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tomisitt

Extreme Battlefield Tour

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tomisitt

Some photos from my recent trip to the battlefields of the Carnic Alps and the Adamello, on the Italian Front. The climb up to the 15cm howitzer on Cresta Croce was more than 5600ft in one day (it nearly killed me). Well worth the trip, though.

 

 

 

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Terry_Reeves

Thanks for posting, some good photos.

 

TR

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mills-bomb

My cap is well and truly ‘doffed’ to you. Must have been quite an effort.

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chaz

great pictures, presumably not on the regular coach trip then.

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depaor01

Wow.

Dave

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Marilyne

Great pics!!! 

And well done for the climb!

M.

 

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Hedley Malloch

terrific!!

Edited by Hedley Malloch

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Fattyowls

Absolutely stupendous photos Tom.

 

Pete.

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rksimpson

Hi

 

Great photos

How crazy were they to haul that gun all the way there and even fighting there, it would have been worse than the western front!

 

regards

 

Robert

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Gardenerbill

Excellent photographs Tom, looks like you were lucky with the weather.

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MikeyH

 

Tom,

Superb photos, very little corrosion on the howitzer, remarkable.

Mike.

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Dave1418

Tom

A good solid climb and truly amazing photos. The condition of the woodwork on the gun for over 100 years is a sight to behold.

many thanks 

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michaeldr

Tom,

 

Many thanks for sharing your wonderful photographs

 

Michael

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Matlock1418

Truly incredible - then and recently.

Well done and thanks for sharing your photos.

 

Just got to ask some questions about that third photo - the one with the steel, set in concrete, pill box I am presuming.

 

Have you, or any other pals, got any idea:

  • Whose was it? [I'm not familiar with that theatre of war]
  • If installed before or during the war?
  • How it got there - ???

In the age before helecoptor lifts at least the gun could be dismantled, qite a lot, and with a great deal of manual labour and sweat get there and be reassembled I guess, but it doesn't look like that big steel thng could be broken down much - how achieved?

 

Could derigibles non-rigid blimps or rigid airships have helped with high level lifts? 

Is there any evidence of such lifts back then?

 

Awaiting your/any answers with interest.

Matlock

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johnboy

Thanks for posting pics of a forgotten front. [well to me anyway]

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tomisitt
4 hours ago, Matlock1418 said:

Truly incredible - then and recently.

Well done and thanks for sharing your photos.

 

Just got to ask some questions about that third photo - the one with the steel, set in concrete, pill box I am presuming.

 

Have you, or any other pals, got any idea:

  • Whose was it? [I'm not familiar with that theatre of war]
  • If installed before or during the war?
  • How it got there - ???

In the age before helecoptor lifts at least the gun could be dismantled, qite a lot, and with a great deal of manual labour and sweat get there and be reassembled I guess, but it doesn't look like that big steel thng could be broken down much - how achieved?

 

Could derigibles non-rigid blimps or rigid airships have helped with high level lifts? 

Is there any evidence of such lifts back then?

 

Awaiting your/any answers with interest.

Matlock

 

Hi

 

The pillbox was Austrian, and was installed during the war around 10 metres from the Italian front line (how they managed that, I have no idea). It was probably brought up using the cable-car system the Austrians built on the north side of Kleiner Pal (Pal Piccolo). The cable-cars were built all along the Alpine Front and were the primary means of getting material up to the front lines (the men climbed up on via ferratas). The only time I’ve heard of balloons being used was the hairbrained (and aborted) scheme to assault Austrian positions on the Marmolada using 15 men in a very vulnerable balloon. 

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Matlock1418
49 minutes ago, tomisitt said:

The pillbox was Austrian

 

Was going to add to my questions about what it was and found you had already replied - more fantastic photos - thank you.

  • Was wondering if it was alternatively a sentry look-out position or a FOO post ??
  • And how entered? - I was guessing from some sort of tunnel below, though I guess a reverse slope entry position might be an alternative option too.

10m away from the Italians - Wow! 

The mind boggles - perhaps at a time when the Italians had temporarily withdrawn for the winter or likewise been forced back by artillery/toops etc. ??? - Mind still boggling!!

 

As for your first photo in this reply - what was that on the rockface? etc.  - Looks a bit like a 'long-drop' [sometimes called a 'garderobe' in some medieval castles - but I think that is slightly incorrect, I know it is way out of period!] - know I would probably be using it if it was!!! :-/ 

But naturally need your info before I firmly commit to that course of action - looks very exposed even if there is a tunnel behind.

