Austrians launch massive offensive on Trentino Front - HISTORY
Year
1916

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.

ALSO ON THIS DAY

First Allied jet flies

On May 15, 1941, the jet-propelled Gloster-Whittle E 28/39 aircraft flies successfully over Cranwell, England, in the first test of an Allied aircraft using jet propulsion. The aircraft’s turbojet engine, which produced a powerful thrust of hot air, was devised by Frank Whittle, ...read more

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 ...read more

The flight of Faith 7

On May 15, 1963, Gordon Cooper is launched into space aboard Faith 7 on the longest American space mission to that date. Faith 7 was the capstone of Project Mercury, the NASA program that put the first American into space in 1961 and the first astronaut into orbit in 1962. Cooper ...read 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 ...read more

Madeleine Albright is born

On this day in 1937, Madeleine Albright, America’s first female secretary of state, is born Maria Jana Korbelova in Prague, Czechoslovakia (now the Czech Republic).The daughter of Czech diplomat Josef Korbel, Albright fled to England with her family after the Nazis occupied ...read 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 ...read 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 ...read more

Katherine Anne Porter is born

Callie Porter, later known as Katherine Anne Porter, is born in Indian Creek, Texas, on this day in 1890.Porter grew up in poverty. Before she turned two, her mother died and her father moved in with his mother. Porter’s grandmother, Catherine Anne Porter, provided love and ...read 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 ...read 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 ...read more