But it didn't.
Four photos- 101 years ago, the world changed in a split second!
|World defining moment|
"It is not to be supposed," wrote a correspondent for the Manchester Guardian analysing the significance of the assassination 100 years ago on Saturday, "that the death of the Archduke Francis Ferdinand will have any immediate or salient effect on the politics of Europe."
Thirty-seven days later, Britain declared war on Germany and Europe was plunged into a worldwide conflict in which more than 16 million people died in four years.
This series of Posts is in their honour, whether they lay buried in a distant land, or returned to their homes, never again would their lives be the same.
100 Years later, none can tell their stories. RIP.
In the UK around six million men were mobilised, and of those just over 700,000 were killed. That's around 11.5%.
On the first day of the war in 1914, British newspapers published appeals for young men to join the colours, and to fight against Germany. Following the advice of the new Secretary for War, Lord Kitchener, the government decided to raise a huge volunteer army, hoping that in two or three years, when the other combatants were exhausted, this would tip the scales in Britain’s favour.
Over the next few weeks, thousands of young men came forward. When the first grim news of casualties and of the retreat from Mons arrived in late August, more volunteered, and after the fall of Antwerp in early October, there was a renewed surge.
On some days, more than 10,000 men enlisted.
By Christmas 1914, hundreds of thousands had come forward, and this continued well into 1915.
Men from all social classes and all areas of Britain volunteered. Others who were overseas in August 1914 travelled thousands of miles to get back and enlist. Whole groups from individual companies, offices, and universities joined up together. There were far more volunteers than the government could arm or equip, and most had to spend months training in civilian clothes, without proper weapon
|Country||Total Mobilized Forces||Killed||Wounded||Prisoners and Missing||Total Casualties||Casualties as % of Forces|
|ALLIED AND ASSOCIATED POWERS|
|War||Number Serving||Battle Deaths||Disease & Accidents||Wounded||Total Casualties|
|US World War I||4,743,826||53,513||63,195||204,002||320,710*|
Creation of The Western Front
This page provides an overview of the major battles which took place in Belgium and France from the autumn of 1914 to the 11th November Armistice of 1918. The outcome of the battles resulted in the formation of a battle front, which saw three years of attrition warfare in 1915, 1916 and 1917, with only a few months of mobile warfare at the start and at the end of four years of fighting.
Origin of the Name
This battle front was known to the Germans as “die Westfront”, as Imperial Germany's “western front” for those Imperial German Armies engaged in hostilities against France. The Imperial German Armies engaged against Russia were in action on Germany's “eastern front”.
To the French Army the battle front, which stretched for several hundred miles within the northern, north-eastern and eastern borders of the French nation, was translated into French. The French word for “western” is “occidental”, and so the literal translation for this battle front in France became “Le Front Occidental”.
The British Expeditionary Force, fighting on the battlefields in Belgium and France for four years, also translated the German name of “die Westfront” into English, and named this battle front in France as “The Western Front”.
The Western Front was the name the Germans gave to a series of trenches that ran 700 kilometres from the Belgian coast to the Swiss border.
The Battles and their Locations
The grey shaded areas on the map illustrate the main areas on the Western Front where the 1914-1918 battles took place. The battlefields ranged from the northern end of this battle front on the Belgian coast to the village of Pfetterhouse on the Swiss frontier at its southern end. The map shows the Franco-German border as it was in 1914 when the war broke out. An overview of the major battles that shaped the formation of the Western Front is given below the map.
