://www.reddit.com/r/tifu/comments/6c0gia/tifu_by_cleaning_my_humidifier_and_almost_killing/

    Some light humor for you Indy.

  10. Hi I love the show, here is a question for 'Out of the Trenches' was there ever an arms race for better Zepplins so they could release bombs over the trenches? Thanks Indy and the crew

  11. 10th battle of the asonzo??? how stupid where the italians???
    dear italians the definition of madness is "doing the dame thing expecting a different result".

  12. Dove combatte mio bisnonno classe 1894 artiglieria campale sull'isonzo

  13. Could you guys do an episode on South Africa 🇿🇦 in the world war 1

  14. Question possibly for Out of The Trenches. What was the Italian navy like and why did the Italians not try a naval flanking maneuver out of say Venice directly towards Trieste. Obviously we are speaking from the pov of 100 years of hindsight but I think a direct attack on the port of Trieste would have been a surprise to the Austrians. They seem to be putting all their resources into land battles and just holding the Italians at the Isonzo.

    also greetings from Canada

  15. How did germans really managed to loose? I mean they were pretty much winning everywhere or at least a draw…

  16. It's complete. I've finally done it. I watched all regular episodes, all 1470 minutes of it… In little more than 3 days. I'm in complete shock…

    Time for the specials.

  17. why did the italians lose the war? they ordered ziti instead of shells

  18. I want to point out that the picture shown as "Mount Santo" is wrong. It does not look nearly as spectacular. In reality it is 681m high with a church at the top. Still, it was one of the key strategic positions on the left bank of the Isonzo river.

  19. Why couldn't the germans get food from the austro hungarian Empire?

  20. Whatever happened to JahnTrawn? He used to post like 3 comments in every video but then he vanished.

  21. There are more battles of the Isonzo river than there have been fast and furious movies…

  22. Wow! The political cartoons were very evocative. Thanks for doing these high quality videos.

  23. Another great episode Indy! But must you use Italian names for places in Austria-Hungary, present day Slovenia?

  24. Only two things are infinite:
    The expansion of the Universe
    And
    Battle's of the Isonzo River.

  25. When Indy said Alexander Kerensky…. All I could think about was Battletech

  26. I'm sorry if this has been mentioned before but who was part of the the ottoman empire in a brief description?

  27. why wouldnt the allies push into the adriatic? sure its the heart of the imperial navy but its a war, youre supposed to fight. mass the british and french fleets and use Italian ground troops to raid the ports, so if you cant destroy the fleet outright, you can deny it logistical support. once neutralized the austrians would have to mobilize army forces to guard against invasion along the entire coast. that would at least take pressure of other fronts and at best an italian landing could potentially cause a panic in a tattered austria.

    ok this is ambitious but is it any more so than the delusions of the western and alpine fronts?

  28. I discovered this channel only a few days ago but I already like it a lot. I have binge watched all the weekly episodes from start till today and it is too bad that last episode is more than a year waiting. (but, hey, thats modern war)

    Thinking about biggest "what ifs" about war, even though they don´t change nothing. Still, both sides brought a lot of havoc upon themselves. Here are some "waht ifs" that make me think.

    1, What if Germany would have not started unrestricted submarine warfare? Could that have avoided USA joining in war?
    2. What if Germany did not fund Lenin? Could that have brought democracy to Russia?
    3. What if Austria-Hungary had capable military commanders? would that have helped end the war before USA joined the war?

  29. Czar Nicholas II starved 90 -100 million Russians before his death at the hands of the Russian people in 1918.

  30. After you fight 10 battles at the Isonzo River the 11th one is free.

  31. tbh I wish central Powers won. the rest of the 19th century could've been alot less bloodier

  32. Finaly,lets go Greeks.We must be united.We can be victorius

  33. SOČA ( isonzo ) is the RIGHT term – word for the river! USE REAL HISTORY!

  34. Days since the last Battle of the Isonzo in the workplace: 0

  35. At this point it is difficult to see how Germany could lose the war seeing as Russia and France are on the verge of collapse and allied offensives are failing everywhere.

  36. I don't exactly know who has chosen the musics for this episode…but they REALLY give the idea of how hard those military actions should have been!

