As a reward for their participation onthe side of the Allied Forces, the LondonMemorandum was passed whichpromised the territory of western Sloveniato Italy. Italy declared war on the Austro-Hungarian empire in May 1915. As a re-sult, the western Slovenian border wasturned into a new frontline, bearing thename of the nearby Soča river (the Sočafront). Fierce battles along this line weregoing on almost uninterruptedly until Oc-tober 1917. Eleven large-scale offensiveswere launched by the Italians, and finallyone by allied Germans and Austrians. Thebloodiest battles were fought on the slopeof Doberdob and during the siege of Gori-ca; the peaks of Sabotin, Sveta gora, Krn,Rombon and Sveti Gabrijel were also un-der heavy fire. The Italian army was muchsuperior in numbers and artillery.In 1917, when the first Austro-Germanoffensive was launched, the Italian troopswere completely defeated. The offensivereferred to is considered to be the No. 1mountain battle in the history of warfare.The Austrian attack near Bovec was head-ed by the Slovenian 26
regiment of gun-ners from Maribor. Among officers whoproved especially successful the name ofErwin Rommel, future German field mar-shal, is mentioned. He commanded thebreakthrough from Mrzli vrh (mountainpeak), down into the valley of Soča and upto the top of Matajur.The strong national and ethnical ten-sions – characteristic of the Austro-Hun-garian Empire – intensified during war-time. Rebellions of Slovenian soldiers serv-ing in the Austrian army were among themost notable ones throughout the state.Slovenians took part in the great rebellionof marines in Boka Kotorska on February3, 1918. Soldiers of the 17
infantry regi-ment rebelled in Judenburg on May 12,1918. Twenty rebels were killed and 120of them were wounded. Four leaders ofthe rebellion were shot – executed – onMay 16. Just two days after Judenburg,another rebellion broke out in the 7
bat-talion of hunters of Murau. Boštjan Olip,leader of the rebels, was sentenced todeath and shot. In a farewell letter ad-dressed to his brother he wrote: “What Idid, I did because I love our Slovenianmotherland.”Yet another rebellion followed on May23, 1918, in Radgona – again of Sloven-ian soldiers serving in the 97
Triest in-fantry regiment. Eight of them were foundguilty and shot dead. The Codroipo rebel-lion on the Italian frontline, on October 24,1918, was carried out by the 2
moun-tain regiment of gunners. Seven soldierswere killed while fighting, 25 werewounded and the whole regiment was dis-armed.At the very beginning of the war, anumber of Slovenians joined the Serbianforces. In 1916, Slovenian and other Yu-goslav privates and officers – taken prison-ers in Russia – formed two divisions of vol-unteers. Another division of volunteers in-cluding Slovenians took part in fierce bat-tles against Germans and Bulgarians nearDobrudža, and suffered heavy losses. Dueto Greater Serbian pressures, the divisionsdisintegrated, and the remaining soldierswere sent to the Salonica front, wherethey fought in the Serbian army until theend of the war.A Slovenian officer, doctor LjudevitPivko, was the one to organise the first Yu-goslav and Czech units of volunteers inItaly.A considerable number of Slovenianstook part in the Russian civil war, fightingon both sides.In autumn 1918 the Slovenian nationalliberation movement was getting strongerand stronger. Rebellions of Slovenian sol-diers, forced to serve in the Austrian army,never stopped.So on October 29, 1918, the self-standing State of Slovenians, Croats andSerbians was proclaimed, and the firstregiments of the new Slovenian armywere formed. These regiments instantlytook over the Slovenian national territoryalong the northern border; then fightingfor the border with Austria began. SoonMaribor was liberated by an army ofSlovenian volunteers headed by the firstSlovenian general, Rudolf Maister. OnNovember 4, 1918, The newly formedSlovenian army was recognised by the Al-lied Forces commander, marshal Franchetd’Esperey.As mentioned earlier, the LondonMemorandum assigned the whole west-ern part of Slovenia to Italy. Since Italymade part of the Allies, Slovenia could notact against it. Fighting against the Austri-an army, Slovenian troops at first succeed-ed in liberating much of the Slovenian na-tional territory. Then, outnumbered byAustrians, regiments of the Serbian royalarmy were called in to help.In December 1918 the Slovenian armyhad 2 generals, 47 staff officers, 962 offi-cers, 11,364 privates, 538 cannons, 857machine guns, 7 planes etc. EventuallySerbia used the situation along theSlovenian borders with Austria and Italyand induced Slovenia to affiliate to theunited Kingdom of the three nations. Nev-ertheless, on May 1919 the joint Sloven-ian-Serbian army liberated the whole Ko-roška (Carinthia), originally belonging toSlovenia (now part of Austria as Kaern-ten), along with the capital Celovec (Aus-trian name: Klagenfurt).The Slovenian army was not in favourof the affiliation with the Kingdom of Ser-bia. So in January 1919 there broke outthe first armed rebellion against Serbiansin Ljubljana. Another, much greater rebel-lion followed in Maribor on July 22, 1919,as well as in Carinthia. Many Slovenianrebels were killed in action, and two ofthem were shot afterwards.
Another mostdistinguishedSlovenian – one of thebest-known AustrianArmy officers of themid-19th century –who was awardedthe highest-rankingAustrian medal, wasbaron Andrej Čehovin.Assault troop ofthe 2nd MountainRiflemen Battalion –all of themSlovenians,members ofthe Austro-HungarianArmy duringWorld War I.