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History

The First World War

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The Course of the War, 1914−1918

The War had five phases:

  1. The War of Movement (August‒September 1914)

    • The Germans invaded France, but were stopped at the Battle of the Marne (September 1914).

    • The British Expeditionary Force (BEF) helped to stop the Germans at the Battle of Mons (23 August 1914)

    • The Russians invaded Germany but were destroyed at the Battle of Tannenberg (August 1914)

  2. The Race to the Sea (September‒November 1914)

    • On the Western Front, both sides dug a 400-mile line of trenches from Switzerland to the English Channel.

  3. Stalemate (1915)

    • There was a stalemate (neither side could defeat the other).

    • On the Western Front, attacks on the German trenches led to huge casualties.

    • Britain's attempt to open up a 'Second Front' at Gallipoli in Turkey was a failure.

  4. The War of Attrition (1916‒1918)

    The two sides simply tried to wear each other down:

    • Huge battles, eg Verdun and the Somme in 1916, Passchendaele in 1917, lasted many months. Millions of men died or were wounded.

    • New weapons, eg poison gas, tanks and aeroplanes, failed to make much effect.

    • Terrible conditions in the trenches. Casualties from machine gun and artillery fire.

    • The British blockaded German ports to try to starve the Germans into surrender. In October 1918 there was a revolution in Germany.

    • German U-boats tried to starve the British by sinking merchant ships – but this angered the Americans.

    • German Zeppelins [zeppelins: Cigar-shaped German airships. and Gotha planes bombed London.

  5. The End of the War

    • America entered the war in 1917.

    • In March 1918 the Germans launched Operation Michael – a huge last-ditch attack.

    • On 8 August 1918, the German Army's 'Black Day', their attack was defeated.

    • The Allies, with the Americans, began to push back the Germans. The Allies and Germany signed a ceasefire, or 'armistice [armistice: An agreement by both sides in a war to stop fighting.', at 11am on 11 November 1918.

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