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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.

Background

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.

Prelude

See also: A European Powder Keg (Codex Entry)

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 June 28, 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.

Western Front

Battle of Heligoland Bight

August 28, 1914

See also: Heligoland Bight (Codex Entry)

Heligoland Bight Mainz 01

Wreck of SMS Mainz, beached off of Düne island.

The Battle of Heligoland Bight was the first naval battle of World War I between British Marines and German Army, with the British launching an attack against an German patrol. The battle involved aircraft, airships, and small boats, in addition to the mainline dreadnoughts and destroyers. The battle ended with a British victory, sinking and damaging many German ships.

German airstrikes on London

1915-1918

See also: Gotha Raids on London (Codex Entry)
See also: London Calling: Raiders (Codex Entry)
See also: London Calling: Scourge (Codex Entry)

London Calling 11

Knight of the sky above London.

As an act of all-out war, the German Air Force performed many bombing raids on London, with the main goal of spreading chaos and terror among the civilian populace. At the beginning, the Germans used Zeppelins, but in 1917 they started replacing the large, slow moving airships with faster and harder to hit Gotha G.IV bombers.

Battle of Verdun

February 21 - December 18, 1916

See also: Verdun Heights (Codex Entry)
See also: Fire and Ice (Codex Entry)

Verdun Heights Cote 378 Battery 07

The Côte 378 Battery.

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, thus gaining an advantage over the city of Verdun itself and drawing the offensive-orientated French into an attritional battle against their own defenses. 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 gruelling fight had taken a toll on both sides, with several hundred thousands of casualties.

Storming of Fort Vaux

June 1 - 8, 1916

See also: Fort De Vaux (Codex Entry)

Fort De Vaux Central Courtyard 01

Courtyard inside Fort de Vaux.

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 June 7 after their water had ran out. The fort would not be recaptured by French forces until November.

Battle of the Somme

July 1 - November 18, 1916

See also: River Somme (Codex Entry)

River Somme Sugar Mill 03

The remains of a sugar mill at Flers-Courcelette.

The Battle of the Somme was part of the Allies' plan for combined offensives against the Central Powers in both the west and east in the Summer of 1916, while also relieving pressure on the French at Verdun. It would prove to be one of the largest and bloodiest battles of the war, with the causalities from the British side standing at around 57,470 and 19,240 killed on the first day. The Battle of the Somme would display the first usage of tanks in battle, as the British utilized the Mark I Tank.

Clash above the Alps

Spring 1917

See also: Razor's Edge (Codex Entry)

Razor's Edge 13

The German's famous Dr.1 triplane in a dogfight.

In a prelude to Bloody April, British and German fighter pilots meet in an intense aerial engagement in the skies over the Italian Alps

Bloody April

April 1917

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 was the Battle of Arras. In the Battle of Arras, the Royal Flying Corps has been involved in an arms race with the Luftstreitkräfte, the German Air Force. The battle was a disaster for the RFC, as the German technological and tactical superiority in the air proved difficult to counter. Undeterred, the British continue to provide aerial recon and artillery spotting duties in support of the ground offensive, which ultimately led to the German defeat in the battle.

Battle of Passchendaele

July 31 - November 10, 1917

See also: Passchendaele (Codex Entry)

Passchendaele Zonnebeke Church 03

Ruins of Zonnebeke church.

The Third Battle of Ypres also known as Battle of Passchendaele was launched by British Army to attack Imperial German Army to take control of city of Ypres. The battle has since become infamous for the extreme conditions such as torrential rain, rivers of mud, burning forests and the liberal use of poison gas, which quickly brought the offensive to a standstill. The British captured the town of Passchendaele on the 6th of November, with the town by then being totally obliterated. 

Battle of La Malmaison

October 23 - 27, 1917

See also: Battle of Malmaison (Codex Entry)

Nivelle Nights Saint Berthe 02

The graveyard near what used to be church, somewhere between Malmaison and Soupir.

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 the Chemin des Dames, advancing with the help of tanks and a creeping artillery barrage. On October 27, French forces captured the village and fort of La Malmaison and took control of the Chemin des Dames.

Attack on the Butte-de-Tahure Region

Autumn 1917

See also: Champagne-Ardenne (Codex Entry)

Prise de Tahure Tahure Square 03

The town square of Tahure.

Later in 1917, the region of Butte-de-Tahure, Marne, controlled by the Germans, was invaded by the French in order to gain back land. As the battle comes to life, the fortified village of Tahure is bombarded by French artillery, who would eventually take back the region. Tahure, completely devastated in the battle, is one of dozens of French villages lost to the war.

Battle of Saint Quentin

March 21 - 23, 1918

See also: The St. Quentin Scar (Codex Entry)
See also: Kaiserschlacht (Codex Entry)
See also: Beginning of the End (Codex Entry)

St. Quentin Scar Venture Farm 06

A destroyed windmill overlooking frontline trenches of the Travecy sector of Picardy.

