World War One took place from 1914 to 1918.
It is also called, The First World War, The Great War and The War to End All Wars.
On the one side in World War One there was the Central Powers, "Germany, Austria-Hungary and the Ottoman Empire".
On the other side was the Allied Powers, Russia, Britain, France, Australia and the United States.
In all, more than 9 million soldiers died during World War One.
Russia : 1,700,000
France : 1,357,800
British Empire : 908,371
Italy : 650,000
United States : 126,000
Japan : 300
Romania : 335,706
Serbia : 45,000
Belgium : 13,716
Greece : 5,000
Portugal : 7,222
Montenegro : 50,000
Germany : 1,773,700
Austria-Hungary : 1,200,000
Turkey : 325,000
Bulgaria : 87,500
World War One, also known as the First World War, the Great War and the War To End All Wars, was a global military conflict which took place primarily in Europe from 1914 to 1918. Over 40 million casualties resulted, including approximately 20 million military and civilian deaths. The Entente Powers, led by France, Russia, the British Empire, and later Italy (from 1915) and the United States (from 1917), defeated the Central Powers, led by the Austro-Hungarian, German, and Ottoman Empires. Russia withdrew from the war after the revolution in 1917. The fighting that took place along the Western Front occurred along a system of trenches, breastworks, and fortifications separated by an area known as no man's land. These fortifications stretched 475 miles (more than 600 kilometres) and defined the war for many. On the Eastern Front, the vast eastern plains and limited rail network prevented a trench warfare stalemate, though the scale of the conflict was just as large as on the Western Front. The Middle Eastern Front and the Italian Front also saw heavy fighting, while hostilities also occurred at sea, and for the first time, in the air. The war caused the disintegration of four empires: the Austro-Hungarian, German, Ottoman, and Russian. Germany lost its colonial empire; Czechoslovakia, Estonia, Finland, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland gained independence, while the Kingdom of Yugoslavia came into existence as a successor to the Kingdom of Serbia. The cost of waging the war set the stage for the breakup of the British Empire as well and left France devastated for more than a generation. World War I marked the end of the world order which had existed after the Napoleonic Wars, and was an important factor in the outbreak of World War II.
On the 28 June 1914, Gavrilo Princip, a Bosnian Serb student, shot and killed Archduke Franz Ferdinand, heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne, in Sarajevo. Princip was a member of Young Bosnia, a group whose aims included the unification of the South Slavs and independence from Austria-Hungary. The assassination in Sarajevo set into motion a series of fast-moving events that eventually escalated into full-scale war. Austria-Hungary demanded action by Serbia to punish those responsible and, when Austria-Hungary deemed Serbia had not complied, declared war. Major European powers were at war within weeks because of overlapping agreements for collective defense and the complex nature of international alliances.
The naval race between Britain and Germany was intensified by the 1906 launch of HMS Dreadnought a revolutionary craft whose size and power rendered previous battleships obsolete. Britain also maintained a large naval lead in other areas particularly over Germany and Italy. Paul Kennedy pointed out both nations believed Alfred Thayer Mahan's thesis of command of the sea as vital to great nation status; experience with guerre de course would prove Mahan wrong. The cost of the arms race was felt in both Britain and Germany. The total arms spending by the six Great Powers (Britain, Germany, France, Russia, Austria-Hungary and Italy) increased by 50% between 1908 and 1913.
Plans, distrust and mobilization World War One:
Closely related is the thesis adopted by many political scientists that the mobilization plans of Germany, France and Russia automatically escalated the conflict. Fritz Fischer emphasized the inherently aggressive nature of the Schlieffen Plan, which outlined a two-front strategy. Fighting on two fronts meant Germany had to eliminate one opponent quickly before taking on the other. It called for a strong right flank attack, to seize Belgium and cripple the French army by pre-empting its mobilization. After the attack, the German army would rush east by railroad and quickly destroy the slowly mobilizing Russian forces. France's Plan XVII envisioned a quick thrust into the Ruhr Valley, Germany’s industrial heartland, which would in theory cripple Germany's ability to wage a modern war. Russia's Plan XIX foresaw a mobilization of its armies against both Austria-Hungary and Germany. All three plans created an atmosphere in which speed was one of the determining factors for victory. Elaborate timetables were prepared; once mobilization had begun, there was little possibility of turning back. Diplomatic delays and poor communications exacerbated the problems. Also, the plans of France, Germany and Russia were all biased toward the offensive, in clear conflict with the improvements of defensive firepower and entrenchment.
Militarism and autocracy World War One:
President Woodrow Wilson of the United States and others blamed the war on militarism. Some argued that aristocrats and military élites had too much power in countries such as Germany, Russia, and Austria-Hungary. War was thus a consequence of their desire for military power and disdain for democracy. This theme figured prominently in anti-German propaganda. Consequently, supporters of this theory called for the abdication of rulers such as Kaiser Wilhelm II, as well as an end to aristocracy and militarism in general. This platform provided some justification for the American entry into the war when the Russian Empire surrendered in 1917. Wilson hoped the League of Nations and disarmament would secure a lasting peace. He also acknowledged that variations of militarism, in his opinion, existed within the British and French Empires. There was some validity to this view, as the Allies consisted of Great Britain and France, both democracies, fighting the Central Powers, which included Germany, Austro-Hungary, and the Ottoman Empire. Russia, one of the Allied Powers, was an empire until 1917, but it was opposed to the subjugation of Slavic peoples by Austro-Hungary. Against this backdrop, the view of the war as one of democracy versus dictatorship initially had some validity, but lost credibility as the conflict dragged on.
One of the goals of the foreign policies of the Great Powers in the pre-war years was to maintain the 'Balance of Power' in Europe. This evolved into an elaborate network of secret and public alliances and agreements. For example, after the Franco-Prussian War (1870-71), Britain seemed to favor a strong Germany, as it helped to balance its traditional enemy, France. After Germany began its naval construction plans to rival that of Britain, this stance shifted. France, looking for an ally to balance the threat created by Germany, found it in Russia. Austria-Hungary, facing a threat from Russia, sought support from Germany. When the Great War broke out, these treaties only partially determined who entered the war on which side. Britain had no treaties with France or Russia, but entered the war on their side. Italy had a treaty with both Austria-Hungary and Germany, yet did not enter the war with them; Italy later sided with the Allies. Perhaps the most significant treaty of all was the initially defensive pact between Germany and Austria-Hungary, which Germany in 1909 extended by declaring that Germany was bound to stand with Austria-Hungary even if it had started the war. Vladimir Lenin asserted that imperialism was responsible for the war. He drew upon the economic theories of Karl Marx and English economist John A. Hobson, who predicted that unlimited competition for expanding markets would lead to a global conflict. This argument was popular in the wake of the war and assisted in the rise of Communism. Lenin argued that the banking interests of various capitalist-imperialist powers orchestrated the war. Cordell Hull, American Secretary of State under Franklin Roosevelt, believed that trade barriers were the root cause of both World War I and World War II. In 1944, he helped design the Bretton Woods Agreements to reduce trade barriers and eliminate what he saw as the cause of the conflicts. A Balkan war between Austria-Hungary and Serbia was considered inevitable, as Austria-Hungary’s influence waned and the Pan-Slavic movement grew. The rise of ethnic nationalism coincided with the growth of Serbia, where anti-Austrian sentiment was perhaps most fervent. Austria-Hungary had occupied the former Ottoman province of Bosnia-Herzegovina, which had a large Serb population, in 1878. It was formally annexed by Austria-Hungary in 1908. Increasing nationalist sentiment also coincided with the decline of the Ottoman Empire. Russia supported the Pan-Slavic movement, motivated by ethnic and religious loyalties and a rivalry with Austria dating back to the Crimean War. Recent events such as the failed Russian-Austrian treaty and a century-old dream of a warm water port also motivated St. Petersburg. Myriad other geopolitical motivations existed elsewhere as well, for example France's loss of Alsace and Lorraine in the Franco-Prussian War helped create a sentiment of irredentist revanchism in that country. France eventually allied itself with Russia, creating the likelihood of a two-front war for Germany.
