Chronography of �World War One in Europe
Page last modified 5/1/2023
Last stages of World War One
11/11/1918. Armistice Day. World War One ended. Fighting ceased on the Western Front, and Austro-Hungary signed an armistice with the Allies. See 29/9/1918.� Church bells rang out across Britain in celebration. The Allies had not expected such a sudden collapse of Germany; in September 1918 they were planning campaigns for 1919. However General Ludendorff was shaken by the sudden Allied advance (see 8/8/1918) and begged Kaiser Wilhelm to seek an armistice immediately. The Armistice was signed in Marshal Foch�s railway carriage, near Compiegne.� Warsaw became the capital of a restored Polish State. The armistice required Germany to relinquish 5,000 heavy guns, 30,000 machine guns, 2,000 aircraft, all U-boats, 5,000 locomotives,� 150,000 wagons and 5,000 lorries. The surface fleet was to be interned (see 21/11/1918), the Allies were to occupy the Rhineland, and the blockade of German ports would continue. World War One cost 9 million lives, with a further 27 million injured. Britain alone had lost 750,000 men, and a further 200,000 from the Empire, with another 1.5 million seriously injured. The War had cost the Allies an estimated US$ 126 billion, and the Central Powers a further US$ 60 billion. Britons now celebrated, and wages rose, although higher food prices eroded some of those gains. Women, at least those over 30, finally had the vote, and smoking, gambling and movies boomed, with Charlie Chaplin as movie star. The US was the greatest beneficiary of the War. US losses amounted to 53,000 men, a small number compared to 8,500,000 casualties of the European combatants. US industry had become more efficient, and key sectors such as chemicals had learned to do without Europe; the US aviation industry had been transformed. Economically, The US had needed European capital before 1914; by 1918 Europe owed the US some US$ 10,000 million.
9/11/1918. �Kaiser William II abdicated and fled to Holland, and a German Republic was founded. On 11/11/1918 the Emperor of Austria, Karl, abdicated and a Republic was founded.
8/11/1918, Abdication of the King of Wurttemberg and Duke Ernest of Brunswick.
3/11/1918.. Austria signed an armistice with the Allies.
30/10/1918. Austria completed the evacuation of its troops from Italian territory. Austria became an independent German speaking state.� See 23/10/1918,
28/10/1918, Mutiny broke out amongst German sailors at Kiel, spreading rapidly to Hamburg and Bremen. On 7/11/1918 insurrection broke out at Munich.
23/10/1918, Italian forces counterattacked against the Austrians near Vittorio Veneto, reaching the Piave River on 27/10/1918,� By 30/10.1918 the Italians, with the aid of British forces, had the Austrians in full retreat.
20/10/1918. Germany stopped U-boat warfare.
19/10/1918, Belgian forces recaptured Zeebrugge and Brugges.
18/10/1918. Lille was recaptured from the Germans.
12/10/1918, Germany and Austria agreed to US President Woodrow�s demand that their troops should return to their own territory before an armistice could be signed.
9/10/1918, British forces took Le Cateau.
8/10/1918, The French retook Cambrai, see 26/8/1914.
29/9/1918. (1) Allied troops captured part of the Hindenburg Line. Ludendorff called for an armistice to avert a� catastrophe for Germany. Negotiations opened with President Woodrow Wilson of the USA on 4/10/1918 but fighting continued till 11/11/1918.
(2) Bulgaria signed an armistice with the Allies.
26/9/1918, General Allied offensive on the Western Front; the Germans were fighting now only to cover their retreat.
14/9/1918, Austria-Hungary attempted to negotiate a separate peace deal with the Allies, which was refused.
13/9/1918. In the USA, 14 million men had registered for conscription.
12/9/1918, At the Battle of St Mihel, the US 1st Army under Pershing captured the St Mihel salient.
4/9/1918. The Germans retreated to the Siegfried Line.
30/8/1918. British troops crossed the Somme.
8/8/1918. General Haig initiated a surprise offensive against the Germans at Amiens which started a continuous retreat of the Germans through to Armistice Day on 11/11/1918. The lessons of The Somme (see 13/11/1916) had finally been learnt. Low flying aircraft drowned out the noise of tank manoeuvres, ammunition dumps were camouflaged, and decoy tank movements distracted the Germans. When the Allies began a major creeping bombardment, the tanks moved in behind to crush the barbed wire and infantry swiftly followed to consolidate the territorial gains. On their part, the Germans were demoralised by the stalling of their great Spring offensive (see 13/4/1918) and also by news of hunger, rioting and strikes back in Germany. Reinforced by US troops, the Allies found the Germans ready to retreat, and advanced eight miles on the first day.� The battle lines had become mobile again, and were moving east. In Ludendorff�s words, it was a black day for the German Army.
The Allies were reinforced by US troops and further British troops were returning from Palestine. The British Prime Minister, David Lloyd George, agreed to release reserve divisions of conscripts, which he had held back, now convinced he was not simply sending them into another meat grinder like The Somme or Passchendaele. With an assembly of 456 tanks and 2,000 guns and howitzers the Allies forced the Germans back on a 14-mile front, for 8 miles. 400 German guns were captured, along with 12,000 prisoners. The new Allied tactics continued to work against stiff German resistance and by mid September the Germans had retreated to the massive defences of their Hindenburg Line, 3 miles in depth. However the Germans were demoralised and after 10 days of fighting the Hindenburg Line was broken through at Saint Quentin. German soldiers going on home leave, passing fresh troops travelling west to the front, taunted them with calls of �you�re only prolonging the war�. However casualties on all sides were very high. In the three months following Amiens, August 1918, 531,000� French soldiers died or were wounded or captured, as many as in the eight months of Verdun 1916. The figure for US soldiers for those three months was 127,000, over twice as many as lost in Vietnam. For British and Empire troops, the toll was 411,000, the same as during the 4 � months of The Somme. German losses were even higher; 785,000 killed and wounded, and 386,000 prisoners taken by the Allies.
A major issue for Germany was lack of food. Germany had been over 80% self-sufficient in food in 1914, but the military had removed labour from the farms without compensatory inputs of fertiliser or mechanisation. German food production� plummeted and by 1918 German citizens had just 64% of pre-war cereals, 18% of the meat, and 12% of the fats they had consumed in 1913.
On the German Home Front, Ludendorff and the other Generals knew the War was lost weeks before the November 1918 Armistice. Although by then Germany was effectively a military dictatorship, the military pretended that surrender was only due to the wishes of civilian politicians. This perpetuated a post-War myth that the German Army had not been defeated at all, but betrayed by left-wing politicians, that the German Army was in fact invincible. Less than 20 years later that myth helped fuel the rise of the Nazis.
From this day, the final German retreat began. Closing stage of World War Two.
Last major German offensive on the Western Front, 1918. Hope for major gains after exit of Russia and before US troops could be effective
20/7/1918, Ludendorff postponed his Flanders offensive.
18/7/1918. Allied forces launched a counter offensive on the Marne, capturing Soissons (see 9/4/1918).
15/7/1918, The Second Battle of the Marne began, when General Ludendorff attempted an advance; this was thwarted by British, French, and US troops.� Marshall Ferdinand Foch of France� launched an offensive on the Marne which led the Germans to seek an armistice in November 1918.
24/6/1918, A large German howitzer called Big Bertha began firing shells on Paris.
10/6/1918, The Battle of Belleau Wood ended.
9/6/1918, Germany opened an offensive near Compeigne.
6/6/1918, Battle of Belleau Wood began. The first major US-German conflict; the USA under General Bundy gained a hrd-won victory over Ludendorff.
27/5/1918, The Germans took Soissons in a thrust towards Paris.
9/5/1918, British troops averted a German attack on Ostend, Belgium.
30/4/1918, US troops were now arriving in France at the rate of 30,000 a month.
29/4/1918. The last big German offensive on the Western Front petered out.
