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Title: The experience of the British army in Italy in World War One
Author: Dillon, John
Awarding Body: University of Reading
Current Institution: University of Reading
Date of Award: 2013
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British military histories of the First World War have focused on the Western Front and the soldiers who served there. The major battles of Loos, the Somme, Arras and Passchendaele, together with the poems and memoirs of Rupert Brooke, Wilfred Owen and Siegfried Sassoon have defined the paradigm of how that war was experienced and fought. The image evoked is one of perpetual mud, futility and senseless sacrifice. But that is not a true representation of the conflict on other fronts, nor of that in Flanders. This thesis analyses medical records to demonstrate that there were considerable differences between France and Italy in the survival rate of the soldiers, the diseases they were exposed to and the nature of their combat injuries. Similar work on the courts martial registers provides evidence that the sentences imposed in Italy were tailored to suit the local theatre, rather than conform to the practice in France - there were no executions of British troops in Italy until after the war. Britain's assistance to their Italian ally has been ignored by most writers, but the First World War cannot be properly understood if it is only visualized through the prism of the Western Front. The first chapter of this thesis (using Foreign Office documents) outlines how British politicians went to considerable lengths to split Italy from the Triple Alliance. As the war progressed the strains caused by those negotiations, Italian preoccupation with Italia irredenta and British stereotyping of their ally adversely influenced the relationship between British commanders and their Italian counterparts. The British contribution is given little credit in the Italian report of the Allied victory at Vittorio Veneto - a point made in Edmonds' official history - this, and Italy's later adoption of Fascism, may account for the Italian 'side show' becoming a 'forgotten front'
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available