Summary of world war 1

Essay by timmeh April 2004

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The war that 'would be over by Christmas' dragged on for four long years of bloody stalemate. Explore an overview of the war years in this brief year-by-year summary.

The war in brief


Germany invades Belgium.

Britain declares war on Germany.

Japan joins the Allied forces: Ottoman Empire soon joins the Central Powers.

War spreads to the seas.


Women take up men's jobs.

Stalemate continues on the Western Front.

The Lusitania passenger liner is sunk, with 1,200 lives lost.

London attacked from the air by German Zeppelins.


Conscription for men aged between 18 and 41.

A million casualties in ten months: Germany aims to 'bleed France white'.

At sea the Battle of Jutland takes place.

Armed uprisings in Dublin: the Irish Republic is proclaimed.


German Army retreats to the Hindenburg Line.

United States joins the war and assists the Allies.

Tank, submarine and gas warfare intensifies.

Royal family change their surname to Windsor to appear more British.


Germany launches major offensive on the Western Front.

Allies launch successful counter-offensives at the Marne and Amiens.

Armistice signed on November 11, ending the war at 11am.

In Britain, a coalition government is elected and women over 30 succeed in gaining the vote.


On 28 June, in Sarajevo, Gavrilo Princip (a Slav nationalist) assassinated Archduke Franz Ferdinand, heir to the throne of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Austria-Hungary blamed Serbia for the killing and because Europe was linked by a series of diplomatic alliances - Austria-Hungary/Germany/Italy (Central Powers) and Britain/France/Russia (Triple Entente/Allied forces) - the affair escalated into full-scale war.

On 4 August, Britain declared war after Germany invaded neutral Belgium (Britain declared war on Austria-Hungary on 12 August). The British government had previously promised to defend Belgium and felt that German troops directly across the Channel...