A Battery Shelled by: Lewis, Percy Wyndham 1919 © IWM (Art.IWM ART 2747)

28 June 1914

28th June 1914

Archduke Franz Ferdinand, heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne, is assassinated in Sarajevo by Gavrilo Princip, a Bosnian-Serb nationalist. Austria-Hungary suspects Serbia supported this terrorist attack.

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28 July – 3 August 1914

28th July 1914

Backed by Germany, Austria-Hungary declares war on Serbia. Russia intervenes to protect Serbia and Germany responds by declaring war on Russia on August 1st. France, as Russia’s ally, begins mobilising its army, prompting a declaration of war by Germany on August 3rd.

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4 August 1914

4th August 1914

Germany attacks France through neutral Belgium. Britain declares war on Germany.

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15 August 1914

15th August 1914

To honour an Alliance with Britain, Japan issues an ultimatum that Germany surrender control of Tsingtao, its largest overseas naval base.

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23 August 1914

23rd August 1914

After receiving no response, Japan declares war on Germany.   British and German forces engage for the first time at the battle of the Mons – the last of the ‘Battles of the Frontiers’ between Allied and German forces in the opening month of the war. The first three, at Lorraine, Ardennes and Charleroi, had involved French forces. British forces stand firm for 6 hours of shelling and infantry assault but, outnumbered and outgunned, are eventually forced to retreat.

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26 August 1914

26th August 1914

While retreating, the British Army make another stand at LeCateau. As at Mons, they delay the German advance but under unrelenting pressure withdraw to Saint-Quentin.

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6 September 1914

6th September 1914

As the German Army advance towards Paris, French and British soldiers counterattack along the line of the River Marne. The battle continues until 10 September.

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12 September 1914

12th September 1914

Allied forces launch an offensive against the German Army, who are retreating after the Battle of the Marne.  Both sides take up well-defended positions along the Ainse and continue fighting until 28 September, when it becomes clear that neither would be able to mount a successful attack. Each side begins trying to outflank the other in a ‘race to the sea’, northward to the Belgian coast. The two armies dig in, marking the start of trench warfare.

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10 October 1914

10th October 1914

At the Battle of La Bassée in northern France, Indian soldiers join the Allies for the first time.

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19 October 1914

19th October 1914

Allied and German forces begin the first of three battles to control Ypres and the route to French coastal ports. Allied troops stand firm and block the German Army’s access to the northern coast. Fighting continues until 22 November.

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31 October 1914

31st October 1914

Japan launches a siege on Tsingtao and takes control of the port.

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10 March – 9 May 1915

10th March 1915

British / Indian forces push through with offensives in the Artois region, with limited progress at Neuve Chapelle and heavy casualties at Aubers Ridge.

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22 April 1915

22nd April 1915

During the Second Battle of Ypres, the Germans launch a major assault on French, British and Canadian troops, using poison gas extensively. The battle also saw large scale use of Territorial troops and the fist employment of Kitchener’s Army, an all-volunteer force recruited by Lord Kitchener at the start of the war. Fighting continues until 27 May.

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25 April 1915

25th April 1915

The Allied troops attack the Ottoman Turks, Germany’s allies. British, French, Australian and New Zealand troops land on and around the Gallipoli. Fighting continues until January 1916.

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7 May 1915

7th May 1915

A civilian passenger ship, the Lusitania, is torpedoed by a German U-boat off the west coast of Ireland, killing 1198 people – including US citizens.

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25 September 1915

25th September 1915

The Allies launch a coordinated offensive in France, with French attacks in the Second Battle of Champagne and Third Battle of Artois and British attacks at the Battle of Loos. The fighting at Loos, which sees the first use of chlorine gas by the British, carries on until 4 November.

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27 January 1916

27th January 1916

The government introduces conscription for all single men aged 18 to 41. This was extended to married men on the 25th of May 1916

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21 February 1916

21st February 1916

The Germans attack the fortress town of Verdun, believing its great symbolic significance for the French would compel them to throw huge quantities of men and resources into its defence. The Germans fail to break through French defences. When the battle is over both sides have lost around 300,000 soldiers.

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31 May 1916

31st May 1916

British Grand Fleet confronts the German fleet off the coast of Denmark at the Battle of Jutland. The British lose more ships but the German fleet is driven back.

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1 July – 18 November 1916

1st July 1916

The Battle of the Somme is part of a joint offensive by the Allies. The British believe that an early bombardment will allow their infantry to break through the German line. However, when the bombardment starts the German army move to their relatively deep and safe dug-outs, only to open machine gun fire as the infantry advance. By November there are over half a million casualties on each side.

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28 March 1917

3rd March 1917

Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps (WAAC) is formed, offering women the chance to serve directly in the armed forces. Over 57,000 women enrol.

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6 April 1917

6th April 1917

America declares war on Germany.

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9 April 1917

9th April 1917

British, Canadian, South African, New Zealand and Australian troops launch a major offensive at the Battle of Arras, breaking through German lines. Fighting continues to 16 May, with major gains on the first day reverting to stalemate. This sees the most Scottish troops ever employed in a single battle.

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31 July 1917

31st July 1917

The 3rd Battle of Ypres, commonly referred to a Passchendale, is launched by the Allies to destroy German submarine bases on the Belgium coast. Fighting continues until the fall of Passchendale village on 6 November. It results in gains for the Allies but is by no means the breakthrough intended. It comes a great cost in human term, with about 310,000 British casualties.

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8 November 1918

8th November 1917

Following the First Russian Revolution in March, which sees the abdication of Tsar Nicholas II, the Bolsheviks, led by Lenin, seize power under the slogan of ‘Peace, bread, land’. Russia leaves the war, which was highly unpopular at home, signing an armistice in December.

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21 March 1918

21st March 1918

Now free of any threat from Russia on the east, Germany mounts a series of offensives on the Western Front and manage to break through Allied lines. However, these successes prove impossible to follow up.

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18 July 1918

18th July 1918

Having rebuffed the last major German attack, French forces bolstered by American troops launch a surprise counter attack in the Marne area. This marks the beginning of the Hundred Day Offensive, a series of sustained attacks by Allied troops and reinforced by American forces, that will eventually break the stalemate on the Western Front.

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8 August 1918

8th August 1918

The Battle of Amiens is the first coordinated attack, involving artillery, tanks, infantry and aircraft. It proves to be the most decisive battle against the German Army on the Western Front.

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11 November 1918

18th September 1918

Before the Allied armies can invade Germany an armistice is signed, bringing the war on the Western Front to an end.

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