The Austro-Hungarian government used the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand as a pretext to deal with the Serbian question, supported by Germany. On 23 July 1914, an ultimatum was sent to Serbia with demands so extreme that it was rejected. The Serbians, relying on support from Russia, instead ordered mobilization. In response to this, Austria-Hungary issued a declaration of war on 28 July. Initially, Russia ordered partial mobilization, directed at the Austrian frontier. On 31 July, after the Russian General Staff informed the Czar that partial mobilization was logistically impossible, a full mobilization was ordered. The Schlieffen Plan, which relied on a quick strike against France, could not afford to allow the Russians to mobilize without launching an attack. Thus, the Germans declared war against Russia on 1 August and on France two days later. Next, Germany violated Belgium's neutrality by the German advance through it to Paris, and this brought the British Empire into the war. With this, five of the six European powers were now involved in the largest continental European conflict since the Napoleonic Wars.
Confusion among the Central Powers World War One:
The strategy of the Central Powers suffered from miscommunication. Germany had promised to support Austria-Hungary’s invasion of Serbia, but interpretations of what this meant differed. Austro-Hungarian leaders believed Germany would cover its northern flank against Russia. Germany, however, envisioned Austria-Hungary directing the majority of its troops against Russia, while Germany dealt with France. This confusion forced the Austro-Hungarian Army to divide its forces between the Russian and Serbian fronts. Some of the first clashes of the war involved British, French and German colonial forces in Africa. On 7 August, French and British troops invaded the German protectorate of Togoland. On 10 August German forces in South-West Africa attacked South Africa; sporadic and fierce fighting continued for the remainder of the war. The Serbian army fought the Battle of Cer against the invading Austrians, beginning on 12 August, occupying defensive positions on the south side of the Drina and Sava rivers. Over the next two weeks Austrian attacks were thrown back with heavy losses, which marked the first major Allied victory of the war and dashed Austrian hopes of a swift victory. As a result, Austria had to keep sizable forces on the Serbian front, weakening their efforts against Russia. Serbian troops then defeated Austro-Hungarian forces at the Battle of Kolubara, leading to 240,000 Austro-Hungarian casualties. The Serbian Army lost 170,000 troops. Initially, the Germans had great success in the Battle of the Frontiers (14 August - 24 August). Russia, however, attacked in East Prussia and diverted German forces intended for the Western Front. Germany defeated Russia in a series of battles collectively known as the First Battle of Tannenberg (17 August - 2 September), but this diversion exacerbated problems of insufficient speed of advance from rail-heads not foreseen by the German General Staff. Originally, the Schlieffen Plan called for the right flank of the German advance to pass to the west of Paris. However, the capacity and low speed of horse-drawn transport hampered the German supply train, allowing French and British forces to finally halt the German advance east of Paris at the First Battle of the Marne (5 September - 12 September). The Central Powers were thereby denied a quick victory and forced to fight a war on two fronts. The German army had fought its way into a good defensive position inside France and had permanently incapacitated 230,000 more French and British troops than it had lost itself. Despite this, communications problems and questionable command decisions cost Germany the chance for an early victory. New Zealand occupied German Samoa (later Western Samoa) on 30 August. On 11 September the Australian Naval and Military Expeditionary Force landed on the island of Neu Pommern (later New Britain), which formed part of German New Guinea. Japan seized Germany’s Micronesian colonies and after the Battle of Tsingtao, the German coaling port of Qingdao, in the Chinese Shandong peninsula. Within a few months, the Allied forces had seized all the German territories in the Pacific. Trench warfare begins Military tactics before World War I had failed to keep pace with advances in technology. It demanded the building of impressive defence systems, which out-of-date tactics could not break through for most of the war. Barbed wire was a significant hindrance to massed infantry advances. Artillery, vastly more lethal than in the 1870s, coupled with machine guns, made crossing open ground very difficult. The Germans introduced poison gas; it soon became used by both sides, though it never proved decisive in winning a battle. Its effects were brutal, however, causing slow and painful death, and poison gas became one of the most-feared and best-remembered horrors of the war. Commanders on both sides failed to develop tactics for breaking through entrenched positions without heavy casualties. In time, however, technology began also to yield new offensive weapons, such as the tank. Britain and France were its primary users; the Germans employed captured Allied tanks and small numbers of their own design. After the First Battle of the Marne, both Entente and German forces began a series of outflanking maneuvers, in the so-called 'Race to the Sea'. Britain and France soon found themselves facing entrenched German forces from Lorraine to Belgium's Flemish coast. Britain and France sought to take the offensive, while Germany defended the occupied territories; consequentially, German trenches were generally much better constructed than those of their enemy. Anglo-French trenches were only intended to be 'temporary' before their forces broke through German defenses. Both sides attempted to break the stalemate using scientific and technological advances. In April 1915, the Germans used chlorine gas for the first time (in violation of the Hague Convention), opening a 6 kilometres (4 mi) hole in the Allied lines when British and French colonial troops retreated. Canadian soldiers closed the breach at the Second Battle of Ypres. At the Third Battle of Ypres, Canadian forces took the village of Passchendaele. On 1 July 1916, the first day of the Battle of the Somme, the British Army endured the bloodiest day in its history, suffering 57,470 casualties and 19,240 dead. Most of the casualties occurred in the first hour of the attack. The entire offensive cost the British Army almost half a million men. A French assault on German positions. Champagne, France, 1917.Neither side proved able to deliver a decisive blow for the next two years, though protracted German action at Verdun throughout 1916, combined with the Entente’s failure at the Somme, brought the exhausted French army to the brink of collapse. Futile attempts at frontal assault, a rigid adherence to an ineffectual method, came at a high price for both the British and the French poilu (infantry) and led to widespread mutinies, especially during the Nivelle Offensive. Canadian troops advancing behind a British Mark II tank at the Battle of Vimy Ridge.Throughout 1915-17, the British Empire and France suffered more casualties than Germany, due both to the strategic and tactical stances chosen by the sides. At the strategic level, while the Germans only mounted a single main offensive at Verdun, the Allies made several attempts to break through German lines. At the tactical level, the German defensive doctrine was well suited for trench warfare, with a relatively lightly defended "sacrificial" forward position, and a more powerful main position from which an immediate and powerful counter-offensive could be launched. This combination usually was effective in pushing out attackers at a relatively low cost to the Germans. In absolute terms, of course, the cost in lives of men for both attack and defense was astounding. Ludendorff wrote on the fighting in 1917. The 25th of August concluded the second phase of the Flanders battle. It had cost us heavily.The costly August battles in Flanders and at Verdun imposed a heavy strain on the Western troops. In spite of all the concrete protection they seemed more or less powerless under the enormous weight of the enemy’s artillery. At some points they no longer displayed the firmness which I, in common with the local commanders, had hoped for. The enemy managed to adapt himself to our method of employing counter attacks I myself was being put to a terrible strain. The state of affairs in the West appeared to prevent the execution of our plans elsewhere. Our wastage had been so high as to cause grave misgivings, and had exceeded all expectation. On the battle of the Menin Road Ridge he wrote Another terrific assault was made on our lines on the 20th September. The enemy’s onslaught on the 20th was successful, which proved the superiority of the attack over the defence. Its strength did not consist in the tanks; we found them inconvenient, but put them out of action all the same. The power of the attack lay in the artillery, and in the fact that ours did not do enough damage to the hostile infantry as they were assembling, and above all, at the actual time of the assault. Around 800,000 soldiers from the British Empire were on the Western Front at any one time. 1,000 battalions, occupying sectors of the line from the North Sea to the Orne River, operated on a month-long four-stage rotation system, unless an offensive was underway. The front contained over 9,600 kilometres (5,965 mi) of trenches. Each battalion held its sector for about a week before moving back to support lines and then further back to the reserve lines before a week out-of-line, often in the Poperinge or Amiens areas. In the Battle of Arras under British command during the 1917 campaign, the only significant military success was the capture of Vimy Ridge by the Canadian Corps under Sir Arthur Currie and Julian Byng. It provided the allies with a great military advantage and had a lasting impact on the war. Vimy is considered by many historians to be one of the founding myths of Canada
A church service being conducted on the HMS Queen Elizabeth during world war one in 1915.
