World War 1, was a global war originating in Europe that lasted from 28 July 1914 to 11 November 1918. More than 70 million military personnel, including 60 million Europeans, were mobilised in one of the largest wars in history. Over nine million combatants and seven million civilians died as a result of the war, a casualty rate exacerbated by the belligerents’ technological and industrial sophistication, and the tactical stalemate caused by gruelling trench warfare. It was one of the deadliest conflicts in history, and paved the way for major political changes, including revolutions in many of the nations involved. Unresolved rivalries still existed at the end of the conflict contributed to the start of World War 2 only twenty-one years later.
World War 1 Timeline
Otto von Bismarck leads the creation of the Triple Alliance: Germany, Austria, and Italy.
June 28, 1914
Assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria, heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne, who was killed in Sarajevo along with his wife Duchess Sophie by Bosnian Serb Gavrilo Princip.
July 5, 1914
Austria-Hungary seeks German support for a war against Serbia in case of Russian militarism. Germany gives assurances of support.
July 23, 1914
Beginning of the “Black Week”. Austria-Hungary sends an ultimatum to Serbia. The Serbian response is seen as satisfactory everywhere but in Vienna.
July 28, 1914
Austria-Hungary declare war on Serbia, Russia begins to mobilize, and The Netherlands declare neutrality.
August 1, 1914
Italy, Denmark, Sweden, and Norway declare neutrality while Germany and the Ottoman Empire make a secret alliance. France begins to prepare for war.
August 2, 1914
Germany invades Luxemburg
August 3 – 4, 1914
Germany declares war on France and Belgium denies Germany access to move their army to the French border. In response, Germany invades Belgium. Britain protests the violation of Belgian neutrality, guaranteed by the treaty of london, The German Chancellor replies that the treaty is just a scrap of paper. The United Kingdom declares war on Germany. The United States, watching an ocean away, declares their neutrality.
August 5 – 12, 1914
Dominos continue to fall as the countries in Europe take sides. Montenegro, Serbia, and Great Britain declare war on Germany and Austria-Hungary. While Spain declares its neutrality and the Ottoman Empire closes the strategic Dardanelles. Austria-Hungary then declare war on Russia.
August 7 – September 13, 1914
The Battle of the Frontiers begins. The Germans obtain a victory against the British Expeditionary Force and France’s Fifth Army. By the end Germany occupy Brussels, deal heavy losses to the Russians, and are now at war with Japan. Many battles take place and more lines are drawn. Austria-Hungary also declare war on Belgium while Germany advances into France and are halted before reaching Paris.
In the Pacific, New Zealand, Japan, Australia, and Great Britain begin to pick away at German holdings in China and many Pacific Ocean island chains.
The German advance through Belgium to France did not go as smoothly as the Germans had hoped. The Belgians put up a good fight destroying railway lines to slow the transport of German supplies.
Despite a French counter-attack that saw the deaths of many Frenchmen on the battlefields at Ardennes, the Germans continued to march into France. They were eventually halted by the allies at the river Marne.
British troops had advanced from the northern coast of France to the Belgian town of Mons. Although they initially held off the Germans, they were soon forced to retreat.
The British lost a huge number of men at the first battle of Ypres.
By Christmas, all hopes that the war would be over had gone and the holiday saw men of both sides digging themselves into the trenches of the Western Front.
Winston Churchill resigns after the fiasco in Gallipoli
The use of airships by the Germans increased. Zeppelins began attacking London. They were also used for naval reconnaissance, to attack London and smaller balloons were used for reconnaissance along the Western Front. They were only stopped when the introduction of aeroplanes shot them down.
May 7, 1915
The Lusitania was sunk by a German U-boat. This causes a reaction in the United States and the public began to be in favor of war. The United States remained neutral.
May 23, 1915
Italy chooses to forego their neutrality and declares war on Germany.
April – August 1915
The British land troops on Gallipoli in hopes of pushing the Ottoman Empire back and opening up Dardanelles. The mission was a failure.
April – August 1916
Romania enters the war on the side of the Allies, but by August was occupied by Germans and Austrians.
31 May – 1 June, 1916
The Battle of Jutland results in many casualties on both sides, but the Allies took the brunt of the losses. However, the battle alarmed the Kaiser who grounded much of the German navy for the remainder of the war.
21 Feb – Nov, 1916
The Battle of Verdun results in the Germans mounting an attack on the French designed to ‘bleed the French dry’. Although the fighting continued for nine months, the battle was inconclusive. Casualties were enormous on both sides with the Germans losing 430,000 men and the French 540,000.
1 July – Nov, 1916
The battle of the Somme was preceded by a week long artillery bombardment of the German line which was supposed to destroy the barbed wire defences placed along the German line but only actually succeeded in making no mans land a mess of mud and craters. The five month long battle saw the deaths of 420,000 British soldiers (60,000 on the first day), 200,000 French soldiers and 500,000 German soldiers all for a total land gain of just 25 miles.
6 April, 1917
The United States declares war on Germany
Following the successful revolution by the Bolsheviks, the Russians signed an Armistice with Germany at Brest-Litovsk. The terms of the treaty were harsh: Russia had to surrender Poland, the Ukraine and other regions. They had to stop all Socialist propaganda directed at Germany and pay 300 million roubles for the repatriation of Russian prisoners.
The British combine Royal Flying Corps and the Royal Naval Air Service to create the Royal Air Force
8 – 11 August, 1918
The British general, Haig, ordered the attack of the German sector at Amiens. At the same time the news came through that the allies had broken through from Salonika and forced Bulgaria to sue for peace.
mid Oct, 1918
The Allies continue to push into France and Belgium. They managed to take back most of what was lost in those two countries.
30 October, 1918
The allies had successfully pushed the Turkish army back and the Turks were forced to ask for an armistice. The terms of the armistice treaty allowed the allies access to the Dardenelles. This was pivotal for the allies.
1 – 11 November, 1918
In early November the Hindenberg line collapsed and the Germans were pushed back. This results in the Kaiser being abdicated from his leadership and an Armistice signed that would end World War 1. Germany was given harsh consequences which would aid Adolf Hitler in his rise too power.