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World War I (1914–1918) Remembering 100 Years
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Assassination of Franz Ferdinand
Serbian Gavrilo Princip assassinates Archduke Franz Ferdinand, heir to the throne of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, in Sarajevo after Bosnia-Herzegovina is annexed into Austria.Map
Austria-Hungary Declares War on Serbia
A month after the assassination of the archduke, Austria-Hungary declares war on Serbia, beginning the First World War. A series of alliances quickly brings Germany, Russia, and France into the conflict.
Germany Declares War on Russia and France
After Germany declares war on Russia and France in the first days of August, the Germany military quickly mobilizes its troops and invades Belgium, who had remained neutral.
Great Britain Enters the War
On 4 August 1914, the United Kingdom declares war on Germany, and as part of the British Empire, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, and India enter a state of war.Read more
Battle of Tannenberg
Germans decimate Russian forces in a maneuver aided by intercepted radio communications and discord among Russian generals. Some 92,000 Russian fighters are taken as prisoners of war.Map
First Battle of the Marne
Germany invades France, sparking a week-long Franco-British counterattack, including a rush of soldiers to the frontlines in taxis and buses. Strategic offensives by Allies result in a German retreat.Map
First Battle of Ypres
In October of 1914, the First Battle of Ypres finds countries battling to control ports in Northern France. The muddy struggle of trench warfare is many soldiers’ first taste of the Great War.Map
Canada’s First Contingent Arrives
After completing basic training, Canada’s First Contingent consisting of more than 25,000 soldiers arrives in England on 14 October 1914. They go on to fight in the Second Battle of Ypres the following spring.
First Zeppelin Raids on England
In the middle of the night, the Norfolk Coast explodes with terrifying noise as enormous German airships drop bombs on Great Britain for the first time.
Princess Patricia Lands in France
Members of the Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry are the first Canadian troops to arrive at the Front in December 1914 and the first Canadian unit committed to the Great War.
Around Christmas Day in December 1914, the bloody struggle of the Great War is paused as both the Allies and the Central Powers celebrate a temporary—and unofficial—ceasefire.
Bombing Raids on Britain
Starting in January 1915, Germany attacks Britain from above, carrying out 50 zeppelin raids in three years. Though the death toll never passes 1,500, the bombings cause panic and hurt morale.Map
In the fallout of the failed Battle of Gallipoli, Winston Churchill resigns from his governmental post and joins the army, commanding a battalion in the trenches of France.
Dardanelles and Gallipoli Campaigns
In hopes of capturing the Ottoman capital of Constantinople, Russian, British, and French troops land on the Gallipoli Peninsula in April of 1915. Eight months later, defeated Allied troops withdraw to Egypt.Map
Second Battle of Ypres
Germans unleash poison gas on the Allied forces, the first use of a chemical weapon in a major military offensive. Flooding the trenches, the toxic fumes result in high casualties.Map
Zeppelins Attack London
Zeppelins began hitting strategic sites in London. Though Kaiser Wilhelm forbade attacks on royal palaces and residential areas, many civilians lost their lives in the bombings.
Sinking of the Lusitania
On 7 May 1915, a German U-boat torpedoes the British ocean liner Lusitania, killing 1,198—including 128 Americans. The tragedy rouses anti-German sentiment and helps bring the U.S. into the war.
Battle of Loos
The Battle of Loos in September 1915 is one of the largest Allied offensives in the war. Despite the strength of 75,000 British soldiers, “The Big Push” brings minor gains and high casualties.Map
Battle of Verdun
In February of 1916, the Germans attack the French at Verdun. It turns into the longest battle of the war; fighting continues for nine months and approximately one million are killed.Map
Battle of Jutland
In the war’s only full-scale conflict at sea, German battleships near Jutland, Denmark, face the powerful British fleet on 31 May 1916. After a day of fighting, both sides claim victory.Map
Canadians Join the Battle of the Somme
Two Canadian regiments attack and capture the village of Courcelette in the Somme Valley. Though they are inexperienced and young, their bravery earns them the reputation of a “stellar fighting force.”Map
German U-boat Campaign
Desperate for victory, in early 1917 the German Kaiser signs an order resuming unrestricted submarine warfare targeting British and Allied vessels in hopes of disrupting shipments of food and munitions.
