TIL of the “White Friday” of 1916 where 300+ soldiers from Italy and Austro-Hungary died from a series of Alpine avalanches that struck on same day.

Read more: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/White_Friday_(1916)

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  1. Note that despite gaining that nickname the event actually took place on a Wednesday (December 13th). In total its believed that between 2,000-10,000 people died from Avalanches during that month as conditions was more favourable than usual thanks to the weather.

    The Gran Poz Avalanche (quoted below) is probably the most famous but other struck too that day. Rumor has it that some soldiers even started firing into the snow in order to provoke more avalanches and bury the other side.

    > The Austro-Hungarian Kaiserschützen military barracks was built on the Gran Poz summit (approximately 11,000 ft, approximately 3.35km, above sea level) of Mount Marmolada. The wooden barracks was built in August of the summer of 1916, to house the men of the 1st Battalion of the Imperial Rifle Regiment Nr.III (1.Btl. KschRgt.III). The location of the barracks was planned to be well situated to protect it from Italian attack and provide a defense atop the contested Mount Marmolada. The barracks was placed along rock cliffs to protect it from direct enemy fire and the location was out of high-angle mortar range.

    > During the winter of 1916, heavy snowfall and a sudden thaw in the Alps created conditions ripe for avalanches. From the beginning of December, the snow pile up was recorded at 8–12 metres (26–39 ft) atop the summit. The Austro-Hungarian commander of the 1.Btl. KschRgt.III, Captain Rudolf Schmid, noticed the imminent danger his company faced. Out of fear his position would be soon untenable, Capt. Schmid wrote a request to his superior, Field Marshal Lieutenant Ludwig Goiginger of the 60th Infantry Division. The appeal was ultimately turned down to vacate the base atop Gran Poz summit. In the eight days before the avalanche, additional heavy snowfall disrupted telephone lines of communication and left each outpost stranded with a lack of supplies

    > On Wednesday, December 13, 1916, at 5:30 a.m., over 200,000 tons (approx. 1 million cubic metres) of snow and ice plunged down the mountainside directly onto the barracks. The wooden buildings packed with soldiers, collapsed under the weight of the avalanche, crushing the occupants. Of the 321 troops present, 229 were Kaiserschützen mountain infantry and 102 were Bosnians from a support column. Only a few were pulled to safety while 270 were buried alive. Only 40 of the bodies were ever recovered from the pileup. Among those who survived was Captain Schmid along with his aide, who escaped slightly injured.

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