By RU Twisted
Everyone loves a timeline. Although we will cover more of these subjects throughout our series, here is a basic rundown of the most important events of World War I.
June 28—August 1, 1914: Franz Ferdinand, Archduke of the Astro-Hungarian empire, is assassinated in Sarajevo. Believing that Serbia is responsible, Austria says “we’re coming for you” and gets their gear on. Kaiser Wilhelm II pledges German support, declares war on Russia (which brings France in on the Russian side), and makes an alliance with the Ottoman Empire.
The Month of August, 1914: Germany declares war on France and Belgium and the United Kingdom declares war on Germany. The United States declares neutrality, which was a nice way of saying “we’ll still help our allies but want to see how this plays out. Maybe we’ll join the winning team in the fourth quarter?” France and Britain declare war on Austria-Hungary, Japan declares war on Germany, and in the period of one month the world has gone from thinking it was too enlightened for war to bodies, bullets, and bombs being thrown around like dollar bills at a strip club, as August comes to a close with the Battle of Tannenberg, in which Russia suffers 78,000 killed or wounded and another 92,000 taken as prisoners of war.
September—December 31, 1914: German invasion of France is stopped at the First Battle of the Marne, Germans are stopped by Allies at the First Battle of Ypres, and then everyone comes out of their trenches at Christmas to play soccer and sing Christmas carols on the Western front. The year closes with France, Germany, and Russia each suffering military deaths in the hundreds of thousands.
January—May, 1915: Bread rationing is introduced in Germany, much to the thrill of its citizens; Turkey begins disarming its Armenian population; Germany threatens submarine attacks against British merchant ships due to the fact that Germany can’t get food (hunger is a huge motivator when it comes to killing), then sinks the Lusitania, killing over 1,000 passengers. They then introduce poison gas at the Second Battle of Ypres, killing over 5,000 Allied troops in its first use.
June—December, 1915: Allied offensive on Gallipoli fails; Turkey embraces bread lines (because who wouldn’t??); Serbia is invaded by everyone who doesn’t like them; women in Great Britain protest for the right to work in wartime factories. By the end of 1915, death tolls are counted in the millions.
January—May, 1916: US President Woodrow Wilson tries to organize a peace conference, to which the rest of the world thumbs its nose because losing millions of soldiers seems to make more sense. The Battle of Verdun begins February 21 with Germany unleashing a massive artillery offensive, storm troopers, and flame throwers. By February 26, the Germans had advanced approximately 1.9 miles while incurring 25,000 losses to the French’s 24,000. By the end of May, Britain has instituted universal conscription and casualties are well into six figures.
June—December, 1916: The Battle of Jutland in the North Sea, continued fighting at Verdun, and a new offensive and re-engagement of the Russian Army along a 300-mile Eastern front are all underway by July. The infamous Battle of the Somme gets fully underway on July 1st when British forces suffer their worst day of fighting in their history when over 18,000 soldiers are killed as they advance in daylight, walking side by side, towards German machine guns. Germany enacts martial law, with all sectors of the economy regulated heavily to channel everything towards the war effort. Woodrow Wilson wins a reelection on the slogan, “he kept us out of war.”
January—March, 1917: The famed Zimmerman Telegram, which outlines Germany’s plan to ally with Mexico and aid them in invading the Southwestern United States, is intercepted by British Intelligence. Germany sinks 500 ships in 60 days, one of which was the Housatonic, prompting the United States to end all diplomatic relations with Germany. March sees the Russian Revolution, which resulted in the end of over 300 years of Romanov rule and the rising to power of Vladimir Lenin. Mass numbers of Russian soldiers mutiny so they can join the revolution, leaving the Eastern Front undefended.
April, 1917: United States declares war on Germany on April 6. British Forces suffer over 100,000 casualties while attempting to advance along the Western Front in the Nivelle Offensive before Nivelle is relieved of command.
May—June: 1917: US Congress passes the Selective Service Act, hoping to grow the Army from 145,000 to over 4 million. Russia’s provisional government promises to stay in the war, though no one is sure how that’s possible, given their civil unrest. Massive mutiny among French troops results in the heaviest burden of fighting falling on the British, who proceed to tunnel under German forces on the Messines Ridge and detonate enough explosives to cause 10,000 Germans to disappear instantly. American troops hit the ground on June 25.
July—December, 1917: The Third Battle of Ypres results in tons of explosions, assaults, dead people, and very little else. T.E. Lawrence convinces Arabs to fight against Turks, setting off a chain of events in that region that carries much further than anyone could have ever realized. The British launch the first-ever massive attack using tanks against German lines in France and subsequently capping the year off by capturing Jerusalem from the Turks—ending four centuries of Ottoman Empire control of that city.
December 18, 1917: US Congress passes the Prohibition Amendment on the grounds that it will make Americans more fit to fight (more on this in subsequent article).
January—March, 1918: President Wilson outlines his 14 points to Congress and Russia bows out of the contest by signing a peace treaty that results in a significant shift of land and resources to Germany. The first report of Spanish Flu at Camp Funston (modern day Ft. Riley), which results in over half a million American deaths and ultimately kills far more people around the world than the war itself.
April—July, 1918: Germany’s last-ditch effort for an offensive stalls out because the troops are tired and haven’t eaten, and because they meet up on the field of battle for the first time with this thing called “America.” The American Expeditionary Force (AEF), commanded by General John Pershing, sees its first significant action at the Battle of Belleau-Wood, which results in 5,000 Americans killed. 10,000 fresh American troops arrive every day, as Spanish Flu victims begin to exceed war casualties.
August—November, 1918: American forces suffer 75,000 casualties in a six week period between the Meuse River and the Argonne Forest. After listening to his generals, Kaiser Wilhelm II requests an armistice, yet continues battlefield operations, which at this point has turned rather chaotic. The Czechs and the Slovakians declare independence from Hungary, resulting in the forming of Czechoslovakia, Turkey signs an armistice (after committing mass genocide against their Armenian population), and Austria-Hungary sign as well.
November 9, 1918: The Kaiser’s Imperial government is, to put it bluntly, kaput.
November 11, 1918: Germany signs the armistice, effectively ending World War I.
1919: the Paris Peace Conference, the League of Nations, and the Treaty of Versailles are all of extreme importance and will be covered in the “after affects” of WWI.