Posted 04 October 2011 - 09:35 am
October 17, 1917 - The detached platoon of Leutnant Jahns, Garde-Reserve-Pionier-Regiment, attacked Italian trenches on Mount Piano at Schluderbach in the Dolomites. A steep ravine 55 yards deep separated the opposing positions; the Austrians had not been able to advance because Italian machine guns swept the slope on the near side of the depression. Platoon Jahns slid with its flamethrowers down the snow-covered mountain side, moving so quickly that the enemy did not see them. The platoon then climbed up out of the ravine to within 10 feet of the Italians and opened fire in a surprise attack, silencing a machine-gun position on the precipice and rolling up the trenches.
October 18 - The detached platoon of Leutnant Hübner, Garde-Reserve-Pionier-Regiment, took part in a large-scale nighttime reconnaissance in force on Monte Solgi Bianchi in Italy. Using 12 portable flamethrowers on a front of 330 yards, Platoon Hübner achieved breakthrough, rolled up trenches, and smoked the enemy out of dugouts and caves. A total of 300 prisoners were taken.
November 16 - The detached platoon of Leutnant Hübner launched a surprise attack against positions on Mount Cornella and the village of Quero on the Piave River. The platoon crossed almost 700 yards of open terrain under covering fire from artillery and captured the village, taking 585 prisoners.
November 22 - The detached platoon of Leutnant Hübner made a surprise attack on Mount Tomba southwest of Quero on the Piave River. The platoon climbed almost 200 yards up the mountain side and completely surprised the Italians, who put up a fierce resistance. Breakthrough was achieved; trenches were rolled up; and machine guns were silenced. A total of 835 prisoners, four mountain cannon, and 40 machine guns were captured.
Although more attacks were carried out on the Italian front, the commander of the flamethrower regiment wrote that it was not possible to describe them individually. This period was characterized by the use of single flame shock troops that often had to cross up to 1100 yards of open terrain and engage in arduous mountain warfare. The physical destruction of the battlefield, due to the pounding of heavy-caliber shells, prevented the flamethrower regiment from deploying their emplaced large flamethrowers as often as in the past. Consequently, large flamethrowers were put into action just 1- times on the Italian front in 1917, once with 20 such devices. To make up for this deficit, increased numbers of small flamethrowers were deployed, up to 101 in one operation.