CBS News Video Library, World War I: Other Campaigns
Five out of five stars
With millions of men fighting and dying on the Western and Eastern fronts in World War I, the history written about the conflict tends to concentrate on those battles. Yet, millions of men fought on other fronts. While these are often considered “sideshow” fronts in that massive war, they did influence the eventual outcome of the conflict.
While there were several other points of conflict around the globe, the two that are described in this video are the front between Italy and Austria-Hungary and the front between the Allied forces and the Ottoman Empire in Palestine and the surrounding area.
It could be argued that the entry of Italy in the war against the Central Powers was enough to lead to their defeat. The forces of Austria-Hungary were strained in their battles with the Russian Empire and Serbia, their having to divert forces to deal with Italy may have been enough to keep them from dealing more decisive blows. Both sides suffered approximately 1.5 killed and wounded, Austria-Hungary put as many as 60 divisions into the fight that could have been used elsewhere.
In general, it was a war of attrition, when one side launched an offensive and took territory and mass casualties, it was generally not long before the other side was able to retake what was lost. Bolstered by German forces, Austria-Hungary almost knocked Italy out of the war in the battle of Caporetto. It was only at the end when the forces of an exhausted Austria-Hungary largely gave up the fight that there was sustained movement of the battle lines.
This video explains this in detail with footage of the struggles in the very rugged terrain. Watching the men struggle to maneuver themselves and equipment through snow and rocky surfaces makes you realize how strenuous war can be even when no one is shooting. It is important that this front receive more historical coverage for it forced Austria-Hungary to fight a three-front war.
The war in the Middle East had two parts, a revolt by the Arab tribes against the Ottoman forces and a movement of a conventional army from Egypt up through the Sinai to Palestine. Given the number of men involved, it is surprising that this front does not receive more coverage in histories of the war. Approximately 1.2 million men fought there on the Allied side with over 600,000 casualties. While there are no accurate figures for the Ottoman side, it is reasonable to conclude that the numbers are similar.
This was one of the few fronts where it in fact moved, for the last two years of the war the Allied forces slowly took away Ottoman territory. It was the victories here that bolstered Allied morale at a time when it seemed like the war would never end.
No history of the war in the Middle East is complete without a significant mention of T. E. Lawrence, a man of myth and legend. Unlike many men of myth, his accomplishments were largely genuine, albeit almost useless when the war was over.
This is a great video, demonstrating aspects of the First World War that are often ignored, making it important in any class where that conflict is being studied.