How many battles were fought in World War I.

Sites of the First World War


History Channel


The battles of World War I were fought on several continents, because the world powers fought not only in their own countries, but also in the colonies. The war was thus one of the first truly global conflicts.



Eastern Front: Decisive victory for Germany


26.-30. August 1914 When the First World War broke out, Germany planned to put France out of action quickly with a "right hook" and then to concentrate the armed forces in an easterly direction on the Russian front. But Russia landed a surprise attack and marched into East Prussia with two armies sooner than expected. Germany intercepted encrypted messages from the Russians and then launched a surprise attack near Allenstein (now Olsztyn, Poland). In one of the greatest battles in world history, the smaller German armed forces decimated the much larger Russian enemy.



Western Front: The greatest American battle in World War I.


September 26th-11th November 1918 While Italy retreated to a largely defensive strategy after the devastating defeat on the Isonzo, the remaining Allies were preparing for the offensive. From the beginning of 1918, over 100,000 American soldiers landed in France every month. By the summer, the troops on the Western Front had grown to a strength of over a million soldiers. In September, 37 French and American divisions were mobilized on the German front west of the Meuse and in the Argonne as part of a coordinated action. During the three phases of the Allied advance, a violently rampant flu epidemic weakened the already exhausted German troops, which eventually withdrew. On November 10th, the Allies reached the important railway junction Sedan and cut off the supply routes for the Germans.



Compiegne, France


November 11, 1918 The next day the long-awaited armistice was declared. Delegates from the exhausted German Empire signed the agreement with the Allies in a railroad car in front of the northern French city of Compiègne. After four years of bloody worldwide conflict in which nine million soldiers and at least five million civilians lost their lives, the First World War was over.



Western Front: The trench warfare begins with a victory for the French and British.


6-10 September 1914 Despite their defeat at Tannenberg, the Russians continued fighting, forcing Germany into a massive two-front war. In the west, German soldiers had marched through Belgium and pushed the French and Belgian troops back to just before Paris. At the beginning of September 1914 they reached the Marne - in the immediate vicinity of the French capital. But they were also exhausted and their supplies became scarce. This allowed the Allied troops to gain an advantage. The first battle of the Marne put an end to German hopes for a quick victory over the French. Soldiers on both sides tried to protect themselves from the devastating effects of modern weapons technology by creating a huge network of fortified trenches, the total length of which was over 56,000 kilometers.



East Africa: The Germans thwart the British hope for a quick victory.


2nd - 5th November 1914 One continent away from the fighting in Europe, the Allied forces conquered German areas in Africa. They first reached tiny Togo in West Africa in August 1914. With the spread of the war on the African continent, the Allies conquered Cameroon and German South West Africa (today Namibia). Their campaign against German East Africa (now Tanzania), however, was less successful. After the bombing of the capital Dar es Salaam in early August, British forces from India planned an amphibious invasion of the coastal city of Tanga. But when the German commander Paul von Lettow-Vorbeck heard of the impending attack, he mobilized his troops there and was able to push back the poorly prepared Indian troops without any problems. The victory boosted Lettow-Vorbeck's brutal but successful guerrilla campaign in East Africa, which only ended on November 25, 1918 - two weeks after the armistice was signed.



East China: Japan conquers German territory.


November 7, 1914 In view of Japan's territorial claims, the war was extended to Asia. The island nation declared war on Germany in August 1914, ostensibly in honor of an earlier alliance with Great Britain - but in reality to improve its strategic position in the Pacific. At the beginning of November around 50,000 Japanese soldiers and two British battalions were mobilized against the largest German military base overseas: Tsingtau on the Chinese Shandong peninsula. The attack violated China's neutrality. It ended on November 7th when the German officer in office as governor surrendered with his 3,000-strong garrison. China later declared war on Germany in August 1917 in order to bring itself to the negotiating table at the end of the war and regain control of the lost territory. But at Versailles, the Allies favored Japan, angering China, which later refused to sign the peace treaty.



South Atlantic: The Royal Navy sinks the German fleet.


December 8, 1914 Long before the start of the First World War, an arms race was already taking place between Germany and Great Britain with the building of ever faster, stronger battleships. These efforts paid off for Germany in November 1914 when Vice Admiral Count Maximilian von Spee's fleet defeated the Royal Navy for the first time in a century in a naval battle at Coronel off the south coast of Chile. But the British retaliated: When Spees forces tried to attack the Falkland Islands, the Royal Navy sank Spees flagship with the Admiral on board and most of its fleet off the east coast of Falkland. This skirmish is often referred to as the most decisive naval battle of the First World War. It gave the Allies a much-needed boost at sea as they fought desperately on the Western Front and in the Mediterranean.



Turkey: Ottoman forces avert Allied attack.


April 25, 1915 In an effort to gain control of the Dardanelles, the strait between the Aegean and Black Seas, to conquer Istanbul, and to drive the Turks out of the war, the Allies launched a major invasion of the hilly Gallipoli peninsula (now Gelibolu) in what is now western Turkey. After the unsuccessful naval attacks, British troops landed at Cape Helles, while Australian and New Zealand forces positioned themselves north of Gaba Tepe (later Anzac Cove). But the Turks quickly stopped both attacks and trench warfare began. In December 1915 the Allies were forced to retreat with a record of half a million soldiers killed, wounded and missing on both sides. Gallipolli marked the first major military action by the Australian and New Zealand forces in World War I. In addition, Mustafa Kamal came on the scene, who later founded modern Turkey under the surname Ataturk.



North Sea: The greatest naval battle of the First World War


May 31–1. June 1916 Another massive naval battle ensued - this time in the North Sea off the Danish coast. The Skagerrak Battle was the only skirmish between British and German dreadnought battleships. The Germans wanted to put the Royal Navy's battlecruiser fleet out of action before the Grand Fleet under Admiral Sir John Jellicoe could join them. But British decipherers deciphered the plan and warned both fleets, which then showed up together early. 250 ships and around 100,000 soldiers were involved in the battle. After the battle, the British managed to set up a blockade that lasted until the end of the war. After that, the German deep-sea fleet never again challenged the control of the North Sea by the British.



Western Front: One of the bloodiest battles in history


July 1st – September 18th November 1916 When the Allied naval units had already gained the upper hand, the Germans defeated the French once more at Verdun, forcing the British troops to take the lead in an Allied offensive against the well-established German armed forces on the Somme. After a full week of bombing, British forces on their advance found themselves embroiled in a grueling battle that lasted nearly five months and in which over a million soldiers fell on both sides. On the first day of the battle alone, the British counted over 57,000 killed, wounded and missing soldiers (19,240 dead). It was the bloodiest day in British military history. The weather conditions deteriorated and the Allies ended the offensive on November 18. In nearly five months of the battle they hadn't gained seven miles of ground.



Front between Austria and Italy: Italy was crushed


October 24, 1917 Italian and Austrian troops were also embroiled in a grueling battle. The armed forces of both countries have fought against each other on the Isonzo in the mountainous Austrian border region since Italy joined the war on the side of the Allies in the summer of 1915. Thanks to reinforcement by the German troops, the Austrians unexpectedly broke the stalemate in the twelfth battle of the Isonzo in what is now the Slovenian town of Kobarid. The German-Austrian armed forces gained over 16 km of ground on the first day. The Italian withdrawal ended in chaos and over 600,000 Italian soldiers deserted or surrendered.