Austro-Hungarian soldier, Italian Front 1918

Austro-Hungarian soldier, Italian Front 1918

A sergeant of an Austro-Hungarian infantry regiment captured by British troops on the Italian Front in 1918. The two medals he is wearing appear to be the Bravery Medal (left) and the Balkan Mobilisation Cross (right). Unlike New Zealand and British troops, Austro-Hungarian soldiers were allowed to wear their medals on their field tunics in the front line. The danger of course was that the medals could easily be lost, damaged or, as in this instance, almost certainly 'souvenired' by the enemy if the owner was taken prisoner.

The Austro-Hungarian Army started issuing German type steel helmets to its troops in late 1916. These included the Austrian made 'Berndorfer' version as well as helmets imported directly from Germany. The fierce intensity of alpine trench warfare on the Italian Front led to Austro-Hungarian units serving there receiving steel helmets before troops on other fronts. 

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