Italian Front in France. Positioning a Machine Gun for an Ambush


Following Italy’s entry into World War I on the side of the Allies (Great Britain, France, and Russia) in the spring of 1915, Italian forces were engaged primarily on the Italian Front, a 650-kilometer stretch of mainly mountainous terrain along the border with Austria-Hungary. Italian forces also were deployed in Albania. In 1918, the final year of the war, the Italian government dispatched the Second Italian Corps, a two-division force under the command of General Alberico Albricci, to fight on the Western Front in France. This was after the disastrous Italian defeat at the Battle of Caporetto, which began on October 24, 1917, when the government in Rome concluded that deployment of the force would bolster Italy’s reputation with the Allies and demonstrate its commitment to the cause of an Allied victory. The Second Italian Corps was part of the Fifth French Army comprising the First French Colonial Corps, the Fifth French Corps, and the First French Cavalry Corps. Alongside French, British, and American forces, it saw action in the Second Battle of the Marne (July 15–August 6, 1918), the last major German offensive on the Western Front. Following the failure of the initial attack, the Allied forces under French general (later marshal) Ferdinand Foch launched a sweeping counterattack. On July 18, 1918, II Italian Corps attacked the German lines in the region southwest of Rheims from Ormes to Festigny. They suffered heavy casualties early in the battle and were replaced on the night of July 19‒20 by the 22nd British Corps. The Second Italian Corps remained in France until the end of the war. By November 1918 it had reached the town of Sissonne in northern France. This photograph shows an Italian soldier on the Western Front positioning a machine gun.

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Title in Original Language

Fronte italiano in Francia. Appostamento di una mitragliatrice

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1 photograph ; black-and-white


  1. Vanda Wilcox, “Italian Front,” in 1914-1918-online. International Encyclopedia of the First World War, edited by Ute Daniel, Peter Gatrell, Oliver Janz, Heather Jones, Jennifer Keene, Alan Kramer, and Bill Nasson.

Last updated: November 14, 2017