World War One Timeline

World War One was a war involving many countries around the world. This was unusual, as was the length of this war, and the number of deaths and amount of damage caused. It was also called the Great War, because no one expected another war like it to occur again.

There were two sides in the war:
  • Allied Powers (including France, Great Britain, Russia, Italy and Japan), and
  • Central Powers (including Germany, Austria-Hungary and Turkey).

America did not want to become involved in the war, but eventually joined the war in 1917 and fought with the Allies.

The largest battles were fought in two areas, known as the Eastern Front and the Western Front:

  • The Eastern Front ran along Germany and Austria-Hungary on one side and Russia and Hungary on the other
  • The Western Front ran along Germany and Austria-Hungary on one side and France and Italy on the other

The key timeline of World War One is:

1914

  • 28 June 1914: Archduke Franz Ferdinand, heir to Austria-Hungary, is killed
  • The Archduke was killed while visiting Sarajevo by a Serbian, who was not acting on behalf of Serbia
  • 28 July 1914: Emperor Franz Joseph of Austria-Hungary declares war on Serbia
  • 31 July 1914: Russia assembles its armed forces, ready to support Serbia
  • 01 August 1914: Germany declares war on Russia
  • 03 August 1914: Germany declares war on France
  • 04 August 1914: Germany declares war on, and then invades, Belgium. Belgium had been neutral up until then. As a result of Germany breaching Belgium’s borders, Britain declares war on Germany
  • 06 August 1914: Austria-Hungary declares war on Russia
  • 26-30 August 1914: Battle of Tennenberg
  • This was a battle between Germany and Russia on the Eastern Front. The German army achieving great advances into Russian land
  • 05-10 September 1914: The First Battle of the Marne
  • This was a battle between Germany and Russia on the Eastern Front. The German army achieving great advances into Russian land
  • 25 December 1914: Soldiers along the Western Front acknowledge their enemy's Christmas celebrations
  • Some soldiers take part in each other’s celebrations from their trenches
  • other soldiers even stop fighting during Christmas to meet in no-man’s land

1915

  • January 1915: Germany attacks England by air and the war becomes a “total war”
  • 4 February 1915: Germany blockades Great Britain
  • Germany uses its navy to patrol the sea around Great Britain, and with threatens destroy any ship attempting to approach the area
  • 22 April 1915: Germany is the first country to use poison gas during the war
  • 25 April 1915: Allied troops land at the Turkish peninsula of Gallipoli
  • This landing is the start of a furious nine-month, that eventually sees Allied troops withdrawn
  • 07 May 1915: A German submarine sinks the British cruise liner, Luisitania
  • The passenger ship was travelling across the Atlantic Ocean from New York to Liverpool
  • Of the 1,959 people aboard, 1,198 were killed
  • 23 May 1915: Italy declares war on Austria-Hungary
  • 09 September 1915: Germany agrees to stop attacking cruise liners and non-military vessels
  • This follows America’s anger at the death of 128 of their citizens who were aboard the Luisitania
  • 14 October 1915: Bulgaria declares war on Serbia

