Western Front: 1914

poppy-224th December 1914: The Christmas truce broke out spontaneously along the Western Front between British and German soldiers, particularly around the Belgium town of Ploegsteert. On Christmas Eve and Christmas Day soldiers from both sides ventured out into no-man’s land to exchange gifts and make-shift games of football were played.

16th December 1914: The German First High Sea fleet bombards English coastal towns Hartlepool, Whitby and Scarborough, killing 137 civilians and proving that the British mainland is susceptible to attack.

22nd November 1914: In the wake of the Battle of the Marne, a conflict both sides had expected to be short and decisive turns longer and bloodier and Allied and German forces begin digging the first trenches on the Western Front on September 15, 1914. Two months later they stretch along the entire Western Front from the Belgium coast to the Swiss border.

29th October 1914: Turkey and the Ottoman Empire enter the war on the side of Germany.

19th October 1914: The First Battle of Ypres begins. A strategic location, Ypres was the last obstacle between the Germans and the key Channel ports of Calais and Boulogne-Sur-Mer.

16th October 1914: The Battle of the Yser commences and the Belgium army succeeds in halting the German army, enabling the Belgians to retain a tiny portion of their country. The end of the fighting on 31st October marks the end of the ‘Race to the Sea’ and open country fighting on the Western Front.

17th September 1914: The ‘Race to the Sea’ commences with both German and Franco-British armies trying to outflank each other, moving northwards all the time.

13th September 1914: End of the German advance and the so called ‘Battle of the Frontiers’ phase of fighting on the Western Front

6th September 1914: The First Battle of Marne checks German advance at the cost of 13,000 British, 250,000 French and 250,000 German casualties.

26th August 1914: The Battle of Le Cateau begins. The BEF suffers 7,812 casualties and is forced to retreat.

23rd August 1914: BEF started its retreat from Mons. Though initially planned as a simple tactical withdrawal, the British retreat from Mons lasted two weeks and took them to the outskirts of Paris before it counter attacked at the Battle of the Marne.

11th August 1914: Volunteer recruiting starts in UK and the ‘Your King and Country Need You’ slogan is published, calling for the first 100,000 men to enlist for Kitchener’s New Army. The call is answered within two weeks.

7th August 1914: The first British Expeditionary Force lands in France. The 120,000 highly trained members of the regular British Army form the British Expeditionary Force (BEF) commanded by Field Marshal John French land in France.

6th August 1914: Royal Navy cruiser HMS Amphion is sunk by German mines in the North Sea, causing the death of 150 men and the first British casualties of war.

4th August 1914: Britain declares war on Germany. Germany invades Belgium to outflank the French army as part of the Schlieffen Plan. Britain protests the violation of Belgian neutrality, guaranteed by a treaty signed in 1839. Australia quickly pledged its support for Britain.

3rd August 1914: Germany declares war on France. Two days after declaring war on Russia, Germany declares war on France, moving ahead with a long-held strategy, conceived by the former chief of staff of the German army, Alfred von Schlieffen, for a two-front war against France and Russia. Hours later, France makes its own declaration of war against Germany, readying its troops to move into the provinces of Alsace and Lorraine, which it had forfeited to Germany in the settlement that ended the Franco-Prussian War in 1871.

1st August 1914: Germany declares war on Russia. In response to the Russian mobilization, Germany declares war on Russia. French order military mobilization in accordance with the Franco-Russian Alliance signed in 1892.

28th July 1914: Austria-Hungary declares war on Serbia and Russia mobilizes troops in support of Serbia.

archduke-franz-ferdinand-sophie-1914.jpg5th July 1914: Germany gives Austria-Hungary ‘blank cheque’ assurance. Kaiser Wilhelm II of Germany pledges his country’s unconditional support for whatever action Austria-Hungary chooses to take in its conflict with Serbia.

28th June 1914: Archduke Franz Ferdinand, heir to the throne of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and his wife Sophie are assassinated in Sarajevo, Bosnia. They were shot by the Bosnian Serb and Yugoslav nationalist Gavrilo Princip.


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