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Cheat Sheet

First World War For Dummies

From First World War For Dummies by Seán Lang

Getting a bit lost in the battles and events of the First World War isn’t hard, so this Cheat Sheet offers up a handy timeline that puts some of the war’s key events into order for you. It shows how events in different theatres of war related to each other and gives you a bird’s eye view of the way the war developed as a whole. You'll also find a map that shows you locations of the war zones and key battles.

Key Events of the First World War

Many different battles were fought in the First World War and a case can be made for the importance of them all. This list includes some of the most important ones, which had an impact on the whole shape of the war.

  • 1914

    • 28 June: Austro-Hungarian Archduke Franz Ferdinand is shot in Sarajevo, the capital of Bosnia-Herzegovina

    • 23 July: Austria-Hungary issues an ultimatum to Serbia

    • 29 July: Austria-Hungary invades Serbia

    • 1 August: Germany declares war on Russia

    • 4 August: Germany invades Belgium; Britain declares war on Germany

    • August: The Russians are heavily defeated by the Germans at Tannenberg; the British retreat from Belgium after holding up the German advance at the Battle of Mons

    • September: The Germans are turned back from Paris after the Battle of the Marne; the Russians besiege the Austro-Hungarians at Przemysl

    • October: The Race to the Sea – the Germans and the British and French try to outflank each other but end up with an unbroken line of trenches along the whole Western Front

    • November: The German raider Emden is sunk by the Australian cruiser HMAS Sydney; the Germans defeat a British invasion of German East Africa at the Battle of Tanga

    • December: British and German soldiers declare an informal Christmas Truce amidst the deadlock of the Western Front

  • 1915

    • March: The Allied naval attack on the Dardanelles commences; the Russians take Przemysl; the British attack on the Western Front at Neuve Chapelle

    • April: Italy signs the Treaty of London and agrees to join the war on the Allied side; Allied troops land at Gallipoli; the Germans use poison gas during the Battle of Ypres

    • May: The British passenger ship Lusitania is sunk by a German U-boat; the first Zeppelin raid on London takes place

    • September: The Russian Tsar, Nicholas II, takes sole command of the Russian army

    • October: Allied troops land at Salonika; British nurse Edith Cavell is executed in Brussels by the Germans; Bulgaria enters the war on Germany’s side

    • October‒November: Austria-Hungary crushes Serbia

  • 1916

    • February: Britain introduces conscription; the Germans attack at Verdun

    • April: The British surrender at Kut al-Amarah, in Mesopotamia; the Easter Rising takes place in Dublin

    • 31 May: The British and German fleets fight the indecisive Battle of Jutland off the coast of Denmark

    • June: The Russian Brusilov Offensive breaks through Austrian lines in Poland; the Arab Revolt against Turkish rule begins

    • 1 July: The Allies attack the Germans on the opening day of the Battle of the Somme

    • August: Romania enters the war on the Allied side but is quickly defeated

    • September: The British use tanks for the first time, in the Battle of the Somme

    • December: David Lloyd George becomes the British Prime Minister

  • 1917

    • January: The French General Nivelle launches his disastrous offensive

    • February: The Russian Revolution overthrows Tsar Nicholas II

    • April: Canadian troops take Vimy Ridge; the United States enters the war; after the failure of General Nivelle’s offensive, the French army mutinies

    • June: The British take Messines Ridge; German bomber attacks are made on London

    • July: The Kerensky Offensive – Russia’s last attack of the war – fails

    • October: The British attack at Passchendaele; the Italians are defeated by the Austro-Hungarian army at Caporetto; the Bolshevik Revolution in Russia begins

    • November: The British launch the first massed tank attack, against the Germans, at the Battle of Cambrai

    • December: The British take Jerusalem from the Turks

  • 1918

    • January: US President Woodrow Wilson outlines his Fourteen Points for peace

    • March: The German Spring Offensive (The Kaiser Battle) begins; the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk confirms Russian withdrawal from the war

    • July: The German advance towards Paris is stopped at the River Marne

    • August: The British attack at Amiens and push the Germans back to the Hindenburg Line

    • September: French and American attacks on German positions take place in the Meuse-Argonne region

    • October: The Italians attack the Austro-Hungarians successfully at Vittorio Veneto; the British defeat the Turks at the Battle of Megiddo and conquer Palestine

    • November: The German Kaiser, Wilhelm II, abdicates; an armistice is agreed between the Germans and the Allied commander, Marshal Foch

  • 1919

    • January: The Paris Peace Conference opens

    • 28 June: Germany signs the Treaty of Versailles

The European and Middle Eastern Fronts of the First World War

The fighting in the First World war was heavily concentrated in Europe and the Middle East. This map shows the main fronts of the war: the Western and Eastern Fronts, Gallipoli, Italy, Serbia, Salonika, Mesopotamia and Palestine.

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