French Schneider Tanks Support the U.S. Attack on Cantigny
(Frank Schoonover Painting)
One of my favorite stories from the Great War is how tanks got their name. It was originally a matter of finding a credible and deceptive code word for the large bulky objects that were being transported under wraps during the summer of 1916 to the Somme battlefield, where they were to provide an extra oomph to the September restart of the British Army's bogged-down offensive. When they were unveiled, however, the name "tanks" magically stuck. For the English-speaking troops it instantly seemed more fitting than "landships" or "caterpillar assault vehicles". Those tanks that appeared on the Somme in 1916 were the earliest, Mark-I, version of the heavy British tank. The later versions, Mark-IV and Mark-V, along with the German A7V-heavy and the French FT-17 Renault-light, seem to consume almost all the space in articles and books dedicated to World War One tanks. For this issue of the Trip-Wire, I decided to ignore them and take a look at some of the other attempts at designing armored vehicles for mobile warfare. In this issue, you will learn a bit about France's Schneider and Saint Chamond, Britain's Whippet, Germany's LK-II (a prototype that never saw action), and Canada's Machine Gun Autocar (more an armored car than a tank).
The First French Tank:
The Schneider CA1
A Schneider on Display at the French Tank Memorial, Berry Au Bac
Perhaps the most recognizable tanks of the war were the British Mark-series tanks—the Schneider CA1 was France’s version of the tank. The Schneider’s main purpose was to create channels through no man’s land through which thousands of infantry troops would pour, towards German lines and into their trenches. To achieve this purpose, the Schneider had a peculiar boat-like prow. This pointed front served two purposes. The first was to push down and aside barbed wire obstacles that littered the battlefield so that the wire would be out of the way for dismounted infantry. It was also hoped that the prow shape would assist the Schneider in getting across trenches, as the front end tended to make contact with trench walls and get stuck. Built atop the double tractor design of California's Holt Tractor Company, the CA-1 was the first operational French tank and the second in the world after the British Mark-I.
Since the beginning of hostilities Colonel Jean-Baptiste Eugène Estienne was fascinated with the idea of armored transports that could bring infantry safely up to the enemy trenches. After observing frontline action the first weeks of the war, on the 25 August he declared in front of his staff and officers "Gentlemen, victory will be owned by the one of any belligerents that could place a 75mm gun on a car able to move on all terrains". He learned during the summer of 1915 that Eugene Brillié was already working on an armored prototype able to cross barbed wire, based on a Holt tractor. After gaining the approval of General Joffre for 400 orders, he gathered a small team in early February to produce the prototype of the CA-1 on the basis of the Schneider chassis, which was ready within two weeks. After relatively successful tests, Schneider began building the infrastructure for mass-producing the CA-1. This process was quite long. The first units were ready in September. At the same time Estienne was named at the head of the newly formed "Special Artillery" corp. The first unit was ready for combat in April 1917, in time for the Nivelle Offensive.
The strange tank's armament was irregularly placed. A single 75mm cannon was on the Schneider's right forward corner and had only a limited traverse. Its location inside the tank necessitated a very compact design, which resulted in a very short barrel. The short barrel length had an adverse effect on both projectile velocity and accuracy.
By period artillery standards, the Schneider had to be virtually on top of German lines before it could score chance hits at maximum range, a little over 2,000 meters or a bit above one mile. Aiming was coordinated by both the gunner and the driver, as the Schneider had to face enemy trenches at an oblique angle for the gun to face the right direction. In addition to the single 75 millimeter gun, two machine guns were mounted internally.
Amazingly, a crew of six were expected to fit inside the Schneider: two machine gunners, a driver/commander, a 75mm cannon gunner, a loader for the cannon, and one mechanic/machine gun loader. Ventilation in the terribly cramped space was achieved through ventilation slits in the roof, which were intended to suck hot air and shooting fumes outside the vehicle. Though significantly more capable than preceding tank designs, the Schneider CA1 had several design flaws that hindered its usefulness. Externally carried fuel tanks were prone to catching fire when hit. Moreover, in order to increase range, additional fuel was sometimes carried inside and was very likely to explode if enemy artillery penetrated the Schneider's armor.
