The World War I portal
World War I (abbreviated WWI), also known as the First World War, the Great War and The War to End all Wars was a global military conflict that took place mostly in Europe between 1914 and 1918. The main combatants were the Allied Powers, led by France, the Russian Empire, the British Empire, Serbia, Belgium, and later Italy, Romania and the United States, who fought against the Central Powers: Austria-Hungary, the German Empire, Bulgaria, and the Ottoman Empire (present day Turkey).
Much of the fighting in World War I took place along the Western Front, within a system of opposing manned trenches and fortifications (separated by a "no man's land") running from the North Sea to the border of Switzerland. On the Eastern Front, the vast eastern plains and limited rail network prevented a trench warfare stalemate from developing, although the scale of the conflict was just as large. Hostilities also occurred on and under the sea and — for the first time — in the air. More than nine million soldiers died on the various battlefields, and millions more civilians perished.
The war caused the disintegration of four empires: the Austro-Hungarian, German, Ottoman, and Russian. Germany lost its overseas empire, and states such as Czechoslovakia and Yugoslavia were created, or recreated, as in the cases of Lithuania and Poland. This contributed to a decisive break with the world order that had emerged after the Napoleonic Wars, which was modified by the mid-19th century’s nationalistic revolutions. The results of World War I would also be important factors in the development of World War II just over two decades later.
The 1916 Battle of the Somme was one of the largest battles of the First World War, with more than one million casualties, and also one of the bloodiest battles in human history. The Allied forces attempted to break through the German lines along a 25-mile (40 km) front north and south of the River Somme in northern France. One purpose of the battle was to draw German forces away from the Battle of Verdun; however, by its end the losses on the Somme had exceeded those at Verdun. While Verdun would bite deep in the national consciousness of France for generations, the Somme would have the same effect on generations of Britons. The battle is best remembered for its first day, 1 July 1916, on which the British suffered 57,470 casualties, including 19,240 dead — the bloodiest day in the history of the British Army to this day. As terrible as the battle was for the British Empire troops who suffered there, it naturally affected the other nationalities as well. One German officer famously described it as "the muddy grave of the German field army." By the end of the battle, the British had learnt many lessons in modern warfare while the Germans had suffered irreplaceable losses. British official historian Sir James Edmonds stated, "It is not too much to claim that the foundations of the final victory on the Western Front were laid by the Somme offensive of 1916." For the first time the home front in Britain was exposed to the horrors of modern war with the release of the propaganda film The Battle of the Somme, which used actual footage from the first days of the battle.
The Paris Gun (German: Parisgeschütz) was the name of an artillery piece with which the Germans bombarded Paris during World War I. This oversized railway gun was used from March to August 1918. When it was used, Parisians believed they were being bombed by an airship, because neither the sound of an airplane nor of a gun could be heard. It was the largest gun used during the war, and is considered to be a supergun.
Also called the "Kaiser Wilhelm Geschütz" (Kaiser Wilhelm Gun), it is often confused with Big Bertha, the howitzer used by the Germans against the fortified position of Liège in 1914, and indeed the French called it by this name as well. It is also confused with the smaller "Langer Max" (Long Max) cannons from which it was derived. Although the famous Krupp-family artillery makers produced all these guns, the resemblance ended there.
"There seems to be something wrong with our bloody ships today."
Australian soldiers in Chateau Wood, near Hooge, in the Ypres Salient, 29 October, 1917.
Photo credit: Frank Hurley.
David Beatty, 1st Earl Beatty (17 January 1871 – 11 March 1936), was an admiral in the Royal Navy. During World War I, he took part in actions at Heligoland Bight (1914), Dogger Bank (1915) and Jutland (1916). He was an aggressive commander who expected his subordinates to always use their initiative without direct orders from himself. The Battle of Jutland proved to be decisive in Beatty's career, despite the loss of two of his battlecruisers. Beatty is reported to have remarked "there seems to be something wrong with our bloody ships today" after two of them had exploded within half an hour during the battle.
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From the World War I task force of the Military history WikiProject: