First World War: Era of Trench Warfare

Beginning of First World War:

  • The World War 1 also known as the First World War was a global conflict which started from 28 July 1914 and lasted till 11 November 1918.
  • It originated in Europe and was one of the deadliest wars in human history.
  • Experts and many historians opine that the First World War was also a result of the tensions between European powers to take control of the Balkans at the cost of others.


  • Gavrilo Princip, a Bosnian Serb nationalist assassinated the Austro-Hungarian heir Archduke Franz Ferdinand on 28th June 1914 in Sarajevo. This led to the July Crisis.
  • Austria-Hungary issued an ultimatum to Serbia on 23rd July 1914. Serbia‚Äôs ill response to the ultimatum triggered a war between Austria-Hungary and Serbia.
  • The European powers were keen on expanding their control over the Balkans which led to a series of wars and the First World War.
  • Belligerents:
  • There were two sides formed. They were Allied powers and the Central powers.
  • The Allied powers consisted of the U.S (1917-18), France, British Empire, Russia (1914-17), Italy (1915-18), Japan, Serbia, Montenegro, Belgium, Romania (1916-18), Portugal (1916-18), China (1917-18), Greece (1917-18), etc.
  • The Central powers consisted of the German Empire, Austria-Hungary, Ottoman Empire, Bulgaria, etc.


  • In this war, the Allies had a man-power advantage over the Central powers.
  • The Allies had a total strength of 42,960,000 personnel and the Central powers had a total strength of 25,248,321 personnel.

Casualties and losses:

  • The Allies had heavy casualties of 5,525,000 military personnel and 4,000,000 civilians whereas Central powers lost its 4,386,000 military personnel and 3,700,000 civilians.


  • Russia joined Allied powers in 1914 as it supported Serbia.
  • German was to defeat France in the west front within six weeks and then move its troops to eastern frontier before Russia could fully mobilize and deploy its troops.
  • This German strategy later came to be known as Schlieffen plan. To achieve a quick victory over France, Germany demanded free passage through Belgium on 2nd August.
Fighter Planes during the First World War
  • When the Belgian government refused to this, Germany invaded Belgium on 3rd August and declared war on France the same day.
  • With this, Belgian government requested support from Britain. In reference to the 1839 Treaty of London, Britain declared war on Germany on August 4th.
  • Britain and France together declared war on Austria-Hungary on 12th August and Japan joined the Allied powers on 23rd August.
  • Ottoman Empire entered war in November 1914 and joined Central powers.
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Field howitzer Artillery Gun being fired by the Ottoman Imperial Army during the First World War
  • The U.S remained neutral until 1917, although it supplied war materials and goods to Allied nations. But U.S joined the war and declared war on Germany on 6th April 1917.
  • The reason behind this was that the German navy was sinking the American merchant ships to break the supply line from U.S to Britain and Germany was provoking Mexico to attack the U.S.
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Trenches formed during the First World War
  • The further German advance into French territory was stopped at the city of Marne. Long series of trench lines were created the fight continued along the trench lines until 1917.
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Soldiers moving in through the trenches
  • As many of the offensives carried out by the German forces were failed and the German reserves were exhausted, Germany was pushed back on all frontiers.


  • Bulgaria became the first Central Power to sign an armistice on 29th September 1918.
  • On 30th October, captured Ottoman Empire signed the Armistice of Mudros.
  • On 4th November, Austro-Hungarian Empire was defeated and it agreed to the Armistice of Villa Glusti.
  •  As Germany was the only Central power remaining, all military reserves exhausted and abdication of German Emperor Kaiser Wilhelm, Germany signed the treaty of Vienna thus officially ending the First World War.

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