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snopes
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Comment: Is it true that there were early battles in the Alps during which
one side fired cannons into moutain sides to cause snow slides that buried
their adversaries and that, to date, none of those buried soldiers' bodies
have been found? Seems that, if the "Ice Man" could turn up in the Arctic
Area, at least one of those bodies should have been stumbled upon in the
Alps - if it ever happened at all.

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Ganzfeld
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Sometimes bodies are found but I don't know what "early battles" means.
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Delta-V
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In World War One, there was heavy fighting along the Tyrolian border with Italy. Austrian Kaiserjäger and fought Italian Alpini for possession of some of the highests peaks in the Alps. Some of this involved tunneling under the defensive positions of the enemy (which were often dug into the ice and snow), and detonating charges to collapse the defenses.

The winters of 1915/1917 and 1916/1917 were nasty, with snows exceeding 7m deep. Troops on both sides were lost to weather, including avalanches. On December 17th and 18th, 1916, avalanches killed around 10,000 troops on both side. Nature was the biggest killer on that front.

It's unlikely that cannon were used to bring avalanches down on the enemy. One, it's just as likely to bring one down on your own troops, and two, there was little or no combat during the worst of the winter.

The Alps still give up their dead occasionally. Last year, the bodies of 3 Austrian soliers were found on San Matteo mountain.

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Unusual Elfin Lights
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quote:
Originally posted by Delta-V:
It's unlikely that cannon were used to bring avalanches down on the enemy. One, it's just as likely to bring one down on your own troops, and two, there was little or no combat during the worst of the winter.

I did two tours of Avalanche Control firing howitzers into mountains along the Trans-Canada Highway in British Columbia. In order to do that job we had to learn plenty about avalanches and how they built up and were released. In all, I have fired and brought down over 250 avalanches, and only 1 was inadvertently triggered. All the others were triggered by an impacting round. Acoustic triggering is actually quite rare. Source for other photos. Look 1/3 down for Joe Shortt's name.

I do think it very plausible that the technique for triggering the avalanche by firing high in the mountain along an avalanche path could very well have been used. After all, they did have the artillery developed for the area.

Finally, the avalanche threat that we were ready to face in the interior of BC ran from 1 November to 30 April. During much of that time it was quite warm, but the threat of avalanche higher up was still there.

Nothing like the feeling of getting dusted at Lens firing point in the dead of night. Ahhh memories.

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noreen
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quote:
Originally posted by snopes:
Comment: Is it true that there were early battles in the Alps during which
one side fired cannons into moutain sides to cause snow slides that buried
their adversaries and that, to date, none of those buried soldiers' bodies
have been found? Seems that, if the "Ice Man" could turn up in the Arctic
Area, at least one of those bodies should have been stumbled upon in the
Alps - if it ever happened at all.

The 'ice man' was found in the Alps.

The glaciers and snow caps are receding, so more bodies (from various eras) should start showing up.

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Black Belt and Socks
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WWII Airman found in Sierra Nevada

BB&S

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Major D. Saster
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I never read anything about willingly causing avalanches with artillery fire during the austro-italian moutain battles of WWI (it would have been a hazardous method for those who shot). In summer, however, this theater of operations was just as dangerous for another reason : every artillery shell hitting rocks would send thousands of deadly shrapnels around - the terrain itself making it difficult to dig trenches anyway.

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Senior
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quote:
Originally posted by Delta-V:
[snip]
The winters of 1915/1917 and 1916/1917 were nasty, with snows exceeding 7m deep. Troops on both sides were lost to weather, including avalanches. On December 17th and 18th, 1916, avalanches killed around 10,000 troops on both side. Nature was the biggest killer on that front.
[snip]

According to John Keegan's First World War, over 460,000 Italians died in WWI, mainly on the Tyrolean Front. During the three 1915 Battles of the Isonzo, there was an aggregate total of over 24,000 Italian dead and about half that number of Austrian dead.

While nature killed large numbers of troops in the Alps, many more were killed as a result of enemy action.

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Delta-V
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quote:
Originally posted by Senior:
quote:
Originally posted by Delta-V:
[snip]
The winters of 1915/1917 and 1916/1917 were nasty, with snows exceeding 7m deep. Troops on both sides were lost to weather, including avalanches. On December 17th and 18th, 1916, avalanches killed around 10,000 troops on both side. Nature was the biggest killer on that front.
[snip]

According to John Keegan's First World War, over 460,000 Italians died in WWI, mainly on the Tyrolean Front. During the three 1915 Battles of the Isonzo, there was an aggregate total of over 24,000 Italian dead and about half that number of Austrian dead.

While nature killed large numbers of troops in the Alps, many more were killed as a result of enemy action.

This Website lists 60,000 dead from avalanches alone, and another 60,000 dead from freezing.

quote:
Hochgebergsfront- In the “high mountains” [Dolomiti, Adamello/Presanella and Ortler Ranges] during the three years of war, over 60,000 men on both sides would be killed in combat, by enemy gunfire. Some were company and battalion sized battles, others were remote mountaintop duels between patrols. Sixty thousand would freeze to death and at least 60,000 more would perish in avalanches, including a two-day period in December of 1916 that saw 10,000 troops being killed by the “white death.”

I should ammend my statment from "Nature was the biggest killer on that front", to "Nature was the biggest killer in the mountain battles", which is what I meant to say, rather than the entire Tyrolean Front.

--------------------
"My neighbor asked why anyone would need a car that can go 190 mph. If the answer isn't obvious, and explaination won't help." - Csabe Csere

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Unusual Elfin Lights
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I really hate resurrecting a thread that is a year since laid to rest, but this did prove interesting.

Just recently, I spoke at a conference. As part of my accommodation (I was placed in VIP boarding) I was a roommate for an older veteran. This gentleman fought in the WWII as an artilleryman and was a delight to have for a roommate for many, many reasons.

Anyways, he is an immigrant from Italy during the Depression. His father fought in the Alps during the WWI as an artilleryman. I asked him the question and he had an interesting response.

Apparently, they did fire into the hills above troops, not in a battle against the infantry, but more in a counter battery role. One big fear was the death by avalanche that could come at almost any time.

Just thought someone would like that little anecdote.

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