A Brief look at the Great War

The major dates of the First World War:


28 June: Archduke Franz Ferdinand, heir to the Austrian-Hungarian Empire is assassinated in Sarajevo.
28 July: Austria-Hungary declares war on Serbia.
31 July: Jean Jaurès is assassinated in Paris.
1 August: General mobilisation decreed in France and Germany.
3 August: Germany declares war on France.
4 August: Britain declares war on Germany – Message from French President Raymond Poincaré: L’Union Sacrée (Sacred Union).
28-30 August: Fighting takes place in the Somme during the French retreat.
2 September: The Germans reach Senlis – the French Government leaves Paris for Bordeaux.
22-27 September: Fighting during the Race to the Sea from the north of the Avre to the north of Albert (in the Somme).


Blaise Cendrars serves in the Somme.
15 February: Beginning of attempted breakthrough in Champagne.
25 February: Beginning of the Dardanelles Campaign.
22 April: First use of asphyxiating gas at Langemark near Ypres.
23 May: Italy enters the war with the Allies.
25 September: Beginning of 2nd attempted breakthrough in Champagne and 3rd in Artois.
December: Inter-allied conference at Joffre’s GHQ calling for a large scale offensive on the Somme.


21 February: Beginning of the Battle of Verdun.
19 May: Due to the German attack on Verdun, Joffre reduces French involvement in the planned Battle of the Somme.
24 June: Beginning of artillery preparations for the Battle of the Somme.
29 June: Due to rain and insufficient preparations, the attack is postponed.
1 July: Beginning of the Battle of the Somme: total failure in the North, more success in the South: the British take Mametz and Montauban. The French make good progression. 57,470 British soldiers are made casualty.
18 November: End of the Battle of the Somme – Death of François-Joseph.
18 December: End of the Battle of Verdun resulting in 240,000 German and 275,000 French.
25 December: Marshal of France General Joffre is replaced by General Nivelle as commander of the French forces – Conscription is introduced in Great Britain – All German men between 17 and 60 are called up.

Zoom on the Battle of the Somme : the offensive of summer 16

1 eJuly: Beginning of the Battle of the Somme; the battle fails in the North, but is more successful in the South. The British take Mametz and Montauban. The French make good progression. 57,470 British are made casualty.
14 July: 2nd large scale attack. On a narrower front, the British attack the 2nd German lines. The The South Africans attack Delville Wood (Somme). Battle of Attrition.
23 July: British attack from Guillemont (Somme) to Pozières (Somme), position taken by the Australians on the 25th.
3 August: First release of “Le Feu” (Under Fire) by Henri Barbusse as a supplement in ‘L’Oeuvre’.
3 September: General Allied attack from the river Ancre to Chilly. The British take Guillemont (Somme) and the French Soyécourt (Somme).
5 September: The Canadians relieve the Australians in front of Mouquet Farm.
9 September: Ginchy is captured and held by the 16th Irish Division.
15 September: 3rd big push and first use of tanks during the Battle of Flers-Courcelette.
British tanks are used for the first time.
26 September: Beginning of a Franco-British offensive from Martinpuich to the river Somme. Thiepval and Combles fall to the Allies.
7 October: Allied offensive from Courcelette to Bouchavesnes. The British take Le Sars. Rain slows progress. War of attrition
18 November: End of the Battle of the Somme – Death of François-Joseph.


8 January: Beginning of the first wave of strikes in France.
8 to 12 March: First Russian revolution.
16 March: The Germans strategically withdraw to the Hindenburg Line, systematically destroying the land they leave behind.
2 April: The United States of America enters the war.
16 April: Beginning of offensive on the Chemin des Dames – French tanks used for the first time.
15 May: General Pétain takes command of the French Army – Mutiny in the French Army.
6 November: The Bolsheviks take power.
16 November: Clémenceau is made president of the Council.


21 March: German Spring Offensive begins.
23 March: First bombardments of Paris by the ‘Big Bertha’.
26 March: Conference at Doullens, the principles of a joint, coordinated command are established.
27 May: German offensive on the Chemin des Dames.
15 July: German offensive in Champagne.
18 July: French counter-attack – 2nd Battle of the Marne.
8 August: Battle of Amiens – Beginning of the Allied general offensive.
October: The Spanish flu epidemic reaches full peak.
9 November: Emperor William II abdicates – Proclamation by the German Republic.
11 November: Germany signs the Armistice.


28 June: The peace treaty with Germany is signed in the Hall of Mirrors at Versailles.
14 July: Victory Parade in Paris.


11 November: The French unknown Soldier is buried beneath the Arc de Triomphe in Paris.