Schneider CA-1s Attacking at the Chemin des Dames, April 1917
The first batches of CA-1s were ready for action on 16 April 1917, just in time to be sent into action during the Nivelle Offensive at Berry-au-Bac. A hundred and thirty-two tanks, almost all models then available, were engaged. But the result was a disaster. Many found the rough terrain was too much for their tracks, and their forward rail acted to overhang the hull, prone to ditch itself in any solid obstacle. The engine was not powerful enough, and many broke down at the very beginning. The others advanced in broad daylight and the Germans deployed a lethal artillery barrage using field guns at short range in direct fire, firing on flat trajectories against tanks which were designed to only sustain machine gun and infantry fire. Eventually, the Germans learned to target the exposed forward gasoline reserve and many burst into flames, earning the infamous nickname of "mobile crematoriums". A total of 57 CA-1s were lost that day. Forty-four broke down at the start and the remainder managed to reach their objectives, breaking through German first and second lines. However poor coordination meant that the infantry failed to support them and retreated. Only 56 survived. The entire, futile offensive, was a disaster and Nivelle was sacked. Later on, in 1918, available Schneider CAs were reorganized into 20 Artillerie Spéciale units and given to then-general Estienne. They participated in some minor offensives including the American capture of Cantigny.
Sources: Tank-Encyclopedia.com; The National Interest
A Speedier Tank
The Mark A Whippet
A Mark-A Whippet at the Bovington Tank Museum
The first British tanks were very slow. Their job was to fight a way through the mud and wire of no man's land, with the infantry following on foot behind. The tanks only needed to go at the walking pace of an infantry man. The Army then decided that a faster tank was required to take advantage of gaps created by the heavy tanks and the infantry. This was the role of the Medium Mark A. It had a top speed of 8 mph, more than twice as fast as a heavy tank like the Mark II, so it was nicknamed the Whippet.
Two hundred Whippets were produced during the war. It was designed in 1917, and first went into battle in March 1918. Each 14-ton tank was driven by two bus engines of 45 hp each, carried a crew of three, and had four Hotchkiss machine guns for armament. Since, it was designed to exploit already existing breaks in the enemy line, it was thought not to need a cannon. The machined guns were supplied with 5,000 rounds of ammunition. Like the Mark type tanks, the Whippets lacked suspension systems which severely limited cross-country performance.
Whippets on the Move, Somme Sector, 1918
The first Whippets began to arrive on the front line in Flanders around December 1917. Production had taken a little longer than anticipated, partly due to the novel and complex drive and steering system fitted to the new tank. The Whippet tank first saw action in March 1918 during the first Ludendorff Offensive. Twelve Whippets of Third Battalion, the Tank Corps faced off against large numbers of advancing German infantry in the village of Colincamps, south of Arras. The infantry was routed in the engagement, and a number even surrendered to the tanks. Most impressive of all, the 12 tanks were able to operate for more than 16 hours continuously without a single breakdown.
The German offensive was finally halted and, by August 1918, the Tank Corps was ready to take part in a massive attack on German lines near Amiens. At dawn on 8 August 1918, 324 British heavy tanks supported by 96 Whippets attacked without a preliminary bombardment, achieving complete surprise. The German front line was penetrated, and British tanks began to move forward into territory previously held by the Germans. General von Ludendorff later described 8 August 1918 as the "Black Day of the German Army." After their success in 1918, the Whippet saw post-Armistice action in Russia, initially in support of the White Army, and then with the Red Army during the interwar period.
Sources: Warhistoryonline, The Tank Museum
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Leonardo da Vinci's Tank—He Was On To Something, No?
What to Do with These Things Called Tanks? This is an update of a similar list we provided in our June 2017 issue.
I am much obliged to you for your kindness in writing to me about the caterpillars. There are plenty of good ideas if only they can be backed with power and brought into relief. But think what a time it took—from February 1915 when I gave the original orders—to September 1916 when the first use was made of these machines! And even then I think it would have been better to wait and act on a much larger scale—having waited so long. The caterpillars are the land sisters of the monitors. Both were intended to restore to the stronger power an effective means of offensive. The Monitor was the beginning of the torpedo-proof fleet. The caterpillar, of the bullet-proof army. But surprise was the true setting for both.
