Roberto's War Service (1915-1918)
Dictated November 30, 1990.
Typed November 14,1995.

Italy declared war on May 23, 1915, against Austria-Hungary and later against Germany as well. There was a convention entered into by Italy and the Allies called the London Convention. Italy was promised certain territorial demands against Austria to be settled at the end of the war. Roberto served in the infantry and for a time was the bugler for General Badoglio, one of the top Italian generals who was also active in the Second World War.

In 1914 when the war started, the Germans trampled through Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, and broke through the French Maginot Line and invaded France. This was all done by the end of August 1914. After this, it became a war of the trenches. The same thing took place on the war front between Austria and Italy. This became known as the war of the trenches. The soldiers on either side shot at each other with all they had, rifles, cannon, mortars, but hardly moving position. The soldiers were in there for months regardless of weather, water, excreta, rodents, and dead, as well as wounded companions. While there were some heavy battles, nothing changed much. This was the type of war up to the end of 1917 and into 1918. During that time, army tanks were first developed by the British and then all the other nations retaliated in kind. Also the airplane came into use, first for observation purposes and soon after for bombing and air battles.

Italy suffered a disastrous defeat at Caporetto on October 23, 1917, but the Italians regrouped later at the Piave, which is a river that runs from the Alps and into the Adriatic sea. They regrouped on the west side of the river and prepared a new attack. The new attack occurred on May 24, 1918, and is recalled in Italian history as the Battle of the Piave. Roberto was in that battle and at one point he developed a large boil on the top of his shoulder, a result of carrying his fighting equipment. Because of that he was sent back for medical attention. Before launching their attack, the Italian army diverted the course of the river to allow their mechanized units to advance with the soldiers and inflicted a great defeat on the Austrians. When Roberto was cured of his infection, he was sent back to the front. He arrived there and his entire regiment had been destroyed and with the few remaining soldiers a new regiment was formed.

Eventually Austria sued for an armistice jointly with Germany, and one was signed on November 10, 1918 to take effect on November 11, 1918, at 1100 hours to bring the entire war to an end.

The border between Austria and Italy was not respected in accordance with the London Concordat in which Italy requested the return of Trieste and Fiume. Fiume was awarded to the newly formed Yugoslavia. However, further negotiations between Italy and Yugoslavia resulted in Fiume returning to Italy, in 1924.

When the war ended, there were no allied soldiers on German territory but German soldiers were in France, Belgium, Luxemburg, and the Netherlands at just about the same positions they had conquered during the month of August 1914. On the Italo-Austrian front there were Italian soldiers on Austrian territory but there were also Austrian soldiers on Italian territory.

There were many important battles mostly near the end of the war in which the Canadian army played a very important role, I will leave that to the true historians. One incident is worth mentioning. When the armistice had already been signed for the war to end on November the 11th, the Canadian General Currie launched an attack on the German lines. His objective was to return to the positions held at the beginning of the war. The attack did not succeed, the lines did not change place and each side had lost an additional 150 soldiers, uselessly.

Yours is not to reason why,
Yours it is to do and die.

During the war everyone was mobilized, even the song writers. Some of the songs written then are still popular today.

One was;

Le ragazze di Trieste
Canto'n tutte con ardore
O Italia, O Italia, del mio cuore,
Tu ci vieni a libera!


The young ladies of Trieste
All sing with ardor
Oh Italy, Oh Italy, of my heart,
Come and liberate us.

Another one was;

Il General Cadorna
Ha scritto a la regina
Se voui veder' Trieste,
Te mando un' Cartolina.


General Cadorna
Has written to the Queen
If you want to see Trieste,
I shall send you a postcard

Thereby indicating that he has occupied the city of Trieste

This one should have been the first;

Il Piave mormorava
Calmo e placido
Al passagio dei primi fanti
Il ventriquatro Maggio


The Piave murmured
Calm and tranquil
At the passing of the first infantry(man)
On the twenty-fourth of May.

This completes my efforts of the history of Italy during the time that we, the Verdone Family, lived in Italy.

War, however, is always a painful experience for those involved in it either as an actual combatant and those who stay home and wonder what is happening to their loved ones. Our dad returned after having suffered many hardships, but he returned! Mother had a brother who also went to war and never returned. He was declared "Lost at War" that is, not dead, not prisoner, not defector, nor injured and not able to return. Mom used to say that grandmother always thought that he would return any day soon, she believed in that until her dying days, ... he has not returned ...yet.

"The paths of glory lead but to the grave."
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