The stalemate on the Western Front broke in 1918, when Germany launched 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. The use of innovative new artillery and infantry tactics took the enemy by surprise, and 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 managed to halt the German forces just east of Amiens, and by April, the operation was terminated.

The Raid at Zeebrugge Port

April 23, 1918

See also: Zeebrugge (Codex Entry)

Zeebrugge Submarine Pen 01

The U-boat pens at Zeebrugge.

In April 1918, the British Royal Navy aimed to cripple the Imperial German Navy by attacking the Bruges-Zeebrugge Port, however, sheltering of U-boats in concrete pens would make any bombardment of the port ineffective. Therefore, on the midnight of 23 April, the ships of HMS Vindictive, Thetis, Intrepid, and Iphegenia, alongside submarines of British Navy made a daring raid. As Royal Marines were landed by Vindictive on the mole itself, three blockships were sunk near the canal mouth, while submarines destroyed the rail viaduct cutting off German reinforcements. While classified as a success by the British, it was a strategic failure as the canal remained open to U-boat traffic. Casualties in this battle were relatively low, with 8 Germans killed, 16 Germans wounded, and an estimated 200 British deaths.

Second Battle of the Marne

July 15 – August 6, 1918

See also: Beginning of the End (Codex Entry)

Soissons Cravançon Watermill 02

Cravançon farmland, south of Chaudun.

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.

See also: Soissons (Codex Entry)

  • 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.

See also: Rupture (Codex Entry)

Rupture 04

A bridge across the Aisne and Vesle river.

  • 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. Specifically, in the area around Fismes and Fismette, the area would change hands about five times. In the end, the area would fall under allied control for the remainder of the conflict. 

Battle of Amiens

August 8 - 12, 1918

See also: Villers-Bretonneux (Codex Entry)

Amiens 04

Place Longueville within Amiens city center. The historic Cathedral can be ssen in the background.

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 launched a successful offensive against German forces in the region, and this victory was the beginning of a major Allied offensive known as the Hundred Days Offensive.

Meuse-Argonne Offensive

September 26 - November 11, 1918

See also: Conquer Hell (Codex Entry)
See also: Fall of Empires (Codex Entry)

Ballroom Blitz 19

The château on the southern bank of the Meuse river.

The Meuse–Argonne offensive was part of the Hundred Days Offensive, performed by American and French forces.

See also: Le Château (Codex Entry)

  • Ballroom Blitz - During World War I many châteaus (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 as they advanced towards Sedan, which would fall under allied control. 

See also: Into Argonne Forest (Codex Entry)

Argonne Forest Hellfire Junction Bridge 02

Derailed train cars deep within the Argonne forest.

Second Battle of Cambrai

October 8 - 10, 1918

See also: Towards Cambrai (Codex Entry)

In 1918, during the Hundred Days Offensive, the Allied 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 Allied forces.

Battle of the Selle

October 17 - 25, 1918

See also: Battle of the Selle (Codex Entry)

Giant's Shadow Lower Crash Site 03

Interior of a crashed airship near Le Cateau station.

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.


Eastern Front

See also: Eastern Front (Codex Entry)

Battle on the Carpathians

Winter of 1914/1915

Łupków Pass 12

A railway viaduct within Łupków Pass.

As the new year dawns, the Austro-Hungarian Empire, now at war with Russia, aims to recapture areas lost to the Russians in the Battle of Galicia in September 1914. An encounter in the treacherous Łupków Pass brought forth a bitter contest struggle for the area that would continue for almost the remainder of the war.

Brusilov Offensive

June 4 - September 20, 1916

See also: Brusilov Offensive (Codex Entry)
See also: Eastern Storm (Codex Entry)
See also: Fire and Ice (Codex Entry)

Galicia 04

The vast open plains of Galicia. In contrast to the Western Front, there is no continuous frontline of trenches.

Aiming to push the Hapsburg forces of the Austro-Hungarian Empire back and regain the momentum on the field, General Aleksei Brusilov spearheaded a tactical offensive on the 4th of June 1916. Coinciding with Allied efforts at Verdun and the Somme, the Brusilov Offensive ranks as the bloodiest battle of World War I, and one of the deadliest in world history.

Brusilov Keep 04

Crossing points over the Samara river.

Operation Albion

October 12 - 20, 1917

See also: Operation Albion (Codex Entry)

Albion Sworbe Lighthouse 02

Sworbe Lighthouse on the Estonian coastline.

The German Empire launched an amphibious operation to occupy the West Estonian Islands, which was part of the Russian Republic as an autonomous governate of Estonia. After two failed attempts to land troops, the island of Hiiumaa was eventually captured on 19 September. This sucessful German operation resulted in large numbers of captured prisoners and guns. In this offensive, the Zeppelin was utilized alongside the Dreadnought


Italian Front

Twelfth Battle of the Isonzo River

October 24 - November 19, 1917

See also: Caporetto (Codex Entry)

Caporetto Capello Grove 03

BL 9.2 Siege Gun inside an Italian-held trench.

