World War I (often abbreviated as WWI or WW1, also known as the First World War and the Great War) was a global conflict lasting from 1914 to 1918, involving most of the world's nations including all of the great powers, eventually forming two opposing military alliances, the Allies and the Central Powers.
Prior to World War II, the First World War was seen as one of the most devastating conflicts in world history as over nine million combatants and seven million civilians died as a result of the war, due to the belligerents' technological and industrial sophistication, and the tactical stalemate caused by grueling trench warfare. As such, many people at the time dubbed the conflict as "the war to end all wars". While warfare would continue, the aftermath of World War I paved the way for both political and military change.
During the 19th century, the major European powers went to great lengths to maintain a balance of power, which resulted in the existence of both political and military alliances.
The situation in Europe before the war was uneasy. Imperialism, militarism, and nationalism are at high points, and an arms race between the great empires of Europe drove militarization to never-before-seen heights. Unresolved territorial conflicts created international tension, and multiple regional conflicts saw the break down of diplomatic relationships. Just before the outbreak of the war, much of Europe had allied themselves into two power camps, the Triple Entente and the Triple Alliance.
A trigger for a war was the assassination of Austro-Hungarian Archduke Ferdinand in Sarajevo at 28 June 1914, by Serbian nationalist Gavrilo Princip. The assassination brought Austria-Hungary to declare war on Serbia, and the conflict quickly escalated into most of Europe's Great Powers declaring war on each other. World War I became the war between the greatest empires in the world.
See also: Gotha Raids on London (Codex Entry)
As an act of all-out war, the German Air Force performed many bombing raids on London. The main goal was to spread chaos and terror among Brits. At the beginning, Germans were using Zeppelins, but in 1917 they started replacing airships with better and harder to hit Gotha G.IV bombers.
21 February - 18 December 1916
The Battle of Verdun was the longest and one of the deadliest battles ever fought on the Western Front. The German Army attacked the Fortified Region of Verdun in an attempt to rapidly capture Meuse Heights, from which they can then gain an advantage over the city of Verdun itself. Due to heavy French resistance, German advancement slowed down significantly a few days into the battle as both sides experienced heavy casualties. The battle ended with French victory, but the grueling fight had taken a toll on both sides, with several hundred thousands of casualties.
June 1st - June 8th 1916
See also: Fort De Vaux (Codex Entry)
As the German Army advanced on Verdun, Fort de Vaux posed a threat to their left flank. The fort was constantly bombed by Germany since the Battle of Verdun began and a final assault began on 1 June. After a valiant defense by the French troops, the battle ended with their surrender on 7 June as they had ran out of water. The fort would not be recaptured by French forces until November.
See also: Bloody April (Codex Entry)
In April 1917, Franco-British forces launched the Nivelle Offensive, named after and led by French General Robert Nivelle, one part of which is the Battle of Arras. In the Battle of Arras, the Royal Flying Corps has been involved in an arms race with the Luftstreitkrafte, the German Air Force. The battle in the air was a disaster for the RFC, as the German air superiority was too hard to counter. Unfortunately, as the battle takes place, British air recon as well as artillery never stopped, ultimately marked the failure for the Germans on the ground.
23–27 October 1917
See also: Battle of Malmaison (Codex Entry)
The main component of the April 1917 Nivelle Offensive was the Second Battle of the Aisne, a French assault on German positions on the strategically important ridge of Chemin des Dames. However, the offensive was a dismal failure, with incredibly high French losses while failing to achieve the objective. Months later, on the night of October 23, French forces focused an assault on Chemin des Dames, advancing with the help of tanks and a creeping artillery barrage. On October 27, French forces had captured the village and fort of La Malmaison and taken control of Chemin des Dames.
Later in 1917, the region of Butte-de-Tahure, Marne, controlled by the Germans, is being invaded by the French in order to gain back land. As the battle comes to life, the village of Tahure has been entrenched and bombarded by French artillery, completely devastating the village, and the French eventually taken the region at the cost of losing the village of Tahure, pushing the Germans back.
