Timeline 1914 • Franz Ferdinand assassinated at Sarajevo • Kaiser Wilhelm II promised German support for Austria against Serbia • Austria declared war on Serbia • Germany declared war on Russia • Germany declared war on France and invaded Belgium. Germany had to implement the Schlieffen Plan • August 4th Britain declared war on Germany • The BEF started its retreat from Mons. Germany invaded France • Russian army defeated at Tannenburg and Masurian Lakes • Battle of the Marne started • First Battle of Ypres • Turkey entered the war on Germany’s side. Trench warfare started to dominate the Western Front 1915 • The first Zeppelin raid on Britain took place. • Britain bombarded Turkish forts in the Dardanelles • Allied troops landed in Gallipoli. • The “Lusitania” was sunk by a German U-boat. • Italy declared war on Germany and Austria • The Germans captured Warsaw from the Russians • Start of the Battle of Loos • The Allies started the evacuation of Gallipoli 1916 • Conscription introduced in Britain • Start of the Battle of Verdun. • British forces surrendered to Turkish forces at Kut in Mesopotamia. • Battle of Jutland • Start of the Brusilov Offensive • Start of the Battle of the Somme • End of the Brusilov Offensive • First use en masse of tanks at the Somme • Lloyd George becomes British Prime Minister 1917 • Germany’s unrestricted submarine warfare campaign started. • USA declared war on Germany. • France launched an unsuccessful offensive on the Western Front. • Start of the Third Battle at Ypres. • Battle of Caporetto – the Italian Army was heavily defeated • Britain launched a major offensive on the Western Front • British tanks won a victory at Cambrai • Armistice between Germany and Russia signed • Britain captured Jerusalem from the Turks 1918 • The Treaty of Brest-Litovsk was signed between Russia and Germany. • Germany broke through on the Somme. • Marshall Foch was appointed Allied Commander on the Western Front. • Germany started an offensive in Flanders. • Second Battle of the Marne started. The start of the collapse of the German army • The advance of the Allies was successful • Turkish forces collapsed at Megiddo • Germany asked the Allies for an armistice • Germany’s navy mutinied • Turkey made peace • Austria made peace • Kaiser Wilhelm II abdicated • November 11th Germany signed an armistice with the Allies – the official date of the end of World War One 1919 • Peace conference met at Paris. • The surrendered German naval fleet at Scapa Flow was scuttled. • The Treaty of Versailles was signed by the Germans. 1920 • The Unknown Warrior’s remains are returned to Britain and interred in Westminster Abbey with full military honours. • The Cenotaph permanent structure of Portland Stone is unveiled in Whitehall by King George V. Prelude to War During the years preceding World War One just three rulers; three cousins, descendants of Queen Victoria between them ruled over a large part of the world. In Britain was King George V, in Russia was Tsar Nicholas II and in Germany was Kaiser Wilhelm II. There was already much tension of the European mainland which had been simmering since before the turn of the century; establishing or enlarging empires, the arms race between Britain and Germany, limited conflicts in the Balkans and so on resulted in a number of treaties and “understandings” between nations. This left Germany in a position as The Kaiser perceived of being surrounded by hostile nations. The accepted trigger event was the assassination of Arch Duke Franz Ferdinand; heir to the throne of Austria by Serbian student Gavrilo Princip while on a visit to Sarajevo. This initially prompted no immediate reaction from Austria, however following a letter promising support from Germany, Austria did declare war against Serbia. Serbia was allied with Russia. France was also allied with Russia. Germany attacked France through neutral Belgium and since Britain had promised to defend Belgium’s neutrality, Britain declared war on Germany at 11:00 pm on August 4th 1914. Events of 1914 July Archduke Franz Ferdinand, heir to the throne of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, and his wife Sophie, Duchess of Hohenberg, are assassinated in Sarajevo, Bosnia. Secretary of the Austro-Hungarian Legation at Belgrade sends despatch to Vienna accusing Serbian complicity in the assassination. Austria-Hungary sends troops to the Serbian