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Army lorries on Church Square.


SIGNIFICANT EVENTS DURING THE GREAT WAR
 

1914

June

28th

Sarajevo - Austrian Archduke Franz Ferdinand assassinated

1914

July

28th

Austria-Hungary declares war on Serbia - Russia mobilises in response

1914

August

1st

Germany declares war on Russia and mobilises - France mobilises in response. Germany and the Ottoman Empire sign a secret alliance treaty.

 

 

3rd

Germany declares war on France

 

 

4th-25th

Germany invades Belgium

 

 

 

Britain declares war on Germany (Strength of the British Army is 386,000 troops)

 

 

5th

Austria declares war on Russia

 

 

7th

Kitchener announces creation of a ‘New Army’ to consist in the first instance of 500,000 men

 

 

10th

London: Olympia becomes a internment camp for German males

 

 

12th

Britain and France declare war on Austria

 

 

 

Austria invades Serbia

 

 

15th

Eastern Front: Russia invades East Prussia

 

 

17th

Western Front: the British Expeditionary Force (BEF) lands in France

 

 

23rd

Japan enters the war against Germany

 

 

21st-23rd

Western Front: BEF retreats from Mons having fought a German force three times its size. British casualties 1,600 in all ranks, killed, wounded and missing; German casualties estimated in excess of 5,000

 

 

24th

All Austrian forces expelled from Serbia

 

 

25th-27th

Belgium: Louvain is destroyed by German troops

 

 

26th

Le Cateau: a rearguard action by BEF’s II Corps, at a cost of 7,800 casualties, delayed the advance of the German First Army and allowed the British retreat to continue

 

 

28th

Naval battle of Heligoland Bight; an ill-coordinated raid by British naval forces on the entrance to Germany’s North Sea bases ended in the sinking of three German light cruisers

 

 

26th-30th

Tannenberg: the German 8th Army encircled the Russian 2nd Army in thick forests in East Prussia, capturing 92,000 prisoners and nearly 400 guns

1914

September

5th-12th

Western Front: First Battle of the Marne - British and French counterattack halts German advance and saves Paris. The Battle of the Marne marked the end of mobile warfare on the Western Front. Following their retreat, the Germans re-engaged Allied forces on the Aisne, where fighting began to stagnate into static trench warfare.

 

 

22nd

British cruisers Aboukir, Hogue and Cressy torpedoed and sunk in the North Sea by U-9

 

 

2nd-7th Nov.

Tsingtao: a 4,000-strong German garrison in the Chinese treaty port of Tsingtao surrendered to a besieging force of 25,000 Japanese and 1,500 British

 

 

22nd-30th Nov.

The “Race to the Sea”: this battle of movement ends in deadlock on the “Western Front”, a 400-plus mile stretch of land extending from the Swiss border to the North Sea

1914

November

2nd

Russia declares war on Turkey after Turkish attacks on Russian ships and cities in the Black Sea

 

 

3rd

Yarmouth: German naval units bombard the town - little damage was done

 

 

4th

Tanga, East Africa: a disastrous British attack on the port of Tanga when 8,000 men of the Indian Army were repulsed by a 1,000-strong German force, mostly African Askaris

 

 

5th

Britain and France declare war on Turkey in support of Russia. Following the declaration of war on Turkey, Britain formally annexes Cyprus

 

 

17th

The government announces that income tax is to be doubled to finance the wartime budget. £350 million of 3½% War Loan (repayable 1925-1928) was to be issued to repay treasury bills due for redemption.

1914

December

8th

Falkand Islands: in the most decisive naval engagement of the war, the Royal Navy sank most of von Spee’s ships, including the armoured cruisers Scharnhorst and Gneisenau

 

 

16th

the German Navy bombards the Scarborough, Hartlepool, West Hartlepool and Whitby. The attack results in 592 casualties, many of them civilians, of whom 137 die

 

 

18th

Middle East: Britain declares Egypt a Protectorate putting an end to Ottoman sovereignty

 

 

24th-25th

In some sectors of the Western Front, an unofficial Christmas truce is observed between German and British forces.

