CZECHOSLOVAK LEGION IN ITALY
Only at the beginning of 1917 were Czech and Slovak prisoners (concerning their nationality) allocated to the camp of Santa Maria Capua Vetere at Naples. On 17th January 1917 the Czechoslovak Volunteer corps was founded there, with Sokol functionary J. Čapek being in the lead.
Czech prisoners reported for Italian combat units with the aim to form their own Czechoslovak Units there. They were inspired by heroic deeds of Czechoslovak spies who succeeded in joining the Italian Corps. Italian Government, however, postponed forming Czechoslovak units and allowed to create working battalions for war purposes only.
As a result to Italian defeat at Caporetto in October 1917 and following a diplomatic insistence by Gen. M.R. Štefánik , on 27th April 1918 it was allowed to establish Czechoslovak Armed Forces in Italy. General A. Graziani was appointed the commander.
Finally, there was a Czechoslovak division in Italy. It consisted of the 31st, 32nd, 33rd, 34th Czechoslovak Rifle Regiment /the 35th and 39th Regiment came into existence in September/. Italian King Vittorio Emanuele III also participated in the festive parade of Czechoslovak division. On 24th May 1918 our legionnaires were presented with a banner which had been embroidered by ladies of Rome.
In mid-August 1918 the division moved to the front in the area between the Gardsk Lake and the river Adiz. It got involved in the fights for Doss Alto . It experienced difficult combat situations in the trenches as well as in "caverns".
Almost 20.000 men were assigned to the legions in Italy, out of which 350 were killed. Several dozens of them lost their lives being executed after they were taken prisoners.