frontier and Serbia orders mobilisation of its troops. Russia arranges for troops to be stationed on Russo-Austrian frontier. Austria-Hungary declares war on Serbia. Great Britain warns Germany that it cannot remain neutral. Austrians bombard Serbian capital Belgrade. German patrols cross the French border. August French military mobilisation ordered. Germany declares war on Russia. Italy announces neutrality, as does Belgium. Germany declares war on France. Great Britain gives order for troops to mobilise. Germany declares war on Belgium. Initially the United States declares neutrality. Great Britain gives Austria-Hungary ultimatum to stand down from hostilities. When Austria-Hungary doesn't comply a state of war is declared at 11.00pm on August 4th. Royal Navy cruiser HMS Amphion is sunk by German mines in the North Sea, causing the death of 150 men and the first British casualties of war. Three days after the declaration of war, the first members of the British Expeditionary Force (BEF) land in France. 'Your King and Country Need You' slogan is published, calling for the first 100,000 men to enlist for Kitchener's New Army. The call is answered within two weeks. Brussels is evacuated as German troops occupy the city. The first squadrons of the Royal Flying Corps arrive in France and within two days they claim their first 'kill' as three aircraft from 2nd Squadron force down a German reconnaissance plane. At The Battle of Le Cateau the BEF suffers 7,812 casualties and is forced to retreat. September The First Battle of Marne checks German advance at the cost of 13,000 British, 250,000 French and 250,000 German casualties. The carnage begins. October/November The British Indian Expeditionary Force sails from Bombay to the Persian Gulf in preparation for the defence of Mesopotamia (present day Iraq). Trenches are established along the entire Western Front and the First Battle of Ypres starts. Turkey enters the war as an ally of Germany. In Iraq the British enter Basra, securing oil supplies in the Middle East needed to supply most of the Royal Navy. December In the South Atlantic, the Battle of the Falkland Islands sees a Royal Navy task force sink three German cruisers that were victorious at the Battle of Coronel in November. Only the SMS Dresden escapes. The German First High Sea fleet bombards Hartlepool, Whitby and Scarborough, killing 137 civilians and proving that the British mainland is susceptible to attack. Events of 1915 January In the first airborne attack on British soil, Zeppelin airships bomb Great Yarmouth and King's Lynn, killing five civilians. February Blockade of Britain by German U-boats begins. All vessels are considered viable targets, including those from neutral countries. Allied naval bombardment of the Dardanelles and Gallipoli begins. March The British Offensive at Neuve Chapelle begins. Allied losses amount to 12,800 in two days. Some of the blame falls on the poor quality and lack of British shells, initiating the 'Shell Crisis'. April Second Battle of Ypres begins. First use of poison gas by Germany. Allied landing at Gallipoli - 70,000 British, Commonwealth and French troops are under heavy fire. On 'Y' Beach, 1,200 out of a force of 1,500 men are casualties. The date of the initial landings; April 25th is now commemorated annually in Australia and New Zealand as “ANZAC Day”. May Austro-German offensive on Galicia (North West tip of Spain) begins. German U-boat torpedoes British liner ‘Lusitania’ off the Irish coast with the loss of American lives, creating a US-German diplomatic crisis. Italy declares war on Austria-Hungary. The 'Shell Crisis' exposes the failings of the British Government in supporting front line troops. Discontent over rising casualty figures grows and a wartime coalition government is formed as Prime Minister Asquith struggles to maintain control of the House of Commons. The first Zeppelin air-raid on London kills seven and injures 35. British morale is shaken as Germany demonstrates it can attack the capital at will. June The Third and final Battle of Krithia begins at Gallipoli as Allies attempt to push inland from their beach-heads. British losses amount to 6,000 men. British troops reach the Euphrates River in Mesopotamia (Iraq), and re-occupy Aden (Yemen). German troops use flame throwers for the first time against the British lines at Hooge, Ypres. August Germans annex Warsaw. Allies