When World War I began in July 1914, Italy was a partner in the Triple Alliance with Germany and Austria-Hungary, but decided to remain neutral. However, a strong sentiment existed within the general population and political factions to go to war against Austria-Hungary, Italy’s historical enemy, and during the immediate pre-war years, Italy started aligning itself closer to the Entente powers, France and Great Britain, for military and economic support. On April 26, 1915, Italy negotiated the secret Pact of London by which Great Britain and France promised to support Italy's annexation of the frontier lands in return for entering the war on the Entente side. On May 3, Italy resigned from the Triple Alliance and later declared war against Austria-Hungary at midnight on May 23. At the beginning of the war, the Italian army boasted less than 300,000 men, but mobilisation greatly increased its size to more than 5 million by the war’s end in November 1918. Approximately 460,000 were killed and 955,000 were wounded in the conflict.
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