1916

  • 27 January 1916: Great Britain introduces conscription of unmarried men between the ages of 18-41 years old. Married men are included in conscription in May 1916
  • 21 February 1916: Battle of Verdun commences
  • The battle started with Germany’s unexpected attack on France. It is one of the largest and longest battles of the war and even in war history
  • An estimated 1,000,000 men were killed in 10 months of fighting
  • 09 March 1916: Germany declares war on Portugal
  • 24 March 1916: German submarine torpedoes the French passenger ship Sussex without warning
  • At least 50 passengers and crew are killed
  • 04 May 1916: Germany issues the Sussex Pledge
  • It is a promise to America that Germany will change its naval warfare policy. Germany made this promise to ensure America would not join the war
  • 31 May 1916: Battle of Jutland
  • Battleships of the British Royal Navy and Imperial Germany Navy fight off the coast of Demark. It is the largest naval battle of the war
  • 01 July 1916: Battle of the Somme
  • This is a battle between the British and French against Germany on both sides of the River Somme, France. It is the largest battle of the war on the Western Front. More than 1,000,000 men are wounded or killed over only three and a half months
  • 04 July 1916: Battle of Kostiuchnówka commences
  • The battle occurs in Ukraine (part of the Russian Empire at the time)
  • It is between the Allied Polish Legions (part of the Austrio-Hungarian Army) and the Russian Army
  • The three day battle is one of the largest and most violent involving Poland during the war
  • The heavily-outnumbered Polish Army eventually retreats
  • 04 August 1916: Battle of Gorizia
  • Italy’s goal in starting this battle is to re-take Gorizia (along the border with Serbia) from Austria-Hungary forces. After two weeks of fighting, Italy gains control over Gorizia. It is one of Italy’s most successful achievements in the area during the war, even though 21,000 Italian soldiers died
  • 27 August 1916: Romania declares war on Austria-Hungary
  • 28 August 1916: Italy declares war on Germany
  • 05 November 1916: Poland is declared an independent state by the Central Powers
  • Russia had previously controlled the region
  • It is considered the starting point of an independent Poland

1917

  • 09 January 1917: Germany announces a policy of unrestricted submarine warfare
  • This means that their submarines can attack any ships travelling through the Atlantic Ocean
  • Germany will not provide warning before
  • 19 January 1917: the “Zimmerman Telegram”
  • Germany sends a letter to Mexico, suggesting an alliance between the two countries
  • If America joins the war, Germany offers to support Mexico if it declares war against America
  • 11 March 1917: the Fall of Baghdad occurs
  • Baghdad falls during the Mesopotamia Campaign
  • The battle is between Britain and Turkey (the Ottoman Empire)
  • The British force the Turks to retreat from Baghdad, and free the province from Ottoman rule
  • 26 March 1917: the first of three Battles of Gaza commences
  • British forces attempt to invade the south of the Ottoman Empire
  • Britain is supported by Australian, New Zealand and Welsh troops and Egyptian Camel Transport Corps
  • Turkish forces fight back, supported by German and Austro-Hungarian troop
  • The Central Powers win the first two Battles of Gaza
  • On 07 November 1917 the Allied Powers capture Gaza during the third Battle
  • 06 April 1917: America declares war on Germany
  • 07 April 1917: Cuba and Panama declare war on Germany
  • 29 June 1917: Greece declares war on Germany, Austria-Hungary, the Ottoman Empire and Bulgaria
  • 14 August 1917: China declares war on Germany and Austria-Hungary
  • 23 October 1917: America starts fighting in trenches, in France
  • 26 October 1917: Brazil declares war on Germany
  • 07 November 1917: The Russian government is overthrown
  • This followed a period of internal unrest
  • 09 December 1917: Russia and Germany agree to stop fighting against each other
  • 17 December 1917: America declares war on Austria-Hungary

1918

  • 23 May 1918: German shells land on Paris
  • 08 August 1918: The Allied Powers’ offensives in the Somme see the German army start to retreat
  • 30 October 1918: Turkey signs an agreement to stop fighting
  • 09 November 1918: The German emperor steps down from the throne
  • 11 November 1918: At 11.00am the Allied Powers and Germany sign an agreement to stop fighting
  • This agreement is an “armistice”. The date and time remains an important day around the world and is known as Remembrance Day or Armistice Day
  • Many people stop at 11.00am on 11 November each year, to remember the war and the suffering of both soldiers and civilians
  • Remembering the war reminds everyone to avoid war except as a last choice

1919

  • 28 June 1919 German shells land on Paris
  • This is the peace agreement between the Allied Powers and Germany
  • Many Allied Powers think the terms are harsh
  • France thinks the terms are not severed enough
  • Germany accepts responsibility for all damage caused in the war. Allies of the Central Powers signing similar agreements
  • Germany pays almost US$32 billion to repair damage to many Allied Powers involved in the war
  • Germany reduces the size their military so they cannot attack other countries
  • Part of Germany’s land and all of its empire is transferred to one of the Allied Powers, or recognized as an independent country
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