General Luigi Cadorna , the commander of the Italian Army made repeated attempts to break through along the Isonzo Front during 1915 and 1916. Although he achieved little in territorial terms and suffered heavy casualties, he had steadily weakened Austro-Hungarian forces.

Cadorna's victory at Gorizia in August 1916 worried the Germans and it was decided to carry out a joint operation against the Italians. In October 1917 nine Austrian and six German divisions launched an attack on a lightly defended stretch of the front at Caporetto. Aided by misty conditions the assault took the Italians by complete surprise. By 24th October Luigi Cadorna gave orders for a retreat to the River Piave.

Over 300,000 men and most of its trench artillery was lost during the Caporetto Offensive. General Luigi Cadorna was sacked and replaced by General Armando Diaz and the new prime minister, Vittorio Orlando, agreed to a new Allied Supreme War Council that would help coordinate Italian operations.