Saturday, July 11, 2015

July 11th, 1915

- In the centre of the Adriatic, equidistant from the Italian and Austro-Hungarian shores, sits the tiny island of Pelagosa, barely more than one kilometre wide and 330 metres wide.  For several months, stretching back even prior to the Italian entry into the war, the Italian navy had examined plans to occupy not only Pelagosa but also Lagosta, a larger island further east near the eastern Adriatic coast.  The objective of the operation was to establish signal stations on both islands that could alert the Italian mainland of enemy warships at sea if weather conditions prevented radio communications.  Within the Italian navy, however, there had also been significant reservations over the operations, as in particular a landing on Lagosta would expose Italian warships to enemy interdiction, especially from submarines.  After much debate, the navy decides on a typically indecisive course of action by landing a small garrison on only Pelagosa today, and postponing a decision on Lagosta into the future.  Ninety soldiers land on the undefended island, the most significant structure of which is a lighthouse.  By only occupyin Pelagosa, the Italians have forgone the benefit of observer posts covering the width of the Adriatic (which would require occupying Lagosta as well), while still taking on the risk of Austro-Hungarian countermeasures against a small garrison that requires the active support of the Italian navy if it is to be held indefinitely.

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