- 1914 First Encounters and Battles of the Frontiers
- 1914 German Advance Blocked at Nancy
- 1914 German Advance Blocked at the Marne
- 1914 The Germans Entrench their Positions on the Aisne
- 1914 The “Race to the Sea”: Outflanking the Enemy
- 1914 Siege of Antwerp
- 1915 Trench Warfare
- 1915 Battles for a Breakthrough
- 1916 Grinding Battles of Attrition: Verdun and the Somme
- 1917 Allied Offensives — Aisne, Artois, Champagne, Flanders, Cambrai
- 1918 German Offensives to Break the Deadlock
- 1918 Allied Advance to Victory: 100 Days Offensive
- 1918 Armistice: the Guns Fall Silent on 11 November
1914 First Encounters and Battles of the Frontiers
- Alsace Plain, Alsace
Six brigades from the German Second Army were sent to Liège capture the forts on 4th August. One German brigade succeeded in breaking through the line of forts. The Germans occupied the city on 7th August after attacks on it by a Zeppelin airship and artillery fire. From 12th - 16th August the shells from 11 huge howitzers, these being two German “Dicke Bertha” (Big Bertha”) guns made by Krupp and 9 Austrian “Schlanke Emma” (Skinny Emma”) guns made by Skoda, smashed the forts to pieces. Following the capitulation of the city the German Imperial troops marched south-westwards along the river Meuse valley to the fortified city of Namur.
A trip to the different areas of the Western Front and understanding what those brave men went through is recommended, especially if relatives fought and died there. Years of fighting battles in horrific conditions. While today buildings are rebuilt, trees have regrown, farmers have returned to their crops, and towns and villages dot the landscape. The selection of photos taken at the time, provide a start contrast to the area as it is today.
Kitchener's 'New Army' Recruits training on the Great Lines at Chatham c1915. Note the Ravelin Building - R.E. Electrical School and now the Royal Engineers' Museum in the background
For WWI soldiers 'going over the top' meant leaving the safety of the trenches and running across the barren stretch of land between the front lines to attack the enemy. Artillery bombardments, barbed wire and machine guns most often led to devastating outcomes.
Tunnel warfare was a deadly game of cat and mouse taking place up to 30 meters (100ft) beneath no man’s land. Working in total silence, men set out to place and detonate mines beneath the enemy’s trenches. Carbon monoxide poisoning, tunnel collapse, the abrupt explosion of mines and the encounter of opposing forces digging the other way were ever-present risks.
The war took not only place over ground but also hidden underneath the earth. The man-made hillside Hill 60 near Ypres was a major site of this underground war. Countless soldiers died in the mine tunnels that were dug to attack opponent’s positions. Most of them are still buried beneath the clay.
Admiralty announces that during the last 24 hours, combined aeroplane and seaplane operations carried out by the Naval Wing against German submarine bases in Zeebrugge, Blankenberge, and Ostend districts. Thirty-four aircraft took part, under command of Wing Commander Samson, assisted by Wing Commander Longmore and Squadron Leaders Porte, Courtney, and Rathborne. Flight Commander Grahame White fell into sea off Nieuport, and was rescued by French vessel.
In April 1915, German soldiers attacked the Allies with 6000 steel cylinders of chlorine gas. Caught unaware, Canadian and French soldiers were the first victims of the poison gas that destroyed the respiratory organs. Although expressively forbidden by the Hague Convention of 1907, chemical warfare was soon to be a major component of WWI.
Staff & Patients at Castlemount Military Hospital, Dover in 1915
Cheshire Regiment at the Battle of the Somme, 1916
King George V passing through rows of cheering Canadian troops, 25th & 26th Battalions, Reninghelst, August 1916
'The Battle of Pilckem Ridge: Crossing the Yser Canal at Boesinghe, 31st July 1917'.
'A Canadian Military funeral in a war cemetery at Poperinghe, Belgium, 11 August 1917'.
'Battle of Poelcappelle: Manhandling an 18-pounder field gun through the mud near Langemarck, October 1917'
'Exhausted stretcher bearers from the 3rd Australian Division rest in the mud and drizzle of Broodseinde Ridge, during the Third Battle of Ypres (Passchendaele), 11 October 1917'.
Photograph taken , showing members of the 12th Battalion, East Yorkshire Regiment viewing the German lines through a periscope, 9 January 1918. Image was taken by official war photographer Thomas K. Aitken in the Arleux sector, north of Cambrai, France.
'British soldiers help a French priest move statues from his shell-damaged church in Armentieres, 26 February 1918'.
