Ferdinand Foch to Vittorio Emmanuele Orlando






Library of Congress, Woodrow Wilson Papers, 1786-1957



In my correspondence with General Diaz I have, for the last ten months, in accordance with the agreements of Beauvais and Abbeville, drawn the attention of the "Comando Supremo" to the importance of an offensive in Italy, as well as to its possibilities, taking into account the available resources and the results to be sought so as to avoid imprudence.

I have also removed, to the limit of the possible, the difficulties which this offensive offered in its eyes, granting it the supplies requested for the time it should select for the execution of its projects. Even to-day my way of thinking remains the same.

The season in fact renders it necessary to proceed to the performing of an offensive limited in its objectives and in its means, but without any delay.

In order to give an imperative opinion in an operation which needs but a small part of the Italian army, the question should first be cleared up of knowing precisely what power has been conferred on me by the Abbeville text, on which you cannot yourself pronounce though it is from your pen. I have moreover neither the time nor the means to go and perfect the study of an operation needing but a small part of the Italian forces under the direct command of its chief.

As for the divisions which you ask from me for this operation, they are all engaged in the general battle on the Franco-British front, and they rest during only the time strictly necessary for them to begin again the fight.

Lastly, if I had such divisions at my disposal, you cannot ignore that the transportation of them is impossible owing to the necessities of our battle, and that if it were possible, it would not be finished before three weeks, that is to say when it would be too late to fight.

I look in vain for what I could add, for, as to getting from me an opinion which would, as you say, leave me the "entire responsibility of the development of the operations on the Italian front", this is a hypothesis which no reasonable man can consider.

In any case, the allied armies, Belgian, British, French, American, Greek, Serb, are attacking without pause; from the Jordan to the North Sea all the front is shaken. There is no war without risks; the question is now to know whether those risks, with the shaken morale and the disorganization of the Austrian army, the Italian Command is disposed to encounter them.

(Signed) F. Foch.

Original Format






Ferdinand Foch, “Ferdinand Foch to Vittorio Emmanuele Orlando,” 1918, WWP22616, World War I Letters, Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library & Museum, Staunton, Virginia.