Who's Who - Luigi Capello

Luigi Capello General Luigi Capello (1859-1941) served as an Italian commander during World War One and achieved initial success and popularity at Gorizia and along the Isonzo before suffering disgrace at Caporetto in 1917.

A somewhat unpredictable field commander, Capello was an outspoken critic of bureaucratic inefficiencies within the Italian army.  While his open campaign to improve army efficiency ought to have made him a natural ally to army Chief of Staff Luigi Cadorna it did not.

His habit during wartime of allowing journalists to accompany him on the Italian front infuriated Cadorna, who strove to exclude both press and politicians from all aspects of the conduct of the war (thus Capello's welcoming of civilian authorities to the front further engendered Cadorna's suspicions regarding Capello's ultimate ambition).

However Capello's attitude towards the press paid personal dividends in the form of favourable coverage, particularly following the Italian success at Gorizia in August 1916.

In the wake of his personal success at Gorizia Capello found himself transferred to the less glamorous Trentino sector, before he was moved back to the Isonzo at the head of Second Army in early 1917.

Second Army's limited success at the Eleventh Battle of the Isonzo that summer was entirely wiped out by the calamitous events at Caporetto in October, when a surprise German offensive demolished the Italian lines and resulted in 300,000 Italian casualties (both wounded and captured).

Capello's part in the fiasco brought him official disgrace in a parliamentary report published in 1919.  Warned of the possibility of an attack in the sector he ignored Cadorna's orders to withdraw his artillery to safety west of the river.  Instead he issued orders of his own to prepare his best units for a pre-emptive Italian offensive.

Struck down by illness while events at Caporetto began to play out, he returned to his post on 24 October by which time it was too late to save the Italian position.  He therefore recommended to Cadorna that a withdrawal of some 50km be initiated.  Cadorna ignored Capello's advice - doubtless in revenge for Capello's earlier attitude to his own orders - and Capello succumbed to illness again.

Following publication of the 1919 parliamentary enquiry into the events surrounding Caporetto - which blamed Cadorna as much as Capello - he remained in the post-war Italian army.  With the rise of Mussolini's brand of fascism he joined the Fascist Party but was expelled in 1923 for his Masonic connections.

Two years following his expulsion from the Fascist Party Capello was arrested and charged with conspiracy to assassinate Mussolini.  Consequently sent to prison he emerged to freedom eleven years later in 1936.

He died in 1941.

In preparation for the Battle of the Somme, the British launched a seven-day artillery bombardment in which 1,500 guns fired 1.6 million rounds.

- Did you know?

Who's Who