On the 28th June 1914 The Austrian heir to the throne Franz Ferdinand, was travelling in Boznia with his wife. A bomb was thrown at the car he was in but it misses. Later he is shot with a pistol by Serbian nationalists.
The Austrians sent Serbia an ultimatum. The Serbians failed to agree to the terms of the ultimatum, so on July 28th exactly one month after the assassination of Franz Ferdinand, Austria declared war on Serbia
As an ally of Serbia, Russia announces full mobilisation of their forces on July 31st.
Australia after hearing the news about the outbreak of war declared that they would support Great Britain 'to the last man and the last shilling'
Germany mobilizes its forces and declares war on Russia on the 1st August
As part of the Schlieffen plan Germany moved across Western Europe swiftly invading Belgium on the 3rd August 1914. 6,000 Belgian civilians were killed and 25,000 homes were destroyed.
The British Government come to the aid of Belgium and declare war on Germany 4 August 1914 after 99 years of peace.
Germany declares war on neutral Belgium and invades in a right flanking move designed to defeat France quickly. As a result of this invasion, Britain declares war on Germany.
On August 6th Austria-hungary declares war on Russia
The Battle of the Frontiers began on August 22nd 1914 and were a series of four conflicts fought over the course of many days between Germany, France and British forces on the Western Front. They took place shortly after the outbreak of war and they represented a collision between the military strategies of the French Plan XVII and the German Schlieffen Plan.
Over the course of a single day 27,000 French soldiers died at Ardennes and Charleroi.
The Battle of Mons was the last of four "Battles of the Frontiers" that took place over many days on the Western Front between Allies and German forces in the opening month of World War I. It was the first major battle for the British.
The British moved into position and formed a line along the Mons-Condé Canal, just to the left of the French Fifth Army. The British dug in to await the advancing Germans who were sweeping through Belgium following the Schlieffen Plan. The British troops made an attempt to hold off an overwhelming German First Army. Later in the day, the French Fifth Army retreated leaving the British troops alone and unsupported. General von Kluck’s men beat the British troops causing over 8,000 causalities. This led to a withdrawal of the British troops.
The retreat of the French was meant to be a strategic move so that the French could withdraw to the river Marne.
The Battle of Tannenberg was the first major battle of World war 1 on the Eastern Front. It was between Russia's second army and Germany's eight army and took place in East Prussia. The battle resulted in the Russians retreating to Neidenburg. The German troops captured thousands of Russian soldiers. By August 29, 1914, Germany had won one of the most decisive victories won by the Central Powers in World War I.
The First Battle of the Marne marked the first major defeat of Germany and the beginning of the trench warfare that characterised World War 1. The battle of Marne took place on the banks of the river Marne in France and was a significant victory for the allies.
As the German armies came towards Paris, the French prepared itself for a siege. The defending French forces and the British were exhausted having retreated for 10-12 days under repeated German attack until. They reached the south of the River Marne.
In saving Paris from capture by pushing the Germans back 72km, the First Battle of the Marne was a great strategic victory, as it enabled the French to continue the war.
The Battle of the Marne was a costly battle for both sides. While the French recorded 250,000 causalities, the BEF (British Expeditionary Army) had about 12,700 causalities. The German troops lost over 222,000 soldiers. The victory at the Battle of the Marne was a significant triumph for the Allied Powers, because it stopped German plans to invade Paris. Despite having captured large portions of northeastern France, the German troops were forced to settle for trench warfare that lasted the rest of World War I.
The first battle of Artois was part of the Race to the Sea, a series of encounter battles that set the line of the Western Front for most of the First World War. It was between the Allies and the German empire.
This battle is also known as the first battle of Flanders. It was fought in the town of Ypres in Western Belgium between Britain, France and Belgium against the German empire. It resulted in victory for the Allies
An unofficial Christmas truce is declared by soldiers along the Western Front
The Allies a water attack on the Dardanelles and Gallipoli. This was initiated by Winston Churchill, who resigned as a consequence. It ended with the Turkish siege of the Allied forces
The Battle of Festubert was an attack by the British army in the Artois region of France on the Western Front. It resulted in minor territorial gain for the Allies.
1915 had not been a very successful year for the Allies. There had been no advance on the Western Front with trench warfare. On September 25th the British 1st Army commanded by Douglas Haig attacked the German positions at Loos.