1915

January

19th

First Zeppelin raid on Great Britain.   Two Zeppelins attacked east cost towns including King’s Lynn and Yarmouth.

 

 

24th

Battle of Dogger Bank fought between squadrons of the British Grand Fleet and the German High Sea Fleet. The Germans lost the battle cruiser Blücher and most of its crew while the British battle cruiser HMS Lion was heavily damaged. The action was considered a British victory.

1915

February

4th

Germany begins unrestricted submarine warfare against merchant vessels.  Merchant vessels such as freighters and tankers were to be sunk without warning, i.e. without first giving their crews a chance to abandon ship.

 

 

19th

British and French naval attack on the Dardanelles in which they sustain heavy losses. The Gallipoli Campaign begins.

1915

April

22nd-25th May

Germany first uses the poison gas during the Second Battle of Ypres, which ends in a stalemate.

 

 

25th

Gallipoli Campaign: Allied forces land on Gallipoli, at Anzac Cove and Cape Helles.  This was the land-based element of a strategy intended to allow Allied ships to pass through the Dardanelles, capture Constantinople (now Istanbul) and ultimately knock Ottoman Turkey out of the war. But Allied plans were based on the mistaken belief that the Ottomans could be easily overcome.

 

 

26th

Treaty of London between the Entente and Italy.

1915

May

3rd

Gallipoli Campaign: troops withdraw from Anzac Cove. Italy revokes its commitment to a defensive alliance with Germany and Austria-Hungary.

 

 

7th

Cunard liner Lusitania torpedoed and sunk by German U-boat U-20 11 miles off the southern coast of Ireland.  Of the 1,962 passengers and crew, 1,198 lost their lives.  The sinking was influential in bringing the United States into the war in 1917.

 

 

11th

Armistice called at Gallipoli to bury the dead.

 

 

12th

Windhoek, capital of German South-West Africa, is occupied by South African troops.

 

 

23rd

Italy declares war on Austria-Hungary.

1915

July

9th

The German forces in South-West Africa surrender.
1915 War Loan: the Government borrows further money to fund the War. The 1915 loan, due for payment between 1925 and 1945, paid 4.5% but was issued at par (investors received no discount at the time of buying their stock). When the applications were added up, it was found that the loan had nominally raised £900m, but more than a third of that total was actually conversion of existing debt. Of the new money, one third was contributed by the banks.

1915

August

5th

The Germans occupy Warsaw.

 

 

6th-15th

Gallipoli Campaign: Allies land at Suvla Bay.

 

 

21st

Italy declares war on the Ottoman Empire.

1915

September

1st

Germany suspends unrestricted submarine warfare.

 

 

8th

Nicholas II removes Grand Duke Nicholas Nikolayevich as Commander-in-Chief of the Russian Army, personally taking that position.

 

 

25th-28th

Battle of Loos, a major British offensive, fails.

1915

October

7th-Dec. 4th

Having twice repulsed Austrian offensives, the Serbians are overwhelmed by the combined forces of Austria, Germany and Bulgaria, with Belgrade falling on the 9th October.

 

 

12th

British nurse Edith Cavell executed. Her execution received worldwide condemnation and extensive press coverage.

 

 

15th-16th

Britain and France declare war on Bulgaria.

 

 

19th

Italy and Russia declare war on Bulgaria.

1915

November

27th

The Serbian army collapses. It will retreat to the Adriatic Sea and be evacuated by the Italian and French Navies.

1915

December

19th

Douglas Haig replaces John French as commander of the British Expeditionary Force.
The Gallipoli Campaign: in December, it was decided to evacuate, first Anzac and Suvla and then, in January 1916, Helles.

1916

January

9th

The Gallipoli Campaign ends in an Allied defeat and an Ottoman victory.

 

 

27th

Conscription introduced in the United Kingdom by the Military Service Act, 1916.

