Page 3787

3787 THE TWENTIETH CENTURY-THE GREAT WAR.

The invaders had, however, won a tremendous victory. In two months they had

recaptured almost all the territory the Italians had taken in two hard campaigns and

they had overrun northeastern Italy. They

had captured a quarter of a million prisoners

and about 2,500 guns, beside vast stores of

shells and other munitions. It was a staggering blow to the Italians, and for the whole

of the Allied world, nor was it certain that

when spring came the Teutonic tide might

not yet overflow the Piave and flood all of

northern Italy.

In the invaded portions of Italy there were

scenes made familiar in Belgium, Poland,

Servia, and Roumania. Hundreds of

thousands of refugees abandoned their

homes and, carrying some of their most precious possessions, fled westward before the

invaders. The necessity of caring for these

refugees strained the already depleted

resources of Italy. Not only was the food

supply scanty but coal and other fuel were

almost unobtainable owing to the shortage

of ships and the necessity of using the railways for the transport of soldiers and military supplies. Happily the Allies of Italy

realized the precariousness of the situation

and rushed food and supplies to her, while

the United States allowed her practically

unlimited credit.

Venice lay within range of the enemy's

heaviest guns, and both it and other northern

Italian cities, were subjected to air raids.

Many thousands of people left Venice, and

the municipal authorities sought to safeguard some of their priceless works of art

by means of sandbags and other protection.

In these hours of peril the Italian navy

developed one of the greatest heroes of the

war in the person of Lieutenant Rizzo. After

the great disaster to the army, he undertook

a desperate mission. On the night of December 9, with two small launches, he managed

to enter the harbor of Trieste, in spite of

floating mines, nets, and wire cables. Running the boats close to the unsuspecting battleships Wien and Monarch, Rizzo and an