24/4/1918, One of the first tank-to-tank battles occurred near Amiens, northern France.
23/4/1918.British forces raided Zeebrugge. They accomplished their objective of sinking concrete-filled British ships in the harbour entrance to block it, bottling up German submarines.
13/4/1918, Battle of the Lys. The First Australian Division halted the German Sixth Army advance towards Hazebrouck, France.
12/4/1918, Battle of the Lys. The German Sixth Army pushed towards Hazebrouck, France, and captured Merville.
11/4/1918, Austria formally recognised French sovereignty over Alsace and Lorraine.
9/4/1918. Germany launched a major offensive at Ypres. Reinforced by the arrival of 70 divisions freed up on the eastern front by the capitulation of Russia, Germany tried to knock the western Allies out of the war before new American troops could arrive. However instead of concentrating his attack here on the British forces, Ludenforff ordered secondary attacks on the French sector of the front at Chemin des Dames on 27/5/1918 and west of Reims on 15/7/1918. The Allied line held and a major counter offensive was launched on 18/7/1918,
28/3/1918, Ludendorff launched Operation Mars against the left wing of the British Third Army, to force a salient into Allied lines, but he was repulsed.
26/3/1918, The Battle of Rosieres, northern France, began.
24/3/1918, The Battle of Baupame, northern France, began.
23/3/1918. Ludendorff made a tactical error. Believing the Allied forces were already almost defeated, he failed to set definite objectives for his offensive and simply made general thrusts, gaining territory to the north west, west and south west, towards Beauvais and Paris. However he should have concentrated his efforts towards capturing the strategic rail junction of Amiens, whose loss would have forced the Allies to the negotiating table before US troops could be fully deployed. Meanwhile German troops shelled Paris from a distance of 75 miles, using a large gun called �Big Bertha�.Bertha�.
21/3/1918. Major German offensive began on the Somme. This was Ludendorff�s desperate bid for victory before American troops could become effective.� British casualties were over 300,000, and the Germans advanced on a 50 mile-wide front, in an attempt to reach the Channel ports, and drive a wedge between the British and French Armies,� but the German advance was halted.
The last German offensives on the Western Front began. Penultimate stage of World War One.
15/6/1918, The Austrians began an offensive against the Italians along the Piave River Front; they were attempting to break through to the fertile farmlands of the Veneto.� See 23/10/1918.
7/5/1918. Romania signed a peace treaty with Germany (The Fourth Treaty of Bucharest).� Southern Dobruja was transferred from Romania to Bulgaria; Bulgaria had been seeking the whole of the Dobruja.� See 27/11/1919.
5/4/1918, Allied troops landed in Murmansk, Russia.
4/4/1918, Battle of Rautu. A force of 2,000 Finnish White Guards launched a second offensive against the Finnish Red Guards, who were running low on ammunition and supplies.
31/3/1918, Easter Sunday. Battle of Rautu, The Finnish Red Guards were able to beat back the Finnish White Guard offensive.
15/4/1918, 14 German ships were sunk in the Kattegat.
Revolutionary Bolshevik Russia quits the War against Germany
3/3/1918. The Bolshevik government in Russia signed the Treaty of Brest Litovsk with the Germans. Lenin insisted on signing, against the wishes of Trotsky.� Trotsky wanted the Communist Revolution to spread throughout Germany, but Lenin feared the rapid advance of German troops into Russia, approaching Petrograd.
Russia lost heavily in terms of land and industry (Russia lost 56 million inhabitants, 79% of its iron, and 89% of its coal production), but the Bolsheviks needed peace at any cost before their new and shaky administration was overthrown, by Germany or by anti-Bolshevik White Russians and Czechoslovak troops.� Under this Treaty, Finland regained its independence from Russia.� The Baltic Republics were ceded to Germany.� Communists (recruited from Finnish labourers) joined Red Guards� to try and re-establish Communist control in Finland.� Germany moved in to repulse them.� See 6/4/1918.� Turkey regained territories lost to Russia even in 1877.
25/2/1918. Minsk was occupied by the Germans.
18/2/1918, Germany launched a big offensive on the Russian Front.
9/2/1918. Ukraine signed a separate peace treaty with Germany.
22/12/1917. The Bolsheviks opened peace talks with Germany and Austria. The Allies accused |Russia of betrayal.
5/12/1917. Russia signed an armistice with Germany, at Brest-Litovsk.
3/12/1917, Britain refused to recognise Bolshevik Russia.� Meanwhile German and Austrian delegates met at Brest-Litovsk to end Russian participation in World War One, see 3/3/1918.
17/9/1917, German forces took Riga.
1/9/1917, German offensive against Russia; Riga fell to the Germans.
16/7/1917, The War was going badly for the Russians, with low morale and mass desertions, as the Russian revolution progressed.
For events of 1917 Russian Revolution see Russia
27/2/1918, The British hospital ship Glenart Castle was sunk by a U-boat.
1/2/1918, German air raid on Paris killed 45.
28/1/1918. A general workers strike began in Berlin.
20/1/1918, The German naval base at Ostend was bombarded by Allied ships.
31/12/1917, During the year 1917 German submarines sank 6,500,000 tons of Allied shipping whilst only 2,700,000 tons was built. In April 1917 Britain had only two months� worth of food stocks. However with US destroyer patrols searching for German submarines, escorted transatlantic convoys and the mining of the seas between Scotland and Norway, Allied losses were dramatically reduced and after April 1918 never exceeded 200,000 tons a month.
10/12/1917, Italy torpedoed the Austrian warship Wien in Trieste.
1/12/1917. German East Africa cleared of German forces.
30/11/1917, German counter-attack at Cambria.
29/11/1917, The Inter Allied War Conference opened. Lloyd George of Britain, Georges Clemenceau of France and Baron Sidney Sonnino of Italy were concerned that US soldiers and material quickly reach the front lines against Germany, since post-Revolution Russia had ceased fighting.
20/11/1917. Major British tank offensive at Cambrai.� The Battle of Cambrai ended on 3/12/1917.
12/11/1917, Austrian forces established a bridgehead at Zenson, 20 miles north-east of Venice.
Paschendaele, Ypres, July-November 1917
10/11/1917, The Third Battle of Ypres ended, see 31/7/1917. The plans of British General Haig to break through the German lines was in tatters; all the Allies had gained was a few square miles of swamp and an obliterated village, after 156 days of fighting and 250,000 deaths, at Paschaendaele. The tremors from the mining of the� Messines Ridge had been felt in Downing Street. That August had been the wettest in living memory, turning the ground into an impassable quagmire; Allied troops faced death by drowning as much as by gunfire. The constant shelling had disrupted the system of dykes and streams which drained the flat fields of Flanders. Meanwhile in Palestine, British forces captured Tel-Aviv.
6/11/1917. Canadian troops captured the village of Paschendaele, during the Third Battle of Ypres.
4/10/1917, British victory on Passchendaele Ridge.
3/10/1917, The Battle of Polygon Wood (Ypres) ended.
5/8/1917, Battle of Passchendaele. German troops launched a surprise attack against British units near Hollebeke, Belgium, capturing the village, although it was later abandoned.
31/7/1917. The Third Battle of Ypres (Passchendaele) began, see 10/11/1917.
5/11/1917. American troops under General Pershing went into action for the first time on the Western Front.
1/11/1917, In Germany, Count von Hertling was appointed Chancellor.
31/10/1917. The Italian army was shattered unexpectedly by a German onslaught in northern Italy and was retreating towards the Piave River, just 15 miles from Venice. The Italian Second Army had held the Austrians off during 1916 and had captured the fortress of Monte Santo only 2 months earlier. The Italians had seemed well dug in around the mountains of Caporetto and Udine. However a heavy creeping artillery barrage by the Germans and gas attacks drove the Italians back. Morale collapsed within the Italian army, and despite roadblocks and court martials, up to half a million soldiers deserted.� A further 300,000 Italian soldiers were captured by the Germans, and the Italians lost 10,000 dead and 30,000 wounded in the German attacks.