1916

February

21st

The Battle of Verdun begins with a German attack on the fortified French town of Verdun.  Verdun was to be the largest and longest (303 days) battle of the First World War on the Western Front, and one of the most costly in history. The French eventually secured a defensive victory, but in so doing sustained casualties (killed and wounded) of some 550,000 men - German casualties were over 430,000.

1916

April

24th-29th

Easter Rising by Irish rebels for independence from the United Kingdom. The Rising was launched by Irish republicans to end British rule in Ireland and establish an independent Irish Republic. 485 people were killed: about 54% were civilians, 30% were British military and police, and 16% were Irish rebels. More than 2,600 were wounded.

1916

May

10th

Germany suspends unrestricted submarine warfare.

 

 

31st-1st June

The Battle of Jutland fought between Britains Grand Fleet and Germanys High Seas Fleet. It was the largest naval battle and the only full-scale clash of battleships in that war. It was also the last major battle in history fought primarily by battleships. Both sides claimed victory. The British lost more ships than the Germans and twice as many men, but succeeded in containing the German fleet which never again seriously challenged British control of the North Sea.

1916

June

4th-20th Sept.

The Eastern Front (present-day western Ukraine): the Brusilov Offensive was to be the most successful Russian offensive of the First World War in which tactics that were later to prove successful on the Western Front (a short, sharp artillery bombardment and shock troops to exploit weak points) were employed. Overall, the attack drew Austro-Hungarian forces away from the Italian Front putting increased pressure on the already strained and increasingly demoralised Austro-Hungarian Army. Germany was forced to redirect troops to the Eastern Front to support its ally. However, the Russians were never able to duplicate General Brusilovs success and this was to be their last major offensive of the war.

 

 

5th

The HMS Hampshire is mined and sunk off the Orkney Islands resulting in the death of Lord Kitchener, British Secretary of State for War, who was on a mission to Russia to discuss munitions shortages, military strategy and financial difficulties with the Imperial Russian Government.

1916

July

1st

Opening phase of the Battle of the Somme. This battle, a joint operation between British and French forces, was intended to achieve a decisive victory over the Germans on the Western Front. Like Verdun for the French, for the British the Somme has come to represent the loss and apparent futility of the War. Over 1 million men from all sides were killed, wounded or captured. British casualties on the first day – numbering over 57,000, of which 19,240 were killed – make it the bloodiest day in British military history.

1916

August

28th

Italy declares war on Germany.

 

 

29th

Paul von Hindenburg replaces Erich von Falkenhayn as German Chief of Staff.

1916

September

 15th-22nd

Battle of Flers-Courcelette (during the Battle of the Somme) the British use armoured tanks for the first time
in history.

1916

October

24th

The French recapture Fort Douaumont near Verdun.

1916

November

18th

The Battle of the Somme ends with enormous casualties and an Anglo-French advantage.

 

 

21st

Hospital ship Britannic (sister ship to Titanic) sinks after hitting a German mine near Kea in the Aegean Sea.

 

 

25th

David Beatty replaces John Jellicoe as commander of the Grand Fleet. Jellicoe becomes First Lord of the Sea.

1916

December

5th-7th

United Kingdom: Prime Minister H. H. Asquith resigns and is succeeded by David Lloyd George.

 

 

13th

Robert Nivelle replaces Joseph Joffre as Commander-in-Chief of the French Army.

 

 

18th

Battle of Verdun ends with enormous casualties on both sides.  It is estimated that 143,000 French and 163,000 German troops lost their lives.

1917

January

13th

1917 War Loan: the Government borrowing more money to pay for the War.  The 1917 loan paid interest at 5%, or 4% tax free for 25 years, and was offered at a 5% discount (it cost £95 to buy £100 of stock). The loan raised £2,127M, but only £867M of that total, or 41%, was new money. The rest came from treasury bills, exchequer bonds and previous war loan stock being converted to the more favourable terms. As before the banks were required to market the loan to their customers.