U.S. Declares War on Germany
After years of neutrality, the United States officially enters the war on 6 April 1917, providing much needed manpower and financial aid to the Allied cause.
Battle for Vimy Ridge
All four Canadian Corps attack Vimy Ridge. By planning every detail of the attack, using technical and tactical innovation combined with extensive training, the Canadians secure the ridge by the end of the day.
Canadians Join the Battle of Passchendaele
Canadian troops are sent to relieve ANZAC forces. Struggling through unbelievable mud and heavy fighting, the Canadians succeed in capturing the “infamous” village of Passchendaele.Map
Battle of Cambrai
In November and December of 1917, tanks became a staple of war during the Battle of Cambrai, when the British deploy almost 500 equipped with machine guns and artillery.Map
Treaty of Brest-Litovsk
After suffering more than 1.7 million casualties, Russians sign a treaty with Central Power leaders on 3 March 1918, in Belarus, officially withdrawing from the war.
German Spring Offensive
On the first day of spring, 21 March 1918, Germany begins their last offensive against a British-held section of the Western Front. Almost a million Germans are lost in their quest for victory.
Forming the RAF
In response to frequent bombing raids by the Germans, Great Britain forms the Royal Air Force in April 1918. By war’s end, it is the largest air force in the world.
Battle of the Lys
During the three-week battle in April of 1918, British, Portuguese, Belgian, French, and American troops attack German lines in Flanders, Belgium. In the end, casualties ran high on both sides of no man’s land.Map
Second Battle of the Marne
In the summer of 1918, British troops ally themselves with the French (pictured), Americans, and Italians to defeat Germany along the Western Front. This decisive battle marks the Allied advance to victory.Map
Starting in August 1918, and lasting through the fall, the Allies launch a series of attacks, hoping to force the Germans out of France, eventually bringing the war to a close.Map
Battle of Amiens
British, Australian, and Canadian troops join together on 8 August 1918 near Amiens, France, and by the end of the day thousands of German soldiers surrender in what is called “the blackest day of the Germany Army.”
German U-boats Off the Coast
In August 1918, German submarines line the entrance to Halifax Harbor with mines, sinking Canadian ships. With help of British and American vessels, Canadians increase patrols and put a stop to U-boat attacks.
Canadians Break Through German Lines
In the midst of Canada’s 1918 Hundred Days Offensive, for the first time, troops break through German lines in Arras, France, prompting a German retreat that cost thousands of enemy lives.
Battle of the Sambre
Just days before the German surrender, on 4 November 1918, Canadian troops, alongside French and British soldiers, storm the German stronghold near River Sambre, France, successfully breaking through enemy lines.
Armistice Ends the War
In 1918, at 11 a.m. on the 11th day of the 11th month, the Great War officially comes to an end when German and Allied forces sign a ceasefire in Compiègne, France.Map
Millions of World War I records
- Canada, Soldiers of the First World War, 1914–1918
- Canada, WWI CEF Personnel Files, 1914–1918
- Canada, War Graves Registers (Circumstances of Casualty), 1914–1948
- Canada, CEF Commonwealth War Graves Registers, 1914–1919
- U.S., Residents Serving in Canadian Expeditionary Forces, 1917–1918
- Canada, Imperial War Service Gratuities, 1919–1921
- Canada, Military Honours and Awards Citation Cards, 1900–1961
- Canada, Ledgers of CEF Officers Transferring to Royal Flying Corps, 1915–1919
- British Army WWI Service Records 1914–1920Updated
- British Army WWI Medal Rolls Index Cards 1914–1920Free
- British Army WWI Pension Records 1914–1920Updated
- UK, Silver War Badge Records, 1914–1920