The Foresight family have just spent the week in the Dolomites on the border of Austria and Italy. Specifically the village of San Cassiano which is probably better known these days for its skiing and Michelin starred restaurants. 100 years ago it was near the front lines of the Austrian and Italian armies in the Falzarego region following the Italian offensive in 1915. As with everywhere else in that year things did not go too well for the Allies.
Being British its easy to see the war solely through the prism of the western front and the occasional sideshow such as Gallipoli. However a short hike in the mountains will soon convince you that others had it just as bad. Before you even get to the fighting there is the terrain and weather to deal with. Peaks two to three thousand feet high accessible only by goat tracks and not a stitch of Goretex. Both sides tunnelled extensively and everywhere you look you can see cave openings which housed observation posts and alert machine gunners.
I've put some pictures below but they give little sense of the scale of the place. Apparently it took the efforts of 900 men to sustain just 100 in the line. Well, so what, I hear you ask. Apart from the fact that its a fascinating place to visit it will give you a new appreciation of what the Italian infantryman had to put up with. It's the sort of place where if you as B Company Commander are given a task then your immediate reaction would be to ask if it was not one better suited to A Company.
In his book White War (highly recommended) Mark Thompson refers to one line of attack that was similar to climbing a cathedral roof. A brilliant line and the Italians did it.