War of the Nations The War of the Nations (New York), December 31, 1919, Library of Congress, American Memory Collection
A group of German dead lying on a sunken road near Moislains, France after the British had stormed the town. British Official Photo, from International Film Service in The War of the Nations (New York), December 31, 1919 , Library of Congress, American Memory Collection
British troops in a support trench enjoying a short period of well-earned rest after the almost ceaseless fighting that drove the foe back to the Hindenburg Line. Canadian Official Photo in The War of the Nations (New York), December 31, 1919. Library of Congress, American Memory Collection
The War of the Nations (New York), December 31, 1919, Library of Congress, American Memory Collection
Technology and War : The Great War saw the introduction of new weapons of mass destruction including machine guns, aerial torpedoes (or, “Flying Pigs”), trench mortars, and rifle grenades. Other new weaponry included flamethrowers, tanks, zeppelins, submarines, or U-boats, and airplanes. The War of the Nations (New York), December 31, 1919, Library of Congress, American Memory Collection
Map of the World showing the Participants in World War I Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:WWI-re.png
The Triple Entente Raymond Poincaré , President of the French Republic King George V of the United Kingdom and Tsar Nicolas II of the Empire of Russia
The Central Powers, or Mittelmächte Clockwise from Top Left: Emperor Franz Josef I of Austria-Hungary, Kaiser Wilhelm II of Germany, Tsar Ferdinand I of Bulgaria, and Mehmed V, Sultan of the Ottoman Empire
The Battle of Mons: Invasion of Belgium (August, 1914) Soldiers of the Imperial German Army advance at Mons . John Singer Sargent (c. 1919-1922) Portrait of John French, 1st Earl of Ypres (1852-1925): Oil on canvas 546 mm x 394 mm, National Portrait Gallery, London, UK
The First Battle of the Marne (September, 1914) Field Marshal Count Helmuth von Moltke, Chief of the German General Staff; and, Joseph Joffre, Commander-in-Chief of the French Army The First Battle of the Marne marked the abandonment of the Schlieffen Plan and set the standard for trench warfare. The battle spared Paris from the invading Germans.
The Battle of Tannenberg: The Eastern Front (August-September, 1914) Field Marshal Paul von Hindenburg and Generalquartiermeister Erich Ludendorff (1917) Russian prisoners and guns captured at Tannenberg (1914). Russian troop movements were hindered by the lack of a modern railway system. The Germans decimated the Russian Second Army.
The Battle of Masurian Lakes (September, 1914) Paul von Rennenkampf, Russian general, 1854-1918, commander of the 1st Russian Army during 1914. The Tsarist army was pushed back across the line along the entire length of the Eastern Front and forced the Russians to evacuate East Prussia. This second Russian defeat raised the profile of Hindenburg and Ludendorff in Germany, while calling into question the Tsarist war effort among an increasingly dispirited Russian public.
The First Battle of Ypres, or The Battle of Flanders (October-November, 1914) The Battle of Ypres actually includes a series of battles over the course of the war. They were fought in and around Ypres, Belgium. The town of Ypres was always under attack from the Germans because it was a key point keeping them from the English Channel. The battles at Flanders and Yser was the end of the ‘Race to the Sea.’ A destroyed German bunker, First Battle of Ypres.
The Gallipoli Campaign: Allied Disaster (April, 1915 – January, 1916) Heavy artillery gun which was originally installed on the German armored cruiser "Roon", somewhere near the Dardanelles (top); The Dardanelles Fleet (below). A trench at Lone Pine after the battle, showing Australian and Turkish dead on the parapet (top, right); Ottoman battery at Gallipoli (bottom, right). Gallipoli was Winston Churchill’s plan to end the war early by creating a new front that the Central Powers could not defend. It was an unmitigated disaster.