Nice ladder by the way!! - A 'via ferrata' I suppose.

 

And I see you have also provided a very scary scheme for assaulting by balloon - Who would volunteer for that option?  Any takers? Now or then?

Of course then the option to volunteer might not have been on the menu.

Matlock

Edited by Matlock1418
quick correction

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Michael Haselgrove

tomisitt,

Thanks so much for sharing your wonderful photographs - a real pleasure to see them, especially as the various sites seem to be in almost pristine condition.  I would love to visit myself but your photographs are the next best thing.

Again, many thanks.

Michael.

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tomisitt
2 hours ago, Matlock1418 said:

 

Was going to add to my questions about what it was and found you had already replied - more fantastic photos - thank you.

  • Was wondering if it was alternatively a sentry look-out position or a FOO post ??
  • And how entered? - I was guessing from some sort of tunnel below, though I guess a reverse slope entry position might be an alternative option too.

10m away from the Italians - Wow! 

The mind boggles - perhaps at a time when the Italians had temporarily withdrawn for the winter or likewise been forced back by artillery/toops etc. ??? - Mind still boggling!!

 

As for your first photo in this reply - what was that on the rockface? etc.  - Looks a bit like a 'long-drop' [sometimes called a 'garderobe' in some medieval castles - but I think that is slightly incorrect, I know it is way out of period!] - know I would probably be using it if it was!!! :-/ 

But naturally need your info before I firmly commit to that course of action - looks very exposed even if there is a tunnel behind.

Nice ladder by the way!! - A 'via ferrata' I suppose.

 

And I see you have also provided a very scary scheme for assaulting by balloon - Who would volunteer for that option?  Any takers? Now or then?

Of course then the option to volunteer might not have been on the menu.

Matlock

 

 

The pillbox was indeed a forward observation post, accessed via a trench and tunnel.

 

The “long-drop” is a lookout post about 40ft off the ground on a near-vertical rock face (photo by drone), looking out over the Plöckenpass.

 

There were 15 “volunteers” for the balloon attack. Luckily for them the battle of Caporetto on the Isonzo meant the Italians had to withdraw from the Marmolada before the attack could be launched.

 

If you think all this is astonishing, I recommend you read about the “Eisstadt”, a city constructed inside the Marmolada glacier by the Austro-Hungarians. Utterly astounding!

 

 

 

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tomisitt
31 minutes ago, Michael Haselgrove said:

tomisitt,

Thanks so much for sharing your wonderful photographs - a real pleasure to see them, especially as the various sites seem to be in almost pristine condition.  I would love to visit myself but your photographs are the next best thing.

Again, many thanks.

Michael.

 

It’s nice to share them with an appreciative audience. I’m currently writing a book about the Italian Front, so there should be loads more of photos in that (if I can find a publisher).

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Matlock1418
On 17/08/2019 at 15:08, tomisitt said:

The climb up to the 15cm howitzer on Cresta Croce was more than 5600ft in one day (it nearly killed me).

 

Tom,

Please bear with me ... You don't say how "it nearly killed you", and I don't really want to know, ... but a cautionary tale might act as a salutory warning to others who would care to follow in your foosteps, or elsewhere on such missions.

 

I'm NOT having a go at you, nor in the following ...

 

But please, and everyone who reads this thread (I know it is long but the size of photos doesn't help me), please read on some more ...

 

I'm going to put my HEALTH & SAFETY hat on - and I was pretty good at that and I don't think I have degraded too much!

Please don't have a pop at that subject - I don't subscribe to 'Darwin's theroy of natural selection', other than to be on the branch that survives, and not the one that didn't!  And I recommend that approach to all others, including all GWF pals.

 

I also have walked in mountains and climbed rock and ice & snow (including up on a glacier in the hgh Andes of Peru) and though I could never have been considered an experienced expert, certainly not now, I did know enough then [at least I came back] and still know enough when to feel some concern - and I did feel some concern when looking at some of your photos

 

6 hours ago, Matlock1418 said:

Well done and thanks for sharing your photos

I also refer to your photos 

That got me mulling what I had seen and in the interest of everyone who might like to emulate you, there and elsewhere, by my above comment - I give it with provisos now.

Please read on - Please consider ...