 

 

17th

The German Foreign Secretary Arthur Zimmermann sends a telegram to his ambassador in Mexico, instructing him to propose to the Mexican government an alliance against the United States. The telegram was intercepted and decoded by British intelligence who disclosed its contents to the Americans helping to generate support for the United States declaration of war on Germany in April.

1917

February

1st

Germany resumes unrestricted submarine warfare.

 

 

23rd-5th April

The Germans withdraw to the Hindenburg Line.

1917

March

8th-11th

The British forces under Lieutenant General Sir Frederick Maude capture Baghdad.

 

 

15th

Tsar Nicholas II abdicates. A provisional government is formed.

 

 

16th

Lenin arrives in Petrograd from his exile in Switzerland and publishes his April Thesis.

1917

April

6th

The United States declares war on Germany.

 

 

9th-17th May

Second Battle of Arras. The British attack a heavily fortified German line without obtaining any strategic breakthrough.

 

 

29th-30th May

Series of mutinies in the French army.

1917

May

15th

Philippe Pétain replaces Robert Nivelle as Commander-in-Chief of the French Army.

1917

June

13th

First successful heavy bomber raid on London by the Gotha G.IV.s

 

 

25th

First American troops land in France.

1917

July

1st-19th

The Kerensky Offensive fails. It is the last Russian initiative in the war.

 

 

6th

Arab rebels led by Lawrence of Arabia seize the Jordanian port of Aqaba.

 

 

21st

Alexander Kerensky replaces Georgy Lvov as Minister-President of the Russian Provisional Government.

 

 

31st

The Third Battle of Ypres (also known as Battle of Passchendaele) in Belgium begins. The area surrounding Ypres was a key battleground throughout the war. By 1917 British forces were suffering steady casualties while holding a salient surrounded by higher ground. The offensive aimed to break out of this poor position and, by capturing an important rail junction a few miles to the east, undermine the German position in Flanders and threaten the German submarine base at Bruges, for the German U-boat campaign was by then threatening Britain with defeat. For most of the attack persistently heavy rain created extremely muddy conditions, making movement difficult, and although the Canadians eventually captured the Passchendaele ridge (10th November), the vital railway junction was not taken. Both sides suffered heavy casualties while the British made no strategic gain.

1917

September

14th

Russia declares itself a republic.

1917

October

27th

Following the Italian defeat at the Battle of Caporetto, French and British reinforcements are sent to Italy. The first French troops arrived on the 27th October 1917; the first British troops under General Plumer arrive a few days later.

1917

November

2nd

Balfour Declaration: the British government supports plans for a Jewish national home in Palestine.

 

 

5th

The Allies agree to establish a Supreme War Council at Versailles.

 

 

7th

October Revolution: Kerensky flees Petrograd just before the Petrograd Soviet seizes the Winter Palace.

 

 

10th

The Third Battle of Ypres (also known as Battle of Passchendaele) ends.

 

 

13th

France: Paul Painlevé is replaced by Georges Clemenceau as Prime Minister.

 

 

17th

North Sea: Second Battle of Heligoland Bight, an inconclusive naval engagement fought between British and German squadrons.

 

 

17th-30th Dec.

Battle of Jerusalem. The British enter the city (11th December)

 

 

20th-3rd Dec.

First Battle of Cambrai: the first battle in which tanks were used en masse together with heavy artillery and air power. Initial British success was reversed by effective German counter-attack.

1917

December

7th

The United States declares war on Austria-Hungary.

 

 

15th

Armistice between Russia and the Central Powers, to take effect on the 17th December.

1918

January

8th

President Woodrow Wilson outlines his Fourteen Points, a statement of principles for peace that was to be used for peace negotiations in order to end World War I.

1918

March

3rd

At Brest-Litovsk, Leon Trotsky signs the peace treaty with Germany.

 

 

4th

First known case of what will later be called Spanish Flu: Private Albert Gitchell at Camp Funston, Fort Riley, Kansas. This unusually deadly influenza pandemic infected 500 million people around the world, and resulted in the deaths of 50 to 100 million (three to five percent of the worlds population), making it one of the deadliest natural disasters in human history.