Allied victory: summer and autumn 1918 World War One:
The Allied counteroffensive, known as the Hundred Days Offensive, began on 8 August 1918. The Battle of Amiens developed with III Corps Fourth British Army on the left, the First French Army on the right, and the Australian and Canadian Corps spearheading the offensive in the centre. It involved 414 tanks of the Mark IV and Mark V type, and 120,000 men. They advanced 12 kilometers (7 miles) into German-held territory in just seven hours. Erich Ludendorff referred to this day as the "Black Day of the German army". The Australian-Canadian spearhead at Amiens, a battle that was the beginning of Germany’s downfall, helped pull the British Armies to the north and the French Armies to the south forward starting the momentum that eventually forced the German Armies back along the western front and into the Hindenburg Line. While German resistance on the British Fourth Army front at Amiens stiffened, after an advance as far as 14 miles (23 km) and brought the battle there to an end, the French Third Army lengthened the Amiens front on August 10, when it was thrown in on the right of the French First Army, and advanced four miles (6 km) liberating Lassigny in fighting which lasted until the 16th. South of the French Third Army General Mangin (The Butcher) drove his French Tenth Army forward at Soissons on August 20 to capture eight thousand prisoners, two hundred guns and the Aisne heights overlooking and menacing the German position north of the Vesle. Another Black day as described by Ludendorff. Meanwhile General Byng of the Third British Army, reporting that the enemy on his front was thinning in a limited withdrawal, was ordered to attack with 200 tanks toward Bapaume opening what is known as the Battle of Albert with the specific orders of To break the enemy’s front, in order to outflank the enemies present battle front. (Opposite the British Fourth Army at Amiens) Allied leaders had now realized that to continue an attack after resistance had hardened was a waste of lives and it was better to turn a line than to try and roll over it. Attacks were being undertaken in quick order to take advantage of the successful advances on the flanks and then broken off when that attack lost its initial impetus. The British Third Army’s 15-mile (24 km) front north of Albert progressed after stalling for a day against the main resistance line to which the enemy had withdrawn. Rawlinson’s Fourth British Army was able to battle its left flank forward between Albert and the Somme straightening the line between the advanced positions of the Third Army and the Amiens front which resulted in recapturing Albert at the same time. On August 26 the British First Army on the left of the Third Army was drawn into the battle extending it northward to beyond Arras. The Canadian Corps already being back in the vanguard of the First Army fought their way from Arras eastward 5 miles (8 km) astride the heavily defended Arras-Cambrai before reaching the outer defenses of the Hindenburg line, breaching them on the 28th and 29th. Bapaume fell on the 29th to the New Zealand Division of the Third Army and the Australians, still leading the advance of the Fourth Army, were again able to push forward at Amiens to take Peronne and Mont St. Quentin on August 31. Further south the French First and Third Armies had slowly fought forward while the Tenth Army, who had by now crossed the Ailette and was east of the Chemin des Dames, was now near to the Alberich position of the Hindenburg line. During the last week of August the pressure along a 70-mile (113 km) front against the enemy was heavy and unrelenting. From German accounts, Each day was spent in bloody fighting against an ever and again on-storming enemy, and nights passed without sleep in retirements to new lines. Even to the north in Flanders the British Second and Fifth Armies during August and September were able to make progress taking prisoners and positions that were previously denied them. On September 2nd the Canadian Corps outflanking of the Hindenburg line, with the breaching of the Wotan Position, made it possible for the Third Army to advance and sent repercussions all along the Western Front. That same day OHL had no choice but to issue orders to six armies for withdrawal back into the Hindenburg line in the south, behind the Canal Du Nord on the Canadian-First Army's front and back to a line east of the Lys in the north, giving up without a fight the salient seized in the previous April. According to Ludendorff We had to admit the necessity to withdraw the entire front from the Scarpe to the Vesle. In nearly four weeks of fighting since August 8 over 100,000 German prisoners were taken, 75,000 by the BEF and the rest by the French. Since The Black Day of the German Army the German High Command realized the war was lost and made attempts for a satisfactory end. The day after the battle Ludenforff told Colonel Mertz We cannot win the war any more, but we must not lose it either. On August 11 he offered his resignation to the Kaiser, who refused it and replied, I see that we must strike a balance. We have nearly reached the limit of our powers of resistance. The war must be ended. On August 13 at Spa, Hindenburg, Ludendorff, Chancellor and Foreign minister Hintz agreed that the war could not be ended militarily and on the following day the German Crown Council decided victory in the field was now most improbable. Austria and Hungary warned that they could only continue the war until December and Ludendorff recommended immediate peace negotiations, to which the Kaiser responded by instructing Hintz to seek the Queen of Holland's mediation. Prince Rupprecht warns Prince Max of Baden Our military situation has deteriorated so rapidly that I no longer believe we can hold out over the winter; it is even possible that a catastrophe will come earlier. On September 10 Hindenburg urged peace moves to Emperor Charles of Austria and Germany appealed to Holland for mediation. On the 14th Austria sent a note to all belligerents and neutrals suggesting a meeting for peace talks on neutral soil and on September 15 Germany made a peace offer to Belgium. Both peace offers were rejected and on September 24 OHL informed the leaders in Berlin that armistice talks were inevitable. September saw the Germans continuing to fight strong rear guard actions and launching numerous counter attacks on lost positions, with only a few succeeding and then only temporarily. Contested towns, villages, heights and trenches in the screening positions and outposts of the Hindenburg Line continued to fall to the Allies as well as thousands of prisoners, with the BEF alone taking 30,441 in the last week of September. Further small advances eastward would follow the Third Army victory at Ivincourt on September 12, the Fourth Armies at Epheny on the 18th and the French gain of Essigny Le Grand a day later. On the 24th a final assault by both the British and French on a four mile (6 km) front would come within two miles (3 km) of St. Quentin. With the outposts and preliminary defensive lines of the Seigfried and Alberich Positions eliminated the Germans were now completely back in the Hindenburg line. With the Wotan position of that line already breached and the Seigfried position in danger of being turned from the north the time had now come for an assault on the whole length of the line. The Allied attack on the Hindenburg Line began on 26 September. 260,000 U.S. soldiers went "over the top". All initial objectives were captured; the U.S. 79th Infantry Division, which met stiff resistance at Montfaucon, took an extra day to capture its objective. The U.S. Army stalled because of supply problems because its inexperienced headquarters had to cope with large units and a difficult landscape. At the same time, French units broke through in Champagne and closed on the Belgian frontier. The most significant advance came from Commonwealth units, as they entered Belgium (liberation of Ghent). The German army had to shorten its front and use the Dutch frontier as an anchor to fight rear-guard actions. By October, it was evident that Germany could no longer mount a successful defence. They were increasingly outnumbered, with few new recruits. Rations were cut. Ludendorff decided, on 1 October, that Germany had two ways out total annihilation or an armistice. He recommended the latter at a summit of senior German officials. Allied pressure did not let up. Meanwhile, news of Germany’s impending military defeat spread throughout the German armed forces. The threat of mutiny was rife. Admiral Reinhard Scheer and Ludendorff decided to launch a last attempt to restore the "valour" of the German Navy. Knowing the government of Max von Baden would veto any such action, Ludendorff decided not to inform him. Nonetheless, word of the impending assault reached sailors at Kiel. Many rebelled and were arrested, refusing to be part of a naval offensive which they believed to be suicidal. Ludendorff took the blame the Kaiser dismissed him on 26 October. The collapse of the Balkans meant that Germany was about to lose its main supplies of oil and food. The reserves had been used up, but U.S. troops kept arriving at the rate of 10,000 per day. Having suffered over 6 million casualties, Germany moved toward peace. Prince Max von Baden took charge of a new government as Chancellor of Germany to negotiate with the Allies. Negotiations with President Wilson began immediately, in the vain hope that better terms would be offered than with the British and French. Instead Wilson demanded the abdication of the Kaiser. There was no resistance when the social democrat Philipp Scheidemann on 9 November declared Germany to be a republic. Imperial Germany was dead; a new Germany had been born: the Weimar Republic.
