Couple of days ago I blogged a comment by Evelyn Waugh that “For about
fifteen centuries the Italians have never won an important battle.” Lots of
readers tried to make a case for Lepanto, not very successfully in my
opinion. Now here comes one from Jack Strocchi that I think more
“It is true that Italian troops were fairly pathetic in WWII. My favourite
story of Italian military meekness is the Italian invasion of France, where
the Italian army advanced triumphantly, until it met resistance. And then
stopped. Their hearts were not in the battle, since Italians always despise
Austro-Germans more than Anglo-French.
“Still, although Britain was the stoutest belligerent in the war, it is
worth remembering that the British Army was involved in three of the biggest
surrender/defeats in the war: Dunkirk, Singapore and Tobruk. And the
Italian Army at least made an appearance at Stalingrad, which was the
crucial battle of the war.
“One does not have to go back 1500 years to see an Italian victory, the
Italians defeated the Austro-Hungarians on the Southern front [i.e. in WW1].
The Italian Army, including my Alpinini grandfather Eugenio Strocchi, won a
great victory against the Tedeschi at the battle of Vittorio Veneto, in the
latter stages of that war: A resounding success for the Allies, the Battle
of Vittorio Veneto finished the Austro-Hungarian army as a fighting force.
The Italians lost some 38,000 casualties, a figure dwarfed by the 300,000
prisoners suffered by the Austro-Hungarians. Simultaneous political turmoil
completed the disintegration of the Austro-Hungarian Empire.
“It is worth noting that the British Army provided three divisions in this
battle, and won important fights to secure critical ground at crucial
moments, thus helping to enable the Italian victory. Italy should always be
on the same side as Britain.”