10 March – 8 July 2018
from Tuesday to Sunday | 10 am-6 pm
Photos from the Museum’s Archive take you on a journey through some of the most important Alpine battle zones between 1915 and 1918, from Ortles to Adamello, Tofane, Carnia and Monte Nero.
A journey through pictures and the accounts of soldiers, entrusted to the pages of diaries and letters.
The first Alpini units were established in 1872 to control the northern borders of the Kingdom of Italy. They were immediately characterised by their practice of regional recruitment. While the Royal Army’s infantry units “mixed” men from more than one region, Alpini battalions were established on a regional basis, respecting the recruits’ place of birth. The soldiers, from the Alpine, Prealpine and Apennine areas, had to know the geography and environmental conditions of their combat area well. In addition to a greater operational capacity, this also encouraged strong cohesion between the men, a quality which became the core of the Alpini “legend” in Italian military history.
On the eve of the Great War there were 26 Alpini battalions, accompanied by 24 mountain artillery batteries. In 1916 their number rose to 52, followed by 78 in 1916 and 85 in 1917. They were accompanied by 75 mountain artillery batteries and 75 mule-drawn batteries. In 1918, following the losses suffered in the disastrous retreat of Caporetto, their number fell to 58, to which 3 ski battalions were added.
Until 1917, the war was mainly fought in mountainous areas on a front hundreds of kilometres long, a distance the Alpine troops were never able to cover alone. They were therefore supported by several infantry regiments, in an extreme environment of which they had little experience.