As you probably know by now, WWI was a devastating global war that lasted from 28 July 1914 until 11 November 1918. Over the course of the disastrous four years, numerous battles were fought on countless front lines. To help you remember what happened when and between who, we’ve compiled the following list of major conflicts and agreements that led to battles during and in the years after WWI. You’re welcome!
During the war
The second Battle of Ypres
The second Battle of Ypres in April 1915 is noteworthy because it was the first battle the Germans used chlorine gas in. It came after both sides tried to find ways of breaking the deadlock caused by trench warfare. Unfortunately – for the Germans – they didn’t get the reaction they’d hoped for.
German attack on Verdun
The Germans attacked the Verdun in February 1916 in the hopes of achieving a massive success. The German general Falkenhayn believed the capture of the heavily held French city of Verdun would achieve a breakthrough. He also believed that a breakthrough could be achieved by concentrating a very large number of men at a single point. Despite a huge loss of life on both sides, his attack failed and the breakthrough was not achieved.
The Battle of Jutland
This was the only major naval engagement of WWI – though neither side had a decisive win. It took place during the evening of 31 May 1916. The significant point is that the German fleet never again put to sea and this allowed the Royal Navy to effectively blockade German ports throughout the course of the war, starving Germany of water supplies. The effectiveness of the Royal Navy’s blockade can be seen in the collapse of civilian morale in Germany during 1918, where there were shortages of food, fuel and medicines. As you might have gathered, it was a pretty inhumane method of attack, really.
The Ludendorff Offensive
This offensive was so successful it triggered the end of WWI. That got your attention? Great! So, if you want to know more, the Ludendorff Offensive was a series of German attacks along the Western Front during the war that were so intense it looked as if Paris might fall to the Germans. However, an Allied counter attack led by General Foch successfully reversed the German advance after 18 July 1918.
The Allied counter attack
The Allied counter attack on Germany after July 1918 saw the nation defeated at Amiens, in Flanders and at Ypres, with the Hindenburg Line broken and the German Army forced to retreat. The Allied Forces were able to achieve this with the help of newly-arrived American troops. Key bit of info you should remember? Ludendorff asked for a truce and on 11 November an armistice was signed, officially bringing WWI to an end.
After the war
The Russo-Polish War
The Russo-Polish War is seen as a huge failure for the League of Nations because the League was unable to prevent it. The League not only failed to stop the war, but Britain and France – who were leading members of the League – backed Poland. This was a double failure because it reinforced the (correct) Soviet view that the League was a capitalist club that existed to further the interests of western nations.
The Memel Incident
The Memel Incident, as it’s cryptically known, was an operation administered by the League of Nations. It was partially successful, and saw the port taken under the control of the League, while Lithuania occupied the surrounding land. Why was this considered a partial success, you ask? Although the League obtained an agreement that the port should be an international zone, Lithuania continued to occupy the surrounding land.
In 1923, Italy seized the Greek island of Corfu, which is pretty mean when you think about it. This was because an Italian boundary official who was working for the Conference of Ambassadors was killed by an unknown gunman on the Albanian-Greek border. Mussolini demanded huge compensation and refused to listen to the League’s attempt to mediate. Eventually the Conference of Ambassadors awarded 50 million lire compensation to Italy from Greece. The incident is significant because Mussolini realised that the League of Nations could be ignored if it suited his purpose. This was to have disastrous consequences for Ethiopia further down the line – but more on that later.
French occupation of the Ruhr
France occupied the Ruhr along with its trusty sidekick, Belgium, in 1923 after Germany failed to make its second reparations payment. It was a failure for the League of Nations because France – a leading member – carried out the action without consulting it. Probably because it knew the League of Nations would never sign on.
The Stresa Front and subsequent Anglo-German Naval Agreement
Despite the apparent solidarity of the Stresa Front (an agreement made between Italy and the UK), Britain wanted to adopt a different policy reaffirming the Locarno Treaties that would not antagonise Hitler in the mid-1930s. This is where the Anglo-German Naval Agreement came in; the June 1935 treaty sunk the Stresa Front by negotiating an increase in the size of the German Navy to 35 per cent of that of Britain and allowing the building of submarines. The result of this? Mussolini felt betrayed and launched his invasion of Abyssinia and France felt let down and isolated. Because of this, the French were not prepared to act without British support when Hitler occupied the Rhineland in 1936.