Wednesday, August 3, 2011
Battlefield Royal: Prince Emanuele Filiberto, Duke of Aosta
In 1905 joined the Royal Italian Army in Naples and made his reputation after Italy entered World War I in 1915. Given command of the Italian Third Army by his cousin the King. The Italian front in World War I was considered one of the harshest in the world, even by veterans of the infamous western front, due to the rugged, frozen, mountainous terrain. Almost as soon as Italy entered the war another deadlock ensued. The Italians launched attack after attack on the Austrian lines across the Isonzo River, taking very heavy casualties and gaining very little. The Austrians would then counter-attack and likewise suffer heavy losses with little to show for it. In all, the Italians fought twelve battles on the Isonzo to little avail but the only offensive, the sixth, which produced real results was led by the Duke of Aosta and his Third Army. In August of 1916 the Italians, led by the Duke of Aosta, captured Gorizia and gave Italy a foothold on the opposite side of the river. The five previous fruitless assaults had left the nation greatly demoralized and this victory was key in restoring Italian morale.
The Duke of Aosta became an Italian hero by his exploits at the front and in the chaotic period after the war and the collapse of the Orlando government in 1919 some nationalist and veterans organizations favored the Duke of Aosta launching a military coup and taking over the government but, of course, nothing ever came of such talk. In 1926 Benito Mussolini had the Duke promoted to the rank of Marshal of Italy in recognition of his long and meritorious service to his country. Prince Emanuele Filiberto, Duke of Aosta died in Turin on July 4, 1931 and was succeeded by his son Prince Amedeo. As per his wishes he was buried at the military cemetery at Redipuglia alongside the fallen soldiers of his Third Army.