Armando Diaz - Encyclopedia

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"ARMANDO DIAZ (1861-), Italian general, was born in Naples Dec. 6 1861. He entered the artillery and served in that branch and in various staff appointments, until his promotion to major, when he transferred to the infantry. He served in the Italo-Turkish War in command of a regiment and was wounded at Zanzur in Sept. 1912. In 1914 he was promoted to majorgeneral, and, after commanding the Sienna Brigade for a short time, was transferred to the general staff. On Italy's entry into the World War he was attached to the supreme command as chief of the operations department. He held this post till June 1916, when he was promoted lieutenant-general and took command of the 49th Division, which in Nov. of that year distinguished itself by the capture of Volkovnjak, an important position on the northern rim of the Carso. He visited the French front in Jan. and Feb. 1917, and in June he was given special promotion and confirmed in command of the XXIII. Corps, which he had held temporarily from its formation two months previously. Under his direction in the following Aug. this corps won a considerable success between Korite and Selo, on the Carso.

In Nov. 1917, after the Caporetto disaster, Diaz succeeded Cadorna as chief of the general staff. He was confronted with a very serious situation, but he brought to bear upon it all the needful understanding and resolution. Under his direction the battle front was successfully reconstituted, and the work of reorganizing the Italian army was carried out. At the instigation, and under the close personal supervision, of Diaz much was done to improve conditions for the soldiers at the front and for their families at home. Under his command the double attack of Boroevich and Conrad was broken up at the battle of the Piave (June 1918) and the armies of the Dual Monarchy were destroyed by the battle of Vittorio Veneto (Oct. - Nov. 1918). For his services Diaz received the collar of the Annunziata, the highest Italian order. In Nov. 1919 he was nominated army general and retired from his position as chief of staff, and later, upon the reorganization of the army and Ministry of War, he was appointed vice-president of the Army Council. He also became a Senator and in 1919 he received the freedom of the City of London.

As a division and corps commander Diaz displayed high military qualities. His position as chief of the general staff was rendered delicate by the fact that the British and French divisions which were sent to Italy after Caporetto were not at first placed directly under his command, and his personal qualities were specially adapted to render collaboration easy. Diaz has been criticized for excess of caution in delaying his final attack upon the Austro-Hungarian armies. It is possible, though by no means certain, that he might have attacked with success sooner. But an earlier victory might very well have been less complete, and anything less than complete victory would not have served the cause of Italy or of the Allies.

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