End of war:
This photograph was taken after reaching an agreement for the armistice that ended World War I. The location is in the forest of Compiègne. Foch is second from the right. The train carriage seen in the background, where the armistice was signed, would prove to be the setting of France's own armistice in June 1940. When the WWII armistice was signed, Hitler had the rail car taken back to Berlin where it was destroyed when allied aircraft bombed the city.The collapse of the Central Powers came swiftly. Bulgaria was the first to sign an armistice on September 29, 1918 at Saloniki. On October 30, the Ottoman Empire capitulated at Mudros. On October 24 the Italians began a push which rapidly recovered territory lost after the Battle of Caporetto. This culminated in the Battle of Vittorio Veneto, which marked the end of the Austro-Hungarian Army as an effective fighting force. The offensive also triggered the disintegration of Austro-Hungarian Empire. During the last week of October declarations of independence were made in Budapest, Prague and Zagreb. On October 29, the imperial authorities asked Italy for an armistice. But the Italians continued advancing, reaching Trento, Udine and Trieste. On November 3 Austria-Hungary sent a flag of truce to ask for an Armistice. The terms, arranged by telegraph with the Allied Authorities in Paris, were communicated to the Austrian Commander and accepted. The Armistice with Austria was signed in the Villa Giusti, near Padua, on November 3. Austria and Hungary signed separate armistices following the overthrow of the Habsburg monarchy. Following the outbreak of the German Revolution, a republic was proclaimed on 9 November. The Kaiser fled to the Netherlands. On November 11 an armistice with Germany was signed in a railroad carriage at Compiègne. At 11 a.m. on November 11, 1918 the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month a ceasefire came into effect. Opposing armies on the Western Front began to withdraw from their positions. Canadian George Lawrence Price is traditionally regarded as the last soldier killed in the Great War: he was shot by a German sniper and died at 10:58. A formal state of war between the two sides persisted for another seven months, until signing of the Treaty of Versailles with Germany on June 28, 1919. Later treaties with Austria, Hungary, Bulgaria and the Ottoman Empire were signed. However, the latter treaty with the Ottoman Empire was followed by strife (the Turkish Independence War) and a final peace treaty was signed between the Allied Powers and the country that would shortly become the Republic of Turkey, at Lausanne on July 24, 1923. Some war memorials date the end of the War as being when the Versailles treaty was signed in 1919; by contrast, most commemorations of the War's end concentrate on the armistice of November 11, 1918. Legally the last formal peace treaties were not signed until the Treaty of Lausanne. Under its terms, the Allied forces abandoned Constantinople on the 23rd of August, 1923.
Assassination of Archduke Francis Ferdinand
Austria-Hungary declare war on Serbia.
Germany declares war on Russia.
France orders mobilisation.
Germany demands free passage through Belgium.
Germany declares war on France.
Belgium rejects Germany's demand.
Germany at war with Belgium.
Great Britain at war with Germany.
Austria, Hungary at war with Russia.
French forces invade Alsace.
Montenegro at war with Austria.
Great Britain's Expeditionary Force lands at Ostend, Calais and Dunkirk.
Serbia at war with Germany.
Great Britain at war with Austria-Hungary.
Montenegro at war with Germany.
Belgian capital removed from Brussels to Antwerp.
Canadian Parliament authorises raising expeditionary force.
Germans occupy Brussels.
Japan at war with Germany.
Germans enter France near Lille.
Austria at war with Japan.
Austria declares war on Belgium.
Amiens occupied by Germans.
Paris placed in state of siege.
Battle of Marne.
French reoccupy Amiens and Rheims.
Antwerp bombardment begins.
British Admiralty announces intention to mine North Sea areas.
Antwerp surrenders to Germans.
British occupy Ypres.
Canadian Expeditionary Force of 32,000 men lands at Plymouth.
Germans occupy Ostend.
Great Britain and France declare war on Turkey.
Cyprus annexed by Great Britain.
German squadron bombards Hartlepool, Scarborough and Whitby on east coast of England.
Prussians defeated by Germans in Battle of Masurian Lakes.
German submarine 'blockade' of British Isles begins.
Allied fleet destroys outer forts of Dardanelles.
British take Neuve Chapelle in Flanders battle.
Austrian fortress of Przmysl surrenders to Russians.
Poison gas first used by Germans.
British South Africa troops under General Botha capture Otymbingue, German Southwest Africa.
Germans capture Libau, Russian Baltic port.
Italy declares war on Austria-Hungary.
German Zeppelins bombard suburbs of London.
German aircraft bomb English towns.
Allied aircraft bombs Karlsruhe, Baden, in retaliation.
Lemberg recaptured by Austrians.
Montenegrins enter Scutari, Albania.
German Southwest African surrenders to British South African troops under Gen. Botha.
Warsaw captured by Germans.
Gallipoli Peninsula campaign enters a second stage.
Russians defeat German fleet at entrance of Gulf of Riga.
Brest-Litovsk, Russian fortress, captured by Austro-Germans.
Italians reach Cima Cista, north-east of Trent.
British submarine attacks Constantinople.
Lutsk, Russian fortress, captured by Austrians.
Czar Nicholas of Russia assumes command of Russian armies.
Allies open offensive on Western front and occupy Lens.
Belgrade again occupied by Austro-Germans.
London bombarded by Zeppelins.
Bulgaria at war with Serbia.
Great Britain declares war on Bulgaria.
France at war with Bulgaria.
Italy and Russia at war with Bulgaria.
Nish, Serbian war capital, captured by Bulgarians.
Serbian government transferred to Scutari, Albania.
Gen. Sir Douglas Haig succeeds Field Marshal Sir John French as Commander-in-Chief of British forces in France.
British troops begin withdrawal from positions on Suvla Bay and Gallipoli Peninsula.
Greek island of Corfu occupied by French.
German Zeppelins bomb Paris and towns in England.
British conscription law goes into effect.
Battle of Verdun begins.
Fort Douaumont falls to Germans in Verdun battle.
Germany declares war on Portugal.
Austria-Hungary at war with Portugal.
Melancourt taken by Germans in Verdun Battle.
Russian troops landed at Marseilles.
Italian positions penetrated by Austrians.
Vimy Ridge gained by British.
Bulgarians invade Greece and occupy forts on the Struma.
Jutland naval battle.
Germans capture Fort Vaux in Verdun attack.
Allies demand Greek demobilization.
King Constantine orders demobilization of Greek army.
British and French attack north and south of the Somme.
British penetrate German second line.
Longueval captured by British.
British and French advance between Delville Wood and the Somme.
French recapture Fleury.
Romania declares war on Austria-Hungary.
Italy at war with Germany.
Germany at war with Romania.
Bulgaria at war with Romania.
Bulgarian forces invade Romania along the Dobrudja frontier.
Italians defeat Austrians on the Carso.
British capture Flers, Courcelette, and other Germans positions on Western front.
Combles and Thiepval captured by British and French.
Roumanians begin retreat from Transylvania.
Fort Douaumont recaptured by French.
Fort Vaux evacuated by Germans.
German warships bombard English coast.
Allied troops enter Athens.
Bucharest, capital of Roumania, captured by Austro-Germans.
French complete recapture of ground taken by Germans in Verdun battle.
California, Anchor liner, is sunk off Irish coast.
Afric, White Star liner, sunk by submarine.
British troops on the Ancre capture German positions.
Laconia, Cunard liner, sunk off Irish coast.
Russian Czar suspends sittings of the Duma.
Bagdad captured by British forces under Gen. Maude.
Czar Nicholas abdicates.
Bapaume falls to British.
Peronne, Chaulnes, Nesle and Noyon evacuated by Germans.
Alexander Ribot becomes French premier, succeeding Briand.
British advance on Cambrai.
Cuba and Panama at war with Germany.
Austria-Hungary breaks with United States.
Germans retreat before British on long front.
Bolivia breaks with Germany.
Turkey breaks with United States.
Germany announces intention of sinking all vessels in war zone around British Isles.
Liberia breaks with Germany.
Honduras breaks with German.
Conscription bill signed by President Wilson.
Nicaragua breaks with Germany.
Italians advance on the Carso.
Messines-Wytschaete ridge in English hands.
Russians begin offensive in Gallicia.
Canadian House of Commons passes Compulsory Military Service Bill.
King Constantine of Greece abdicates in favor of his secondson, Alexander.
Alexander Kerensky becomes Russian premier.
Drawing of draft number for American conscript army begins.
Siam at war with Germany and Austria.
Franco-British attack penetrates German lines on a 20-mile front.
Liberia at war with Germany.
China at war with Germany and Austria-Hungary.
Canadian troops capture Hill 70, dominating Lens.
Italians cross the Isonzo and take Austrian positions.
Riga captured by Germans.
Paul Painleve becomes French premier.
Russia proclaimed a republic by Kerensky.
Costa Rica breaks with Germany.
Turkish Mesopotamian army, under Ahmed Bey, captured by British.
Peru and Uruguay break with Germany.
Poelcapelle and other German positions captured in Franco- British attack.
French advance northeast of Soissons.
Austro-Germans begin great offensive on Italian positions.
Italians retreat across the Isonzo and evacuate the Bainsizza Plateau.
Brazil at war with Germany.
Beersheba, in Palestine, occupied by British.
