Below is a corrected (hopefully correctly) scan of an extract from a self published book covering the 332nd Infantry Regiment's history, which is in the public domain in the United States of America, United Kingdom and possibly other nations.This extract covers the Regiment's action at theTagliamento River in The Battle of Vittorio Veneto. The full text of the book is here
Italy with the 332nd Infantry
When we stopped at San Lorenzo on the previous day, the Second and Third Battalions with attached platoons had pressed forward until they reached the Tagliamento River at a point called Ponte della Delizia, about four miles from S. Lorenzo. The bridge there had been blown up by the enemy and was still burning. The Austrians held the opposite shore having entrenched themselves behind the high dikes which also afforded strong positions for machine guns. Notwithstanding this, they allowed the Americans to advance to the river.
During the evening an English-speaking Austrian called to the Americans, asking for a parley. One of the officers was sent to him. The Austrian informed him that at 3 :00 P. M. an armistice between Italy and Austria became effective and therefore, they could see no reason for further bloodshed. This was NOT news to the American commanders. The officer returned safely to the American lines and reported. However, notwithstanding the folly of further hostile demonstration, the preparations to attack were continued. What if the careers of a few hundred Americans in the bloom of youth were suddenly ended? What if a few hundred mothers and fathers never again looked on the fair features of their sons? Life was cheap in Europe in 1917 and 1918. The regiment could not return to America with no battles to its credit! Glory is always preferable to life!
As mentioned before, the bridge was in flames which threw a sort of screen about the vicinity so that the Austrians, evidently, did not correctly interpret the American activities. At any rate, they did not immediately fire. The Second Battalion and Machine Gun Company were to pass over the remaining section of the bridge, descend to the dry river bed and deploy along it. Company “H” was to be held in reserve. Battalion Headquarters was located behind one of the large concrete abutments of the bridge and from this point the action was directed. Headquarters Company was to entrench along the bank and the Third Battalion moved to the left in support. Our patrols reported about a battalion of Austrians across the river.
In the darkness of the early morning the Americans were drawing up along the river bed and artillery support was arranged for. Most of the movement had been completed when, about 3:30 A. M., the Austrians opened fire but, fortunately, their bullets went high as revealed by their tracers. The American movement being completed just as dawn was breaking, about 5:00 A. M., the order to advance was given. When about twenty yards had been covered the Americans were ordered to lie upon the ground. Only a few rounds had been fired and these were as well controlled here as on the firing range. The discipline was perfect. When “Cease firing!” sounded down the line, not a straggling, nervous shot was heard. A little later the order to resume the advance was given and this move took the Americans across a shallow stream. Once again they “stay low," and the Allied guns raked the Austrian positions which were soon badly battered. This much having been accomplished, the command to advance was again given and this move took the boys “over the top."
They yelled like Indians as they rushed forward and they maintained such a line as one sees only at a practice maneuver. For a band of untried soldiers they were splendid. The Austrians returned a hot fire but the boys pressed on as true brothers of the doughboys in France. On and on they went and when, at last, close quarters were reached, they showed they had forgotten nothing they had learned in the bayonet drills back at Camp Sherman. They were irresistible. The enemy broke and fled. In the same extended order, the pursuit was continued and every possible place which might shelter an Austrian was searched until the town of Codroipo was reached, where the order to halt was given.
At 3 :00 P. M. on the fourth of November the armistice became binding and the conquerors rested on their laurels. Every Austrian inside a designated line was a prisoner. Most were willing ones. One of the prisoners marching into Codroipo with the Americans attracted the attention of the villagers who shook their fists at him and called derisively : “You won't shoot your machine gun from our church tower any more." He had told the Americans he was a railroader and knew nothing about war.
Regimental Headquarters was still at San Lorenzo with the First Battalion. At 7:00 A. M. on the 4th, about two hours after the battle, we left S. Lorenzo and marched to Valvasone. Our victorious comrades were out of sight and hearing across the river and we remained on our side, pitching pup tents along the river shore. Here we learned for the first time that at 3:00 P. M. an armistice with Austria went into effect. At first, it seemed increditable. Sometime later the order was issued to unload all guns at 3:00 P. M. and this announcement confirmed what we at first thought was a rumor and, as the boys broke formation, mighty cheers rang out and caps were thrown high in air. Throughout the day and night shots were heard. It sounded like war, but it was only intensely happy Italians throwing superfluous hand grenades.
In S. Lorenzo we learned that the casualties at the bridge had been one killed and seven wounded. The dead soldier, Corporal Charles S. Kell “G" Company, had been shot through the forehead. The injured were being cared for in an improvised hospital in S. Lorenzo. With the odds against them, every wounded man recovered. Certainly, the regiment was a remarkably fortunate one.
A unit of the 332nd crossing the River Piave at Grave di Papadopoli on the afternoon of October 31.
Courtesy National Archives.