First World War Timeline: 1917



3rd February US severs diplomatic relations with Germany The United States severs diplomatic relations with Germany as U-Boats threaten US shipping. Intercepted messages reveal that Germany is provoking the Mexicans into war against the US.
21st February The great German withdrawal begins They evacuate Serre, Miraumont, Petit Miraumont, Pys and Warlencourt, falling back 25 miles to establish stronger positions along the Hindenburg Line.
24th February Turkish retreat to Baghdad Turkish retreat to Baghdad, abandoning Kut in Mesopotamia.
6th April United States declares war on Germany It would take at least 12 months before US troops were present on the Western Front in enough numbers to have any effect on the outcome of the war.
9th April Battle of Arras The British successfully employ new tactics of creeping barrages, the ‘graze fuse’ and counter battery fire.
11th Aprilimage
First Battle of Bullecourt Troops of the AIF 4th Division assaulted the Hindenburg Line at Bullecourt in what was a poorly planned and executed attack. The battle cost the 4th Division over 3,000 casualties, of which 1,170 were taken prisoner – the largest capture of Australian troops on the Western Front.
16th April Second Battle of the Aisne The Second Battle of Aisne begins as part of the ‘Nivelle Offensive’. Losses are horrendous, triggering mutinies within the French Army.
3rd Mayimage
Second Battle of Bullecourt The Hindenburg Line was again attacked at Bullecourt on 3 May, this time by two brigades of the AIF 2nd Division, which ultimately captured and held enemy positions against a series of German counter-attacks. It was a successful yet costly action. Although it was a solid victory for the British and Australian units, the fighting at this second Bullecourt battle cost the AIF 7,482 casualties.
7th Juneimage
Battle of Messines Ridge The British take the ridge with few casualties, as it is preceded by the detonation of 19 huge mines under the German front lines, including Hill 60 and Caterpillar dug by the 1st Australian Tunnelling Company. The explosions are reportedly heard from England.
13th June Heavy bombers attack London Germans launch the first major heavy bomber raid over London. Bombs dropped from 18 Gotha GV aircraft kill 162 people and injure 432.
25th June First US troops arrive in France The first 14,000 U.S. infantry troops land in France at the port of Saint Nazaire. The landing site had been kept secret because of the menace of German submarines.
16th July Aqaba liberated TE Lawrence and the Arabs liberate Aqaba in Jordan after crossing the Nefu desert. This opens the route north for the Arab Army and isolates the Turkish Army in Mesopotamia.
31st July Third Battle of Ypres The Third Battle of Ypres begins along a 15 mile front in Flanders. Initial attacks are successful as the German forward trenches are lightly manned.
20th Septemberimage
Battle of Menin Road Menin Road was the opening action of the second phase of the third battle of Ypres, and was the first time Australian troops were used in this campaign. Troops from the AIF 1st and 2nd divisions successfully attacked German positions near Glencourse Wood as part of a wider operation. Overcoming formidable German positions, they made considerable gains. Again, victory was not without heavy losses, and the two divisions suffered 5,000 casualties.
26th Septemberimage
Battle of Polygon Wood The AIF 5th and 4th divisions attacked the German stronghold of Polygon Wood as a part of the Third Battle of Ypres. This was the second of the three “Plumer Battles”, a series of successful limited-objective set-piece attacks designed by General Plumer, the officer commanding the British II Army. The infantry advanced behind an extremely heavy artillery barrage and, despite suffering 5,770 casualties, gained nearly all of their objectives.
4th Octoberimage
Battle of Broodseinde I and II ANZAC fought alongside each other for the first time since their formation in what was the next step towards the Gheluvelt Plateau. With large amounts of artillery, and attacking on a limited front, the Australian troops successfully captured the German positions on Broodseinde ridge at a cost of 6,500 casualties. The Australians pushed through the German lines of infantry to take all of their objectives along the ridge.
9th October Battle of Poelcapelle The third phase of the Ypres Offensive begins with British and French troops taking Poelcapelle. 25mm of rain falls in the next 48 hours on already saturated ground. The previous bombardments smashed the drainage systems and the battlefield turns into a quagmire.
12th Octoberimage
Passchendaele The last Australian attack during the Third Battle of Ypres attempted to capture the village of Passchendaele. The AIF 3rd Division and the New Zealand Division advanced alongside five British divisions, but were bogged down in the valley well short of their objective. After this, the Australians were relieved by the Canadian Corps to the Messines sector for the winter.
25th October Russian Revolution Following strikes and start of revolution in February, the Soviets took power and formed a Congress (a new Government)
26th October Second Battle of Passchendaele The Second Battle of Passchendaele begins with 20,000 men of the Third and Fourth Canadian Divisions advancing up the hills of the salient. It cost the Allies 12,000 casualties for a gain of a few hundred yards.
31st Octoberimage
Battle of Beersheba The most famous mounted charge involving the Australian Light Horse was carried out against the fixed Turkish defences at Beersheba in Palestine, and followed two failed attempts to capture Gaza. The charge was made by 400–500 troops of the 4th Light Horse Brigade, who galloped into the face of Turkish machine-gun, rifle, and artillery fire and breached the enemy defences. Beersheba fell to the Australian Light Horse with less than 70 casualties. The way was now open for the British to roll up the flanks of the defences at Gaza, which the Turks subsequently abandoned on 6 November.
7th November British capture Gaza The Ottoman army was forced to evacuate Gaza after a week of fighting.
10th November Battle of Passchendaele ends After months of fighting, the Allies have advanced only 5 miles, but have taken the high ground that dominates the salient. Half a million men are casualties, of which around 140,000 have been killed.
20th November Battle of Cambrai During the attack, Royal Flying Corps aircraft drop bombs on German anti-tank guns and strongpoints to clear a path for the Allied tanks and ground troops. It is an early example of the ‘Blitzkrieg’ tactics destined to be used by the Germans so effectively in World War Two.
5th December Armistice between Germany and Russia Following the revolution, Russia agrees an Armistice with Germany, thereby enabling Germany to move men and equipment to the Western Front.
11th December Jerusalem taken Britain liberates Jerusalem, ending 673 years of Turkish rule.
20th Decemberimage
Second Australian conscription referendum This referendum, like the first, rejected conscription by a slim margin.

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