Germans abandon position on Chemin des Dames.
Passchendaele captured by Canadians.
The Russian Bolsheviki, led by Lenin and Trotzsky, seize Potrograd and depose Kerensky.
Lenin becomes Premier of Russia.
Georges Clemenceau becomes Premier of France.
German East Africa reported completely conquered.
Finland declares independence.
Jerusalem, held by the Turks for 673 years, surrenders to British, under Gen. Allenby.
Panama at war with Austria-Hungary.
United States at war with Austria-Hungary.
Armistice signed between Germany and Russia at Brest-Litovsk.
German offensive redirects towards Amiens and Paris.
German Operation 'Mars' repulsed at Arras.
Australians halt German advance at Villers Bretonneux.
British attempt to blockade Ostend harbour fails.
German offensive 'Blucher' launched.
Austrian offensive at Asiago defeated by combined British and French force.
Ludendorff launches final offensive.
British 15th Cavalry Brigade attacks Haifa.
Allied offensive at Meuse-Argonne.
Ludendorff is dismissed.
Kiel mutiny by German sailors.
On the eleventh hour, of the eleventh day, of the eleventh month, the Armistice is signed effectively halting the War. The final Treaty of Versailles, is signed on June 28, 1919.
The Africa Battles Of World War One comprise geographically distinct campaigns around the German colonies scattered in Africa: the German colonies of Cameroon, Togo, South-West Africa, and German East Africa. Overview of Africa Battles Of World War One
The United Kingdom, with near total command of the world's oceans, had the power and resources to conquer the German colonies when the Great War started. Most German colonies in Africa were recently acquired and not well defended (German East Africa was the notable exception). They were also surrounded on all sides by African colonies that belonged to their enemies, the United Kingdom, France, Belgium and, later in the war, Portugal. West Africa and Battles Of World War One
Germany had two colonies in West Africa, Togoland (modern-day Togo) and Kamerun (modern-day Cameroon). The small colony Togoland was almost immediately conquered by British and French military forces. The German troops in Kamerun put up a fierce fighting against invading British and French forces, but in 1916 (after many soldiers escaped into Spanish Guinea) the fighting ended with the surrender of the remaining German "Schutztruppe". South-West Africa and Battles Of World War One
The South-West Africa Campaign was the conquest and occupation of German South West Africa, now called Namibia, by forces from the Union of South Africa acting on behalf of the British Imperial Government at the start of World War I. The outbreak of hostilities in Europe in August 1914 had been anticipated and Government of the Union of South Africa were aware of the significance of their common border with the German colony. Prime Minister Louis Botha informed London that South Africa could defend itself and that the Imperial Garrison may depart for France; when the British government asked Botha whether his forces would invade German South-West Africa, the reply was that they could and would. South African troops were mobilised along the border between the two countries under the command of General Henry Lukin and Lt Col Manie Maritz early in September 1914. Shortly afterwards, another force occupied the port of Lüderitz. There was considerable sympathy among the Boer population of South Africa for the German cause; it was, after all, only twelve years since the Second Boer War during which Germany had supported them. Maritz, who was head of commando forces on the border of German South-West Africa, issued a proclamation that "the former South African Republic and Orange Free State as well as the Cape Province and Natal are proclaimed free from British control and independent, and every White inhabitant of the mentioned areas, of whatever nationality, are hereby called upon to take their weapons in their hands and realize the long-cherished ideal of a Free and Independent South Africa." Maritz and several other high ranking officers rapidly gathered forces with a total of about 12,000 rebels in the Transvaal and Orange Free State, ready to fight for the cause in what became known as the Boer Revolt (also sometimes referred to as the Maritz Rebellion). The government declared martial law on October 14, 1914, and forces loyal to the government under the command of Generals Louis Botha and Jan Smuts proceeded to destroy the rebellion. Maritz was defeated on October 24 and took refuge with the Germans; the rebellion was effectively suppressed by early February 1915. The leading Boer rebels received terms of imprisonment of six and seven years and heavy fines; however, two years later they were released from prison, as Botha recognised the value of reconciliation. South-West Africa and Battles Of World War One
In March, 1915, the South Africans were ready and 67,000 troops, moving in four columns began the complete occupation of the German territory. Botha himself commanded the force that occupied Walvis Bay and Swakopmund in the north of the territory. During the campaign the occupying forces encountered land mines and poisoned wells, as well as some stiff resistance. The capital, Windhoek, was occupied on May 12, by which time the South Africans had taken over most of the country. An attempt was made to persuade the Germans to surrender at this stage but it was unsuccessful and the campaign continued with the German forces gradually being squeezed into the northwest corner of the territory. They were defeated at Otavi on July 1 and surrendered at Khorab on 9 July, 1915. German East Africa Battles Of World War One
The East African Campaign was a series of battles and guerilla actions which started in German East Africa and ultimately impacted portions of Mozambique, Northern Rhodesia, Kenya, Uganda, and the Belgian Congo. The German colonial forces, led by Colonel (later Major-General) Paul Erich von Lettow-Vorbeck, fought for the duration of World War I and surrendered only after that war had ended. German East Africa comprising Tanganyika (the mainland part of modern-day Tanzania), Burundi, and Rwanda, was a large territory with complex geography (including parts of the massive Great Rift Valley, Lake Tanganyika and Lake Victoria). It varied from the mountainous, well-watered and fertile north-west, to the drier and sandy or rocky centre, with wildlife-rich grasslands in the north-east and vast areas of uninhabited forest in the south-east. Its coast, inhabited by the Swahili people and Arab traders, dominated trade with Central Africa in conjunction with British-controlled Zanzibar and the coasts of modern-day Kenya and Mozambique. At the start of the war, the German colony chief administrator, Governor Heinrich Schne. The fighting in German East Africa began in August, 1914. On August 15, German troops stationed in Rwanda-Burundi shelled some villages in the Belgian Congo. On August 22, a German naval vessel on Lake Tanganyika opened fire on the harbour of Albertville (now Kalemie). In September, the Germans staged raids into neighbouring Kenya and Uganda. Lettow-Vorbek also created a tiny navy on Lake Victoria, causing minor damage but a great deal of news. The British sent out some gun-boats in pieces over the railway to Lake Victoria to take control over the lake. They also sent two brigades of the British Indian Army which they tried to land at Tanga on November 2, 1914 but the Germans completely disrupted the landing (see Battle of Tanga). Heavy and accurate fire prevented the British from moving off the beaches and finally forced them to re-embark three days later. In 1915, two British motorboats, HMS Mimi and HMS Toutou, the Fifi and two Belgian ships, under the command of Commander Geoffrey Spicer-Simson, managed to sink Hedwig von Wissman in a bid to secure control of Lake Tanganyika, strategic key to controlling the eastern part of German territory. The success of this expedition was compromised by the fact that a larger vessel remained, the formidable Graf von Götzen, which retained naval supremacy over the lake until it was scuttled later in the year in the face of a land assault on Ujiji. (After the war the ship was raised by the British and restored as a passenger ferry under the name MV Liemba, and still operates along the eastern shore of the lake to this day). Meanwhile, Belgian colonial forces used flying boats to bombard the German ships and the harbour installations. General Horace Smith-Dorrien was assigned the command to fight the Germans, but pneumonia contracted during the voyage to South Africa prevented him from taking command. In 1916, General Jan Smuts was given the task of defeating Lettow-Vorbeck. Smuts had a large army (for the area), some 13,000 South Africans including Boers, British, and Rhodesians as well as 7,000 Indian and African soldiers. Also, not under his direct command but fighting on his side, was a Belgian force and a larger but totally ineffective group of Portuguese military units based in Mozambique. A large Carrier Corps of African porters under British command carried supplies for Smuts's army into the interior, much of which lacked railway or established roads. Despite all these troops from different countries, this was essentially a South African operation of the British Empire under Smuts' control. During the previous year, Lettow-Vorbeck had also gained troops and his army was now 3,500 Germans and some 12,000 Askaris. Smuts army attacked from several directions, the main attack was from the north out of Kenya, while substantial forces from the Belgian Congo advanced from the west in two columns, over Lake Victoria and into the Rift Valley. Another force advanced over Lake Nyasa (Lake Malawi) from the south-east. All these forces failed to catch Lettow-Vorbeck and they all suffered terribly from disease along the march. One unit (9th South African Infantry) started at a strength of 1,135 in February and by October was down to 116 men, without doing much fighting at all (Cyril