Italy - Kingdom of: Al Valore Militare in Silver, awarded to Giovanni
Braido, who was decorated for his gallantry in the unsuccessful Alpine
attack on Monte Mrzli on 14th August 1915. This was an attack carried
out by the 21st Bersaglieri, some of the elite mountain troops who
formed part of the 7th Alpini Division. Mrzli was the extreme rocky rib
of the Monte Nero chain of the Italian Alps which stretched to Tolmino.
This suicidal attack against Austro-Hugarian defenders dug in at the top
of the mountain typified much of the fighting at high altitude carried
out in the Italian Alps. The defenders were well dug in, and the
navigable approaches could easily be covered with some well placed
boulders being more than sufficient to clear the slope of attackers. The
men of the 21st Bersaglieri were forced to take to the slopes and quite
literally climb the mountain. Those that reached the enemy position
only did so after daylight had arrived and were easily cut down as the
attempted to break through the wire. The survivors were forced to
shelter on the slope as quietly as possible to avoid grenades being
tossed down on them, and to make a break for it during the day, well if
the bullets and shrapnel did not get them, it was all too easy to lose
their footing and go skidding into a tree, or a rock, or off a ledge. By
the following morning only one officer and 50 men were fit for service
of the 1,000 men who had assaulted the position.
Italy - Kingdom of: Al Valore Militare in Silver, obverse with F.G. initials, reverse officially engraved: ‘GIOVANNI BRAIDO / SELETTE-SLEME - MRZLI - 14 - AGOSTO - 1915), with length of original silk ribbon.
Condition: edge bruise on obverse rim at 6 o’clock, Good Very Fine.
Giovanni Braido would be decorated with the Al Valore Militare in Silver for his gallantry during the unsuccessful attack on Monte Mrzli on 14th August 1915. This was during the operations by Italian troops against the Austro-Hugarian forces who were defending Tolmino. Monte Mrzli was the extreme rocky rib of the Monte Nero chain of the Italian Alps which stretched to Tolmino.
The Italian regiment which carried out this attack was the 21st Bersaglieri, some of the elite mountain troops, who formed part of the 7th Alpini Division. It was however a suicidal attack that was carried out on 14th August 1915, the Austro-Hungarians being well entrenched and supplied with plenty of ammunition. However they don’t need ammunition to defend their position, which technically can only be assaulted along established human tracks, which only require boulders to be rolled downhill.
The 21st Bersaglieri assaulted this position from a start point which was already at 6,000 feet above sea level. The attack began under cover of darkness, and in order to avoid any well aimed boulders, they had to quite literally climb the mountain away from the easily defended tracks. This slows the approach, and as day light came, the men found themselves exposed on the steep slopes and easy targets from the enemy gunners. The Italian gunners for their part had not succeeded in cutting the enemy wire and some of the men who had carried up wire cutters were cut down in turn as soon as they expose themselves. Some men attempted to hack at the wire but this proved fruitless, and as one survivor would recall, a Lieutenant Virgilio Bonamore, he had to crawl into a hole and wait there just under the enemy wire, keeping quiet so as not to get grenades thrown on him. Through the afternoon, intermittent parties of men lost their nerve and tried to escape back downhill. If the bullets and shrapnel did not get them, it was all too easy to lose their footing and go skidding into a tree, or a rock, or off a ledge. Night finally came but with it the freezing Alpine rain, and Lieutenant Bonamore who had managed to get down into a ravine recalled that: “We’re literally sodden in freezing water. The dead are in piles on top of each other. We tread on innumerable crops. What a massacre! It’s raining non-stop, and we lie in the bottom of a ravine to spend the night amid the water and cold.”
!,000 men of the 21st Bersaglieri went up the mountain on the morning of the 14th August 1915. By the following morning only Lieutenant Bonamore and some 50 men survived, on of whom is assumed to by Giovanni Braido who would be decorated with the Al Valore Militare in Silver for his gallantry, having quite possibly been instrumental in rescuing fellow survivors.
Giovanni Braido’s actual deed for which he received the Al Valore Militare in Silver still remains shrouded in mystery, however research into his name draws up the possibility that he was either subsequently killed during the war, as there is a man by his name on the Roll of Honour for the Municipality of Perugia in central Italy. There is also the possibility that he was not killed, but that he instead emigrated to Australia, where he settled in Rock Valley near Lismore, New South Wales. The reason for this is that there was a man with his name who having lived in Australia for the past 13 years, then applied for Australian Naturalisation shortly after the outbreak of the Second World War. This was clearly done to prevent him being seen as an enemy alien owing to the outbreak of the Second World War. His application for Naturalisation was reported in the Sydney Morning Herald on 29th December 1939.