24/10/1917, The Austrian offensive against Italy was halted on the Piave River.� Boroevics army was so reduced by Italian forces during August and September 1917� that Germany and Austria feared a collapse of Austro-Hungary.
23/10/1917, The Battle of Caporetto began.
7/10/1917, Uruguay broke off diplomatic relations with Germany.
1/10/1917. �Air raids on London.
25/9/1917, Argentina broke off diplomatic relations with Germany.
20/8/1917 The French broke through the Verdun front on an 11 mile wide offensive.
17/8/1917, Eleventh Battle of the Isonzo; Italy made minor gains.
16/8/1917, British forces began a new offensive in Flanders.
3/8/1917, German sailors mutinied at Wilhelmshaven.
Mata Hari captured, tried, executed, 1917
15/10/1917. The legendary Dutch spy Mata Hari, who danced in the nude, was executed by a firing squad in Paris, having been found guilty of espionage for the Germans.
25/7/1917, Mata Hari, a Dutchwoman called Margaretha Geetruida Macleod (nee Zelle), aged 41, who used her charms to tempt French Army officers to betray military secrets, was found guilty of spying by a military court (despite very little evidence of her guilt) and sentenced to death by firing squad. She was initially hired by the French to spy in German-occupied Belgium.
13/2/1917, The Dutch spy Mata Hari was arrested by the French.
19/7/1917. Mutinies broke out in the German Navy. The German Reichstag passed a motion to end the war.
14/7/1917, General Pershing, 57, arrived in Paris to set up the headquarters of the American Expeditionary Force (AEF).
27/6/1917. 14,000 American troops arrived in France to fight with the Allies.� The American expeditionary force was commanded by General John Pershing.
8/6/1917. Haig launched a new Flanders offensive.
7/6/1917, The British captured the Messines Ridge. The British had begun tunnelling under the Ridge from august 1915, and placed high explosives in the tunnels, detonated at 3.10 am. A million pounds of explosive was used, and the explosion was heard in London and Dublin.
4/6/1917. Brazil declared war against Germany and seized all German ships in its ports In France, with the co-operation of the provisional Russian government, a Polish army was formed to fight Germany.
15/5/1917. Henri Petain became French Commander in Chief.
9/5/1917, A French initiative to capture the strategic Chemin des Dames ended in failure.
5/5/1917. The Battle of Arras, 9 April to 5 May. The Allied Spring offensive against the Germans pushed them back 3 to 4 miles from the eastern suburbs of Arras, capturing several important hills.
4/5/1917. Widespread mutiny amongst French units on the Front.
3/5/1917, US destroyers arrived to join the British navy.
30/4/1917, Britain had lost 196 ships during the month of April 1917 alone.
29/4/1917, Mutinies broke out in the French Army.
28/4/1917, Petain was appointed French Chief of Staff.
19/4/1917, Battle of the Hills. French forces captured the commune of Aub�rive, France from the Germans.
Middle East, 1916-18
24/9/1918, British forces took Haifa.
30/3/1918, First Battle of Amman. A British night attack on Amman, Jordan failed, forcing the Egyptian Expeditionary Force to retreat back to the Jordan River.
21/2/1918. Australian cavalry captured Jericho from the Turks.
15/11/1917, General Allenby advanced to within three miles of Jaffa.
1/10/1917. �Damascus fell to General Allenby.
25/8/1917, Lawrence and the Arab forces took Aqaba.
18/4/1917, The Second Battle of Gaza; Turkish forces, with German support, forced back British forces.
11/4/1917, ��British General Sir Edmund Allenby, commander of the Egyptian Expeditionary Force, occupied Jerusalem following his victory in Palestine over the Turks.
26/3/1917. Britain attacked the Turks at Gaza (First Battle of Gaza).
20/12/1916, British forces took El Arish.
13/12/1916. New British offensive in Mesopotamia.
16/4/1917, Nivelle�s Champagne offensive failed.
11/4/1917. (1) Brazil broke off relations with Germany after the steamer Parana was torpedoed off France. On 1/6/1917 Brazil revoked its neutrality in the War as a mark of �continental solidarity and friendship with the USA�. After more Brazilian shipping was sunk, Brazil declared war on Germany on 26/10/1917. Brazil�s direct contribution to the war was the dispatch of part of its fleet to European waters and the sending of a medical mission and some aviators to the Western Front. The main contribution was placing its food supplies and other resources at the disposal of the Allies.
10/4/1917 �Canadian troops captured Vimy Ridge in northern France, with heavy casualties. This was a major assault during the Battle of Arras, World War One.
9/4/1917, The Canadians stormed Vimy Ridge, see 10/4/1917.
8/4/1917, Easter Sunday. Panama declared war on Germany.
7/4/1917. Cuba declared war on Germany.
6/4/1917. The USA declared war against Germany, with a declaration signed by President Woodrow Wilson. This followed the revealing by the British on 1/3/1917 of the Zimmerman Telegram, a missive from Germany to Mexico urging it to declare war on the USA and recover its lost territories. The German Foreign Minister, Arthur Zimmerman, had sent a coded telegram to the German Ambassador in Mexico offering an alliance against the US, in which Mexico would recover its territories of New Mexico, Texas and Arizona. British naval intelligence intercepted and decoded the message and passed it to President Wilson. American shipping bound for Britain had also been attacked by German submarines
The Germans did not believe that the US could raise and equip an effective army quickly enough to make a difference in Europe, and that even if they did, it could not be transported across a submarine-infested ocean. They seriously underestimated the determination and resources of the US. The US did indeed have only a relatively small standing army, 300,000 men including the National Guard and reserves, but conscription was introduced and many willingly signed up.
Meanwhile this day the King and Queen of England attended a Thanksgiving service at St Pauls Cathedral for the US�s entry into the �war for freedom�.
20/3/1917. A German U-boat sank a fully-lit hospital ship.
19/3/1917, French Prime Minister Briand resigned. Alexandre Ribot formed a Cabinet.
2/1917, The �Turnip Winter� in central Europe; food shortages caused many deaths.
26/2/1917. News of the sinking of the Cunard liner Laconia by German U-boats reached capitol Hill just as Congress was debating measures to protect US shipping from the growing menace of U boats in the Atrlantic. Earlier in February 1917� a US ship, the Housatonic was sunk, making a total of 134 neutral ships destroyed by the Germans in the last 3 weeks. The US navy was already mounting patrols to protect its ships in the Atlantic.
The entry of the United States of America into the War; from this time on the German cause was doomed.
25/2/1917. The Germans retreated on the Ancre, and on 28/2/1917 the British captured Gommecourt.
12/2/1917, US President Wilson refused to reopen negotiations with Germany until it abandoned its policy of unrestricted naval warfare; on 3/2/1917 the US liner Housatonic had been sunk by a German U-boat.
1/1917, Germans were enduring the �turnip winter�, so called because exceptionally wet weather in Autumn 1916 across Germany had destroyed the potato crop, leaving just turnips to eat. Fuel shortages amd a Britisah maval blockade also disrupted distribution of what food was available.
31/1/1917. Germany announced a policy of unrestricted naval warfare. All ships, passenger or cargo, found by Germans could now be sunk without warning. This was a calculated risk by Germany because it was bound to involve US shipping being sunk, and would therefore bring the USA in against Germany. But Germany reckoned on the inevitability of the USA entering the war against here soon anyway, and believed she could win the war before this happened. The German Chief of Naval Staff, Admiral Von Holtzendorff, presented a memo to the Kaiser saying that if 600,000 tons of Allied shipping could be sunk each month, within five months Britain would have to surrender. In fact, in the worst month, April 1917, German U-boats sank 869,103 tons of shipping, 373 ships. The British adopted a convoy system, despite fears that a convoy�s speed was limited to that of the slowest ship. The Navy had feared it had too few destroyers for this job but then realised that it had enough if only ocean-going ships, not cross-Channel traffic, was guarded.
