How it Began - Introduction

Bell of Vaux church, used as a gas alarm If you are new to the First World War - or are rusty after many years since history class - the reasons for the so-called 'Great War' can be shrouded in confusion.

The Second World War was rather more straightforward: no questions there who did what and who was at fault.

This website contains much material based in and around the events of World War One - but if you are unsure how it began and who did what, well, where to begin?  That's the purpose of this section of the site.

Admittedly the origins of the war remain somewhat controversial even after all these years, but the facts are there.  The articles contained here outline the run-up to the war, who was who, and explain why the assassination of Austrian Archduke Franz Ferdinand was by no means the sole cause of the conflict, how it was spoiling anyhow.

Having read these primers you will hopefully be in a better position to explore the remainder of the site which despite its size is, of course, still very much in development.


Article Description
BiographyThe Causes of World War One What happened and why
BiographyArchduke Ferdinand's Assassination Memoir of Archduke's assassination
BiographyThe July Crisis Events of July 1914 leading to war
BiographyHow the War was Planned Plan XVII, Schlieffen Plan, Plan B...
BiographyBalkan Causes of World War One The Black Hand and the Serbian Government
BiographyWilly-Nicky Telegrams Kaiser to the Tsar and the Tsar to the Kaiser
BiographyAustria's Ultimatum to Serbia Austria-Hungary's reaction to the assassination
BiographyMap of Pre-War Europe European borders prior to the onset of war

Dramatis Personnae

Article Description
Austria-HungaryArchduke Franz Ferdinand Heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne
SerbiaGavrilo Princip Member of the Black Hand and Ferdinand's assassin

And so it Began

Article Description
BiographyThe Battle of Liege Opening land battle of World War One in Belgium
Biography365 Days On Events of 1 August 1915

The Main Protagonists

Article Description
GermanyKaiser Wilhelm II German monarch
RussiaTsar Nicholas II Russian monarch
Austria-HungaryEmperor Franz-Josef Austro-Hungarian monarch
SerbiaPrince Alexander Serbian regent
United KingdomSir Edward Grey British Foreign Secretary
Austria-HungaryCount Leopold von Berchtold Austro-Hungarian Foreign Secretary
United States of AmericaPresident Wilson U.S. President
FranceJoseph Joffre French Commander-in-Chief
United KingdomSir John French British Commander-in-Chief
GermanyHelmuth von Moltke German Army Chief of Staff

The First Global War

Article Description
BiographyThe Minor Powers Belgium, Bulgaria, Greece Montenegro, etc.
BiographyWho Declared War and When Rundown of war declarations by nation
BiographyPrincipal Actions of World War One List of primary events, actions and offensives
BiographyThe War in Gallipoli: An Overview Summary of the war in the Dardanelles in 1915

What of the Soldiers?

Article Description
BiographySongs on the Way to the Front "It's a Long Way to Tipperary" (1914, MP3 music)
BiographyLife in the Trenches Daily routine of trench life
BiographyA Soldier Remembers... David Philips recounts his experiences
BiographyIn Flanders Fields Story of the war's best known poem

A Temporary Truce

Article Description
BiographyThe Christmas Truce Story of the unofficial truce of Christmas 1914

Four Years Later

Article Description
BiographyThe Armistice of 11 November 1918 The 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month
BiographyMilitary Casualties of World War One Numbers of dead, wounded and missing

A Memorial to the Missing

Article Description
BiographyMemorial to the Missing Monument to the unknown dead in France at Thiepval

"Coffin Nails" was a term used by British soldiers to describe cigarettes.

- Did you know?