Falls, The Great War, pg. 253). However, the Germans nearly always retreated from the larger British forces, and by September of 1916, the German railway from the coast at Dar-es-Salaam to Ujiji was fully under British control. Belgian forces under General Tombeur captured Tabora, an administrative center of central German East Africa. With Lettow-Vorbeck's forces now confined to the southern part of German East Africa, Smuts began to withdraw his South-African, Rhodesian, and Indian troops and replace them with African soldiers. By the start of 1917 more than half the British army was composed of African soldiers, and by the end of the war, it was nearly all African troops. Smuts himself left the area in January of 1917 to go to London to join the Imperial War Cabinet. As noted above, the first action in the war in East Africa consisted of attacks by German forces on the Belgian Congo. Belgian-Congolese participation in the campaign was sizeable for the logistics alone some 260,000 carriers were mobilized, not counting troops. The colonial armed forces of the Belgian Congo ('Force Publique') started a campaign on April 18, 1916 under the command of General Tombeur, Colonel Molitor and Colonel Olsen. They captured Kigali on May 6. The German forces in Burundi fought well, but had to give in to the numerical superiority of the Force Publique. On June 6, they took Usumbura, and by that time had completely occupied Rwanda and Burundi. The Force Publique then started the campaign to capture Tabora. They marched into Tanganyika in three columns and took Biharamuro, Mwanza, Karema, Kigoma and Ujiji. After several days of heavy fighting they took Tabora. Fearing Belgian claims on the German colony, Smuts quickly sent Belgian forces back to Congo, leaving them as occupying forces in Rwanda and Burundi. But the British were forced to call Belgian-Congolese troops to help for a second time in 1917, and after this they worked together. Despite continued efforts to capture or destroy Lettow-Vorbeck's army, the British failed to end the German resistance. First General Hoskins (of the King's African Rifles) took over, then another South African, General van Deventer, was given the command. Deventer launched an offensive in July 1917. Lettow-Voorbeck's forces were divided into three groups and two of them managed to escape the offensive but the third, some 5,000 men under Tafel, was forced to surrender. The German army was able to tie down large British forces and even defeat them upon occasion. For example, the Germans beat the British at a battle near Mahiwa in October 1917. They lost 100 men and the British lost 1600. Nevertheless, the British troops were closing in on the Germans and so on November 23, 1917, Lettow-Vorbeck crossed south into Portuguese Mozambique. He hoped by so doing to gain recruits and supplies by capturing small Portuguese garrisons. He marched through Mozambique for the next nine months, avoiding capture but unable to gain much strength. Then the German army crossed into Northern Rhodesia in August 1918. On November 13, two days after the Armistice was signed in Europe, the German army took and burnt its last town, Kasama which had been evacuated by the British. The next day at the Chambezi River, Lettow-Vorbeck was given a telegram announcing the signing of the armistice, and agreed to a cease-fire: the 'Von Lettow-Vorbeck Memorial' marks the spot in present-day Zambia. As requested, he marched his undefeated army to Abercorn and formally surrendered there on November 23. The war marked the end of Germany's short-lived overseas empire. Britain and France divided up the German African colonies between them, but their colonial rule would be short-lived also. Most of the former German colonies gained their independence by 1960, Namibia (German South West Africa) was the last to gain independance, gaining political freedom from South Africa only in 1988.
Amiens World War One
August 8, 1918: Amiens attack begins. There was little resistence. The Amiens line was easily taken. General Erich Ludendorff described it as the black day of the German Army.
World War One Army Size 1914-18
Russia : 12,000,000
France : 8,410,000
Great Britain : 8,905,000
Italy : 5,615,000
United States : 4,355,000
Japan : 800,000
Romania : 750,000
Serbia : 707,000
Belgium : 267,000
Greece : 230,000
Portugal : 100,000
Montenegro : 50,000
Germany : 11,000,000
Austria-Hungary : 7,800,000
Turkey : 2,850,000
Bulgaria : 1,200,000
1914, October: French army attempts to outflank German army by advancing line between Arras and Lens. After a counter attack from German troops, the French withdrew. The French lost Lens but kept Arras.
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Artois World War One
Following a five day bombing of German lines on Western Front at Artois, the French 9th Army launched an attack on May 9, 1915. The French made some progress but could not break through. September 25: Allies launch another attack at Artois. German Sixth Army repelled most of the attack. British First Army attacked at Loos. Counter-attacks by the Germans forced the British back. 13th October: Another attack by the British suffered haevy losses. The Artois offensive was cancelled.
Canal du Nord World War One
September 27, 1918: Allied forces attack German frontlines at Canal du Nord. Canadian troops spearhead the attack. Heavy artillery provided support for the Canadians. British troops advanced along a 20km front. Offensive was called off on October 1.
Caporetto World War One
October, 1917: Six German and Nine Austrian Divisions attacked a lightly defended stretch of the front at Caporetto. October 24: Cadorna gave orders for the Italians to retreat to the River Piave. The Italians lost 300,000 men. Cadorna was sacked and replaced by General Armando Dia.
Neuve Chapelle World War One
March 10: Four Divisions of British First Army advance along a 3km front. Neuve Chapelle : British broke through a line held by German Sixth Army. British made gains. Germans counter-attacked, but failed. British Expeditionary Force suffered 13,000 casualties.
Eastern Front World War One
A theatre of war during World War I in Central and, primarily, Eastern Europe. The term is in contrast to the Western Front. Despite the geographical separation, the events in the two theatres strongly influenced each other. The length of the front in the East was much longer than in the West. The theatre of war was roughly delimited by the Baltic Sea in the West and Moscow in the East, a distance of 1,200 kilometers, and Saint Petersburg in the North and the Black Sea in the South, a distance of more than 1,600 kilometers. This had a drastic effect on the nature of the warfare. While World War I on the Western Front developed into trench warfare, the battle lines on the Eastern Front were much more fluid and trenches never truly developed. This was because the greater length of the front ensured that the density of soldiers in the line was lower so the line was easier to break. Once broken, the sparse communication networks made it difficult for the defender to rush reinforcements to the rupture in the line to mount a rapid counteroffensive and seal off a breakthrough. There was also the fact that the terrain in the Eastern European theatre was quite solid, often making it near impossible to construct anything resembling the complicated trench systems on the Western Front, which tended to have muddier and much more workable terrain. In short, on the Eastern front the side defending did not have the overwhelming advantages it had on the Western front. Because of this, front lines in the East kept on shifting throughout the conflict, and not just near the beginning and end of the fighting, as was the case in the West. In fact the greatest advance of the whole war was made in the East by the German Army in the summer of 1915. Russia and the Eastern Front World War One
The Eastern Front, as it was in 1914At the outbreak of the war, Tsar Nicholas II appointed his cousin, Grand Duke Nicholas as commander in chief. Although not without ability, the Grand Duke had no part in formulating the war plans. This led to disaster. The war in the East began with the Russian invasion of East Prussia and the Austro-Hungarian province of Galicia. The first effort quickly turned to a disaster following the Battle of Tannenberg in August 1914. However, the second incursion was completely successful, with the Russians controlling almost all of Galicia by the end of 1914. Under the command of Nikolay Ivanov and Aleksey Brusilov, the Russians won the Battle of Lemberg in September and began the Siege of Przemysl, the next fortress on the road towards Kraków and the Austro-Hungarian border. This early Russian success in 1914 on the Austro-Russian border was a reason for concern to the Central Powers and caused considerable German forces to be transferred to the East to take pressure off the Austrians, leading to the creation of the new German Ninth Army. At the end of 1914 the main focus of the fighting shifted to Central Poland, west of the river Vistula. The October Battle of the Vistula River and the November Battle of Lódz brought little advancement for the Germans, but at least kept the Russians at a safe distance. The Russian and Austro-Hungarian armies continued to clash in and near the Carpathian Mountains throughout the winter of 1914-1915. Przemysl fortress managed to hold out deep behind enemy lines throughout this period, with the Russians bypassing it in order to attack the Austro-Hungarian troops further to the west. They made some progress, crossing the Carpathians in February and March 1915, but then the Germans sent relief and stopped further Russian advance. In the meantime, Przemysl was almost entirely destroyed and the Siege of Przemysl ended in a defeat for the Austrians. In 1915 the German command decided to make its main effort on the Eastern Front, and accordingly transferred considerable forces there. To eliminate the Russian threat the Central Powers began the campaign season of 1915 with a