land two divisions at Suvla Bay, Gallipoli. They opt not to take the strategic heights overlooking the beaches and are eventually pinned to the coast by Turkish troops. The Battle of Scimitar Hill, Gallipoli, is the final British offensive in the Dardanelles. They are repelled and lose 5,000 men. A U-boat bombards Whitehaven, proving that Britain's maritime defences can be breached by German submarines. September The Great Allied Offensive focuses on Loos and Champagne. At the Battle of Loos the British tries to use gas for the first time but the wind blows this over their own troops resulting in 2632 casualties – seven are killed. British and Canadian regiments take Hill 70 at Loos and break the German line, but lack of reserves to exploit the breach results in limited success. The Canadians alone receive over 9,000 casualties. October Under German pressure to open up military rail links to Constantinople and the Middle East, the Austro-Hungarians step up their campaign against the Serbians. Anglo-French forces land at Salonika (now Thessalonica in Macedonia) to counter allied German expansion in the Balkans. British nurse Edith Cavell is executed by German firing squad for helping POWs escape from Belgium to Holland. She becomes a popular martyr and British heroine. Steel helmets introduced on the British Front. November Battle of Ctesiphon, 25 miles south of Baghdad. Allies inflict heavy casualties on the Turks, but are forced to retire to Kut due to lack of supplies. The Turkish soldiers give chase and besiege the town. December Sir Douglas Haig replaces Sir John French as Commander in Chief of the British Expeditionary Force. Allies complete the evacuation of 83,000 troops from Suvla Bay and ANZAC Cove in Gallipoli. Not one soldier or sailor is killed in the withdrawal and the Turkish are unaware of the evacuation taking place. Events of 1916 January The Battle of Sheikh Sa'ad is the first attempt to relieve the besieged British in Kut, Mesopotamia. The Turkish finally withdraw but the British casualties number 4,000, a situation exasperated by the poor medical facilities. Allied evacuation of Helles marks the end of the Gallipoli campaign. As a political result of the failure at Gallipoli and the Dardanelles Campaign Herbert Asquith was replaced by David Lloyd George as the leader of the coalition and Winston Churchill lost his post as First Lord of the Admiralty. However under Lloyd George Churchill was given the post of Minister for Munitions which ultimately proved fortuitous because during his tenure he was responsible for the design and deployment of the tank as well as numerous other innovations. The failures also warn of the perils of amphibious landings on hostile coasts. The Gallipoli failure cost 187,959 British, French and Commonwealth casualties; dead, wounded and missing as well as 174,828 Turkish casualties. Introducing conscription, the British Government passes the Military Service Act, to become law on 25 May. February The Battle of Verdun starts with a German offensive against the Mort-Homme Ridge. The German plan is to bleed the French dry of men and resources. The battle lasts 10 months and over a million men become casualties. March Germany declares war on Portugal. Six days later, Austria follows suit. April The Battle of Kut. The third and final Allied attempt to relieve Kut flounders in the mud along the Tigris, with 23,000 Allied casualties. By the end of the month the besieged garrison surrenders after 143 days and 3,000 British and 6,000 Indian troops go into captivity. The majority of these die of disease and starvation in prison camps. May/June The Battle of Jutland. The German High Seas Fleet is forced to retire despite inflicting heavier losses on the Royal Navy (14 ships and 6,100 men), but the German fleet remains irreparably damaged for the rest of the war. The Russian Brusilov Offensive begins on the Eastern Front. It nearly cripples Austria-Hungary out of the war. TE Lawrence aids Hussein, Grand Sharif of Mecca, in the Arab revolt against the Turks in Hejaz (Now the Western Province or the western coastal region of Saudi Arabia). Lord Kitchener sails for Russia on board HMS Hampshire. The ship is sunk by a mine off Orkney and Kitchener is lost along with 643 other crewmen and general staff. Voluntary Enlistment in Britain is replaced by Compulsion. July July 1st The Battle of the Somme sees 750,000 