'45th Australian Battalion attacking the Hindenburg Line. Ascension Valley, near Le Verguier, 18 September 1918'.
'Liverpool Irish, 57th Division, entering the outskirts of Lille, 18th October 1918'.
Gabrielle Petit was a Belgian woman who spied for the British Secret Service during the Great War. She used several false identities to collect information about enemy movements. When finally betrayed in 1916, she refused to reveal her fellow agent’s identities despite offers of amnesty. Petit was shot by a German firing squad a few months later.The photo above shows an old postcard of the statue of Gabrielle Petit in Brussels, honouring her courage and sacrifice. The statue can still be found in Brussels today.
“Love Letters in War and Peace”
Shell shock described the reactions of some soldiers to the pain and distress experienced in the battles of WWI. Symptoms included fatigue, tremor, confusion, nightmares and impaired sight and hearing. Unfortunately, some men suffering from shell shock were put on trial or executed for military crimes including desertion and cowardice.
Ruins of Church Armetieres January 1919
'Unveiling of the Cenotaph London and funeral of the Unknown Soldier,Armistice Day 1920
French Memorial unveiled 1936 Picture taken and sent to Centenary News by Shani Chevalier. — at Place de la République It was designed by Leon-Ernest Driver and is in Strasbourg France and unveiled in 1936
Women’s battle to enter the war
The names of women who served in World War One may soon be added to Cheltenham’s war memorial (http://goo.gl/A10CwG), though only two local ladies are known to qualify for inclusion. If the War Office had had its way, it is likely that no women at all would have served. In the end, the war did much to advance women’s rights
The town of Ypres is synonymous now with the Western Front. The town was almost destroyed in the War. It was a market town, and the centrepiece was a magnificent building called the Cloth Hall.
Soon after the outbreak of The Great War of 1914-1918 the peaceful way of life in this part of Flanders was shattered by the arrival of massed military forces and their destructive weapons of war.
German Army Arrives in Ypres
On one day of 7th October 1914, and overnight into the following day, about 8,000 soldiers of the Imperial German Army arrived in Ypres. They ordered thousands of loaves of bread to be baked, raided the town's coffers and left the following day, having “passed through” Ypres
French and British soldiers arrived in the town from 13th October to put up a defence and to block the route for the German Army through Ypres to the ports on the French and Belgian coast. Soldiers in the British Army quickly turned the name of Ypres into a much easier word to pronounce. They called it “Wipers”. The British Army remained in “Wipers” for four years from October 1914 to the end of the war in November 1918.
The defence of Ypres, or Wipers, was key to the British hold on this sector of the Western Front. The town was an important strategic landmark blocking the route for the Imperial German Army through to the Belgian and French coastal ports. Many thousands of Allied troops died to maintain the Allies' possession of this place. They died in the rubble of its buildings and the shattered farmland around it, fighting in ferocious battles and living in inhuman conditions. On the German side of the wire, many thousands of German lives were also lost in the landscape around Ypres during the German Army's four years of offensive and defensive battles. The German Army carried out major offensive operations in an attempt to gain possession of the town in the autumn of 1914, the spring of 1915 and the spring of 1918. The British carried out two major offensives to push the Germans off the dominating high ground around the north, east and south of the town in 1917.
By the end of the war the entire town lay in ruins, with only a handful of buildings left standing. Visitors coming to Ypres for the first time are usually astonished to think that the busy, vibrant town with its medieval and renaissance buildings was completely flattened and that virtually the whole of the town was reconstructed from scratch, stone by stone, brick by brick during the 1920's and 1930's.
The Cloth Hall today, is a museum.
|Ted Smout - One of the oldest WW1 Veterans |
Shooting Their Own
During World War 1, the town of Poperinghe, was known as the centre for recreation, of all sorts of different activities, least of not the one which would not have been anticipated is the execution of soldiers in the British Army. Australia did not participate in "shooting their own"..
World War 1, like the other wars before it, caused men to suffer from Post Traumatic Stress. Not recognised at all nor understood.