The Isonzo River had been widely contested since 1915, with a total of eleven engagements between the Italian Army and the Austro-Hungarian forces. However, in the battle of Caporetto on 24 October, the twelfth sequential battle over the river crossing, the Austro-Hungarian Empire deployed poison gas via devices similar to British Livens projectors, killing approximately 600. An Austro-Hungarian offensive followed, using specialized tactics mimicking the German stormtroopers. This combination attack routed the Italians, with this twelfth engagements above the Isonzo ending in a massive defeat. The Italians were able to reinforce a position on the Piave, far beyond their original lines on the Isonzo. 


Battle of Vittorio Veneto

October 24 – November 4, 1918

See also: Among Peaks of Kings (Codex Entry)
See also: Iron Walls (Codex Entry)
See also: Fall of Empires (Codex Entry)

Monte Grappa 08

The Church of San Rocco, on the low ground leading up to la Valle Di Seren, north of Monte Grappa.

Since 1915, the Italian Front was fought almost entirely 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, was the final offensive of the Italian Front and concluded the Italian Front with a decisive Italian victory.

See also: Vittorio Veneto (Codex Entry)

See also: The Adriatic (Codex Entry)

Empire's Edge Island Battery 03

Island battery along the Adriatic sea.

  • Adriatic Coast - The 3rd Italian Army was responsible for advancing the front near the Adriatic Coast. The rapid advance of the 3rd army to the Tagliamento river along the Adriatic kept pressure on the Austro-Hungarians, who were losing battles along the entire front. On November 4th, the Austro-Hungarian empire signed an armistice, ending the war on the Italian front. 


Middle Eastern Theater

See also: Oil of Empires (Codex Entry)

The main reason of conflict between the British and Ottoman Empires was domination over the Suez Canal and Middle Eastern oilfields, which were the most important strategic objects in the region - the former being an important shipping route between the Mediterranean and the Horn of Africa, and the latter essential for fuelling those ships and the modern war machine in general.

Fao Landing

November 6 - 8, 1914

See also: Al-Faw (Codex Entry)
See also: Blood and Sand (Codex Entry)

Fao Fortress Inner Courtyard 04

The Fao Fortress.

In the first battle in the Middle Eastern theatre of World War I, British and Indian troops landed in the cape of Al-Faw to take control over the Ottoman defenses at Fao Fortress. With the support of dreadnoughts and artillery, British troops captured the fort and took 300 prisoners, while also seizing many artillery guns. 

Raid on Suez Canal

January 26 - February 4, 1915

See also: Vein of the Empire (Codex Entry)

Suez 34

A wreck of a Dreadnought near East Bank Trenches.

At the beginning of 1915, the German-led Ottoman Army performed a bold raid on the Suez Canal, hoping to sever the vital artery supplying British interests in the subcontinent. Hoping to surprise the defenders, the Ottoman raiding force crossed the inhospitable Sinai Peninsula mostly on foot, but were spotted before reaching the canal. Opting to attack anyway, the raid failed due to strongly held defenses.

Gallipoli Campaign

February 17, 1915 - January 9, 1916

See also: Gallipoli Myths (Codex Entry)
See also: River Clyde (Codex Entry)
See also: The Dardanelles (Codex Entry)
See also: Operation Gallipoli (Codex Entry)
See also: Blood and Sand (Codex Entry)

Cape Helles British Deployment 02

The SS River Clyde.

With the war on the Western Front stagnating, the British planned to deprive Germany of allies by knocking the Ottoman Empire out of the war via a massive invasion of its home territories. To achieve this, the Britain had to capture Gallipoli peninsula before marching on to Constantinople. The Gallipoli battle was the greatest landing operation of World War I, but this front also became bogged in the face of staunch Ottoman defenses. After six months of heavy casualties, the Allies withdrew their forces back to Egypt. The Battle of Gallipoli was a landmark event for Australians and New Zealanders, as it was the first time they had fought under their own respective flags.

See also: Cape Helles (Codex Entry)

See also: Achi Baba (Codex Entry)

Achi Baba Eski Kale 03

Resistant stone structures from ages past were often used as fortifications on the modern battlefield.

  • Allied attempts to secure Achi Baba - The Achi Baba heights was the original objective of the British troops. Despite repeated attacks, the heights never fell from the hands of Ottoman Army, with the cost of high causalities on both sides. The British launched a final attempt to take Achi Baba in late 1915, resulting in an Ottoman defensive victory. 

Sinai Campaign

January 28, 1915 - October 30, 1918

See also: Forgotten Deserts (Codex Entry)

Sinai Desert Jabal Canyon 04

Inside Jabal canyon, west of Mazar.

After an unsuccessful raid on the 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 and its allies finally bested the Ottoman Empire, winning control of the Middle-Eastern front.

Arab Revolt

June 1916 – October 1918

See also: Arab Revolt (Codex Entry)
See also: T. E. Lawrence (Codex Entry)

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.

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