Winston Churchill to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, 1 October 1916
The First Self-Propelled Artillery
Char d'Assault St. Chamond
The French St. Chamond tank was essentially a predecessor to the modern-day self-propelled Gun. Designed as a tank, it proved a heavy, plodding war instrument never truly capable of traversing even the most modest terrain. The vehicle, however, was equipped with a very useful, powerful, and reliable 75mm howitzer. The St. Chamond, as a tank failed and was replaced by the two-man FT-17 Renault tank. Where it did shine, though, was when it could be brought to bear at distant targets as a mobile artillery piece. In between the World Wars it inspired the planners of mobile warfare.
Source: The Land Factory
Report from Amiens, 10 August 1918
Canadian Armored Car at Amiens
It is a great victory. The 2nd German Army has suffered a humiliating reverse, the extent of which, even yet, cannot be fully estimated, and much of its organization which covered the open country before Amiens has been, for the moment at least, practically destroyed.
I do not think that war has ever yielded such extraordinary stories of rout and the confusion of trained soldiers. General von der Marwitz no longer has Amiens by the throat. It is doubtful whether he has any kind of grip on his own bewildered men.
To-day we have advanced further. There must not be undue impatience at home if the progress does not meet with the hopes of the map-followers. This has been a “clean-out” enterprise, executed on very definite lines, and the men who directed it know what they are about. Do not look expectantly at Péronne and St. Quentin and demand a daily sensation. Without attempting to look into the future, there is plenty to occupy people at home in the story of what has happened. Thus far it is a most incomplete story—necessarily so. The outstanding feature, however, has been the complete success of the tanks, cavalry, and armored cars, in delivering the first shock to the enemy, and the superb following stroke of the infantry of the British Isles, Canada, and Australia. Never have the Germans been more completely dazed.
I have heard from many quarters to-day accounts of the wonderful scene as viewed front the air. When the horsemen and their rivals in armor swept across the Santerre plateau, driving terror-stricken Germans in front of them, they did the most amazing things. The headquarters of the 11th German Corps in huts at Framerville was charged by tanks and the Corps Staff pursued down roads and across fields, one general escaping capture by running like a hare.
Tanks or armored cars—I am not sure which—captured a German ambulance train with its staff of doctors and women nurses. Other trains were attacked and set on fire, and one containing part of a Saxon division was destroyed, 500 men and 30 officers who survived being taken prisoner.
Never have I seen more striking evidence of the dismay and disorganization of a surprised enemy than on the battlefield I visited this morning. The story of headlong flight before the tanks and armored cars and the infantry advancing in their wake with dreadful deliberation is written plain on the plateau of Santerre, beyond our old front line.
From the forward machine-gun nests to the snug headquarters of the 11th German Corps at Framerville the fugitives left a trail of debris and booty dropped pell-mell. Deserted batteries confront you at the edge of ruined villages, and some of the fields are dotted with document strewn haphazard by fleeing staffs.
I passed through eight miles of reclaimed country and four villages which were held by the Germans until yesterday morning, and every yard of this journey revealed fresh proof of the consternation of the enemy and his inability to check the panic of his troops.
10 August 1918
Missed Opportunity: Germany's Light Tank
The LK-II Prototype
The Leichter Kampfwagen LK-II
By Robert Beckhusen
When the German Army’s first domestic-built tanks rolled into combat in March 1918 at St. Quentin Canal, the armored beasts looked considerably different from British and French designs—and most post-war tanks to follow.
The A7V was a monster, stuffed with 18 crew members and brimming with six machine guns and a 57-millimeter cannon. While certainly terrifying to Allied troops, it was expensive, slow, mechanically troubled and too limited in number to affect the outcome of the war. It was not the worst tank ever, but not exactly good, either. There’s a reason why the bulk of Germany’s World War I tank force was comprised of captured—and superior—French and British designs.
Perhaps worst of all, the A7V’s armored overhang and top-heavy design could get it easily entangled in the broken maze of trenches across the Western Front. Tanks need numbers and decent mobility to be effective, but the German high command envisioned them as glorified, lumbering pillboxes. There was another way. German tank designers had better plans that, while neglected at the time, were an improvement over the clunky A7V.
As the A7Vs headed to war, the tank’s designer Joseph Vollmer worked a light, three-crewed design called the Leichter Kampfwagen, or light combat car. Basically, it was an armored tractor with a single, 7.92mm machine gun. The Germans only built two of them, and they never saw combat.