The Second Battle of Ypres (April-May, 1915): During this battle, German forces introduced the use of poison gas. It was the first battle in which a former colonial force (Canada) pushed back a major European power (Germany) on European soil at the Battle of St. Julien-Kitchener’s Wood. Second Battle of Ypres , 22 April to May 1915 by Richard Jack (1866 - 1952). Photo mechanical print: 146 x 234 1/2 in, painting, oil on canvas: 371.5 x 589.0 cm.
Sinking of the RMS Lusitania May 7, 1915 The torpedoing of the RMS Lusitania by a German U-Boat turned the tide of public opinion against the German Empire.
The Battle of Verdun (February – December, 1916) Erich von Falkenhayn , Chief of the German General Staff (top); and, General Philippe Pétain (bottom) Le Mort Homme and Hill 287, May 1916 (below). The area around Verdun contained twenty major forts and forty smaller ones that had historically protected the eastern border of France and had been modernized in the early years of the Twentieth Century. The British launched the Battle of the Somme to take pressure off French forces at Verdun The attack on Verdun (the Germans code-named it 'Judgment') was a strategy by the German Chief of General Staff, Erich von Falkenhayn to “bleed France white” by launching a massive German attack on a narrow stretch of land that had historic sentiment for the French – Verdun.
The Battle of the Somme (July-November, 1916) British trench near the Albert–Bapaume road at Ovillers-la-Boisselle, July, 1916, during the Battle of the Somme. The battle thrust new recruits from Kitchener’s Volunteer Army, many seeing live combat for the first time, into a den of hell. The Battle of the Somme was the battle that symbolized the horrors of warfare in World War One; this one battle spiked overall casualty figures and seemed to epitomize the futility of trench warfare. British commanders, especially Douglas Haig, were criticized for their conduct of the battle. The criticism targeted stunning casualty figures suffered by the British and the French. By the end of the battle, the British Army had suffered 420,000 casualties including nearly 60,000 on the first day alone. The French lost 200,000 men and the Germans nearly 500,000.
The Battle of Flers-Courcelette (September 1916) 2nd Battalion, Auckland Regiment, in the Switch Line after the battle (top). An early model British Mark I "male" tank, named C-15, near Thiepval, 25 September 1916 (right). A subsidiary to the Battle of the Somme, the Battle of Flers-Courcelette witnessed the first use of tanks in battle. Although highly unreliable at Flers-Courcelette, the tank forever changed modern warfare. Tanks broke the stalemate of trench warfare at the front and spurred a degree of mobility not seen since the beginning of the war in 1914. Lieutenant-Colonel Winston Churchill criticized the tank’s introduction as premature.
The Battle of Jutland, or Skagerrakschlacht (1916) The Battle of Jutland is considered to be the only major naval battle of the war. The Germans claimed that Jutland was a victory for them as they had sunk more capital ships than the British. Jellicoe claimed that the victory belonged to the British as his fleet was still a sea worthy entity whereas the German High Seas fleet was not. The British did lose more ships (14 ships and over 6,000 lives) than the Germans (9 ships and over 2,500 casualties). But the German fleet was never again to be in a position to put to sea and challenge the British Navy in the North Sea. John Jellicoe, Admiral of the Fleet, United Kingdom (left); and, Vice-Admiral Reinhard Scheer, Kaiserliche Marine (right).
The Zimmermann Telegram (January 6, 1917) <ul><li>On the first of February, we intend to begin unrestricted submarine warfare. In spite of this, it is our intention to endeavor to keep the United States of America neutral. </li></ul><ul><li>In the event of this not succeeding, we propose an alliance on the following basis with Mexico: That we shall make war together and make peace together. We shall give generous financial support, and an understanding on our part that Mexico is to reconquer the lost territory in New Mexico, Texas, and Arizona. The details of settlement are left to you. </li></ul><ul><li>You are instructed to inform the President [of Mexico] of the above in the greatest confidence as soon as it is certain that there will be an outbreak of war with the United States and suggest that the President, on his own initiative, invite Japan to immediate adherence with this plan; at the same time, offer to mediate between Japan and ourselves. </li></ul><ul><li>Please call to the attention of the President that the ruthless employment of our submarines now offers the prospect of compelling England to make peace in a few months . </li></ul>
President Woodrow Wilson announces the break in official relations with the Empire of Germany before a joint session of the U.S. Congress on February 3, 1917 . Source: Photograph by Harris & Ewing .
