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BEF in Italy


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#1 longboat

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    41st Division.

Posted 05 September 2009 - 12:20 PM

As I understand it the decision to divert valuable men and recources to Italy in 1917 was a political one.

As someone with a very little knowledge of the campaign in Italy I was hoping someone maybe able to answer the following questions.

1. Who decided on the number of British Divisions sent to Italy, the military or politicians.

2. Did Haig have the final word on what Divisions would be sent to Italy.

3. Was the fact that the 5th, 7th, 23rd, 41st and 48th Divisions sent in anyway a reflection of their performance on the Western Front.

Thanks in advance

Stuart

#2 beaverhateman

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Posted 16 September 2009 - 05:24 AM

QUOTE (longboat @ Sep 5 2009, 01:20 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
As I understand it the decision to divert valuable men and recources to Italy in 1917 was a political one.

As someone with a very little knowledge of the campaign in Italy I was hoping someone maybe able to answer the following questions.

1. Who decided on the number of British Divisions sent to Italy, the military or politicians.

2. Did Haig have the final word on what Divisions would be sent to Italy.

3. Was the fact that the 5th, 7th, 23rd, 41st and 48th Divisions sent in anyway a reflection of their performance on the Western Front.

Thanks in advance

Stuart


The book Mud, Blood and Poppycock seems to think that it was Lloyd George's idea

#3 mike n

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Posted 04 October 2011 - 12:51 PM

QUOTE (longboat @ Sep 5 2009, 01:20 PM) As I understand it the decision to divert valuable men and recources to Italy in 1917 was a political one.

As someone with a very little knowledge of the campaign in Italy I was hoping someone maybe able to answer the following questions.

1. Who decided on the number of British Divisions sent to Italy, the military or politicians.

2. Did Haig have the final word on what Divisions would be sent to Italy.

3. Was the fact that the 5th, 7th, 23rd, 41st and 48th Divisions sent in anyway a reflection of their performance on the Western Front.

Thanks in advance

Stuart

The book Mud, Blood and Poppycock seems to think that it was Lloyd George's idea



#4 mike n

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Posted 04 October 2011 - 12:53 PM

I was under the impression it was due to the poor performance of the italians that we sent our troops to stiffen things up and we re called our men in spring following the german offensive in France

#5 longboat

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Posted 04 October 2011 - 02:31 PM

Mike,

My initial posting was to find out why the 41st Division in particular were chosen to go to Italy.

I've since discovered it was simply because they had recently been withdrawn after their involvment in the Battle of Pilkem Ridge and the Menin Road all part of Ypres offensive of 1917.

Stuart.

#6 Heid the Ba'

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Posted 24 November 2011 - 11:37 AM

1. Who decided on the number of British Divisions sent to Italy, the military or politicians.
---------both. Eaterners like L-G wanted to send more, Westerners like Haig wanted to send fewer.

2. Did Haig have the final word on what Divisions would be sent to Italy.
---------yes

3. Was the fact that the 5th, 7th, 23rd, 41st and 48th Divisions sent in anyway a reflection of their performance on the Western Front.
---------I think it was simply which divisions were most easily moved, as you say.

Edit to add: I haven't been on the forum for a while and didn't realise this question was six weeks old.

#7 eh657

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Posted 24 March 2012 - 04:54 PM

From 'The War Service of the 1/4 Royal Berkshire Regiment (T.F.)'

"Every autumn the enemy replied to our offensive in France with a furious blow elsewhere. As in 1915 he had crushed Serbia, in 1916 occupied two-thirds of Roumania, so this year (1917) he fell upon the Italians at Caparetto on the 25th October. This enormous disaster, which cost the Italians 250,000 prisoners and a third of their artillery, brought the Austro-Germans by the beginning of Novermber to the banks of the Piave, and it was decided that British and French forces should be dispatched to Italy to defend Venice and give the Italian Army a breathing space for reorganisation. Therefore, when we were resting on the 21st, and speculating on the possibility of taking part in the Cambrai Battle so dramatically begun the day before, orders arrived for entrainment next afternoon with nine days' rations."

As said in previous posts the choice of which formations and units to send to Italy at this juncture was not a reflection on poor performance in battle - quite the contrary in fact.

#8 eddison

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Posted 23 December 2012 - 01:50 PM

Old subject but I am new here. I have just read "The British Army in Italy 1917-1918" by John Wilks and Eileen Wilks published by Leo Cooper in 1998 ISBN 0 85052 608.6 which answers all of these questions very thoroughly. This is a well researched book which draws on post war memoirs of politicians and generals as well as eye witness accounts of actions. Nothing in the book contradicts those posts above but it does explain why and how it all came about.

Ted



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