After reporting for duty as a volunteer, the Viennese Wilhelm Rothansl fought in 1918 in the last military operations on the Italian Front. The initial euphoria and youthful devil-may-care attitude of the nineteen-year-old artillery soldier rapidly waned in the face of combat in the Second Battle of the Piave. Calamitous shortage of provisions, death and particularly the effects of poisonous gas showed a reality that was far removed from all idealised concepts of war.
In September 1915 the Tyrolean Max Jud, just eighteen years of age, wrote a forces letter to his stepbrother Franz Plattner in which he described his current experiences on the Southern Front. His enthusiastic descriptions of the fighting against the Italians testify to a profound euphoria and patriotic ardour for the military conflict with the “Welsh (meaning Italian) brats”. Max Jud fell as a lieutenant of Imperial-Royal Tyrolean Alpine Corps Regiment No. 1 in June 1918 in one of the last battles near Sant’Andrea on the Piave.