Publish date:
Updated on

Austrians launch massive offensive on Trentino Front

On this day in 1916, the Austrian army launches a major offensive operation against their Italian enemies on the Trentino front, in northern Italy.

After considering their options carefully, and weighing offers from both sides, Italy had accepted considerable promises of post-war territory from the Allies and declared war on Austria-Hungary (but not on Germany) on May 23, 1915. This opened up a new front in World War I, stretching 600 kilometers—most of them mountainous—along Italy’s much-contested border with Austria-Hungary in the Trentino region. Upon declaring war, the relatively ill-equipped Italian army immediately advanced into the South Tyrol region and to the Isonzo River, where Austro-Hungarian troops met them with a stiff defense. The snowy and treacherous terrain made the region poorly suited for offensive operations, and after several quick Italian successes, combat settled into a stalemate.

The Austrian offensive of May 15, 1916, began with an opening bombardment of the Italian positions by nearly 400 guns. Though they resisted gamely, the Italians were driven off the mountain peaks and forced to retreat south of the town of Rovereto. Nine days after the offensive began, a heavy snow fell, putting a halt to the Austrian advance before they could capture the 4,000-foot peak of Mount Pasubio. Within a week, however, the offensive resumed, and the Austrians continued their resolute advance through the mountain peaks and passes. By the final day of May, thoroughly exhausted but triumphant, they had captured 30,000 Italian prisoners and gained a total of 12 miles of territory since the start of the offensive.

FACT CHECK: We strive for accuracy and fairness. But if you see something that doesn't look right, click here to contact us!


The Seven Years War begins

The Seven Years War, a global conflict known in America as the French and Indian War, officially begins when England declares war on France. However, fighting and skirmishes between England and France had been going on in North America for years. In the early 1750s, French more

Governor George Wallace shot

During an outdoor rally in Laurel, Maryland, George Wallace, the governor of Alabama and a presidential candidate, is shot by 21-year-old Arthur Bremer. Three others were wounded, and Wallace was permanently paralyzed from the waist down. The next day, while fighting for his life more

Air Force sergeant awarded Medal of Honor

At the White House, President Richard Nixon presents Sgt. John L. Levitow with the Medal of Honor for heroic action performed on February 24, 1969, over Long Binh Army Post in South Vietnam. Then an Airman 1st Class, Levitow was the loadmaster on a Douglas AC-47 gunship. His more

Nolan Ryan pitches first no-hitter

On May 15, 1973, California Angel Nolan Ryan strikes out 12 Kansas City Royals and walks three to pitch the first no-hitter of his career. The game was played under protest, as Royals Manager Jack McKeon complained that Ryan wasn’t maintaining contact with the pitching rubber more

Tornado decimates Texas town

A particularly intense tornado hits Sherman, Texas, on this day in 1896, and kills 73 people. It is estimated that the tornado was a rare F5 tornado, in which winds exceeded 260 miles per hour. Storms of that strength happen, on average, less than once a year. The strength of more

Soviets begin withdrawal from Afghanistan

More than eight years after they intervened in Afghanistan to support the procommunist government, Soviet troops begin their withdrawal. The event marked the beginning of the end to a long, bloody, and fruitless Soviet occupation of Afghanistan. In December 1979, Soviet troops more