The February Revolution of 1917 Vladimir Ilyich Lenin
The last known photograph of Nicholas II, taken after his abdication in March 1917. The Romanovs were shot and stabbed to death by the Bolsheviks under the command of Yukov Yurovsky in the town of Ekaterinberg on the night of 16/17 July 1918.
The Battle of Vimy Ridge (April, 1917): The Battle of Vimy Ridge pitted the Canadian Corps against the German Sixth Army. The German defeat prompted the Kaiser’s forces to reassess strategy in the Western theater. The German army retreated to the Oppy-Méricourt line pursuing a scorched earth policy. 4000 German soldiers were captured and an unknown number killed in action. The battle was also notable for advance aerial reconnaissance and underground tunnels. The Battle of Vimy Ridge: color photomechanical print on light card after a painting by Richard Jack (1866 - 1952).
The Battle of Passchendaele , or The Third Battle of Ypres (July, 1917) Soldiers of an Australian 4 th Division field artillery brigade on a duckboard track passing through Chateau Wood, near Hooge in the Ypres salient, 29 October 1917. Aerial view of the village of Passchendaele (north is to the right of the photo) before and after the Third Battle of Ypres.
Australian infantry wearing Small Box Respirators (SBR). The soldiers are from the 45th Battalion, Australian 4 th Division at Garter Point near Zonnebeke, Ypres sector, September 27, 1917 (right). Below: A poison gas attack in World War I.
In Flanders Field <ul><li>In Flanders fields the poppies blow Between the crosses, row on row , That mark our place; and in the sky The larks, still bravely singing, fly Scarce heard amid the guns below . </li></ul><ul><li>We are the dead. Short days ago We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow , Loved, and were loved, and now we lie In Flanders fields . </li></ul><ul><li>Take up our quarrel with the foe : To you from failing hands we throw The torch; be yours to hold it high . If ye break faith with us who die We shall not sleep, though poppies grow In Flanders fields . </li></ul><ul><li>Lieutenant-Colonel John McRae </li></ul><ul><li>(1872 - 1918) </li></ul>McRae’s poem was written in the style of a French rondeau to commemorate the killing of his friend, Lieutenant Alexis Helmer, aged 22-years-old. It was published in the London-based magazine, Punch, on December 8, 1917.
The October Revolution: The Bolsheviks seize power
The Battle of Caporetto (October-November, 1917) Marshal Luigi Cardorna The Battle of Caporetto and the subsequent Italian withdrawal, had a major impact on the Italian Army. The Italians lost 300,000 men - of these, about 270,000 were captured and held as prisoners-of-war. Nearly all artillery guns had been lost. The Italian Army was so devastated after Caporetto that the Allies sent eleven divisions to the region - six French and five British. Both forces were assisted by air power. Despite the disaster at Caporetto, the Italian populace moved closer towards the newly elected government under Prime Minister Vitorrio Orlando. Patriotism rallied the nation and previously popular anti-war sentiments were effectively squashed. A General Strike in 1922 by Italian socialists was defeated prompting Benito Mussolini and the Fascists to call it the ‘Caporetto of Italian Socialism.’
The Rapallo Conference (November, 1917) Following their defeat at Caporetto, the Allied Powers met at Rapallo, Italy and established a unified Supreme War Council at Versailles. The purpose of the council was to centralize command of British and French forces. Field Marshal Ferdinand Foch (right) of France was designated Generalissimo . Grand Cross of Virtuti Militari. Poland’s highest honor for military virtue was awarded to Foch.
The Battle of Cambrai (November-December, 1917) British Mark IV Female Tank, taken during training at Bovington Camp in 1917 (right). Cambria,1919 (below). Cambria was the first battle where tanks were used en masse . In fact, Allied tanks, new artillery, and air power backed by infantry were used to attack the Hindenburg Line at a strategic railhead. While initial mobility was achieved (about 5 miles), the communications and command structure broke down and the British were forced to retreat.
