Tribute to the 1000 French soldiers who died in Italy during the Great War

On the anniversary of the armistice of 4 November 1918 at Villa Giusti, a tribute ceremony is held at the French ossuary of Pederobba in Italy, where almost 1,000 Poilus rest.

During the First World War the Poilus also fought in Italy. 990 soldiers of the 47th French division are buried in the Pederobba ossuary, an imposing building located at the foot of Mount Tomba-Monfenera and along the bank of the Piave river, in Veneto.

On the anniversary of the armistice of November 4, 1918 at Villa Giusti, which allowed the Italians to reconquer the territories of Trento and Trieste and to end the First World War in Italy, a tribute ceremony is held on Friday at this French military ossuary. November, in the presence of the mayor of Pederobba, Marco Turato, and for the first time of the French ambassador to Italy, Christian Masset, as well as the military attaché of the embassy, ​​Admiral Jérôme Theillier. The ceremony will celebrate both the memory of the Italian soldiers on this feast day of the Italian armed forces, and that of the French soldiers who fell on Italian soil during the Great War.

French military ossuary of Pederobba (Veneto)

The Poilus who fought in Italy during the First World War

If Italy initially decided to remain neutral at the outbreak of World War I in August 1914, it eventually engaged in secret talks with the Triple Entente (France, UK, Russia) and declared war on Austria-Hungary in May. 1915, then in August 1916 in Germany, in exchange for territorial concessions in case of victory.
In these two years the Italian army has been fighting above all in the Dolomites and in Frioul, Piave, Izonso in the Asiago plate. But in October 1917, faced with the Austro-German offensive in Caporetto, the soldiers had to withdraw.
It was then that the French general staff decided to send reinforcements to the Italian front.

The first French troops arrived in Italy on October 31, 1917 and gradually deployed between Mantua and Verona; then, just east of Montello, on the Monfenera – Monte Tomba – Pederobba line. At the end of April, two French divisions (the 23rd and 24th DI) remained on the Italian front, forming the 12th Corps, commanded by General Jean-César Graziani and henceforth referred to as the French Forces in Italy (FFI ).

These troops actively participated in the “Battle of the Piave” on the Asiago plateau, from 15 to 22 June 1918. On 24 October the Italian generalissimo Diaz launched a general offensive. His seven armies attacked on a front that went from Asiago to the sea, at the center of this front was the XII French Army Corps with General Graziani’s FFI.

In the night between 26 and 27 October the French forced the crossing of the Piave at the Molinetto di Pederobba. RI’s 107th Battalion crosses the river and faces enemy units clinging to the San Vito cliffs. On 28 October the French, supported by the Italian units, enlarged their enclave and took possession of the Perto and Piaunnar mountains. The advance culminated on 29 October with the Italian victory at Vittorio Veneto, in which 300,000 Austrian soldiers were captured.

A few days later, on November 3, the Italian troops landed in Trieste and seized this strategic port, forcing the Austrians to ask for an armistice, signed on the same day and entered into force on November 4, 1918 at Villa Giusti in Padua.

The French military ossuary of Pederobba

The French Memorial of Pederobba was inaugurated on June 27, 1937. The imposing rectangular building, 100 meters long, 10 meters high and 6 meters wide, symbolizes the end of the Austrian offensive.

In the center, two large statues symbolize France (left) and Italy (right), on whose knees the body of a French soldier rests.

On the pedestal there are two tombstones and a niche in which the land of Bligny in the Marne is deposited, where the Italian military cemetery consecrated on the same day is located, and in which 3,453 of the 4,594 Italian soldiers who died in France lie. .

A total of 900 soldiers rest in the ossuary of Pederobba, of which 888 with identity, while 12 are unknown.

On 25 March 2005, France ordered the transfer from the military cemetery of Taranto to that of Pederobba of another 166 remains of French soldiers and 22 of Serbian soldiers who died during the First World War.

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