Luigi Cortelletti: Beyond the hard trench - Works, means of heroism of the Weapon of Engineers

Luigi Cortelletti
Ed.Gino Rossato, Novale - Valdagno (VI) 2011
pp. 189

"The attention of almost all the publications on the Great War, but also on other conflicts in the most diverse eras, very often focuses on the succession of war events, on the departments involved, in some cases with an in-depth analysis of the strategic and tactical choices from which originate.
The efforts made by those who built the roads on which the troops marched and the barracks in which they lived, by those who have thrown the bridges that have allowed the crossing of a stream, by those who have operated so that information and orders were transmitted by those who dug the tunnels that led to the explosion of a mine and the conquest of a summit. "

With this book, Luigi Cortelletti, author of numerous publications relating especially to the period of the Great War, wished to pay homage to the men of the Genius, who often carried out their task in the shadows, but not far from danger. There are several specialties that make up this weapon. We have the 1st and 2nd Engineers Regiment (Zappatori), whose main tasks are the arrangement and fortification of the battlefields, but they are "Used in preparatory operations for the assault of the infantrymen, such as the cutting of the fences or their destruction by blasting the gelatine tubes."

Within the sapper regiments there are some specializations: telephone operators, firefighters, the department, set up during the first year of the war, for the use of flamethrowers, and the one, set up in 1916, for the launch of gas. The Cantono wheel launch department takes its name "From the tool used, the Cantono wheel launcher, a sort of catapult capable of launching special wire cutting wheels specifically designed for opening passages in fences."

The 3rd Engineers Regiment is that of the Telegraphers. They have the very delicate and fundamental task of maintaining links between the troops, using various means of communication, from pigeons to the radio telegraph. There are three hundred radiotelegraphic stations that will be operational during the conflict where, among other things, when one realizes the importance of disturbing adversary radiotelegraphic communications, a first embryo of electronic warfare is formed.

The use, however, of the pigeons, will increase during the conflict, with the use of fixed and mobile dovecotes. The 4th regiment is that of the Pontieri. "The problem of allowing an army to cross a stream is at least as old as war itself, and this is precisely the task to which the bridging units belonging to the Corps of Engineers are called." The Lagunari also belong to it, with the task of managing military transport both in the Venice lagoon and along the Po river.

The 5th regiment, that of the miners, also includes motorists and cableway operators. The Railwaymen, who are responsible for maintaining the railway network and conducting military convoys, belong to the 6th regiment. The works carried out between 1915 and 1918 by the departments of the Engineers are still visible, especially in areas such as Mount Pasubio, Mount Grappa and the Piave.

"Tenacious, indefatigable and modest, digging the hard trench, or throwing a superb challenge to the enemy for each bridge, re-knotting under the hurricane of iron and fire the tenuous threads through which the regulating intelligence of the battle passes, launching itself on the assault in epic competition with the infantry, he lavished sacrifices and heroisms for the greatness of his country.

War 1915-1918 "

This is the motivation for the Gold Medal for Military Valor, granted, by Royal Decree of June 5, 1920, to the Corps of Engineers. To this must be added the 18 Medals of Military Valor awarded to individuals, respectively 18 gold, 1.280 silver and 2.729 bronze.

Gianlorenzo Capano