U.S. Army recruitment poster. Library of Congress The United States joined the Entente Powers after declaring war on Germany. The U.S. charged Germany with violating shipping neutrality and cited the Zimmermann Telegram as reasons for entering the war. President Wilson called the conflict a war to make the world safe for democracy.
The Treaty of Brest-Litovsk (March, 1918): In December, 1917 the Central Powers signed an armistice ending hostilities with Russia. The Treaty of Brest-Litvosk was a peace agreement between the Central Powers and the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic (SFSR). Soviet delegation with Leon Trotsky greeted by German officers at Brest-Litovsk, press photo Photocopy of the first two pages of Brest-Litovsk Peace Treaty between Soviet Russia and Germany, March, 1918
April 6, 1917: U.S. Congress declares war on Germany A picture of African-American soldiers marching in France, during WWI. Taken by a U.S. Army corps photographer (above). Doughboy (right) : Portrait of Hugh A. Ball during his enlistment in the US Army as a WWI soldier .
The Harlem Hellfighters, or The Black Rattlers; 369 th Infantry Regiment, New York Army National Guard.
Private Henry Johnson, 369th Infantry Regiment, NYARNG, 1918, wearing his Croix de Guerre (above). Although General John J. Pershing, Commander of the American Expeditionary Force, refused to allow American forces to be placed under European command, the Harlem Hellfighters were ordered to support French troops under French command .
The Battle of Estaires, or The Fourth Battle of Ypres (April, 1918) British 55 th (West Lancashire) Division troops blinded by tear gas await treatment at an Advanced Dressing Station near Bethune during the Battle of Estaires, April 10, 1918, part of the German offensive in Flanders.
The Battle of Amiens (August, 1918) 8th August, 1918 (oil-on-linen, 107 cm x 274 cm, 1918-1919) by Will Longstaff, Australian official war artist . Amiens was the opening of the Allied Hundred Days Offensive leading to the conclusion of World War One on November 11, 1918. The battle was notable as one of the first major offensives heavily reliant on armored vehicles and marked the end of trench warfare on the Western Front.
The Meuse-Argonne Offensive, or the Battle of the Argonne Forest (September - November, 1918) A German Hannover CL IIIa plane (s/n 3892/18) brought down in the Argonne by American machine gunners, between Montfaucon and Cierges, France, on 4 October 1918.The original caption states that the plane is "showing Red Cross painted on wings and fuselage of planes". This is, of course, totally nonsense (probably war propaganda), since the crosses were black with white oulines, being the 1918 German national emblem (above). Below: 328th Infantry Regiment line of advance in capture of Hill 223. October 7, 1918, 82nd Division Argonne Forest, France. (World War I Signal Corps Collection).
The Meuse-Argonne Offensive, or the Battle of the Argonne Forest (September – November, 1918) The Meuse-Argonne Offensive was planned by Generalissimo Ferdinand Foch as a coordinated Allied operation against the German Imperial Army along the entire line of the Western Front (north, center, and south). The military strategy was to break the German’s Hindenburg Line and rout the enemy in a massive offense. The effect of the strategy, if not immediate, was decisive: Germany signed an armistice ending the Great War at 11:00 AM, November 11, 1918.
Armistice Day This photograph was taken in the forest of Compiègne after reaching an agreement for the armistice that ended World War I. This railcar was given to Ferdinand Foch for military use by the manufacturer, Compagnie Internationale des Wagons-Lits. Foch is second from right. November 11, 1918
Armistice Day Celebrations in Toronto, Canada (1918)
The Age of Massacre had begun: In memoriam. Tombe du soldat Henry J. Gollhardt mort au champ d'honneur le 11/11/1918, en France. Cimetière américain de Romagne-sous-Montfaucon. Merci à lui et aux soldats américains.