Battles - The Fourth Battle of the Isonzo, 1915

Italian Chief of Staff Luigi Cadorna Considered by many as a logical second phase of the Third Battle of the Isonzo, the Fourth Battle was launched a bare week following the conclusion of the Third Battle, on 10 November 1915.

The final, fourth, Isonzo battle of the year, it lasted rather longer than the two-week average to date, finally being called off in failure by Italian Chief of Staff Luigi Cadorna after a little over three weeks.

For a single-article background to the Isonzo battles click here.

Essentially a continuation of the Third Battle fighting was chiefly concentrated around Gorizia and on the Carso, although subsidiary fighting continued along the Isonzo line.  At Mte Sei Busi, already the scene of four hard-fought attacks, a further five attacks were launched by the Italians.

Fighting reached its peak towards the end of November and thereafter was reduced to local skirmishing until mid-December brought an end to the struggle for the year.

In sum total by the conclusion of the Fourth Isonzo battle the Italians had penetrated a few miles into the Austro-Hungarian sector, but at great cost and without attaining any of the objectives defined earlier by Cadorna.  Casualties on both sides were severe.  Since October the Italians had suffered a further 115,000 casualties and the Austro-Hungarians 72,000.

The Austro-Hungarian high command was sufficiently concerned by these losses - despite the transfer of twelve divisions to the Isonzo since June - that they requested military assistance from their German allies.  German aid was a long time in actually materialising but when it did - in the wake of the Eleventh Battle of the Isonzo - it proved decisive and very nearly succeeded in knocking Italy out of the war at Caporetto.

Further offensive operations were postponed by the Italians with the onset of winter.  Accordingly Cadorna, determined as ever, launched the Fifth Battle of the Isonzo on 9 March 1916.

Click here to view a map charting the progress of the first eleven battles of the Isonzo.

Photograph courtesy of Photos of the Great War website

A "creeping barrage" is an artillery bombardment in which a 'curtain' of artillery fire moves toward the enemy ahead of the advancing troops and at the same speed as the troops.

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