Meanwhile the British navy deployed Q-ships, gunships disguised as merchant ships which lured U-boats to the surface then opened their gun hatches at the last moment. The first trial convoy ran from Gibraltar on 10/5/1917. The convoy system worked; of 26,604 vessels convoyed in 1917, only 147 were sunk. Meanwhile the Germans lost 65 of their 139 U-boats. Meanwhile Allied shipping blockaded German trade, creating shortages of tea and coffee, but more seriously, fertiliser shortages too. In the final German land offensive of 1918, advancing German troops discovered their privations were not being endured by the enemy, and German morale fell.
4/1/1917, Britain and Germany agreed to exchange all internees aged over 45.
31/12/1916, By the end of 1916, Russia had seen some 3,600,000 of its citizens killed or wounded in the Great War, and a further 2,000,000 taken prisoner by the Central Powers.
12/12/1916, Robert Nivelle was appointed Commander in Chief of French armies in N and NE France.
11/12/1916, Allied Salonika offensive ended.
6/12/1916, The Central Powers occupied Bucharest.
3/12/1916, Nivelle succeeded Joffre as French Commander In Chief.
18/11/1916, Allied War Conference was held at Chantilly.
10/11/1916, Theobald von Bethmann, German Chancellor, made a speech to the Reichstag pledging that Germany would join or even lead a peace league after the War, to prevent such a catastrophic war from ever happening again. In part he was responding to anti-war concerns from Social Democrats within Germany. The German Government was also now open to a peace agreement for the same reason as the Allies opposed it � because Germany was now in control of large swathes of Europe from France to Russia.
2/11/1916, French forces recaptured Fort Vaux, which the Germans had taken on 7/6/1916.
Battle of the Somme, July � November 1916
13/11/1916, The Battle of the Somme ended.� It had begun on 1/7/1916, and succeeded in driving the Germans north towards the coast, but cost over 600,000 Allied lives; 420,000 British and 200,000 French. German casualties were 450,000. At Verdun, ten months of fighting had cost another 400,000 men from both sides. The Allies gained, at the Somme, some two miles of ground for these casualties, about five lives lost per inch gained. The Germans knew the �Big Push� was coming, and had prepared well by stockpiling ammunition then sitting deep in underground bunkers waiting. The Allied bombardment fully announced this push, but did not destroy the German bunkers. After the bombardment the Allied soldiers walked forward over no man�s land carrying their kit, guns, and grenades, at least 30 kg or 60 lbs per person on a hot summer day. The Germans, as soon as the bombardment ended, climbed back up and scythed down the Allies in a hail of machine gun fire. On the first day of that offensive, the Allies lost 19,000 men with a further 57,000 wounded, the greatest loss ever on a single day. Bad communications and slowness meant the few gains made were mostly lost again.
25/9/1916, British forces took Thiepval (Somme).
14/7/1916, Bazentin le Grand and Bazentin le Petit, villages in the Somme area, were taken by the Allies. They were lost and then recaptured again in 1918.
1/7/1916. Battle of the Somme began. Britain and France launched a major offensive. This offensive lasted until 8/11/1916, and one million were killed, including 500,000 British. However the Germans were only beaten back ten miles � over one casualty per inch of ground won.� The Germans retained the key rail junction of Bapaume.� On this first day of battle alone, there were over 100,000 casualties, including 60,000 British.� However for the Germans the massive casualties of the Somme made it impossible thereafter to obtain enough trained soldiers, hence it marked the turning point of the War for France.
Verdun, February � December 1916
15/12/1916. The Battle of Verdun, which began on 21/2/1916, ended. 364,000 Allied soldiers and 338,000 German soldiers, had died in this battle.
24/10/1916. French troops broke open a four mile stretch of the German lines at Verdun, and another offensive started there.
24/6/1916. A new German offensive began at Verdun.
20/6/1916, Germans first used diphosgene gas shells at Verdun.
21/2/1916 Battle of Verdun began. The Germans launched an all-out attack on the fortress of Verdun, but Petain took over the defence and repulsed the Germans, achieving victory by June 1916. See 15/12/1916. The previous commander, General Joseph Joffre, had ignored intelligence reports and, believing the German attack would come at Champagne, failed to reinforce Verdun.
26/9/1916, Battle of Morval. British forces captured the French villages of Combles and Gueudecourt from the Germans.
24/9/1916, The French bombed the Krupp works at Essen.� A second Zeppelin was shot down in England.
17/9/1916, Manfred von Richtofen, the �Red Baron�, Germany�s greatest air ace, won the first of his 80 confirmed kills over Cambrai, France.
14/9/1916, Seventh Battle of Isonzo; Italian forces made small gains.
12/9/1916, British and Serbian forces mounted an attack from Salonika, but were unable to help Romania.
9/9/1916, Battle of Ginchy. The Irish 16th Division captured the German-held village of Ginchy in north eastern France, but� at a cost of 4,330 casualties.
5/9/1916, Mackensen invaded Dobruja.
4/9/1916. British troops took Dar Es Salaam in east Africa.
30/8/1916. Paul Von Hindenburg became Chief of General Staff in Germany. He became Commander in Chief on the Western Front on 29/11/1916.
28/8/1916. Italy declared war on Germany.
27/8/1916. Rumania declared war on Germany, see 6/12/1916. Austria declared war on Rumania.
26/8/1916, Battle of Delville Wood. After a week�s delay due to rain, the British attacked and captured the German trenches.
22/8/1916, Romania declared war on Austro-Hungary.� Its troops crossed the passes into Transylvania but were expelled again by mid-November.
19/8/1916. German warships bombarded the east coast of England.
17/8/1916, The UK, France, Russia, and Italy guaranteed Romania the Banat, Transylvania, the Hungarian Plain as far as the Tisza River and Bukovina as far as the Prut River, if it declared war on Austro-Hungary.
2/8/1916, Demonstrations demanding peace in several German cities.
27/7/1916, Russian forces defeated the Turks at Erzinjan.
19/7/1916, At Fromelles, a preliminary British bombardment of a German salient gave away all hopes of a surprise attack, then troops were ordered to advance across open marshy ground towards a well defended German position. Allied casualties exceeded 7,000 with only minor and temporary territorial gains.
23/6/1916. A Russian offensive captured most of Galicia.
22/6/1916, The Germans gassed French artillery positions around Verdun, France, causing 1,600 casualties.
18/6/1916, Russian forces took Czernowitz (now Chernovtsy, Ukraine).
14/6/1916, Allied economic conference in Paris.
7/6/1916, German forces captured Fort Vaux. Recaptured by the French on 2/11/1916.
6/6/1916, Allied forces blockaded Greece.
5/6/1916. Lord Kitchener, British General and conqueror of the Sudan, born 24/6.1850 near Listowel, County Kerry, died when his cruiser HMS Hampshire hit a German mine off the Orkney Islands, en route to Russia. There were no survivors.
4/6/1916, Russia began the Brusilov Offensive, pushing back Austrian forces south of the Pripet Marshes. German reinforcements halted the Russian advance.
2/6/1916. Second Battle of Ypres.
1/6/1916, Germany established a War Food Office to set controlled prices for food. A bad harvest in Autumn 1916 led to strict food rationing.
31/5/1916. Battle of Jutland. On 31/5/1916 German Admirals Scheer and Hipper set sail from the Jade and Elbe estuaries. British intelligence� picked up on this and Admirals Beatty and Jellicoe set out to engage them. Beatty happened to meet Hipper�s battle cruiser squadron, and the two main fleets began to engage. Although the British suffered larger losses, the British fleet had been much larger to begin with, and Scheer managed to retreat back to the safety of the Jade estuary. The German fleet rarely ventured to sea after this.