From the discoveries revealed with the Zulu War, men did, and said, things that had absolutely no bearing on the truth. They didn't understand their situation, they wrote stories that some people today, in some instances, still believe to be the truth.
We spent an afternoon in this lovely old town. Not realising what stories we would find.
Confronting? It was. The town of Poperinghe, is rather beautiful. The secrets it hide rather dreadful.
During the First World War Poperinghe was the centre of a large concentration of troops, and there were many camps in the countryside around it. There was generally at least one Division billeted in the town, and it was described in a very early battlefield guide as "a [wartime] centre for recreation, for shopping and for rest".
The population before the War was about 12,000, but in 1917 there were as many as 250,000 soldiers billeted in the area. Starting in the town centre, the imposing Town Hall, built in 1911, can be found on the main square. It was used as a Divisional Headquarters during the War.
Within the town hall are 'execution cells' where some of the British soldiers condemned to execution during the Great War were kept awaiting their fate - to be shot at dawn. There were originally four cells, which were used by the police here before the war.
Two of these small rooms have been restored; one with a simple pallisade bed and a lavatory bucket. In the other is one of many information plaques to be found throughout the town, this one - number 21 in the series - records that although the exact number of men shot here at the Town Hall is unknown, there is firm evidence for five.
There are photographs of some of those executed on the wall, part of an artwork located here. The two small rooms have small barred windows and are very dark, even on a bright sunny day.
Not a nice feeling to be standing among the names and the inscriptions these prisoners wrote on the walls. A stark reminder of the cruelty of the day. Sign on the dotted line, devote your time for your country, live amongst the cold, the wet, the stink, the mud, until you wish somehow to end it all. It it any wonder they wanted out.
The Shot at Dawn Memorial is a monument at the National Memorial Arboretum near Alrewas, in Staffordshire, UK. It memorialises the 306 British Army and Commonwealth soldiers executed after courts-martial for cowardice or desertion during World War I
The memorial was created by the British public artist Andy De Comyn. It was created in 2000 as a gift from the artist to the relatives and was unveiled at the National Memorial Arboretum by Gertrude Harris, daughter of Private Harry Farr, in June 2001. Marina Brewis, the great-niece of Lance Corporal Peter Goggins, also attended the service.
Soldiers accused of cowardice were often not given fair trials; they were often not properly defended, and some were minors The usual cause for their offences has been re-attributed in modern times to post-traumatic stress syndrome and combat stress reaction Another perspective is that the decisions to execute were taken in the heat of war when the commander's job was to keep the army together and fighting.
Probably well summed up with this Poem:
Waste of Muscle, waste of brain,
Waste of Patience, waste of Pain,
Waste of Manhood, waste of Health,
Waste of Beauty, waste of Wealth,
Waste of Blood, and waste of Tears,
Waste of Youth’s most precious years,
Waste of ways the Saints have trod,
Waste of Glory, waste of God – War!
This hard-hitting poem was published by the Rev. Geoffrey Studdert-Kennedy in 1919. Born of Dublin and Monaghan stock, he was rather better known as 'Woodbine Willie'.
Geoffrey Anketell Studdert Kennedy, MC (27 June 1883 – 8 March 1929), was an Anglican priest and poet. He was nicknamed 'Woodbine Willie' during World War I for giving Woodbine cigarettes along with spiritual aid to injured and dying soldiers.
He wrote a number of poems about his experiences, and these appeared in the books Rough Rhymes of a Padre (1918), and More Rough Rhymes (1919)
During the war he supported the British military effort with enthusiasm. Attached to a bayonet-training service, chaplain Kennedy toured with boxers and wrestlers to give morale-boosting speeches about the usefulness of the bayonet
We visited the Western Front for the 90th Anniversary of the End of World War 1, and were privileged to be part of that special day. Many of those memories are included in these posts for those who have not had the opportunity of visiting. Probably a place, if you have an interest in your family of ancestors, that might be worthwhile placing on a "Bucket List".