World War One Timeline
Events of 1917
Germany announces the continuation of unrestricted submarine warfare, hoping to starve Britain into submission.
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.
The Great German Withdrawal begins. They will evacuate Serre, Miraumont, Petit Miraumont, Pys and Warlencourt, falling back 25 miles to establish stronger positions along the Hindenburg Line.
Turkish retreat to Baghdad, abandoning Kut in Mesopotamia.
Baghdad is taken by the British after three days fighting.
Tsar Nicholas II abdicates as Moscow falls to Russian Revolutionaries. Demise of the Russian Army frees German troops for the
The First Battle of Gaza, Palestine, as the British attempt to cut off the Turkish forces in Mesopotamia from their homeland. They fail to take the town and are forced to withdraw.
US declares war on Germany. Troops begin to mobilise immediately.
The Battle of Arras. The British successfully employ new tactics of creeping barrages, the 'graze fuse' and counter battery fire.
The Second Battle of Aisne begins as part of the 'Nivelle Offensive'. Losses are horrendous, triggering mutinies within the French Army.
The Second Battle of Gaza begins in Palestine. The plan consists of nothing more than to throw troops against well prepared Turkish positions. It is eventually called off due to mounting casualties
- a loss of 6,000.
The Battle of Messines Ridge. The British take the ridge with few casualties, as it is preceded by the detonation of 19 mines under the German front lines. The explosions are reportedly heard
Germans launch the first major heavy bomber raid over London. Bombs dropped from 18 Gotha GV aircraft kill 162 people and
First US troops arrive in France.
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.
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.
The Battle of Lens (Hill 70). Canadian troops are in the vanguard of this assault. Hill 70 is only 15 feet higher than the surrounding landscape but it dominates the battlefield. The Canadians take
the hill and hold it against five German counter attacks. Allies lose 9,200 men.
The Third Battle of Verdun begins. French progress is marked by gaining lost territory in the earlier battles.
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.
The British launch their latest assaults at Ypres against the Passchendaele Ridge. New Zealand and Australian divisions in the vanguard of the attack take terrible casualties, then are bogged down in the mud and are forced back to their start lines.
The last airship raid on Britain is carried out by 11 Zeppelins.
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.
Reinforced with the addition of two British divisions, a second offensive is launched in torrential rains to capture Passchendaele.
The Allies hold the town for the next five days in the face of repeated German shelling and counterattacks.
Battle of Beersheba, Palestine. British forces take the town capturing 1,800 Turkish troops. This leaves the way open for the advance
British capture Gaza.
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.
The Battle of Cambrai begins. 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.
Britain liberates Jerusalem, ending 673 years of Turkish rule.