26/5/1916, Bulgarian forces captured Fort Rupel from Greece.
16/5/1916, French diplomat Francois-Georges Picot and British diplomat Mark Sykes began a secret correspondence to decide how the Middle East would be divided up after World War One (see also 30/10/1917). The Western Powers had already decided that the Ottoman Empire was too vast and too corrupt to be allowed to survive. Britain would claim Jordan, most of Iraq, and the port city of Haifa. France� would take SE Turkey, northern Iraq, Syria and Lebanon. Palestine would be jointly administered between Britain and France. Russia would be granted the city of Constantinople and several Armenian-dominated regions. In fact the Russian Revolution of 1917 and further diplomatic developments meant that not all these provisions became reality, but the Sykes-Picot agreement set the scene for many of the issues of the Middle East during the 20th century.
15/5/1916, Austrian forces began a new offensive at Trentino.
8/5/1916. Australian and New Zealand troops arrived in France.
18/4/1916, Russian forces captured Trebizond, Turkey.
17/4/1916. The Boer leader Jan Smuts led an anti-German drive from Kenya.
27/3/1916, Allied War Conference began in Paris.
24/3/1916. German forces sank a cross-Channel steamer, the Sussex, after a decision in February 1916 that German forces would sink any armed merchant ships on sight. See 31/1/1917.
21/3/1916. Austrian soldiers killed 10,000 Serbian civilians.
20/3/1916. Food scarcities in Germany caused rationing to begin.
13/3/1916, Germany loosened its rules on its submarines attacking ships; they could now sink vessels around Britain if they �appeared not to be passenger ships�.
9/3/1916. Germany declared war on� Portugal.
8/3/1916, French forces regained Corbeaux (Verdun).
27/2/1916, Battle of Verdun. The spring thaw turned the ground to swamp and slowed German advances, allowing French time to regroup. German soldiers began suffering from exhaustion and lost 500 soldiers to one day of fighting around the village of Douaumont, France.
25/2/1916, Petain took command of the French forces at Verdun.
15/2/1916, Fifth Battle of Isonzo, between Italy and Austria
German food problems, retaliation
11/2/1916, Kaiser Wilhelm II ordered an escalation of the U-boat warfare.
8/2/1916. Food shortages caused riots in Berlin. Food rationing began in Germany on 20/3/1916.� The British blockade deprived Germany of food imports.
28/1/1916. British and Belgian troops took Yaounde, capital of the German colony of Cameroon.
27/1/1916. In Berlin, the German Communist Party, Spartacus, was formed.
31/12/1915, On the Western Front, positions had scarcely changed for a year amongst the trenches, despite appalling casualties. Major attacks became bogged down in bad weather, and tens or hundreds of thousands died for little territorial gain by either side. France had seen, during 1915, 330,000 soldiers killed and a further one million wounded, in addition to the 900,000 killed or wounded during 1914. In 1915 alone, 170,000 German soldiers were killed and 680,000 wounded. In 1915 alone, Britain saw 73,000 soldiers killed and 240,000 wounded.
30/12/1915, The liner Persia was sunk by a U-boat, 400 drowned.
21/12/1915, William Robertson became British Chief of Staff.
19/12/1915, Douglas Haig replaced John French as British Commander in Chief for France and Flanders.
19/11/1915, The Allies asked China to join the entente.
12/11/1915, Roland Barthes, French philosopher, was born (died 1980).
8/12/1915, Turkish forces began a siege of Kut.
8/11/1915, The Italian liner Ancona was torpedoed off Sardinia, over 200 died.
30/10/1915, Gallieni became the French Minister of War.
11/10/1915, Henri Jean Fabre, French entomologist, died in Serignan, France (born 21/12/1823 in St Leons, France).
21/10/1915, The Battle of Isonzo began; Italian forces made small territorial gains.
9/10/1915. The Serbian capital, Belgrade, fell to the Austro-German army.
26/9/1915. British and French troops began two big offensives, in Champagne and Flanders.
25/9/1915. (1) The Battle of Loos began, and the London Regiment�s 18th battalion went over the top kicking a football.
(2) The British forces used poison gas for the first time. Its first use was by the Germans on 22/4/1915.
19/9/1915. The Germans took Vilna (Vilnius), capital of Lithuania.
18/9/1915, (1) The Kaiser gave renewed assurances that passenger ships would not be attacked.
(2) German forces entered Vilnius, Lithuania.
30/8/1915. The great Russian fortress of Brest-Litovsk fell to the Germans.
19/8/1915, Battle of the Gulf of Riga. The German High Seas Fleet was able to clear the Russian minefields and enter the gulf, but withdrew after German cruiser SMS Moltke was hit by a torpedo fired by British submarine HMS E1.
18/8/1915, The Germans took the fortress of Novo Georgievsk.
17/8/1915,� The Germans took Kovno.
5/8/1915. Austro-German forces took Warsaw as the Russian abandoned it.
4/8/1915, Nurse Edith Cavell was arrested in Brussels, see 12/10/1915.
12/7/1915, The German Government took control of the coal industry.
23/6/1915, Italy launched its first major military campaign in World War One with an army of 225,000 under command of Luigi Cadorna attacking Austro-Hungarian positions above the Isonzo River in the Alps.
22/6/1915. The Austrians retook Lemberg (Lvov), capital of Galicia, which they had lost to Russia on 3/9/1914.
11/6/1915. Serbian troops invaded Albania and took Tirana, the capital.
9/6/1915, British troops in France were first issued with hand grenades.
6/6/1915, The Kaiser promised that in future the German Navy would not attack passenger vessels. However on 28/6/1915 a German submarine sunk the passenger liner Armenia off Cornwall, and the passenger liner Arabic was sunk on 19/8/1915.
4/6/1915. Austro-German troops retook Premsyl from the Russians.
23/5/1915, Italy entered the war on the Allied side, see 25/4/1915.
15/5/1915, Unsuccessful British and French offensive in NE France.
10/5/1915. Fierce fighting in the Ypres area.
9-25/5/1915, Battle of Aubers Ridge (second battle of Artois); the French advanced three miles at great cost.
2/5/1915, German forces broke through on the Eastern Front at Gorlice.
1/5/1915, (1) The US ship Gulflight was sunk without warning by a German U-boat.
(2) The Austrian commander Mackensen reversed earlier weaknesses of the Austrian Army, which in Spring 1915 was on the verge of collapse after repeated Russian attacks.� At Dunajec-San, he forced the Russians to retreat.
30/4/1915. Germany invaded the Russian Baltic provinces.
25/4/1915. Italy signed a secret treaty, the Treaty of London, with Britain, France, and Russia.� Italy agreed to enter the war on the Allied side within one month in return for territorial gains.� Italy was to gain the Austrian provinces of Trentino, South Tyrol, Istria, Gorizia, Gradisca, and Trieste, also a large stretch of the Dalmatian coast and islands, some Albanian territory around Valona, full sovereignty over the Turkish-controlled Dodecanese Islands, the Turkish province of Adalia in Asia Minor, colonial gains in Africa, and a share of war indemnities.� The Allies agreed to this because they believed that Italian intervention would soon destroy Austro-Hungary, opening the �back door to Germany�.� Italy duly entered the war on 24/5/1915, but the expected breakthrough against Austria never materialised.� When the Bolsheviks took over in 1917 they revealed the terms of this secret treaty, which ran totally against the ethnic-determination principles of President Wilson of the USA; he stated he did not consider the treaty terms as binding.� At the Paris Peace Conference the UK and France also opposed implementation of the treaty�s terms, and Italy received far less than originally specified.� This created popular resentment in Italy and was a factor in the rise of Mussolini and Fascism in Italy.
22/4/1915. (1) The British began a new offensive at Ypres.
(2) The Germans began using poison gas, chlorine, against the British north of Ypres. 4,000 tons of chlorine were sent over Allied lines, killing 6,000. Many Germans were also killed whilst releasing the gas and they did not press forward, losing any advantage gained from using the gas. The new weapon was used by Britain on 25/9/1915.
