Who's Who - Armando Diaz
Armando Diaz (1861-1928) served as the Italian Chief of Staff from October 1917 until the close of World War One.
Born in Naples on 4 December 1861, Diaz graduated from the military colleges of Naples and Turin prior to serving with distinction in the Italo-Turkish war of 1911-12.
Promoted to Major General in 1914, Diaz worked closely with then Chief of Staff Luigi Cadorna in the latter's determination to reorganise the Italian army in readiness for the coming war.
Once war had arrived Diaz was made Cadorna's chief of operations. In this role he provided useful assistance in the Italian victories at Carso and Gorizia. Although personally credited for his conduct at Caporetto in October 1917, the overall humiliating Italian defeat there resulted in Cadorna's dismissal as Chief of Staff; Diaz was appointed his replacement by incoming Prime Minister Vittorio Orlando.
Although somewhat reluctant to commit his forces to battle - he preferred to attend to the recovery and rejuvenation of the army, while defending against the Piave offensive during the summer of 1918 - Orlando pressured Diaz into achieving a notable victory of some description so as to strengthen the Italian government's hand in seeking territorial gains at the post-war peace conference.
Consequently Diaz launched an offensive at Vittorio Veneto with 57 divisions on 23 October 1918, little more than two weeks before the war came to an end. The Italians' decisive victory there (which succeeded in destroying the Austro-Hungarian army) satisfied Orlando's aims, restored Italian national pride and consequently brought Diaz widespread popularity. He was subsequently rewarded with the title of 'duca della vittoria' (Duke of victory) in 1921.
After the war Diaz served as Mussolini's Minister of War from 1922. Ill-health however brought about his retirement in 1924, the same year he was made marshal.
He died on 29 February 1928 in Rome at the age of 66.
Shrapnel comprised steel balls ejected from shells upon detonation.
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