successful Gorlice-Tarnow Offensive in Galicia in May of 1915. After the Second Battle of the Masurian Lakes, the German and Austro-Hungarian troops in the Eastern Front functioned under a unified command. The offensive soon turned into a general advance and then a strategic retreat by the Russian army. By mid-1915, the Russians had been expelled from Russian Poland and hence pushed hundreds of kilometers away from the borders of the Central Powers, removing any threat of Russian invasion of Germany or Austria-Hungary. At the end of 1915 the main part of the front reached a line which in general outline did not change until the Russian collapse in 1917. In 1916 the Russians attempted a large counteroffensive under the leadership of General Aleksey Brusilov (the Brusilov Offensive). The attack, aimed against the part of the front held by Austro-Hungarians, was initially a spectacular success largely because of its use of storm troopers. However, a successful counterattack by German units halted the Russian assault. By 1917, the Russian economy finally neared collapse under the strain of the war effort. While the equipment of the Russian armies actually improved due to the expansion of the war industry, the food shortages in the major urban centres brought about civil unrest which led to the abdication of the Tsar and the February Revolution. The large war casualties also created disaffection and mutinous attitudes in the army, which was fueled by Bolshevik agitators and the Russian Provisional Government’s new liberalization policies towards the army (stripping officers of their mandate by giving wide sweeping powers to soldier committees, the abolition of the death penalty). The very last offensive undertaken by the Russian Army in the war was the brief and unsuccessful Kerensky Offensive in July of 1917. In November of 1917, the Communist Bolsheviks took power under their leader Vladimir Lenin. Lenin’s new Bolshevik government tried to end the war but the Germans demanded enormous concessions. Finally, in March, 1918, the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk was signed and the Eastern Front ceased to be a war zone. The Germans were able to transfer some of their divisions to the West, in order to mount an offensive in France in 1918. However, by then the arrival of American units in Europe was sufficient to offset the German advantage. Even after the Russian collapse, about a million German soldiers remained tied up in the East until the end of the war, attempting to run a short-lived addition to the German Empire in Europe. In the end, Germany and Austria would lose all their captured lands, and more, under various treaties (such as the Treaty of Versailles) signed after the armistice in 1918. Romania and the Eastern Front World War One
The Romanian Campaign was a campaign in the Balkan theatre of World War I, with Romania and Russia allied against the armies of the Central Powers. The Kingdom of Romania was ruled by kings of the House of Hohenzollern since 1866. For many years before the start of World War I, Romania was an ally of Austria-Hungary. However, under the terms of the alliance, Romania was obliged to go to war only in the event Austria was attacked. When the war started, Romania argued that Austria itself had started the war and, consequently, Romania was under no formal obligation to join in the war. This was essentially the same argument that Italy used at the start of World War I. Like Italy, Romania eventually joined the Allies. In order to enter the war on Allied side, the Kingdom of Romania demanded recognition of its rights over the territory of Transylvania, which had been controlled by Hungarians in most of the 2nd millennium, even though Romanians were a majority in Transylvania. The Allies accepted the terms late in the summer of 1916. If Romania had sided with the Allies earlier in the year, before the Brusilov Offensive, perhaps the Russians would not have lost. According to some American military historians, Russia delayed approval of Romanian demands out of worries about Romanian territorial designs on Bessarabia which was also inhabited by a Romanian majority. According to British military historian John Keegan, before Romania entered the war the Allies had secretly agreed not to honour the territorial expansion of Romania when the war ended. The Romanian government signed a treaty with the Allies on August 17, 1916 and declared war on the Central Powers on August 27. The Romanian Army was quite large, about 500,000 men in 23 divisions. However, it had officers with poor training and equipment; more than half of the army was hardly trained. Meanwhile, the German Chief of Staff, General Erich von Falkenhayn correctly reasoned that Romania would side with the Allies and made plans to deal with Romania. Thanks to the earlier conquest of Serbia and the ineffective Allied operations on the Greek border, and having a territorial interest in Dobruja, the Bulgarian Army was willing to help fight the Romanians. On August 27, three Romanian armies launched attacks through the Southern Carpathians and into Transylvania. The attacks were initially successful in pushing weak Austrian units out of the mountains, but the Germans sent four divisions to reinforce the Austrian lines, and by the middle of September, the Romanian offensive was halted. The Russians loaned them three divisions for operations in the north of Romania but very few supplies. The first counterattack came from General August von Mackensen in command of a multi-national army of Bulgarian divisions, some Ottoman divisions, and a German brigade. This army attacked north from Bulgaria, starting on September 1. It stayed on the south side of the Danube river and headed towards Constanta. The Romanian garrison of Turtucaia, encircled by Bulgarian troops (aided by a column of German troops) surrendered on September 6. On September 15, the Romanian War Council decided to suspend the Transylvania offensive and destroy the Mackensen army group instead. The plan (the so-called Flamânda Maneuver) was to attack the Central Powers forces from the rear by crossing the Danube at Flamânda, while the front-line Romanian and Russian forces were supposed to launch an offensive southwards towards Cobadin and Kurtbunar. On October 1, 2 Romanian divisions crossed the Danube at Flamânda and created a bridgehead 14 kilometer-wide and 4 kilometer-deep. On the same day, the joint Romanian and Russian divisions went on offensive on the Dobruja front, however with little success. The failure to break the Dobruja front, combined with a heavy storm on the night of October 1/2 which caused heavy damages to the pontoon bridge, determined Averescu to cancel the whole operation. This would have serious consequences for the rest of the campaign. Russian reinforcements under General Andrei Medardovich Zaionchkovsky arrived to halt Mackensen's army before it cut the rail line that linked Constanta with Bucharest. Fighting was furious with attacks and counterattacks up till September 23. Overall command was now under Falkenhayen (recently fired as German Chief of Staff) who started his own counterattack on September 18. The first attack was on the Romanian First army near the town of Hateg; the attack halted the Romanian army advance. Eight days later, two German divisions of mountain troops nearly cut off an advancing Romanian column near Hermannstadt (modern day Sibiu). Defeated, the Romanians retreated back into the mountains and the German troops captured Turnu Rosu Pass. On October 4, the Romanian Second Army attacked the Germans at Kronstadt (modern day Brasov) but the attack was repulsed and the counterattack forced the Romanians to retreat here also. The Fourth Romanian army, in the north of the country, retreated without much pressure from the Austrian troops so that by October 25, the Romanian army was back to its borders everywhere. Back on the coast, General Mackensen launched a new offensive on October 20, after a month of careful preparations, and his somewhat odd army defeated the Russian-Romanian troops under Zaionchkovsky's command. The Romanians and Russians were forced to withdraw out of Constanta (occupied by the Central Powers on October 22). After the fall of Cernavoda, the defense of the unoccupied Dobruja was left only to the Russians, who were gradually pushed back towards the marshy delta of the Danube river. The Russian army was now both demoralized and nearly out of supplies. Mackensen felt free to secretly pull half his army back to the town of Svishtov (in Bulgaria) with an eye towards crossing the Danube river. Falkenhayn's forces made several probing attacks into the mountain passes held by the Romanian army to see if there were weaknesses in the Romanian defences. After several weeks, he concentrated his best troops (the elite Alpen Korps) in the south for an attack on the Vulcan Pass. The attack was launched on November 10. One of the young officers was the future Field Marshal Erwin Rommel. On November 11, then-Lieutenant Rommel led the Württemberg Mountain Company in the capture of Mount Lescului. The offensive pushed the Romanian defenders back through the mountains and into the plains by November 26. There was already snow covering the mountains and soon operations would have to halt for the winter. Advances by other parts of Falkenhayn's Ninth army also pushed through the mountains; the Romanian army was being ground down by the constant battle and their supply situation was becoming critical. On November 23, Mackensen's best troops crossed the Danube at two locations near Sistova. This attack caught the Romanians by surprise and Mackensen's army was able to advance rapidly towards Bucharest against very weak resistance. Mackensen's attack threatened to cut off half the Romanian army and so the Romanian Supreme Commander (the recently promoted General Prezan) tried a desperate counter-attack on Mackensen's force. The plan was bold, using the entire reserves of the Romanian army, but it needed the cooperation of Russian divisions