19/4/1915, The British captured Hill no.60.
5/4/1915. France began a broad offensive from the Meuse to the Moselle.
23/3/1915, The Hungarian fortress of Przemysl fell to Russian forces.
18/3/1915, Allied warships tried to force open the Dardanelles.
14/3/1915, The German battle cruiser Dresden was sunk.
11/3/1915. Britain began a naval blockade of Germany.
10/3/1915, Battle of Neuve-Chapelle began. By 12/3/1915 the Allies had captured the village and just� 4 square miles of countryside. 40,000 Allied soldiers fought, and of these there were 7,000 British and 4,200 Indian casualties; the Germans lost a similar number. This amounted to one casualty per 5,000 square feet of ground won.
9/3/1915, Austro-German forces defeated the Russians at Grodno.
1/3/1915. Britain began blockading German ports.
18/2/1915. Germany�s blockade of Britain by submarine began.
17/2/1915. Germany captured the Polish port of Memel.
16/2/1915, Bombardment of the Dardanelles defences began.
12/2/1915, The French began an offensive in the Champagne region.
7/2/1915-15/2/1915. Battle of the Masurian Lakes. The Russian 10th Army was defeated by the Germans under Otto Von Below.
4/2/1915, (1) British war casualties now stood at 104,000 dead.
(2) Germany began using submarines in warfare to blockade Britain.
(3) The Sarajevo conspirators were executed in Bosnia.
31/1/1915, Battle of Bolimov; German forces attacked Russian positions near the Polish village of Bolimov, using poison gas. They used liquid xylyl bromide, tear gas, known as T-Stoff. However the chemical froze instead of vaporising and had no impact.
24/1/1915. Admiral Hipper was intercepted by the British navy off Dogger Bank after bombardment of UK coastal towns. The superior British force sank the German battleship, Blucher. After this German naval raids on UK coastal towns ceased.
23/1/1915, Heavy fighting began in the Carpathian Mountains between Russian and Austro-Hungarian forces. This continued until mid-April.
8/1/1915, Heavy fighting in the Bassee Canal and Soissons area of France.
3/1/1915, Tear gas was used in warfare for the first time; by Germany against the Russians, in Poland.
See also Russia 1910s
31/12/1914, By the end of 1914, France alone had seen 900,000 of its citizens killed or hospitalised.
30/12/1914, First Battle of Champagne. As the French launched a new assault, the German counterattacked their right flank and took out three lines of defence and inflicted major casualties.
26/12/1914, The German Government took control of food supplies and distribution.
25/12/1914. In World War One, an informal truce between the combatants ended at midnight.
24/12/1914. The first air raid on Britain took place. A single bomb fell in the grounds of St James Priory, Dover.
22/12/1914, Turkish forces made unsuccessful attacks on Russian forces in the Caucasus.
17/12/1914. Anzac (Australia, New Zealand, army corps) troops occupied Samoa and German New Guinea.
16/12/1914. The German navy bombarded Hartlepool, Scarborough, and Whitby with over 1,000 shells, killing 102.
14/12/1914, Serbian forces recaptured Belgrade.
8/12/1914. Battle of the Falklands.� Six of the seven ships in the German Pacific Squadron were sunk.� Admiral Sturdee�s victory over Vice-Admiral von Spee ended German naval activity in the southern Atlantic and Pacific oceans, allowing the British navy to concentrate on home waters and the Mediterranean for the remainder of World War One.
6/12/1914 The Germans captured Lodz, Poland.
5/12/1914, The Austrians defeated the Russians at Limanova, but failed to break the Russian lines at Krakow.
2/12/1914, The Austrians took Belgrade from Serbia.
30/11/1914, The Great War was spreading from the Franco-German border to encompass the world. There was fighting in the Dardanelles region of Turkey, Britain has occupied Cyprus, Russia invaded Armenia and naval battles off Sumatra. There were also conflicts in various parts of Africa between German and Allied colonies.
23/11/1914. The British navy bombarded Zeebrugge.
21/11/1914. Indian troops occupied the port of Basra, Persia.
19/11/1914, The Battle of Kolubara. Austro-Hungarian forces gained a foothold in Serbia as the opposing armies fell back towards Belgrade.
18/11/1914, On the eastern front, the Germans broke the Russian line at Kutno.
10/11/1914, The Australian cruiser Sydney sank the German cruiser Emden off Sumatra. This cleared the Indian Ocean of German forces.
8/11/1914, Admiral Sturdee sank a German squadron off the Falklands.
3/11/1914. (1) German ships bombarded Yarmouth.
(2) Britain declared the North Sea to be a military area, dangerous to merchant shipping, and mined it. Germany responded on 4/2/1915 by making a similar declaration and also mining, the area of the English Channel and waters around Ireland. Germany began a submarine blockade of Britain. On 1/3/1915 Britain announced that all ships presumed to be carrying goods of enemy origin, destination or ownership would be seized, regardless of ownership or destination of the ship.
1/11/1914. The British fleet was defeated at the Battle of Coronel, Chile.
29/10/1914, Turkish warships bombarded the Russian ports of Sevastopol, Odessa and Novorossiysk. This provoked a declaration of war by Russia against Turkey on 4/11/1919; also by Britain and France on 5/11/1914. In Turkey the Young Turks, in 1908, had had two aims; to pull together the disintegrating remains of the Ottoman Empire, and to recover land lost to Russia. However they found the Turkish Treasury in debt to European banks by the then-colossal sum of �200 million. They sought an alliance with a wealthy European nation that could help rebuild the Turkish economy. Britain, which had helped found Turkey�s National Bank in 1908, was approached, as an enemy of Germany with whom the former Turkish Sultan Abdul Hamid had been friendly. Britain declined the approach, believing that an alliance with Turkey would unite Europe against it. Turkey again approached Britain during the Balkan War (1912-13) and was again rebuffed. In July 1914 France also rejected overtures by Turkey. Moreover on 1/8/1914 Winston Churchill ordered the requisition of two warships being built in Britain for the Turkish Navy. Meanwhile the German General Otto Liman von Sanders was assisting the modernisation of the Turkish Army. Germany hoped that Turkey, possibly allied with Bulgaria, would threaten Russia without direct German involvement. The Young Turk, Ismail Enver Pasha, Minister for War, approached the German Ambassador in Constantinople� on 22/7/1914 to propose a formal alliance. The German Ambassador, Freiherr von Wangenheim, declined; Germany assessed that an alliance with Turkey would exacerbate tensions with Russia, and therefore be of advantage to Britain and France, but be of no gain to Germany because of the weak state of the Turkish Army, and the parlous state of the Turkish economy that retarded the development of the Turkish military. However Kaiser Wilhelm II, Emperor of Germany, on learning of Enver�s approach, overruled Wangenheim and instructed Chancellor Theobald von Bethmann to open negotiations with Turkey. A secret treaty of alliance between Germany and Turkey was signed on 2/8/1914, essentially a mutual guarantee of defence against, only, any attack by Russia. The secrecy allowed Enver to hedge his bets and only intervene against Russia when it suited him. Therefore although Germany had mobilised against Russia on 1/8/1914 Enver did not attack immediately. German Admiral Wilhelm von Souchon sailed two German ships, the SMS Goeben and SMS Breslau, past British ships in the Mediterranean just hours before Britain declared war on Germany, on 4/8/1914. Britain chased these ships but did not prevent their arrival at Constantinople, where they became part of the Turkish navy, replacing the ships confiscated by Britain. They were renamed the Yavuz Sultan Selim and the Midilli, and Turkey also received 20 million marks in gold by train from Germany, to assist in updating Turkish military capabilities. Once the gold was received, and Turkey had witnessed German successes against the Russians in East Prussia (following initial defeats inflicted on Germany at Tannenbirg and the Marne) the Yavuz Sultan Selim and the Midilli, complete with German crews, bombarded the Russian ports. Churchill was not too perturbed by Turkey�s entry into the Great War on the German side. Almost all the Turkish Army�s 43 divisions were only on peacetime strengths of 4,000 men, not the wartime basis of 10,000. The Turkish divisions based in Mesopotamia (now Iraq), also Arabia and the Levant, were manned by local recruits of dubious loyalty to the Ottoman Empire. The British enjoyed easy victories against these divisions in the Basra area, where the local oilfields were secured. However later in the war the Young Turks reinforced the fighting capabilities of the army, giving Britain a harder battle.