  37. If this were a shop, Cadorna would get something for free.

  38. Without looking it up, Battles of Isonzo or Star Wars. Which had more sequels?

  39. Ah, no… the Kronstadters weren't Bolsheviks. They hadn't joined the party yet, and mostly wouldn't, which is why they went ahead on their own initiative without waiting for Lenin's say-so. They were militantly revolutionary socialists who believed in workers and peasants taking over, and that's what they wanted to do. Lenin's plan was for his party to take over in the name of workers and peasants, which is a whole different kettle of fish. That's why after the October revolution and the Bolshevik seizure of power, the Kronstadters mutinied again, against the Bolsheviks usurping the soviets, and were crushed by troops of the new government under Trotsky's command. Anarcho-communists claim their legacy ever since.

  40. Italian soldiers: "Cadorna, you've been trying for ten times now, it won't work and you're killing your men"
    Cadorna: "iT w0nT w0rK aNd YoUrE kIlLiNg YoUr mEn"

  41. Trotsky wasn't a Menshevik. He occupied a third position that disagreed with both the Bolsheviks and Mensheviks before Lenin adopted Trotsky's Theory of Permanent Revolution and Trotsky accepted Lenin was right in terms of party organization.

  42. This may have been answered in a previous episode, but on Austria-Hungary's Italian front, was there a dominant ethnicity and language there? i.e. Was it mostly ethnically Austrian/German-speaking, ethnically Hungarian/Hungarian-speaking, etc, or was it really more or less equal across all ethnicities?

  43. 2:26 did that guy digging in the foreground just die on camera?…he went still…what the hell was he doing??

  44. Great series! I only have one small clarification to make: 4:33 Bosilegrad was not a part of Serbia yet at the time, It was in the Bulgarian Tzardom until 1920, before signing of the Treaty of Neuilly sur Seine after Bulgarian capitulation in WW1; meaning that Pecanac had crossed into Bulgarian territory and Bosilegrad was chosen because it was secluded and obscured by the mountainous terrain arround it and there was virtually no Bulgarian army or gendarmerie there at the time. Interesting trivia about Chetnik veteran Kosta Pecanac is that he was executed in 1944 by a pro Allied fraction of the Chetniks led by Draza Mihajlovic for his collaboration with the German occupiers. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kosta_Pe%C4%87anac

  45. Belong shortly far debt above resemble injure watch balance safe word dynamics.

  46. hey fam, i heard u like battles of the isonzo river…

  47. Was Trotsky that important tho? Couldn’t the Mensheviks, or Central supported rebels in other parts of Russia cause the same stir that could convince Russia to sign peace?

  48. I have the feeling that the provisional government will hold and Russia will be stable again. Kerenskj FTW!

  49. For those trying to find more reliable loss figures in Western Front they must take under consideration the fact that French, Belgium and British Commonwealth (+ American) losses (military deaths) during the war were total 3 million while those of Germans 1.9 million. Then we must not forget that almost half of German losses were outside Western Front (though of course not all French and especially British losses were neither in west though great majority were). It's pretty obvious that the kill rate in Western Front was favoring Germans about 1:2 or even more.

  50. By British Artillery did Indy mean a British Artillery Division or Italian Soldiers using artillery guns made in Britain?

  51. The 266th Battle of the Isonzo Lake– it's a lake now because all the shell holes finally merged together to submerge the landscape totally underwater.

    Get swimming, boys! On to victory!!

    Later! OL J R 🙂

  52. I'm your host, Luigi Cadorna let's get right into the 19,754th battle of the Isonzo river

  53. My great grandad disappeared while fighting Italians in the (insert number) Isonzo battle.
    Would be nice to find out one day what exactly happened.
    I always liked to imagine that he pissed right off to Italy,started a new family and I have relatives down there that I don't even know of.

  54. There's something very Wile E. Coyote-like about Cadorna…Of course Bojevic is the Road Runner…

  55. British Generals when they rake a wooping 3 km of tatered soil at a cost of several thousand men: "Get out the tea boys, mission acomplished!"

  56. Germany,France,Britain and Russia:How many battles of Isonzo River you guys start want to start?
    Austria-Hungary-İtaly: Yes!

  57. "Do you know what's annoying? Annoying is having an Italian ally!"

    … or an Astro-Hungarian one, they're annoying as well.

  58. I don't know where you got the photos of Mount Santo (Sveta Gora), but they are NOT showing the hill you are talking about. Sveta Gora is a fairly low hill, not a high snowy mountain in the middle of the Alps like the one in the videos.

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