But combat wasn’t the point, as the design served as a prototype for the follow-up Leichter Kampfwagen II — or LK-II. This upgraded version weighed nearly nine tons due to its additional armor, around two tons more than its predecessor. A rearward, four-cylinder, 60-horsepower engine allowed speeds of 10 miles per hour. There were few outward differences between the two tanks. The biggest change in the LK II was the addition of a model equipped with 37mm cannon in a rotating turret rather than the machine gun.
Postwar Service with the Swedish Army
Conceptually, the LK prototypes were similar in kind to the French Renault FT, arguably the most successful tank of World War I. And like the Renault, the Germans planned to manufacture hundreds of LK IIs. In any case, Vollmer's lean designs came too little, too late. The Central Powers' few battlefield experiments with tanks, while at times successful in isolated cases, were strategically useless. Allied advances and a cascading collapse of German morale forced an end to the conflict in November 1918.
Yet, the LK II had a life after World War I and influenced a key thinker of how the next war would be fought. Following the Treaty of Versailles, which banned Germany from building tanks, Berlin secretly sold 10 LK-IIs to neutral Sweden, shipping them in pieces for later assembly. Sweden rechristened the machines as Stridsvagn m/21s, gave them machine guns, upgraded their engines and components and handed, them over to the army.
During the interwar period, Heinz Guderian—one of the 20th century's most influential military theorists—spent years studying and refining his ideas regarding tank warfare, which erupted on a terrifying scale in 1939. Ten years before the outbreak of World War II, Guderian traveled to Sweden to inspect and drive the LK-II. He was so impressed that Germany subsequently purchased the Swedish company and brought back Joseph Vollmer as their chief designer.
Sources: The National Interest, 6 November 2016
Machine Gun Autocar
The First World War began for
Canada on 4 August 1914, when the
British Empire declared war on
Germany. Just a week later, on 11
August, Sam Hughes, the Canadian
Minister of Militia and Defence, gave his
approval for the formation in Ottawa of
"one of the most revolutionary fighting
units put into the field by any country."
This was the Automobile Machine Gun Brigade
No. l, later renamed the 1st Canadian Motor
Machine Gun Brigade which is believed to be the
first motorized armored unit formed by any
country during the war. The brain behind this innovative unit was
Raymond Marc Pierre Brutinel (1882-1964), a
Frenchman from the Department de l'Aude in the
south of France, who immigrated to Canada in
The 1915 Version of the Autocar
Combining his fascination with
the machine gun with an interest in the potential
of the motor vehicle stemming from his days in
the Canadian west, Brutinel developed with Sifton
a proposal "to organize a mobile motorized
machine gun unit. . . The guns being mounted in
pairs on lightly armored trucks." After receiving
ministerial approval, recruiting for the new unit
began on 24 August in the lobby of the Chateau
Laurier hotel, where a plaque still commemorates
the event. In the meantime, Brutinel proceeded to the
United States to acquire equipment. First, he
returned to the Colt Firearms Company and
ordered 20 of their Model 1895 .30in. "Potato
Digger" machine guns. He later recalled that
German workers at the plant attempted to
prevent the guns from being shipped, which
necessitated their being spirited away
surreptitiously at night. He next proceeded to the
Autocar Company in Ardmore, Pennsylvania, to
acquire the vehicles. They made a light truck that
Brutinel had earlier noticed being used by
American Express in New York, and which he
thought would make an excellent basis for his
envisioned armored machine gun carrier.
The cabs and engines of the eight machine
gun-carrying vehicles were covered in armor
plate, except that the roof was open and the
driver's head protruded over the top. The front
plate bore two headlights and a large searchlight
in the middle for nighttime operations. The two
machine guns were mounted centrally at the rear,
while steel ammunition chests, capable of holding
12,000 rounds of .303 ammunition, extended the
length of both sides and enclosed the rear. When
raised, the lids of these chests provided
armored protection for the gunners.
Nonetheless, when operating their weapons the
gunners remained dangerously exposed, which resulted in very high casualties in action. The vehicles ran on four solid
rubber tires, and could reach speeds of 64
kilometers per hour (40 mph). As noted they were
first equipped with Colt machine guns, but on 9
August 1916, these were dispensed with in favor
of the classic British machine gun of the war, the
Vickers, which they continued to use until the
Upon arriving on the Western Front, the unit soon went into the line at Chateau la Hutte, in Flanders, in support of the 1st
Canadian Division. By then, however, the trench
lines had begun to solidify, and the conflict turned
into a static slugging match that lasted three more
years. Opportunities for mobile operations no
longer existed for the eight armored Autocars. For most of the next three years the vehicles were used as machine gun transporters remaining stationary or else
move on foot, with little opportunity for the type
of mobile operations using their motor vehicles
that Brutinel had envisioned. In April 1917 at
Vimy Ridge, the 1st CMMGB was given an
especially demanding task. Its five batteries were
required to leapfrog forward to successive firing
positions over a distance of about five kilometers,
while covering one another with protective fire.
