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restore Italian morale and helped to save the


The existing Italian Government, headed

by Signor Boselli, fell from power, and a new

one was formed by Signor Orlando, with

Baron Sonnino as Foreign Minister. General Cadorna retired from command and was

succeeded by General Diaz, an officer of vast

energy and determination. Under his direction Italian resistance speedily stiffened.

Despite all that the Italians could do, however, the invaders managed to cross the Piave

near Zenson and to gain a footing on the

south bank only 19 miles from Venice. But

the Italians rallied and confined them to a

small space, destroying their pontoon bridges

by artillery fire and preventing a further

advance. Furthermore, Italian engineers

cut the dikes in the Piave and Sile Rivers

and inundated the whole of the delta of the

lower Piave, flooding an area of about 70

square miles. In this region, also, the navy,

especially monitors, rendered effective assistance.

The main danger was really from the north.

From the region of the Trentino the Teutons

launched a new attack designed to cut in

behind the defenders along the Piave. Had

this attack succeeded, a disaster would have

ensued greater even than that following the

retreat from the Isonzo. An Austrian detachment, in fact, pushed southward across the

frontier for 20 miles and captured Asiago,

and considerable progress was made at other

places in the north. But the Italians were

able to cling to the foothills and to prevent

the invaders from debauching into the plain.

At Monte Tomba, Monte Grappa, and other

places the invaders were thrown back with

great losses. Continued attempts to cross

the Piave were also defeated, and the invaders

were forced back across the river in the region

of Zenson.

Italian national feeling had rallied to meet

the crisis, and Italian troops sacrificed their

lives with patriotic ardor. Some of the bitterest fighting of the war took place in these

conflicts. In the mountain regions especially

there was much hand to hand fighting. In

this region the Alpini or Bersaglieri performed

feats of incredible valor. On one occasion 18

of these men, without even a corporal to lead

them, retook a mountain from a great force

of Austrians and held it until the enemy came

back in hundreds to kill them all. Only one

man, and he wounded, escaped to relate this

heroic feat of arms.

Early in December, the Teutons renewed

their efforts to turn the Piave line from the

north. Again they took a number of positions. Berlin claimed to have captured

15,000 men and 60 guns, but any general

advance was prevented by Italian valor.

The Italians raised the cry of the French at

Verdun, "They shall not pass!" {"Da qui non

si -passa!") Meanwhile, new lines were being

constructed at the next line, that of the Adige

River, and more and more French and British troops were reaching Italy. Heavy snow

storms in the Alpine valleys might come at

any time, cutting Teutonic lines of communication and threatening disaster, and, in

any event, preventing until spring any further offensive from the north. It happened

that winter was unusually slow in coming,

but it came att last, and snow storms effectively put an end to the realization of the

Teutonic hopes.