WORLD WAR IFOR MORE THAN FOUR years the world was engaged I a war of a ferocity and scale never seen before. The conflict, known then as the Great War and today as World War I, arose out of the economic colonial, no military rivalry of the European empires. The assassination in 1914 of the heir to one of those empires – Austria Hungary – was the spark that set the rivalries alight. Within months, fighting had broken out in Europe, Africa, and Asia. By the time the war ended in 1918, the old empires were in ruins, their place taken by a new world power the USA.
Outbreak of warOn 28 June 1914, the heir to the Austrian throne was Killed In Serbia Austria invaded Serbia, Russia came to-Serbia’s aid, and Germany support Austria. Fearing war on two fronts, Germany invaded Belgium and France. Britain then declared war on Germany.
Western FrontThe German plan was to sweep through Belgium and northern France to capture Paris and knock the French out of the war within weeks. This plan was thwarted by the French army at the River Marne. Both sides then drug lines of defensive trenches, which stretched from the English Channel to the Swiss border, to protect their positions.
The Somme : On 1 July 1916 Allied troops (those on the British and French side) tried to break through German lines near the River Somme, France. By the end of the four-month barcle, the Allies had advanced 8 km (5 miles). One million men were killed.
Passchendaele :In July 1917. the Allies tried again to get through German lines, this time near the village of Passchendaele, Belgium. Bad weather turned the area into a sea of mud, over 300,000 Allied troops lost their lives, and hardly any advance was made.
Recruitment : At first, regular troops were reinforced by thousands of volunteer. Baras casualty rates soared, governments had to bring in conscription (compulsory military service to keep up the strength of their armies.
Eastern FrontsThe war in eastern Europe between Germany and Austria-Hungary on one side and Russia on the other was more fluid than in the west. Most battles were het in open country to snow Poland and in the eastern Mediterranean. The war expanded into Asia when Turkey attacked Russia at the end of 1914 and the Allies launched the ill-fated Gallipoli campaign. Turkey also posed a threat in Syria and Palestine and so Allied troops were sent from Egypt to defend the region.
Manfred von Richthofen : The most famous pilot of the war was the German airman Manfred von Richthofen (1892-1918). He is said to have destroyed 80 Allied aircraft before he was killed when his aircraft was shot down over France. He was known as the Red Baron because of his bright red Fokker triplane.
Uniform of British Private : Scottish Battalion was khaki-coloured to blend with the mud.
- June 1914 Archduke Franz Ferdinand, heir to the throne of Austria Hungary, is assassinated, Serbia is blamed.
- July 1914 Austria Hungary invades Serbia in retaliation; France, Germany, and Russia mobilize their armies in preparation for war.
- August 1914 Germany declares war on russia and France and invades Belgium; this brings Britain into the war; Germany pushes back Britain at Mions, Belgium Germany defeated Russia at Tannenberg.
- September 1914 German advance halted by the British and French at the River Marne.
- October 1915 Turkey enters the war on the German side; in France a line of defensive trenches i dug, stretching along the Western Front.
- April 1915 Germans use poison gas for first time at Ypres, Belgium: Allies try to force Turkey out of war by invading Gallipoli peninsula.
- May 1915 Italy joins the war on the Allied side.
The civilian warThe huge armies of World War I needed a massive force of back-up workers to provide them with weapons, food, and other supplies. The entire civilian workforce was directed towards war work, producing arms and ammunition, growing food, and keeping industry and commerce going at home while millions of soldiers fought at the front.
World warWorld War I was the first truly international war in history. People from every continent took part in the fighting. In Africa and Asia, the Turkish Empire and former German colonies were overrun by British Empire troops. There was also fighting in the Middle East and in the Pacific. The entry of the US into the war in 1917 marked the end of European dominance of world affairs.
Women at war : Before 1914, women traditionally worked in jobs men did not want. During the wan, women were required to do jobs normally done by the men fighong ar he front Across Europe. women worked in factories and office, drove buses and trams, dug fields, and even joined the police forces.
Propaganda : To suffer morale and awaken the enemy resistance both sides used propaganda. People were made to believe the worst of the other side, wide leaflets opu pur od broadass all ued for propaganda. Those who refused to fight were given white feathers, a sign of “cowardice”.
New weaponsThe main weapons used in the war were the rifle (with its bayonet), the machine gun, and the artillery shell. In April 1915 the German army introduced a new weapon-gas- which both sides later used to deadly effect. The British first used tanks at the Somme in September 1916, and both sides made more and more use of aircraft – at first for reconnaissance, later for bombing.
End of the warIn mid-1918, fresh US troops arrived to fight on the Allied side, and there was increasing hunger and discontent among the German soldiers. The Allies broke through the German unes in August 1918. Austria Hungary and Turkey collapsed in October, and the Allies finally forced Germany to make peace on 11 November 1918.
The Treaty of Versailles : The peace treaty was signed on 28 June 1919 in the palace of Versailles, France. Germany lost territory, and had to limit the size of its army, as well as pay compensation to the Allies. Subsequent treaties rodrew the map of eastern Europe.
The cost of war : No one knows how many people died in the war. About 9 million soldiers and possibly 13 million civilians were killed. A further 20 million died in the influenza epidemic that swept Europe during 1918-19. Poppies, which grew on the fields of France, became the symbol of those killed in the war.
War art : The horrors of the war inspired painters and poets on both sides. The old romantic idea of war as a great cause was replaced by the realization of its cruelty and destructive force. Many young artists and writers fought at the front, some, such as the British poet Wilfred Owen (1893-1918) were killed in the fighting.
- February 1916 German forces try to capture French fortress of Verdun in a 10-month battle.
- May 1916 British and German fleet fight inconclusive Battle of Jutland, in Denmark.
- July-November 1916 Battle of the Somme; tanks used for first time.
- April 1917 USA enters war on Allied side.
- July-November 1917 Battle of Passchendaele.
- March 1918 Germany and Russia make peace at Brest-Litovsk.
- March 1918 German forces make massive advances on the Western Front.
- July 1918 German advance halted.
- August 1918 With the help of American forces, Allied troops make the decisive breakthrough German lines.
- October 1918 Italy defeated Austria Hungary both Austria-Hungary and Turkey ask for peace.
- November 1918 Armistice signed between Germany and the Allies.
- June 1919 Peace treaty signed at Versailles, France. The conditions imposed on Germany were later to become a major cause of World War II.