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Remembered Today:

British Troops in Italy


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I'm researching one Bertie WILLIAMS who joined a Territorial Force unit of the Royal Garrison Artillery, I believe in late 1915, as a gunner in the Cornwall RGA. In March 1917 he was one of a number of men from this unit who were sent to Falmouth to form the new 390th Siege Battery RGA. My research suggests that this unit embarked for France on 24 Jul 1917. They must then have travelled down through France to Italy because Bertie WILLIAMS died on 10 Sep 1917 and was buried in the Ravenna War Cemetery, Italy. He was not killed in action nor did he die of wounds received in action. My research also suggests that British troops were not sent to Italy until late October 1917 after the Italian's failure in the Battle of Caporetto [12th Battle of the Isonzo]. Can anyone explain this apparent contradiction? If 390th Siege Battery was in Italy before 10 Sep 1917 would it have taken any part in the 11th Battle of the Isonzo (18 Aug - 12 Sep 1917)?

Until I began trying tp piece together this man's service history I had no idea that British troops had fought in Italy during WW1. Have the various histories of the "Great War" treated them as a 'forgotten army'?

Penzance Bill

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Hello Bill,

no your research is incomplete; may I politely suggest you need to thoroughly read through the Italy sub section of the forum in 'Away from the Western front', where it has all been explained in depth in previous posts. As you say 390 embarked for France on the date you mention, but this was merely on route to Italy through France, and along with 391 and 392 Sge Btys they joined 95 HAG (later Brigade) on the 30th July, which had been in Italy since April 1917. So 390 arrived well in time for the battle and took an active part.

Farndales 'The Forgotten Fronts' is one of the best sources of information on the subject and is worth getting through Library interloan as the cost can be prohibitive. 390 SB moved to Egypt 15/10/17.



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Thank you for your 'polite' suggestion Paul :blush:. I'm a relative newcomer to the forum and was not aware that there is an Italy sub-section.

Thanks for the link Ron da Valli [great user name !!] it has been very helpful.


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As a relevant aside it's worth noting the number of "fronts" on which British forces saw action in both World Wars. These included

  • Belgium
  • France
  • Greece
  • Italy
  • Mesopotamia/Iraq
  • Western Desert
Whilst the size and scope varied between the two wars (In WW2 Iraq saw the suppression of a German encouraged and supported revolt led in part by Saddam's dad and activity in the Western Desert was much less in WW1 than in WW2) none were insignificant (especially not to those killed and wounded).
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