This was all done on foot.
The 1918 Version of the Autocar, Which Saw Service in the
100 Days Campaign
The opportunity for mobile operations finally
came in 1918. In March, with Russia out of the
war, the Germans launched their great offensive
aimed at pushing through to Paris and, they
hoped, knocking Britain and France out of the
war as well. The bulk of the initial attack fell most
heavily on the British Fifth Army, under the
command of General Sir Hubert Gough, in the
area of the River Somme. Because the trench lines had
been broken and units were ranging widely over
the open countryside, conditions now existed
where it seemed mobile forces might be put to
good use. Cavalry was thrown into the action,
while the British put in a special request to the
Canadians for the services of the one available
armored car unit amongst the British armies
on the Western Front at that time, the 1st
CMMGB. They remained fully engaged in the fighting
for the next two weeks. Prevailing opinion at the
time was that the unit played a significant role in
helping to stiffen Fifth Army's resistance through
their capacity to intervene in one sector, then
withdraw and move to another, to reinforce
isolated outposts, and maintain communications
amongst widely scattered units.
By the time the Allies launched their great
counterattack against the Germans in the Battle
of Amiens of 8 August they were fully convinced
of the advantages of armored mobility. The
British, for example, commenced the battle with
a total of 604 tanks as well as the recently formed
17th Armored Car Battalion. The Canadian
order of battle included 42 British tanks per
division and a formation designated the Canadian
Independent Force, commanded by Brutinel. This
latter formation consisted of the two Motor
Machine Gun Brigades, machine gun bearing
lorries, about 60 motorcycles, a trench mortar
section with the weapons borne on two lorries,
together with ancillary vehicles. Six Autocars were divided between the two brigades.
In the ensuing offensive campaign, Brutinel learned that the one constraint on the use of his lorry-mounted units, motorcyles, and the Autocars was that they were road-bound. He sought and received cavalry units to cover the open areas on his flanks. Also, As in the Second World War, the Germans
proved themselves highly adept in conducting an
effective, and to their opponents, costly, retreat.
The result was that the mobile units of Brutinel's
various formations often found themselves
stymied and unable to move due to effective
return machine gun fire, and to blown bridges
or roads that were either cratered or blocked by
felled trees. The Autocars—down to four by the time of the Armistice—had served well during the 100 days offensive, but their original design was proving vulnerable to the emerging counter-armor tactics of the German Army. They had reached their full useful lifespan as a weapons system.
Sources: Excerpted from "Canada’s First Armored Unit: Raymond Brutinel and the
Canadian Motor Machine Gun Brigades of the First World War" by Cameron Pulsifer
of the Canadian War Museum
100 Years Ago:
Adolf Hitler Embraces Political Thuggery
Hitler and His Earliest Brownshirts
Even when he was still wearing his army uniform and not personally involved politically, Adolf Hitler observed that there is often a violent dimension to politics. The streets of Berlin were filled with revolutionaries, assassins, agitators of all stripe, and hooligans available for hire or for mischief for its own sake. When he began to speak out and gain notoriety, he was always sure to have a few roughnecks nearby as bodyguards. It was some time, however, before he came to appreciate the offensive potential of political violence.
On 14 September 1921, Hitler and a substantial number of ruffians and other Nazi Party adherents disrupted a meeting of the Bavarian League at the Löwenbräukeller beer hall. This conservative, locally focused organization objected to the centralism of the Weimar Constitution but accepted its social program. The League was led by the charismatic and eloquent Otto Ballerstedt, an engineer whom Hitler regarded as "my most dangerous opponent".
One Nazi, Hermann Esser, climbed upon a chair and shouted that the Jews were to blame for the misfortunes of Bavaria and the Nazis shouted demands that Ballerstedt yield the floor to Hitler. The Nazis beat up Ballerstedt and shoved him off the stage into the audience. Hitler and Esser were arrested and Hitler commented notoriously to the police commissioner, "It's all right. We got what we wanted. Ballerstedt did not speak". (In 1934, Hitler would order him assassinated.)