to contain Mackensen's offensive while the Romanian reserve struck the gap between Mackensen and Falkenhayn. However, the Russian army disagreed with the plan and did not support the attack. On December 1, the Romanian army went ahead with the offensive. Mackensen was able to shift forces to deal with the sudden assault and Falkenhayn's forces responded with attacks at every point. Within three days, the attack had been shattered and the Romanians were retreating everywhere. The Romanian government and royal court relocated to Iasi. Bucharest was captured on December 6 by Falkenhayn's cavalry. Rains and terrible roads were the only things that saved the remainder of the Romanian army; more than 150,000 Romanian soldiers were captured. The Russians were forced to send many divisions to the border area to prevent an invasion of southern Russia. The German Army, after several engagements, was fought to a standstill by the middle of January 1917. The Romanian army still fought, but most of Romania was under German occupation. Romanian casualties are estimated at between 300,000 and 400,000 (including POWs). German, Austrian, Bulgarian, and Ottoman losses are estimated at around 60,000. This victory was an impressive feat for the German army and their generals Falkenhayn and Mackensen. Most of the successful fighting had been done by German divisions (along with some Bulgarian forces in the south) who were outnumbered and often attacking over very rough ground. German advantages in this war were: better supplies, better equipment, better training, and better leadership at all levels. Fighting continued in 1917, as the northern part of Romania remained independent because of the triangle strategy, under which the Romanian Fourth Army (escaping destruction due to weather mentioned earlier), remained in the mountains in Moldavia, protecting Iasi against repeated German offensives. In May 1917, the Romanian army attacked alongside the Russians in support of the Kerensky Offensive. After succeeding in breaking the Austro-Hungarian front in the Battle of Marasti, the Russians and the Romanians had to stop their advance because of the disaster of the Kerensky Offensive. Then Mackensen's forces counter-attack led to the Battle of Marasesti, which was an important victory for Romania, as the unoccupied land with the capital Iasi remained free. The Germans were able to repair the oil fields around Ploiesti and by the end of the war had pumped a million tons of oil. They also requisitioned two million tons of grain from the Romanian farmers. These materials were vital in keeping Germany in the war to the end of 1918. Clearly, Romania entered the war at a bad moment. Entry on the Allied side in 1914 or 1915 could have prevented the conquest of Serbia. Entry in early 1916 might have allowed the Brusilov Offensive to succeed. A mutual distrust was shared by Romania and the one major power that was in the position of directly helping it, Russia. General Esposito argues that the Romanian high command made grave strategic and operational mistakes: Militarily, Romania's strategy could not have been worse. In choosing Transylvania as the initial objective, the Romanian Army ignored the Bulgarian Army to her rear. When the advance through the mountains failed, the high command refused to economize forces on that front to allow the creation of a mobile reserve with which Falkenhayn's later thrusts could be countered. Nowhere did the Romanians properly mass their forces to achieve concentration of combat power. When the Bolsheviks took power in Russia and signed the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk, Romania was left isolated and surrounded by German forces and it had little choice but to negotiate peace with Germany. Later on, in 1919, Germany agrees in the Treaty of Versailles Article 259, to renounce to all the benefits provided by the Treaty of Bucharest in 1918. After the successful offensive on the Thessaloniki front which put Bulgaria out of the war, Romania re-entered the war on November 10, 1918, a day before its end in the West. On November 28, 1918, the Romanian representatives of Bukovina voted for union with the Kingdom of Romania, followed by the proclamation of the union of Transylvania with the Kingdom of Romania on December 1, 1918, by the representatives of Transylvanian Romanians and of the Transylvanian Saxons gathered at Alba Iulia. The Treaty of Versailles recognized these proclamations under the right of national self-determination (see the Wilsonian Fourteen Points). Romanian control of Transylvania, which had also a Hungarian population of 1,662,000 (32%, according to the census data of 1910), was widely resented in the new nation state of Hungary. A war between the Hungarian Soviet Republic and the Kingdom of Romania was fought in 1919 over the control of Transylvania and ended with the Romanian occupation of Hungary. Hungary would regain Northern Transylvania through the Second Vienna Award in 1940, but Romania regained the region after the end of World War II. The Russian casualties in the First World War are difficult to estimate, due to poor quality of available statistics. Some official Russian sources list 775,400 battlefield fatalities. More recent Russian estimates give 900,000 battlefield deaths and 400,000 dead from combat wounds, or a total of 1.3 million dead. This is about equal to casualties suffered by France and Austria-Hungary and about one-third less than those suffered by Germany. A total of 2,006,000 military dead (700,000 killed in action, 970,000 died of wounds, 155,000 died of disease and 181,000 POWs died). So Russian losses were similar to the British Empire, 5% of the male population in the 15 to 49 age group. He says civilian casualties were five to six hundred thousand in the first two years, and were then not kept, so a total of over 1,500,000 is not unlikely. He has over five million men passing into captivity, the majority during 1915. When Russia withdrew from the war, 3.9 million Russian POWs were in German and Austrian hands. This by far exceeded the total number of prisoners of war (1.3 million) lost by the armies of Britain, France and Germany combined. Only the Austro-Hungarian Army, with 2.2 million POWs, even came close.
Flers-Courcelette World War One
September, 1916: General Sir Henry Rawlinson with 12 divisions and 49 tanks, attacked the German position. After just three days the British had captured 2km of German territory. Due to the tanks broking down in large numbers, the British were unable to maintain their gains. The offensive at Flers-Courcelette came to an end.
Heliogoland World War One
August, 1914: Admiral Beatty plans to draw German navy into a sea battle ambush. Beatty launches raid close to Heliogoland using 25 destroyers and 2 cruisers. The Germans are lured into the ambush. Beatty then brings into the battle 3 Battlecruisers and 2 Battleships. In the ambush the Germans lost a Destroyer and 3 Cruisers.
Isonzo World War One
June 1915: General Luigi Cadorna, with 25 ifantry and 4 cavalry divisions, launched an attack on Austria-Hungary. However, the Italians lost 60,000 men in the first two weeks. By the time the Italians decided to retreat, they had lost 300,000 men.
Le Hamel World War One
July 4: The Australian 4th Division and 4 companies of U.S. troops attacked. In less then 2 hours Le Hamel was secured. Alomst 1,500 prisoners were taken.
Marne World War One
August 1914: German army moving toward Paris. French 5th and 6th Armies, and British Expeditionary Force were in retreat. Joffre ordered the French forces to retreat to a line along the River Seine. Here, Joffre planned to attack the German Ist Army on September 6. The British Expeditionary Force agreed to join the attack. September 6: French 6th Army attacked the German Ist Army on 6th September. A 50km gap opened between the 1st and German 2nd Army. British forces and French 5th advanced into the gap. September 9: General Helmuth von Moltke orders General Karl von Bulow and General Alexander von Kluck to retreat. British and French forces cross the Marne. By 10th September, the Battle of the Marne was over.
Messines World War One
January, 1917: Orders are given for 20 mines to be placed under German lines at Messines. 8,000 metres of tunnel and 600 tons of explosive were placed. May 21: Massive bombardment of German lines. All 20 mines were simultaneously exploded 3.10, June 7. Estimated 10,000 soldiers killed. The explosion was so loud, that it was heard in London. By June 14, Messines Ridge was occupied by British forces.
Meuse-Argonne World War One
An attack at Meuse-Argonne was planned to cut-off the entire German Second Army. The US First Army, used more than 300 tanks in the attacks and 500 aircraft. On the first day, the troops only advanced 3km along a 64km front. The offensive halted on 30th September. Resumed on October 4. November 4, German Army began to retreat. Armistice was announced.
Battle of Mons World War One
70,000 British Expeditionary Force arrives France, August 14, 1914. They encounter advancing German Army at "Mons". British infantry corps, under General Horace Smith-Dorrien, were deployed east and west of Mons across a 40km front. Cavalry division kept in reserve. Royal Fusiliers were sent to destroy the bridges over the Mons-Conde Canal to stop the German advance. August 23: 150,000 German soldiers attack the British positions. British forced to retreat to the River Marne.
Battle Of Passchendaele World War One Battle Of Passchendaele started with a 10 day preliminary bombardment. Then, on July 31, the British offensive started at Ypres. The German Fourth Army was mostly able to hold off the British advance. Heavy rain turned the Ypres lowlands into a muddy swamp. The use of tanks became impossible. The attack was postponed until late September. British forces were able to gain control the ridge east of Ypres. By November 6, Passchendaele was taken by British and Canadian troops.
Paralumun New Age Village
This article on World War One was complied by Matthew Menzies.