BRITISH NAVAL BLOCKADE OF GERMANY, AUGUST 1914

As soon as war was declared, Britain began a naval blockade of Germany, aiming to cut off all maritime trade and starve the Germany economy of much-needed resources. The British naval blockade in World War One was especially controversial as food was included in the list of prohibited goods, thereby targeting the German civilian population. The blockade also antagonised neutral countries, including the USA, who demanded that their trade with European nations not be interfered with. WATCH THE VIDEO

THE SCHLIEFFEN PLAN

The Schlieffen Plan, named after German Field Marshal von Schlieffen, was Germany's answer to the problem of facing a war on two fronts - against France in the west, and her ally Russia in the east. The solution, according to the plan, was to launch a rapid invasion of France through neutral Belgium, encircle Paris, and win a decisive victory against the French army, before moving German forces to the east, to face Russia, whose army was predicted to take much longer to mobilise. A modified version of this plan was enacted by the German High Command in the summer of 1914, but was halted by the Allies at the Battle of the Marne. Many historians question whether it was ever feasible. WATCH THE VIDEO

UNRESTRICTED SUBMARINE WARFARE, 4 FEBRUARY 1915

In February 1915 Germany announced a U-boat blockade of Britain, in retaliation for the British naval blockade of Germany. German submarines would attack Allied ships in British coastal waters without warning (it had been customary, before World War One, to give warning before attacking a merchant ship to allow the crew to escape), and also warned that neutral shipping would be at risk since clear identification of a ship's nationality was difficult, not least because Allied shipping often flew neutral colours to evade attack (another customary practice of war at sea). Ultimately, although the U-boats sank large numbers of Allied merchant ships and came dangerously close to starving Britain into surrender, the strategy backfired because it hastened American entry into the war. WATCH THE VIDEO

THE SYKES-PICOT AGREEMENT, 9 MAY 1916

The Sykes-Picot Agreement was a secret arrangement between the British and French to divide the Middle East into 'zones of control' after World War One. The British had already promised Arab leaders that in return for their military support against the Ottoman Empire, they would ensure the creation of an independent Arab state after the war. But Sykes-Picot revealed that the colonial powers intended to keep firm control of much of the region. This breach of trust, and the arbitrary creation of new national borders in the Middle East, set the scene for a century of instability and conflict in the Middle East. WATCH THE VIDEO

THE BATTLE OF JUTLAND, 31 MAY 1916

The Battle of Jutland, named after the Jutland peninsula in Denmark, was the only large-scale naval battle of World War One. The German fleet inflicted heavier losses on the British, but their withdrawal from the engagement, and failure to inflict a decisive defeat, meant that Britain's naval blockade against Germany continued. The German fleet did not put to sea to challenge the British again. WATCH THE VIDEO

THE BRUSILOV OFFENSIVE, 4 JUNE 1916

The Brusilov Offensive, named after its commander Russian General Alexei Brusilov, was originally planned as part of a co-ordinated series of Allied offensives against the Central Powers, but became a desperately needed means of easing the pressure on French forces at Verdun, and Italian forces at Asiago. The Brusilov Offensive was stunningly successful at first, taking huge numbers of Austro-Hungarian prisoners, but Russian casualties quickly mounted as the offensive dragged on. WATCH THE VIDEO

BATTLE OF THE SOMME, 1 JULY 1916

The British summer offensive of 1916, the Battle of the Somme, was much anticipated, and hopes for a decisive breakthrough were high. But British artillery, even after firing 1.6 million shells, had failed to eradicate German defences, and the attacking British infantry were mown down en masse. The British took a staggering 57,000 casualties, one third of them killed, on the first day alone, and most of those in the first few hours of the attack. Only in the southern sector were any of the Day 1 objectives reached. WATCH THE VIDEO

BATTLE OF THE SOMME, NOVEMBER 1916

The Battle of the Somme was a four-month ordeal, which finally came to a close amid freezing rain and mud in November 1916. The Allies had finally gained about 10 miles of blasted, crater-strewn ground, and at an enormous price. The only consolation was that the Germans had also suffered enormous casualties (largely because of their tactical doctrine of launching immediate counterattacks against any lost ground), and Germany could less well cope with the losses. WATCH THE VIDEO

THE BATTLE OF CAPORETTO, 24 OCTOBER 1917

The Battle of Caporetto (also known as the Twelfth Battle of the Isonzo, or the Battle of Kobarid) was a decisive victory for the Central Powers on the Italian Front. Austro-Hungarian forces, reinforced by German divisions freed up by the Russian collapse on the Eastern Front, broke through Italian positions, taking 265,000 prisoners and almost reaching Venice. The disaster forced Britain and France to send troops, desperately needed on the Western Front, to Italy to shore up the line. WATCH THE VIDEO

THE LUDENDORFF OFFENSIVE, 21 MARCH 1918

Operation Michael was the German codename for the last, great German offensive on the Western Front in World War One. Also known as the Ludendorff or Spring Offensive, this was Germany's last roll of the dice, a desperate attempt to win the war before American troops arrived in Europe in serious numbers. Despite initial success, the offensive was ultimately a costly disaster for Germany. WATCH THE VIDEO

THE BATTLE OF CANTIGNY, 28 MAY 1918

The Battle of Cantigny marked the first major engagement fought by American forces on the Western Front in World War One. The battle was fought, and won, by the US 1st Infantry Division. WATCH THE VIDEO

THE HUNDRED DAYS OFFENSIVE, 8 AUGUST 1918

The Hundred Days Offensive was the final Allied offensive against the German army on the Western Front in World War One. Beginning in August 1918, it finished only with Germany's surrender in November. WATCH THE VIDEO

TREATY OF SEVRES, 10 AUGUST 1920

The Treaty of Sèvres concluded hostilities between the Allies and the Ottoman Empire, and spelled the end of the empire itself. Many of its former territories in the Middle East became 'League of Nations Mandates', effectively placed in trust of care with the Allied powers, Britain and France. An independent Arab kingdom was created in the Hejaz, which later became part of Saudi Arabia. Armenia's borders were soon redrawn, following wars with Turkey and Soviet Russia. WATCH THE VIDEO

MILITARY DEATHS IN WORLD WAR ONE

Military deaths by country in World War One. The estimated total for Russia and Germany was roughly the same, around 1.7 million. Serbia lost more men killed as a proportion of those who fought than any other country. WATCH THE VIDEO