Allied soldiers unleashed along a 25 mile front. By the end of the day nearly 60,000 are dead, wounded or missing for very little gain. The start of the battle was signalled by the detonation at 7:28am of the Lochnagar mine (the largest man-made explosion to that time) under the German trenches. It is the worst single day's fighting in British military history. The Battle of Bazentin Ridge marks the end of the first Somme Offensive. The British break the German line but fail to deploy the cavalry fast enough to take full advantage. Some 9,000 men are lost. The Battle of Pozières Ridge marks the second Somme Offensive. Close to the highest point of the Somme battlefield, Pozières dominates the surrounding countryside. The action to take the village costs 17,000 Allied casualties, the majority of whom are Australian. August Under General Smuts, Britain enters the Morogoro Campaign in East Africa. The Germans lead a deadly guerrilla campaign, but disease kills 30 men for every one that dies in combat. Italy declares war on Germany. September The first Zeppelin is shot down over Britain. The Royal Flying Corps use new tactics and a new combination of explosive and incendiary bullets to great effect. The Battle of Ginchy. The British capture Ginchy - a post of vital strategic importance, as it commands a view of the whole Somme battlefield. The Battle of Flers-Courcelette signifies the start of the third stage of the Somme Offensive. Tanks are used for the first time. Despite initial gains the Allies fail to break through German lines. The Battle of Thiepval. Tanks play a crucial role in the capture of this strategic village. November The Battle of Ancre. The fourth phase of the Somme Offensive is marked by the British capturing Beaumont Hamel and St Pierre Division, taking nearly 4,000 prisoners. December David Lloyd George elected British Prime Minister. Germany delivers Peace Note to Allies suggesting compromise. It is rejected. The Battle of Verdun ends. It is the longest and costliest battle on the Western Front. Events of 1917 January Germany announces the continuation of unrestricted submarine warfare, hoping to starve Britain into submission. February The United States severs diplomatic relations with Germany as U-Boats threaten US shipping. Intercepted messages reveal that Germany is provoking the Mexicans into war against the US. The Great German Withdrawal begins. They will evacuate Serre, Miraumont, Petit Miraumont, Pys and Warlencourt, falling back 25 miles to establish stronger positions along the Hindenburg Line. Turkish retreat to Baghdad, abandoning Kut in Mesopotamia. March Baghdad is taken by the British after three days of heavy fighting. Tsar Nicholas II abdicates as Moscow falls to Russian Revolutionaries. Demise of the Russian Army frees German troops for the Western Front. The First Battle of Gaza, Palestine, as the British attempt to cut off the Turkish forces in Mesopotamia from their homeland. They fail to take the town and are forced to withdraw. April US declares war on Germany. Troops begin to mobilise immediately. The Battle of Arras. The British successfully employ new tactics of creeping barrages, the 'graze fuse' and counter battery fire. The Second Battle of Aisne begins as part of the 'Nivelle Offensive'. Losses are horrendous, triggering mutinies within the French Army. The Second Battle of Gaza begins in Palestine. The plan consists of nothing more than to throw troops against well prepared Turkish positions. It is eventually called off due to mounting casualties - a loss of 6,000. June The Battle of Messines Ridge. The British take the ridge with few casualties, as it is preceded by the detonation of 19 mines under the German front lines. The explosions are reportedly heard from England. Germans launch the first major heavy bomber raid over London. Bombs dropped from 18 Gotha GV aircraft kill 162 people and injure 432. First US troops arrive in France. July TE Lawrence and the Arabs liberate Aqaba in Jordan after crossing the Nefu desert. This opens the route north for the Arab Army and isolates the Turkish Army in Mesopotamia. The Third Battle of Ypres begins along a 15 mile front in Flanders. Initial attacks are successful as the German forward trenches are lightly manned. August The Battle of Lens (Hill 70). Canadian troops are in the vanguard of this assault. Hill 70 is only 15 feet higher than the surrounding landscape but it dominates the battlefield. The Canadians take the hill and hold it against five German counter attacks. Allies lose 9,200 men. The Third Battle of Verdun begins. French progress is marked by gaining lost territory in the earlier battles. October The third phase of the Ypres Offensive begins with British and French troops taking Poelcapelle. 