Loos battlefield is located in the industrial area of North East France. The land is very flat.
The opening of the battle was noteworthy for the first use of poison gas by the British Army. Despite heavy casualties, there was success on the first day in breaking into enemy positions near Loos.
The British suffered 50,000 casualties while the Germans lost about 25,000 men.
Austro-German-Bulgarian forces invade Serbia. They throw out the Serbian army from the country.
The Battle of Verdun in 1916 was the longest single battle of World War One. The casualties from Verdun and the impact the battle had on the French Army was one of the main reasons for the British starting the Battle of the Somme, in an effort to take the German pressure off of the French at Verdun.
The attack on Verdun came about because of a plan by the German Chief of General, von Falkenhayn. He wanted to “bleed France white” by launching a big German attack on the stretch of land that had historic sentiment for the French –Verdun. The area around Verdun had twenty major forts and forty smaller ones that had historically protected the eastern border of France.
The Germans new that the French would do everything they could to protect Verdun because it was a historical symbol for the French.
140,000 German troops started the attack. They were supported by 1,200 artillery guns that targeted 2,500,000 shells at the Verdun region. The Germans also had 168 planes located in the area.
By 25th February the Germans had captured 10,000 French prisoners
There was only one road in and out of Verdun. Along this road, 25,000 tons of French supplies were moved into Verdun, 90,000 soldiers and 6,000 vehicles. The road was named the "Sacred Way"
Despite the new military input, the French suffered badly.
The Germans also suffered huge losses. By the end of April, the Germans had lost 120,000 men and the French 133,000 men.
The purpose of the "Somme" was for the British to relieve pressure off the French army at Verdun. For many people the battle of the Somme symbolised the horrors of warfare in WW1. This one battle had a large affect on the overall casualty figures of WW1 and was one of the worst trench battles with trench diseases effecting many soldiers.
By the end of the battle, the British Army had suffered 420,000 casualties including nearly 60,000 on the first day alone. The French lost 200,000 men and the Germans nearly 500,000.
The battle at the Somme started with a weeklong artillery bombardment of the German lines. 1,738,000 shells were fired at the Germans. The strategy behind this was that the artillery guns would destroy the German trenches and barbed wire placed in front of the trenches. However the Germans had deep dugouts for their men and when the bombardment started the men were just moved into the safety of the dugouts.
In October torrential rains fell
Germany announces that they will continue unrestricted submarine warfare in the hope to bring Britain to submission
The United States of America declare war on Germany. Having previously been neutral they immediately mobilise their forces.
The battle of Vimy ridge is known as the Canadian victory at Vimy and was a defining moment for Canada. They emerged from under the shadow of Britain and felt capable of greatness. Canadian troops also earned a reputation as effective troops because of the success of the battle. It was fought in North France. It was a victory at a terrible cost, with more than 10,000 killed and wounded.
The battle for the Messines Ridge was an attempt by the Allies to capture land to the southeast of Ypres to gain control of the higher land in the Ypres Salient.
The battle of Messine Ridge was a major success. 7,000 German prisoners were captured and the Allies lost 24,000 men
The battle of Passchendale also known as Flanders Fields was the third battle of Ypres.
The Third Battle of Ypres begins along a 15 mile front in Flanders. The initial attacks are successful as the German trenches are hardly manned
The Battle of Cambrai was a significant event in World War One. Cambrai was the first battle in which tanks were used. Cambrai saw a mixture of tanks being used, heavy artillery and air power.
The offensive was launched on November 20, 1917, with 476 tanks and over a thousand guns. The plan for the Allies was to attack the German Hindenburg Line.
It resulted in success for the Allies.
On the 11th November at 11am 1918 the guns fell silent. The war was over
The Treaty of Versailles was signed in 1919 ending World War 1. It punished Germany.
A German soldier's diary entry shows the horrifying chaos of that day on the front lines "Nothing more terrible could be imagined....We advanced much too fast—a civilian fired at us—he was immediately shot—we were ordered to attack the enemy flank in a forest of beeches—we lost our direction—the men were done for—the enemy opened fire—shells came down on us like hail."
Sergeant J. F. Bell an English seargeants diary entry about The Battle of Ypres
'On that night there was no sleep, as we had to dig and dig to improve the trench, and were being fired at all night. At 5 a.m. a group of us were standing in the open - everything had turned peaceful - admiring our now almost perfect trench when hell seemed let loose. All the guns in Flanders seemed to have suddenly concentrated on our particular sector of the British front.