21 – 23 March 1918
The stalemate on the Western Front broke in 1918, when Germany began the Spring Offensive, also known as Kaiserschlacht (The Emperor's Battle in German). As the start of the opening offensive Operation Michael, the German Army, led by Erich Ludendorff, launched a rapid attack near the commune of Saint Quentin. With a surprise attack, the German Army managed to break through the Allied lines, pushing towards the city of Amiens, an important Allied railway and communications center. However, the Allies had managed to halt the German forces just east of Amiens, and by April, the operation was terminated.
23 April 1918
In April 1918, the British Royal Navy aimed to cripple the Imperial German Navy by attacking the Bruges-Zeebrugge Port, however, U-boats stashed in concrete defenses made an aerial bombardment on the port ineffective. Therefore, on the midnight of 23 April, the ships of HMS Vindictive, Thetis, Intrepid, and Iphegenia , alongside submarines of British Navy boarded the mole, destroying the only connection between German reinforcements. However, the attack was a strategic failure, but was classified as a success for the British. Casualties in this battle were low, with 8 Germans killed, 16 Germans wounded, and an estimated 200 British deaths.
Second Battle of the Marne
15 July – 6 August 1918
The Second Battle of the Marne saw Germany's last offensive in the Spring Offensive, Operation Marneschutz-Reims, and was also the site of a major Allied counteroffensive.
- Battle of Soissons - The initial offensive from the Germans failed to break through the lines. On 18 July, the allies launched a major counteroffensive, consisting of multiple divisions of the French Army supported by a large amount of tanks and a few American divisions, fought in the area surrounding the city of Soissons. The offensive ended as a decisive allied victory.
- Aisne River - By August, the German forces had been pushed back to a line running along rivers Aisne and Vesle. Continued Allied offensives attempted to cross the rivers, and multiple locations around the rivers saw fierce engagements.
8 - 12 August 1918
During the Spring Offensive, Germany had advanced the lines to the east of Amiens. With the support of tanks, Imperial soldiers attempted to penetrate the line further and reach Amiens, but they were stopped by the Allied forces. In August, after the success of the Battle of Soissons, the Allies performed a successful offensive on German forces in the region, and this victory was the beginning of a major Allied offensive known as the Hundred Days Offensive.
26 September - 11 November 1918
The Meuse-Argonne offensive was part of the Hundred Days Offensive, performed by American and French forces.
- Ballroom Blitz - During World War I many chateaus (castles) were captured by Germans and used by high-ranking officers as residences. One of these buildings saw a short battle between Germans and Americans.
- Argonne Forest - During the second phase of offensive, American troops broke through the Hindenburg Line and went into Argonne Forest. It was a labyrinth of German trenches, bunkers and MG nests. Many young Americans died, but finally the battle resulted in US victory. Due to heavy casualties, this battle is also known as The Hell of Argonne.
8 – 10 October 1918
In 1918, during the Hundred Days Offensive, the Entente forces began another armored offensive with over 320 tanks on the city of Cambrai. After the controversial First Battle of Cambrai in 1917 (also the first and the greatest tank battle in World War I), the tank tactics had developed significantly. Combined with exhausted German defenders, the battle was an overwhelming success for the Entente forces.
17 – 25 October 1918
Another Allied attack in the Hundred Days Offensive, the battle involved the Allies assaulting the retreating German forces near Le Cateau after the Second Battle of Cambrai, who had taken positions near the Selle river. The battle saw major combat over the Le Cateau-Wassigny Railway and ended with Allied victory.
Winter of 1914/1915
On the dawn of 1915, the Austro-Hungarian Empire, now at war with Russia, aims to capture the areas of Galicia to push the Russians back. An encounter on Lupkow Pass brought forth a bitterly contested area that would continue for the remainder of the war.
4 June - 20 September 1916
Aiming to push the Hapsburg forces of the Austro-Hungarian Empire back and regain the land from them, General Aleksei Brusilov spearheaded a tactical offensive on the 4th of June 1916.
- A Contested Galicia - The plains of Galicia were a highly contested area for the Austro-Hungarian and Russian Empires. In 1916, Russian forces launched an audacious offensive on the plains of Galicia, pushing the unprepared Austro-Hungarians back, giving Russia once again the plains.