25mm of rain falls in the next 48 hours on already saturated ground. The previous bombardments smashed the drainage systems and the battlefield turns into a quagmire. The British launch their latest assaults at Ypres against the Passchendaele Ridge. New Zealand and Australian divisions in the vanguard of the attack take terrible casualties, then are bogged down in the mud and are forced back to their start lines. The last airship raid on Britain is carried out by 11 Zeppelins. The Second Battle of Passchendaele begins with 20,000 men of the Third and Fourth Canadian Divisions advancing up the hills of the salient. It cost the Allies 12,000 casualties for a gain of a few hundred yards. Reinforced with the addition of two British divisions, a second offensive is launched in torrential rains to capture Passchendaele. The Allies hold the town for the next five days in the face of repeated German shelling and counterattacks. Battle of Beersheba, Palestine. British forces take the town capturing 1,800 Turkish troops. This leaves the way open for the advance on Jerusalem. November British capture Gaza. Battle of Passchendaele ends. After months of fighting, the Allies have advanced only 5 miles, but have taken the high ground that dominates the salient. Half a million men are casualties, of which around 140,000 have been killed. The Battle of Cambrai begins. During the attack, Royal Flying Corps aircraft drop bombs on German anti-tank guns and strongpoints to clear a path for the Allied tanks and ground troops. It is an early example of combined operations using aircraft, armour, artillery and infantry together as a cohesive unit and of the 'Blitzkrieg' tactics destined to be used by the Germans so effectively in World War Two. December Britain liberates Jerusalem, ending 673 years of Turkish rule. Events of 1918 January Riots break out in Vienna and Budapest as the Austro-Hungarians express mounting dissatisfaction with the war. March Soviet Russia concludes separate peace at Brest-Litovsk with Germany and her allies. Second Battle of the Somme marked by the German Spring Offensive, the 'Kaiserschlacht'. Germans attack along a 50 mile front south of Arras. The German Operation Michael is a complete success. They use new 'Stormtrooper' assault teams to smash through British positions west of St Quentin, taking 16,000 British prisoners. German assaults now reach the Somme Line. The greatest air battle of the war takes place over the battlefield as 70 aircraft are involved in a single combat. The German offensive along the River Scarpe is halted at great loss. The American Expeditionary Force plays a vital role in the battle. April The German Spring Offensive halts outside Amiens as British and Australian forces hold the line. The second 1917 battle of the Somme ends, as Germany calls off Operation Michael. The Battle of the Lys, marked by Operation 'Georgette', is the second German Spring Offensive. Allies carry out raids against the harbours of Ostend and Zeebrugge. Obsolete vessels are driven ashore and blown up in order to blockade the entrances. Zeebrugge is partially successful; the Ostend raid fails. The Battle of the Lys ends. Three British Divisions hold off 13 German divisions, inflicting crippling loss. May The British launch a second raid on Ostend. HMS Vindictive is this time successfully scuttled in the harbour entrance. German cruisers are no longer able to use the port. The German Air Force launches its largest and last raid on London. Out of the 33 aircraft, 6 are lost, while 49 civilians are killed and 177 wounded. Operation Blucher, the third German Spring Offensive assaults the French army along the Aisne River. The French are forced back to the Marne but hold the river after being reinforced by American troops. June The fourth German Offensive on the Western Front, codenamed 'Gneisenau,' between Noyan and Montdidier. It fails to break the French line and ends four days later. The second Battle of the Piave River, Italy, opens with a massive offensive by the Austro-Hungarian