World War 1: The Complete Guide to Ace Your Test

Conflict has played a role in human civilization since its inception, but it was World War I that first introduced warfare to the global stage and brought a deadly arsenal of new military technology along with it. Though tensions over foreign policy had been building for some time prior, it was the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand that triggered the beginning of World War I in 1914 and pitted the world’s biggest powers against each other.

The Central Powers of Germany, Austria-Hungary and the Ottoman Empire stood in one corner of the global ring and the Allied forces of Great Britain, the United States, France, Russia, Italy and Japan stood in the other. The Allied Powers claimed victory four years later in 1918 but not before more than 16 million people lost their lives in what was an unprecedented level of death and destruction.

World War I Timeline

1914

June 28

  • A Bosnian Serb Nationalist named Gavrilo Princip assassinated Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his pregnant wife

July 5

July 28

  • Austria-Hungary declared war on Serbia

August 1

August 3

  • Germany declared war on France

August 4

  • Britain declared war on Germany
  • Germany declared war on Belgium

August 5

  • Montenegro declared war on Austria-Hungary

August 10

  • Austria-Hungary invaded Russia

August 13

  • Japan declared war on Germany

August 23

  • Germany invaded France

August 26

  • Germany defeated Russia at the Battle of Tannenberg

September 6

  • The Battle of the Marne began

October 18

  • The Battle of Ypres began

October 29

  • Turkey entered the war in support of Germany. Trench warfare began to take over the Western Front

November 2

  • Russia declared war on Turkey

November 5

  • Britain and France declared war on Turkey

1915

January 19

  • First airship raid on Britain

February 19

  • Allied forces began a naval attack on Turkish forts in the Dardanelles

April 25

  • Allied forces landed on the Gallipoli Peninsula of the Ottoman Empire

May 7

  • A German submarine sank the passenger liner Lusitania

May 23

  • Italy declared war on Germany and Austria-Hungary

August 5

  • Germany captured Warsaw from the Russians

September 25

  • The Battle of Loos began

December 19

  • Allied forces began evacuating Gallipoli

1916

February 21

  • Battle of Verdun began

April 29

  • British forces surrendered to Turkish forces at Kut in Mesopotamia

May 31

  • Battle of Jutland began

June 4

  • The Brusilov Offensive began

July 1

  • The Battle of the Somme began

August 10

  • The Brusilov Offensive ended

September 1

  • Bulgaria declared war on Rumania

December 7

  • Lloyd George became British prime minister

1917

February 1

  • Germany began an unrestricted submarine warfare campaign

April 6

  • The United States declared war on Germany

April 16

  • France launched an offensive on the Western Front but was unsuccessful

July 31

  • The Third Battle at Ypres began

November 6

  • Britain launched a major offensive on the Western Front

November 20

  • British tanks claimed victory at Cambrai

December 5

  • Germany and Russia signed an armistice

December 9

  • Britain captured Jerusalem from Turkey

1918

March 3

  • Russia and Germany signed the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk

March 21

  • Germany broke through on the Somme

March 29

  • Marshal Foch was appointed Allied commander on the Western Front

April 9

  • Germany began an offensive in Flanders

July 15

  • Second Battle of the Marne began
  • The German army began to collapse

August 8

  • Successful advance of the Allies

September 19

  • Turkish forces collapsed at Megiddo

October 4

  • Germany requested an armistice from the Allies

October 29

  • Germany’s navy mutinied

October 30

  • Turkey made peace

November 3

  • Austria made peace

November 9

  • Kaiser Wilhelm II abdicated

November 11

  • Germany signed an armistice with the Allies ending World War I

Read more: What Happened During the Early Weeks of WWI?

World War I Fast Facts

  • World War I officially started on July 28, 1914, and ended on November 11, 1918.
  • It was a Serbian terrorist group called the Black Hand that planned the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand, which Bosnian revolutionary Gavrilo Princip carried out.
  • Foreign policy differences between major world powers was an underlying cause of the war.
  • World War I was known by several other names, such as The Great War, The War to End All Wars, The War of the Nations and WWI.
  • The United States joined World War I in response to the 128 Americans who were killed when a German submarine sank the British passenger ship Lusitania in 1915.  
  • World War I ushered in the first use of chemical weapons, such as mustard gas. There were 8 million soldier casualties in the war and 21 million more injured.
  • The United States's direct involvement in actual combat only spanned seven and a half months, which resulted in 116,000 casualties and 204,000 wounded.
  • The Russian, Ottoman, German and Austro-Hungarian empires all collapsed by the end of 1918 because of the war.
  • The Treaty of Versailles, which was signed in 1919, officially ended World War I by requiring Germany to accept responsibility for the war, make reparations, surrender some of its territories and restrict the size of its military. The treaty was also designed to prevent future wars through the establishment of the League of Nations, which helped to rebuild Europe.
  • Despite resentment by some Germans toward the Treaty of Versailles, Germany officially joined the League of Nations in 1926 but then withdrew in 1933 along with Japan. Three years later, Italy also withdrew from the League of Nations. The League of Nations was powerless over the German, Italian and Japanese expansion of power and subsequent conquering of smaller countries.  
  • An explosion on the battlefield in France was so loud that it was heard in England.
  • Journalists risked their lives and those who were caught faced execution during World War I.
  • Every week during the war, 12 million letters were delivered to the frontline.
  • Injuries during the war led a surgeon named Dr. Harold Gillies to develop facial reconstruction techniques and invent plastic surgery.
  • More than 250,000 underage soldiers fought in the war. The youngest British soldier was only 12 years old.
  • American army doctor Captain Oswald Johnson established the first blood bank on the Western Front in 1917.
  • Most British soldiers survived the trenches, with nine out of 10 making it out alive.
  • To avoid losing highly trained and experienced leaders, army generals were banned from going “over the top” and putting their lives at higher risk.

Read more: Types of Weapons Invented for WWI

World War I Movies

World War I inspired the creation of countless movies, including:

  • The Water Diviner (2014)
  • War Horse (2011)
  • Beneath Hill 60 (2010)
  • The Admiral (2008)
  • Passchendaele (2008)
  • The Ode to Joy (2006)
  • Joyeux Noel (2005)
  • A Very Long Engagement (2004)
  • Max (2002)
  • Behind the Lines (1997)

Read more: What Caused Germany to Become a Dictatorship After WWI?