World War I, often called ‘The Great War’, was thought to be the ‘war to end all wars’. The war began with the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand in 1914. The Central Powers of Germany, Bulgaria, Austro-Hungary and Turkey fought against the Allied forces, which included Britain, France and Russia, as well as a number of other countries. The war ended in 1918 when the Central Powers surrendered to the Allies.
During WWI, tanks were used for the first time in battle. The British Mark IV, introduced in 1918, was the first tank strong enough to withstand anti-tank rifles.
Battle of Jutland
The largest sea battle fought during WWI occurred in the North Sea near Jutland, Denmark. Both the Allies and the Central Powers claimed that they had won.
The Western Front
Fighting was fiercest in the trenches, built through Belgium and France and Known as the Western Front. The war claimed over 8.5 million lives.
Trench systems were made up of interconnecting dugouts. The land between the two opposing trenches was called ‘no-man’s-land’. The tops of the trenches were lined with sandbags to absorb enemy fire. Soldiers in the muddy, cold and unsanitary trenches suffered from trench foot, dysentery and body lice.
War in the air
Dogfights were battles in the air between two or more aircraft, fitted with machine guns. The German Fokker D VII was considered to be the best fighter plane of the war.
Poison Gas was used for the first time in 1915 at Y pres. Although soldiers had masks for protection, over 90,000 men died from the poison.
British soldiers called ‘roughriders’ trained though horse breeds, such as the Australian Waler, to haul ambulances and weaponry.
Snipers were trained marksmen who looked for movement in the enemy trench, trying to pick off lone soldiers.
Grenades are bombs thrown by hand. Soldiers were also supplied with bayonets, short blades which could be attached to rifles. These were used in close combat.