17/10/1914. German U-boats raided Scapa Flow, the main base of the British Fleet.�
16/10/1914, Four German destroyers were sunk off the Belgian coast.
11/10/1914. Paris was bombed.
30/9/1914, Paris was saved from occupation as German forces were driven back (see 31/8/1914). However |British losses were heavy and Germany still occupied a strip of northern France, along with almost the whole of Belgium. and all of The Netherlands. See 31/10/1914.
27/9/1914. The Russians invaded Hungary.
26/9/1914. The Australians took the German port of Friedrich Wilhelmshafen in German New Guinea.
22/9/1914. Three British cruisers, Aboukir, Hogue, and Cressy, were torpedoed by a German submarine, 1,500 were killed.
The �Race to the Sea�, September-October 1914. Both sides tried to secure as much territory as possible westwards to the Channel Coast.
31/10/1914, The front line in the Great War had stabilised into trench warfare, stretching from the Swiss border to the English Channel (see 30/9/1914).� Fierce battle s raged for front-line towns such as Ypres, and Paris was bombed by Zeppelins.
29/10/1914, �Near Nieuport, Netherlands, the Yser area was flooded tactically
15/10/1914. The Germans, having captured Ghent and Bruges, took Ostend.
14/10/1914. British and French troops occupied Ypres. The Belgian government fled to France. Canadian troops arrived in Britain.
12/10/1914, The German Army entered Lille, after several days bombardment.
10/10/1914. The Germans took Antwerp.
9/10/1914, The Germans took Ghent.
28/9/1914. German guns began bombarding Antwerp. Antwerp capitulated on 10/10/1914.
25/9/1914, Battle of Buggenhout. The Belgians launched a major offensive against German forces at Buggenhout between Antwerp and Brussels.
23/9/1914. The British suffered heavy casualties at Mons, and retreated.
21/9/1914, First Battle of Picardy. German forces marched from Rheims, France, and engaged French forces the following day.
20/9/1914, Germany bombarded Rheims Cathedral.
17/9/1914, The �race to the sea� between Allied and German forces trying to outflank each other; this established the Western Front from the North Sea to Switzerland.
12/9/1914, Ghent and Lille fell to German forces.
Battle of the Aisne, September 1914. Trench warfare begins
16/9/1914, Trench warfare began on the Aisne salient.
15/9/1914, The first trenches of the Western Front were dug at the First Battle of the Aisne, as the conflict ended indecisively.
13/9/1914, The Battle of the Aisne began. It lasted until 28/9/1914.
Battle of the Masurian Lakes, September 1914. Russians retreat from East Prussia
29/9/1914, Battle of the Vistula River. The German Ninth Army advanced on Vistula River where Russian forces regrouped following their defeat at the First Battle of the Masurian Lakes.
15/9/1914, �The Russians were forced to retreat from East Prussia, after the battle of the Masurian Lakes.
11/9/1914, First Battle of the Masurian Lakes. Reinforcements bolstered the German Eighth Army, allowed them to push the Russian First Army back to a line running from Insterburg to Angerburg in East Prussia.
Battle of the Marne, September 1914. German advance halted, Trench warfare stalemate about to begin
14/9/1914. The Allies drove back the Germans on the Marne, relieving the threat to Paris. The Germans retreated to Verdun. The Germans now dug in with defensive trenches, where they could repel further Allied advances. The situation of static trench warfare had begun; s stalemate that would not be broken until 1918.
9/9/1914, The first Battle of the Marne ended when the German advance on Paris under Von Moltke was halted by the British Expeditionary Force and the French under Joffre and Foch.� This marked Germany�s furthest penetration into France. The Allies had retreated, and the German advance had left their right flank dangerously exposed, and this was where the Allies now attacked.
6/9/1914. Battle of the Marne began. Advances by British and French forces.� The Germans retreated to Verdun.
8/9/1914, The French fortress of Maubeuge fell to the Germans.
5/9/1914. The Germans took Rheims.
4/9/1914. Britain, France, and Russia agreed not to make separate peaces.
3/9/1914. Russian forces took Lvov.
31/8/1914. The German General Hindenburg had reversed earlier Russian successes (see 24/8/1914), surrounding and beating the Russians under General Samsonov, at the Battle of Tannenburg, taking 100,000 Russians prisoner.� In the following week, Russian General Rennenkampf was forced to retreat and east Prussia was cleared of Russian forces. In France the British Expeditionary Force (BEF) initially held back the German advance but the French retreated, leaving the flank of the BEF exposed. The allies retreated towards Paris, but then halted the German forces before they occupied Paris. See 30/9/1914.
30/8/1914. (1) The Germans took Amiens.
(2) A New Zealand expeditionary force occupied the former German colony of Samoa.
29/8/1914, Battle of Guise, northern France.
28/8/1914. (1) The Germans began besieging Antwerp (see 18/8/1914), capturing it on 10/10/1914.
(2) The British sank three German cruisers and two destroyers off Heligoland Bight, opening the war at sea.
26-31/8/1914. Germany defeated Russia at the Battle of Tannenberg.
26/8/1914, (-11,213) (1) The German cruiser Magdeburg ran aground in the Baltic whilst on a reconnaissance mission. Unable to free her, the captain, Richard Habenicht, decided to scuttle his ship; however the appearance of two Russian cruisers prompted the German crew to set off the explosives prematurely. Habenicht and 57 of his crew were captured. Significantly also captured were German code books; Germany did not realise this had happened and carried on using the same codes for radio messages, enabling the Allies to track German warship movements.
(2) The Germans occupied Cambrai. See 8/10/1918.
25/8/1914, The Germans sacked Louvain.
24/8/1914. Belgian forces attacked the rear of the German right flank, to ease the pressure on the British and French left flank. This campaign halted on 25/8/1914 when news arrived of the Franco-British retreat into France, but the Belgian offensive had tied down some German forces. On learning, on 7/9/1914, that some of these forces were to be sent to France, the Belgians launched a fresh offensive on 9/9/1914, a crucial day in the Battle of the Marne.� Meanwhile the Russians under General Alexander Samsonov and General Paul Rennenkampf were advancing into East Prussia, driving back a numerically inferior German force.� See 31/8/1914.
23/8/1914. Battle of Mons, in Belgium near the French frontier. The heavily outnumbered British Expeditionary Force under Sir John French, in its first important battle, was forced to retreat after bitter fighting with Germany.� This retreat continued until the Marne, where the tide turned against Germany.
22/8/1914, The Germans took Namur. The fortress of Namur had been expected to hold out for several months;� its �impregnable� defences were shattered by new German high explosives.
21/8/1914. (1) German atrocities were committed in Belgium to deter Belgian civilian resistance. On 21-22 August 384 Belgian civilians were shot in the market square at Tamines, and from 24 to 30 August the Cathedral city of Louvain was given to looting and burning by German troops.
(2) The Germans took Brussels. See 18/11/1918. France and Russia agreed that on Germany�s defeat an independent Poland would be restored, France would recover Alsace Lorraine and Denmark would recover Schleswig-Holstein from Germany, Bohemia would have independence from Austro-Hungary, and all German colonies would be confiscated.