Army. Italian and British troops first hold and then push back the attackers. Despite heavy losses the Allies destroy the Austro-Hungarian Army, precipitating the collapse of the Empire. July The second Battle of the Marne marks the final phase of the German Spring Offensive. Allied counter attacks inflict irreplaceable German casualties. The defeat leads to the cancellation of the planned Invasion of Flanders and puts the Germans on the complete defensive. On the 17th July, the Tsar and the rest of the Romanov family were taken to the basement of the house where they had been held in Yekaterinburg and executed. August The second Battle of Amiens begins. German resistance is sporadic and thousands surrender. Fighting is now defined by mobility as the lines of trenches are breached. September The Battle of Samaria marks the British offensive of Palestine. The Great Allied Balkan Victory. The Great British Offensive on the Cambrai Front leads to the storming of the Hindenburg Line. The Battle of St Quentin - British and American troops launch devastating offensives, piercing the Hindenburg Line along the Canal Du Nord and St Quentin Canal. British and Arab troops take Damascus, capturing 7,000 prisoners and securing stability in the Middle East. October The German and Austrian peace proposal is sent to the American President, Woodrow Wilson, requesting an armistice. The Allies advance along a 20 mile front from St Quentin to Cambrai and drive the Germans back 3 miles, taking Cambrai and le Cateau. Over 10,000 Germans are captured. British and American troops launch attacks at the Battle of the Selle. The British liberate Lille and Douai. Belgians retake Ostend and reach Zeebrugge the following day. The whole of the Channel coast in the west of Flanders is liberated. The British launch a night attack with all three of their armies, the First, the Second and the Fourth. This time the British advance six miles in two days. The British are now 20 miles behind the rear of the Hindenburg Line. German sailors aboard the High Seas Fleet at Jade mutiny and refuse to engage the British Fleet. The Turkish army surrenders to the British in Mesopotamia. Turkey signs an armistice with the Allies. Fighting ceases the following day. November At Kiel, German sailors mutiny. Austria-Hungary signs an armistice with the Allies. Armistice negotiations between the Allies and Germany begin in Ferdinand Foch's railway carriage HQ at Compiègne. This is the location and same railway carriage used by Hitler to accept the surrender of France in 1940. Kaiser Wilhelm II abdicates and flees to Holland. He never returned to Germany and died in exile in 1941. Revolution in Berlin breaks out. November 11th Armistice Day The Armistice is signed at 5.00am and comes into effect at 11.00am. At 10.57am Canadian Private George Lawrence Price is killed while on patrol in Canal du Centre. He is the last soldier to die in action on the Western front. General Von Lettow-Vorbeck surrenders his East African forces on the Chambezi River, Northern Rhodesia. The Capitulation of Rosyth - Nine German battleships, five battle-cruisers, seven cruisers and 49 destroyers arrive off Rosyth to surrender. Thirty nine U-Boats surrender off Harwich. December The British Cavalry cross the Rhine and begin the Occupation of Cologne. Americans cross the Rhine and occupy the bridgehead at Coblenz. Armistice is prolonged for one month until 17th January 1919. Events of 1919 January Communist Revolt in Berlin. The Paris Peace Conference begins. Principle of a League of Nations (Forerunner of the United Nations) ratified. February Draft of the League of Nations completed. May Under conditions of the Peace Conference, German colonies are annexed. June German High Seas Fleet scuttled at Scapa Flow in a final German act of defiance. Treaty of Versailles signed. Winston Churchill was reported to have remarked that it was merely a twenty year cease-fire. Prophetically he was proved right. July The (temporary) Cenotaph unveiled for the Victory Parade in London. It was replaced with the memorial of Portland Stone in time for the Remembrance Day parade on 11th November 1920. Estimates of the total numbers of casualties vary but one thing is certain. The homelands to which all the combatants returned after the war were not the places they had left. This war changed everything as no war had done, before or since.