A Later, Better-Organized SA Unit
The success seems to have clarified Hitler's thinking about the value of such tactics in his rise to power. He would need a private army. In early October, he formalized a para-military wing for the National Socialists designating them the Sturmabteilung (Storm Detachment), abbreviated the SA. Its functions included providing security for party officers and events, disrupting the activities of opposing parties, fighting communists and other paramilitary organizations in the streets, and intimidating designated groups such as Jews, gypsies, and trade unionists. They quickly earned the nickname "Brownshirts" because the surplus uniforms they were issued, designed for colonial troops in Africa, were that color.
Less than two months later 0n 4 November 1921, the Nazi Party held a large public meeting in the Munich Hofbräuhaus. After Hitler had spoken for some time, the meeting erupted into a mêlée in which a small company of SA defeated the opposition. For his part in these events, Hitler was eventually sentenced in January 1922 to three months imprisonment for "breach of the peace" but spent only a little over one month at Stadelheim Prison in Munich.
Meanwhile, Hitler's SA continued to grow. For his attempted Beer Hall Putsch in 1923, he would have over 600 combatants to call upon. By the early 1930s, the SA's ranks would swell to over 2 million members. Eventually, the Brownshirts and their leader Ernst Rohm would fall out of favor and be superseded by the SS, but they were, nonetheless, an essential element in Hitler's gaining ascendency over German politics.
Sources: Britannica; Wikipedia
WWI Aviation Memorial Planned for Wichita's Eisenhower National Airport
Side View of the DH-4 To Be Restored
A piece of World War I history returned to Wichita Friday 28 May: an airplane that looks exactly like the plane Lt. Erwin Bleckley flew during his last mission during the First World War. The plan with the plane, once it’s restored, is to have it displayed at Wichita’s Eisenhower National Airport, available for thousands to see and to learn a little about the plane’s history and why it’s important to Wichita. Lt. Erwin Bleckley died at the age of 23 on 6 October 1918 on a mission to drop supplies from the sky. He later received the Medal of Honor for his bravery. The plane, after restoration, is to have it displayed at Wichita’s Eisenhower National Airport.
The 50th Aero Squadron DH-4 #6 aircraft is now in Wichita, Kansas, where it will be restored to flying condition & stationed as its future home. This historic aircraft represents the US Air Service (USAS), 50th Aero Squadron based at Remicourt, France, where on 6 October 1918, Lieutenants Goettler, pilot, and Bleckley, observer, were killed in their DH-4, #6, aircraft while on their second mission of the day in attempting to locate the Lost Battalion of the 77th Division, in the battle of the Meuse-Argonne.
DH-4s of the 50th Aero Squadron
Lt. Bleckley was born and raised in Wichita. He later joined the 130th Field Artillery. Many say he was the first volunteer for missions. The Bleckley Airport Memorial Foundation spent thousands of hours researching and planning to bring the historic plane back to the exact specifications of the airplane Lt. Bleckley flew on his last mission. "Now it’s real to the people of Wichita,” said Grant Schumaker with the Bleckley Airport Memorial Foundation. The foundation has hopes of fully restoring the plane and eventually getting it back in the air. “With the help of Wichita and the citizens, we are going to make it happen,” Schumaker said.
The Bleckley Airport Memorial Foundation needs volunteers and funds for that to happen. You can learn more about Lt. Bleckley, the plane, and how to contribute to the cause here: https://www.bamfoundation.net/.
Sources: The Doughboy Foundation; KWCH12, Kansas University
A World War One Documentary
The picturesque hill town of Rovereto—City of the Ancient Oak—lies in the Trentino region of Italy about halfway between Milan and Venice, and almost due north of Verona. It is located in the valley of the Adige River, on the route leading north to the Brenner Pass through the Alps. Now part of Italy, in 1915 it lay within Austria approximately 10 miles from the border and was fought over by both sides in attack and counterattack. Rovereto is today the site of Italy's War Museum and the most famous remembrance tradition of the Italian Front of the Great War.
“Maria Dolens” ("Mary Grieving"), Rovereto’s monumental bell, tolls 100 times every evening at nightfall in remembrance of the fallen of all the wars, of all the nations of the world. It is the largest bell in the world to be rung regularly.