 

 

7th

First German air raid on London is undertaken on a moonless night by a German Zeppelin-Staaken R.VI heavy bomber. At least 12 civilians were killed and over 23 others seriously injured. Four houses were destroyed and many damaged.

 

 

21st-5th April

First phase of the German Spring Offensive, Operation Michael (also known as Second Battle of the Somme). Following their defeat of Russia, Germany concentrated its resources on the Western Front where it used them to mount a massive attack. On the 21st March 1918, the Germans attacked with a huge concentration of artillery, gas, smoke and infantry allowing them to achieve unprecedented gains. Although their offensives were tactically successful they were strategic failures. Their advances had no decisive goal other than to break through the Allied line, which bent but did not give. German casualties were high. To better co-ordinate a united defence the Allies appointed the French Marshal Foch as overall Commander. The tide began to turn and by early summer the German offensives ground to a halt.

 

 

26th

French Marshal Ferdinand Foch is appointed Supreme Commander of all Allied forces.

1918

April

1st

Royal Air Force founded by combining the Royal Flying Corps and the Royal Naval Air Service.

 

 

7th-29th

Second phase of the Spring Offensive, Operation Georgette (also known as Battle of the Lys).

 

 

21st

Top German fighter ace Manfred von Richthofen (a.k.a. The Red Baron) is shot down and killed over Vaux-sur-Somme.

1918

July

15th-6th Aug.

Second Battle of the Marne and last German offensive on the Western Front, which fails when the Germans are counterattacked by the French.

 

 

17th

Nicholas II and his family killed by the Bolsheviks, out of fear that they might be released by Czechoslovak and White troops.

1918

August

8th-11th Nov.


 

The Hundred Days Offensive commences leading to Germanys defeat in the War. After surviving the German Spring Offensives on the Western Front, Allied forces launched a counter-attack and from the summer of 1918 onwards they were constantly on the advance until the Armistice in November.
The Offensive opened with the Battle of Amiens. Secret preparations ensured surprise and the BEF made gains of seven miles on that one day – German General Erich Ludendorff described it as the black day of the German Army.

1918

September

19th-25th

The Battle of Megiddo (19-25 September 1918) arked the beginning of the final British-led offensive in the Sinai and Palestine Campaign. It successfully combined cavalry, infantry, artillery, armoured vehicles and aircraft to achieve decisive victory over the Ottoman Turks and their German allies. It was the start of a series of important Allied victories that ultimately led to the collapse of Ottoman Turkish forces and their eventual withdrawal from the War.

 

 

26th-1st Oct.

The British enter Damascus.

 

 

30th

Bulgaria signs an Armistice with the Allies.

1918

October

20th

Germany suspends submarine warfare.

 

 

30th

The Ottoman Empire signs the Armistice of Mudros.

1918

November

-

First Spanish Flu cases in Spain, where reports on the disease are published freely due to the lack of wartime censorship.

 

 

3rd

Austria-Hungary signs an Armistice with Italy, effective 4th November.

 

 

9th

Germany: Kaiser William II abdicates; a republic is proclaimed.

 

 

10th

Austria-Hungary: Kaiser Charles I abdicates.

 

 

11th

At 6 am, Germany signs the Armistice of Compiègne. End of fighting at 11 a.m.

 

 

14th

German U-boats interned.
3 days after the Armistice, fighting ends in the East African theatre when General von Lettow-Vorbeck agrees to a cease-fire on hearing of Germanys surrender.

 

 

21st

Germanys High Seas Fleet surrenders to the United Kingdom.

 

 

27th

The Germans evacuate Belgium.

1919

January

8th

Treaty of Versailles between the Allies and Germany: the Peace Conference opens in Paris.

 

 

25th

Proposal to create the League of Nations accepted.

1919

June

28th

Treaty of Versailles signed.

1919

July

8th

Germany ratifies the Treaty of Versailles.

 



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