20/8/1914. The German army was defeated by the Russians at Grumbinnen; Russian forces had mobilised faster than anticipated. French forces made headway a short distance into Germany but were turned back this day in battles at Mulhouse and Strasbourg.
18/8/1914. The Belgian government left Brussels for Antwerp. See 28/8/1914.
17/8/1914. A British Expeditionary Force of 70,000 men landed in France.
16/8/1914 Liege, Belgium, fell to the Germans.� The Battle of Liege had begun on 4/8/1914 and the resistance here had seriously delayed the German occupation of Belgium.
15/8/1914, Russia invaded East Prussia.
12/8/1914. Britain and France declared war on Austria.
9/8/1914. The first British troops arrived in France. The British Expeditionary force was landed from 9th to 17th August at Boulogne.
8/8/1914. German troops entered Liege, Belgium.�
7/8/1914. The French counter offensive began. French troops entered the upper Alsace, partly for political effect and partly to distract from the main French goal of destroying a German base at Basle and the Rhine bridges below this. By 19/8/1914 this French force reached the Rhine.
6/8/1914. (1) A major deployment of German troops westwards began. Between 1870 and 1914 the number of double German railway lines running towards her western frontier had been raised from 9 to 13, and all German railway development required approval from the Chief of Staff. Now, 550 trains a day crossed the Rhine, westwards, and by 12//8/1914 seven German armies of a total of 1.5 million men were fully supplied. The first British casualties of the War occurred when the Royal Navy cruiser HMS Amphion was damaged by mines in the North Sea and 150 men died as she sank.
(2) Austro-Hungary declared war on Russia. Serbia declared war on Germany.
4/8/1914. Britain declared war on Germany for violating the Treaty of London. President Wilson declared the USA neutral. That morning, Germany began the invasion of Belgium (see 2/8/1914, and 6/8/1914). The Austrian ultimatum to Serbia brought Russia in as Serbia�s ally, and Germany entered as Austria�s ally. Britain might well have stayed neutral had Germany not invaded Belgium in an attempt to outflank France. Germany began mining Danish waters and requested Denmark to mine the Great Belt. Denmark, believing Germany would mine it anyway, said it would do so. Britain believed the war would be over by Christmas.
3/8/1914. (1) Germany declared war on France, after false accusations of French air raids on Nuremberg. Germany had sought assurances that France would not intervene in a Russo-German war, but France merely said it would �act in its own interests�. Germany was seeking control over Belgium and the French coast from Dunkirk to Boulogne, cession by France to Germany of the Briey-Longwy iron basin and the fortress of Belfort, and German control of the French and Belgian colonies in Africa. France had fewer fighting men, with a total population of 40 million against 65 million Germans. However Russian and French forces combined were bigger than Germany plus Austria; Germany could, though, bank on Russia being slow to mobilise.
(2) Britain warned Germany it would honour the 1839 Treaty of London guaranteeing Belgian neutrality.
2/8/1914. (1) Britain mobilised the Royal Navy after Germany declared war on Russia.. The British Cabinet had finally agreed that a German presence in French Channel ports could not be tolerated, and so France must be helped against Germany (see 9/8/1914), although at the end of July most of the Cabinet had been for non-intervention in Europe.
(2) Belgium had failed to guarantee German troops free passage across its territory, as demanded by a German ultimatum delivered on the evening of 2/8/1914; Germany occupied Luxembourg, and invaded Belgium 2 days later, on 4/8/1914. Russian troops crossed into East Prussia.
1/8/1914. Kaiser Wilhelm II declared war on his cousin Czar Nicholas II. Italy declared herself neutral. France ordered the mobilisation of the army, but as a last-minute gesture had withdrawn its forces to 10 km behind the frontier.� Denmark declared itself neutral, and mobilised an emergency force of 54,000 men.
31/7/1914. Germany ordered a general mobilisation of the army, rejecting Britain�s offer of mediation in the Austro-Serbian crisis as �insolence�.
30/7/1914. The Czar of Russia ordered general mobilisation of the army. European stockmarkets began to panic as war loomed.
29/7/1914, Russia, under Tsar Nicholas II, ordered a limited mobilisation of its 1.2 million strong army against Austria. However this move reassured Serbia in its resistance, and produced a German mobilisation.
28/7/1914. Austria declared war on Serbia. See 23/7/1914. Belgrade was bombarded by Austria on 29/7/1914, the first engagement of World War One. The Austrians took Belgrade on 30/7/1914, and Russia began to mobilise. The Serbs initially drove back the invading Austrians and themselves entered southern Hungary in the autumn of 1914. Russia attacked Austria and made advances against the Austrians in southern Galicia. France, as the ally of Russia, was also drawn in. Germany moved to help Austria and in early 1915 drove the Russians out of southern Galicia. Later in 1915 the Germans overran Serbia. On 9/10/1915 Belgrade fell to the Germans. Italy declared war on Austria on 23/5/1915, and here too the Germans were needed to help Austria against Italy.
26/7/1914. Serbia mobilised its army. Meanwhile in view of the deteriorating international situation, the British Admiralty ordered the Fleet, which had assembled at Portland for review, not to disperse. On 29/7/1914 the Fleet was able to set sail for the North Sea, giving Britain a vital dominance there for the duration of the War.
24/7/1914. The Russian Council of Ministers began plans for partial mobilisation of the army.
23/7/1914. Austria determined that the government of Serbia was involved in the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand on 28/6/1914, and sent an ultimatum to the President of Serbia, Narodna Odbrana, drafted so as to prepare for war with Serbia. The terms were designed to be too humiliating for Serbia to accept. In fact Serbia accepted most of the terms, but insisted that an Austro-Serbian judicial enquiry into the assassination would be subject to Serbian law, and Austria rejected this condition. See 28/7/1914. Austria�s real issue with Serbia was that it blocked potential Austrian territorial expansion southwards into the Balkans, to give Austria domination of the Aegean Sea,
22/7/1914, In Europe the financial press began to realise a major war might be starting. The first symptom of crisis was a rise in insurance rates for shipping.
5/7/1914. Germany promised support to Austria.
28/6/1914. Assassination of Archduke Francis Ferdinand, nephew of Franz Joseph, in the Bosnian town of Sarajevo. Along with his wife he was shot and killed by the terrorist Gavril Princip, thus precipitating World War One. Born in Graz, Austria, in 1863, Ferdinand was the eldest son of the Archduke Charles Louis, who was the brother of the emperor Francis Joseph. When Francis Joseph died in 1896 Ferdinand became heir to the throne but because of his bad health in the 1890s his younger brother Otto was regarded as more likely to succeed to the throne of Austria. In foreign affairs he tried, without endangering the alliance with Germany, to restore Austro � Russian understanding. In 1913 Ferdinand became Inspector General of the Army. This was just before he was assassinated in June 1914, starting World War One with Austria�s declaration of war against Serbia. The assassin�s first bullet hit the archduke in the neck; his second hit his wife, who had flung herself in front of him. She died almost immediately, he died ten minutes later.
Gavril Princip was born in June or July of 1894 in the village of Obljaj, in what is now Bosnia. His father was a postman and the Princip family was very poor, and heavily taxed by local overlords. Bosnia had been part of the Ottoman Empire until 1878 when it was taken by Austria. Gavril left Obljaj for Sarajevo in 1907, enrolling in a secondary school where he did well academically; here he joined other teenagers seeking home rule for the Slav peoples. Archduke Ferdinand wanted to balance out competing nationalisms within his empire by minimising the over-arching influence of Serbia amongst the Slavic peoples under Austrian rule. Princip wanted Bosnia to become part of a greater independent Serbia. See 23/7/1914.
Gavril himself, arrested immediately after the shooting, was just under the 20-year age limit for the death sentence under Hapsburg law; he received a 20-year prison term, to be denied food one day each month, and was chained to the wall of his cell. He died in Spring 1918, just before the end of World War One, of skeletal tuberculosis that had caused the amputation of his right arm.