Monday 29 April 2024

I-Spy Turin: memorial to a forgotten front

In the old days before we had the EU, European countries used to fight wars with each other. We know a lot about the horrors of the Western Front in the First World War, but there were other equally dreadful theatres we hear much less of.

The war memorial in Turin, pictured above, commemorates soldiers killed in one of them, the conflict between Austria and Italy, much of which was fought on the Alpine Front.

Italy entered the war late, in 1916. Having been an ally of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, it switched sides to join Britain, France and Russia. Austria and Italy would lose a million men - 600,000 Italians and 400,000 Austrians - many of them in the mountains. One war correspondent said conditions there were worse even than 'in the blood-soaked mud of Flanders'.

In addition to the cold and the usual hazards of war, there were avalanches, sometimes set off deliberately as a weapon, sometimes triggered accidentally by artillery, and sometimes occurring naturally. After heavy snow in December of 1916, avalanches buried 10,000 soldiers in just two days.

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