The Italian Almanac

Fokker triplanes

Italian News - January 26

Italy's last surviving veteran of the first world war, Carlo Orelli, has died aged 110.

Mr Orelli, who was a well-known figure across the country, enrolled in the Italian infantry when he was 21 and was among the first Italian troops to fight on the Austro-Hungarian front in the 1914-18 war. His wartime memories were vivid. In numerous interviews and in his wartime diaries, entitled The Last Infantryman, published last year, the veteran recalled his experience in the trenches around Trieste.

"In my brigade there were soldiers from all over Italy, peasants from the south who couldn't read or write, but who never complained. They died in silence... One day 330 of us went out and only 30 came back. I have never understood how come it didn't happen to me."

More than 61 million soldiers fought on all sides in the war and more than eight million died.