Now all roads lead to France and heavy is the tread
Of the living; but the dead returning lightly dance.
Edward Thomas, Roads

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Austria-Hungary's Bravest of the Brave

The monument shown above is located in the upper Isonzo River Valley at the foot of Mte Rombon, which—thousands of feet of higher—was a ferocious battlefield from 1915 to October 1917 when the German-Austrian Caporetto Offensive secured the area for the Central Powers.  Note that the soldier on the left is wearing a fez.  This indicates that he was a Muslim soldier of  the 2nd Bosnian regiment.  The inclusion of this figure indicates the respect the Zweier Bosniaken,  known as "the bravest of the brave," earned during their loyal service during the First World War.

Bosnian Mountain-top Machine Gun Position

While Bosnian Muslims served on most of the fronts where the K.u.K. fought, they are most remembered for their operations on the Italian Front.  In 1916, they captured Mte. Fior during the assault known as the Strafexpedition  (punishment offensive) on the Asiago Plateau. Further north they held Mte. Rombon against countless Italian attack prior to Caporetto, and then led the breakout deep into the Veneto after the October 1917 breakthrough. By war's end, the 2nd Regiment,  with 42 Gold Medals for bravery, held the highest number of such distinctions of any regiment in the K.u.K. army.

Field Marshal Conrad von Hötzendorf 
Decorating Soldiers of the 2nd Bosnian Rgt.


  1. My grandfather, Alois Erlach, served briefly w the Bosnian infantry, was wounded, and transferred to the air corps as soon as he could, which he considered much safer. His squadron was FLT 12, and he was at the Isonzo front. I have many photos of his experiences while there.

    1. George, be sure to read John Biggins’ wonderful historical novels about a KuK pilot and submarine commander. From what I know, they are historically accurate and you’ll have a good idea of what your grandfather went through.

    2. Thanx Tom, I’ll check it out