When the artillery fire subsided, Germans sprang from everywhere and attacked us. My platoon held fast; we lost some good comrades. Then we were ordered to evacuate the trench, and assist to hold a trench on the flank where the fighting was fiercest. I was a sergeant, and was told to take and hold a certain part of the trench where the occupants had just been driven out.'
This diary entry shows how horrific it must have been for Sergeants digging trenches. They were trying to dig 7 foot deep trenches whilst being fired at.
One French soldier wrote about the artillery bombardment:
"Men were squashed. Cut in two or divided from top to bottom. Blown into showers; bellies turned inside out; skulls forced into the chest as if by a blow from a club."
Two other French soldiers wrote:
"You eat beside the dead; you drink beside the dead, you relieve yourself beside the dead and you sleep beside the dead."
"People will read that the front line was Hell. How can people begin to know what that one word - Hell - means."
"Hell cannot be so terrible as this. Humanity is mad; it must be mad to do what it is doing."
"An artery of French blood was spilt on February 21st and it flows incessantly in large spurts."
Anonymous French soldiers wrote this poem
"I saw a man drinking avidly from a green scum-covered marsh, where lay, his black face downward in the water, a dead man lying on his stomach and swollen as if he had not stopped filling himself with water for days."
"To die from a bullet seems to be nothing; parts of our being remain intact; but to be dismembered, torn to pieces, reduced to pulp, this is the fear that flesh cannot support and which is fundamentally the great suffering of the bombardment."
Anonymous French soldiers
Frank Richards wrote about his experiences in trenches:
“A good standing trench was about six foot deep, so that a man could walk upright during the day in safety from rifle-fire. In each bay of the trench we constructed fire-steps about two feet higher than the bottom of the trench, which enabled us to stand head and shoulders above the parapet. During the day we were working in reliefs, and we would snatch an hour’s sleep, when we could, on a wet and muddy fire-step, wet through to the skin ourselves.
If anyone had to go to the company on our right in the daytime he had to walk through thirty yards of waterlogged trench, which was chest-deep in water in some places.
The duckboard track was constantly shelled, and in places a hundred yards of it had been blown to smithereens. It was better to keep off the track when walking back and forth, but then a man had to make his way sometimes through very heavy mud…..wet snow had begun to fall, which turned into rain and some parts of the land were soon a bog of mud to get drowned in.”
August Hope an english soldier wrote about the horrors he experienced in the trenches
“It was 9 a.m. and the so-called trench was full of corpses and all sorts of equipment. We stood and sat on bodies as if they were stones or logs of wood. Nobody worried if one had its head stuck through or torn off, or a third had gory bones sticking out through its torn coat. And outside the trench one could see them lying in every kind of position. There was one quite young little chap, a Frenchman, sitting in a shell-hole, with his rifle on his arm and his head bent forward, but he was holding his hands as if to protect himself, in front of his chest in which there was a deep bayonet wound. And so they lay, in all their different positions, mostly Frenchman, with their heads battered in by blows from mallets and even spades, and all around rifles, equipment of all kinds and any number of kepis. The 154th had fought like furies in their attack, to revenge themselves for the shellfire.
This is a snipit of an English soldiers diary entry of the second day of the Battle of the Somme
"My God it was a disaster out there yesterday. We quickly discovered that all the time and money that had been wasted on the artillery bombardment had not paid off - all those thousands of shells had hardly made a dent in the German defences. The miles of barbed wire were still intact and that made our advance across no man’s land painfully slow. The artillery had also failed to damage the German trenches, and so all their strong holds and gun posts were still there and ready to use, we were basically sitting targets for the enemy machine gun fire. And if it wasn’t bad enough that the artillery had failed to fulfil its objectives, it also gave the enemy a good and proper warning that an attack was imminent."
This is another diary entry from the same soldier on the 1st February 1917
"We found out that 20 000 men died on the FIRST day of the Somme, it was the worst day ever in the history of British warfare. But this didn’t put Haig off, and for weeks he continued to send men pointlessly over the top, achieving nothing whatsoever. On the 11th of July the first set of German trenches were captured. However there were very few big advances, and there were no major victories - but this didn’t put Haig off, he was convinced that the Germans were on the verge of surrender and so he continued to send men to their death."