- Attack on Kolomyia - Subsequently, the Russians launched an offensive on the Samara River, to the Hapsburg-controlled town of Kolomyia on the Carpathian mountains.
September - October 1917
The German Empire launched an amphibious operation to occupy the West Estonian Islands, which was part of the Russian Republic as an autonomous governorate of Estonia. Initially, advances failed twice and eventually landed on 19 September at the Hiiumaa and captured the island. This operation was successful for the Germans and captured prisoners and guns. In this offensive, the Zeppelin was utilized alongside the Dreadnought.
24 October - 19 November 1917
The Isonzo River has been widely contested since 1915, with a total of eleven engagements between the Italian Army and the Austro-Hungarian forces. However, on the battle of Caporetto on 24 October, which marks the twelfth battle, the Austro-Hungarian Empire deployed poison gas, similar to the British Livens projectors, on the Italian trenches, prompting the Italians to flee, but killed approximately 500-600 soldiers. With the use of specialized tactics, alongside the help of the German forces, the handicapped Italian Army was massively defeated in the twelfth engagement.
Battle of Vittorio Veneto
24 October – 3 November 1918
Since 1915, the Italian Front existed as a series of battles between the Austro-Hungarian Empire and the Kingdom of Italy. The Battle of Vittorio Veneto, which occurred on the anniversary of Italy's defeat in the Twelfth Battle of the Isonzo River. This is the final offensive on the Italian Front and concluded the Italian Front with decisive Italian victory.
- Third Battle of Monte Grappa - The Battle of Monte Grappa was series of three battles, fought between Italy and Austria-Hungary. The main reason of these battles was a plan to flank the Italian Piave front. The first battle occurred in 1917 and it brought the Austrian summer offensive to a halt. The next two battles were fought in 1918 and they resulted in Italian victory.
- Adriatic Coast - The 3rd Italian Army was responsible for advancing the front near the Adratic Coast. While the advancement saw little action in reality, the map Empire's Edge depicts a fictitious engagement in this front over coastal fortifications.
Middle Eastern Theater
The main reason of conflict between British and Ottoman Empires was domination over the Suez Canal and Middle Eastern oilfields, which were the most important strategic objects in the region, allowing their armies to transport troops and extract oil, which was essential for modern armies.
6-8 September 1914
It was the first battle in the Middle East. British and Indian troops landed in Al-Faw Cape to take control over Fao Fortress. With the support of dreadnoughts and artillery, British troops captured the fort and took 300 prisoners.
26 January - 4 February 1915
At the beginning of 1915, the German-led Ottoman Army performed an attack on the Suez Canal. Ottoman soldiers crossed the Sinai Peninsula and started the raid, but their invasion failed, due to strongly held defenses.
25 April 1915 - 9 January 1916
British plan was to perform a massive invasion on the Ottoman Empire. Firstly, Britain had to capture Gallipoli peninsula and go to Constantinople. Gallipoli battle was the greatest landing operation of World War I. The naval attack never repelled. Due to heavy casualties on both sides, the conflict was withdrawn to Egypt. The Battle of Gallipoli was the first moment when Australians and New Zealanders fought under their own flag, which brought Australia their freedom from the British Empire.
28 January 1915 - 30 October 1918
After an unsuccessful raid on Suez Canal, Ottoman forces were pushed into Sinai Desert. Many battles occurred, such as battles of Gaza, Romani and Maghdaba. In 1918, the British Empire finally beat the Ottoman Empire and won the Middle-Eastern front.
June 1916 – October 1918
In 1915, an Arab-nationalist movement began within the Ottoman Empire. Sharif Hussein bin Ali, Emir of Mecca, had negotiated with the British Empire to lead an uprising and secure an independent Arab state. In June 1916, Hussein declared himself the King of the Kingdom of Hejaz and began a rebellion against the Ottoman Empire. T. E. Lawrence, better known as the Lawrence of Arabia, was sent to Hejaz as a British liaison and to lead the revolt, showing strong skills as a strategist and securing multiple victories.