The Italian Army’s Losses in the First World War

By Alessio Fornasin

The figure most often used in the literature to quantify the Italian army’s losses in the First World War is that of the War Reparations Commission of 1921 that counts 650,000 deaths. This article aims to challenge this estimate, propose a new one; and provide information about the age structure and age at death of the Italian soldiers who died in the Great War. The source used in this study is the Albo d’oro (Roll of Honour) of fallen soldiers. I use both the summary tables at the end of each volume, as well as a sample of 11,010 military deaths (equal to around 2.1% of the total) taken from the same source. The analysis is performed with the support of descriptive statistics. We find first that the estimates of 650,000 military deaths established immediately after the end of the war are too high; it is more reasonable to conclude that the actual number of military deaths is about 560,000. Second, the Albo d’oro data show that mortality peaked in the last year of the war, contrary to the previous assertions that the peak occurred in 1917. Last, it appears that death from disease, which was higher in the Italian army than in those of the other superpowers, had an even greater impact than previously believed.


  • First World War
  • Italian Army
  • war losses
  • Albo d’oro
  • roll of honour
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