I went on through the wood to a shady observation post high in a tree, into which I clambered with my guide. I was able from this position to get a very good idea of the lie of the Italian eastern front. I was in the delta of the Isonzo. Directly in front of me were some marshes and the extreme tip of the Adriatic Sea, at the head of which was Monfalcone, now in Italian hands.
The second of these had been in possession of the Italians for some time, but was of little use, though only just across the river from Goritz, because it was exposed to murderous fire from the Austrian positions on Monte Sabotino. To the south of Monte San Michele and north and east of Monfalcone there stretched the Doberdo and Carso Plateaus.
Behind Monfalcone ran the red ridge of the Carso, of which the Italians had just captured the eastern half. Behind this again rose the mountains to the east of the Isonzo which the Austrians still held. The Isonzo came towards me from out of the mountains, in a great westward curve.
The only road to Monfalcone ran close to the Austrian position at the village of Ronchi, and afterwards kept parallel to it for some miles. I was told that it was only on odd days that the Austrian guns were active in this particular section, so determined to trust to luck that this might not be one of them.
Monfalcone was taken by the Italians on June the 10th, the first serious blow against Trieste, as Monfalcone was a railway junction, and its electrical works operated the light and power of Trieste. Next day the center made a great blow against Gradisca and Sagrado, but the river line proved too strong.
On May 26, 1917, artillery action all along the line continued fiercely from sunrise until evening. In the afternoon between the coast and Jamiano Italian infantry by a brilliant assault succeeded in reaching a point beyond the railway from Monfalcone to Duino, northeast of San Giovanni, and carried the strongly fortified Hill 145 southwest of Medeazza.
The left wing was beyond the Isonzo, at Caporetto, fighting among the boulders of Monte Nero, where the Austrian artillery had strong positions. Monfalcone was kept under constant bombardment. A general Italian advance took place on June 7th across the Isonzo River from Caporetto to the sea, a distance of about forty miles.
Following shortly on the declaration of war by Italy, General Cadorna deployed the whole of the Italian Third Army on the right bank of the Isonzo between Tolmino and Monfalcone, and carried out a vigorous offensive in order to gain a secure footing on the left bank an antecedent condition to further operations eastward.
While regular siege operations were being carried on against Tolmino and Gorizia, the Italians were putting forth great efforts to secure possession of the Carso Plateau, which dominates the rail and carriage road between Monfalcone and Trieste, as well as the Isonzo Valley up to Gorizia.
Italian activity was renewed again on the Isonzo front. After intense artillery preparation a Naples brigade, supported by dismounted cavalry detachments, in a surprise attack, penetrated Austrian lines east of Monfalcone. The trenches remained in Italian possession after a severe struggle, during which 10 officers, 488 men, and 7 machine guns were captured.