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= Walking on  snow and ice

I'm not going to comment on the SAFETY of this photo - just like we at GWF should not comment on the Safety of Munitions on this Forum - only to comment that Walkers' ropework/roping technique might have been valuable = a possible suggestion - If you don't know what "Walkers' ropework" is - then you need to find out. Possibly also suitable axes & crampons (I can't really see if any used in photo] and training too.

And don't try it until all those roped together know how to stop their own fall and/or that of others, etc.,  etc. - no point in becoming a joint line of potential Darwinian extinction

 

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= A "Via ferrara" I think - I note the fixed rope - a common Walkers' and especially a Climbers' rope technique - again if you don't know what I am writing about - then you should find out  [I'll give you a few clues: diameter of rope/strength, age of rope, age and security/strenght of climbers' hardware - how it's fixed to the rock etc.].  And steel steps can corrode and fail too.

Again I am not making any comment on the SAFETY of what is in the photo  or saying it is "Safe" [again I would suggest that nobody does] - all I would say is that such materials can fail - so only take an appropriate level of, reduced, risk in line with experience and training.

I give you a cautionary tail of my own past - At school two associates died when old rope and hardware [i.e. not their own or fixed by them] failed in the Dolomites - they had a long fall that did not end well in any sense of the word = dead!

Please know that rope and fabric slings etc, and hardware too can fail much more quickly at higher altitude - expecially rope & fabric due to the strong UV rays up there.  So much better to trust those you have newly and competently set up yourself [don't forget the training that will help you do so - leavng gear behind can be a booby-trap for the next un-skilled too - not appreciated really].

 

On 18/08/2019 at 08:33, Gardenerbill said:

looks like you were lucky with the weather

And a skilled and experienced associate of mine died on Everest - but that is another tale involving the weather and a quick adverse change of it.

That they were associates did not make it any better than if they had been friends or family - I still remember them.

And I don't want any GWF pals to go the same way.

 

Tom, I'm glad you got back and posted your 'historic' photos - I'm very glad you got back safely - great photos.

And I hope that you can again mount another safe "tour" to get us more photos [same goes to anyone esle who is going for new photos] - take care and enjoy.

 

Please remember this post has NOT been about criticism - who knows who might read it, and benefit?

:-)  :-)

Matlock

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Matlock1418
39 minutes ago, tomisitt said:

If you think all this is astonishing, I recommend you read about the “Eisstadt”, a city constructed inside the Marmolada glacier by the Austro-Hungarians. Utterly astounding!

 

Thanks for this steer

  • I shall try and find it - in english?
  • Again forgot to ask earlier - was the 10m to the Italians bcause they dug/carved towards it?

 

I can' help but feel it would no necessarily have been a safe place any bullets entering the loop would seem like to ricochet - just like tankies found out.

Edited by Matlock1418
added a 2nd extra question

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tomisitt
25 minutes ago, Matlock1418 said:

Please remember this post has NOT been about criticism - who knows who might read it, and benefit?

:-)  :-)

Matlock

 

No offence taken, everything you say is solid advice and I would advise anyone considering a trip to the high mountains to be well prepared. To put your mind at rest (in my case, at least), I have crampons, ice axe, helmet, harness, via ferrata lanyards, and 40m of 8mm walking rope. Below are photos of my kit, and me climbing to Punta Penia on the Marmolada last year. My trip was exceedingly demanding physically (for a 58 year old) rather than technically.

 

I am heading back to the Dolomites in a couple of weeks with my son to climb a few Ferratas that run along the front line (VF Lipella, VF Innerkofler, VF Bepi Zac, VF Senza Confini, etc). This will be a serious climbing trip, with all the appropriate safety and weather considerations. I’ll post some more photos from that.

 

With regards to info about the Eisstadt in English, it’s almost non-existent. Google will bring up some stuff, but nothing in much detail. 

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NigelS

Sadly, this piece from today's Daily Telegraph (28th August 2019) indicates that, as well as the additional hazards faced in climbing to the Dolomite battlefield  locations, there are still those found in the much flatter terrain of Flanders, possibly, unlike with the latter, it appears with little or no post war clearance effort having taken place.  'Climbers in Dolomites injured after picking up First World War explosives' 

 

The story of the mountain gun shown in Tomisitt's  superb photos of his opening post, featured in a past episode of  'Abandoned Engineering'  which is still available on UK TV Play. See GWF post  'Hippopotamus' 149 G Mountain Gun'  or https://uktvplay.uktv.co.uk/shows/abandoned-engineering/watch-online/5817375905001 

 

NigelS

 

 

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