Key Moments in the First World War

This multi-stranded timeline of Key Moments in the First World War shows different fronts and visualises which events were taking place around the same time in different parts of the world.

This timeline has been developed for Historiana by the Historical Content Team.;xNLx;;xNLx;The development of this timeline is supported by the Evens Foundation and the European Union. ;xNLx;;xNLx;The background image is a painting "Gassed" John Singer Sargent from 1919. The image is a courtesy of the Imperial War Museum © IWM (Art.IWM ART 1460) ;xNLx;

1914-06-28 00:00:00

Assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand and Duchess Sophie in Sarajevo by Bosnian Serb nationalists.

Assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand and Duchess Sophie in Sarajevo by Bosnian Serb nationalists.

1914-07-05 00:00:00

Start of the July Crisis.

The Kaiser promises Germany's full support to Austria-Hungary in their dispute with Serbia.

1914-07-23 00:00:00

Austria-Hungary’s ultimatum to Serbia.

Austria-Hungary presents the Serbian government with an ultimatum. This includes the following: Serbia should cease anti-Austrian propaganda, disband all anti-Austrian organisations, the two Serbian officials involved in the assassination plot should be arrested and tried and Austrian officials should be involved in the Serbian inquiry into the plot. The Serbian government accepts all of these demands except the last.

1914-07-28 00:00:00

War begins between Austria-Hungary and Serbia.

War begins between Austria-Hungary and Serbia.

1914-07-29 00:00:00

Austrian and Serbian forces mobilize for war.

Austrian artillery forces on the border with Serbia bombard Serbian defences while building pontoon bridges across the Rivers Sarva and Drina. Austrian warships in the River Sarva bombard Belgrade.

1914-08-01 00:00:00

Germany declares war on Russia.

After Russia mobilises for war and calls on its ally France to do the same, Germany declares war on Russia.

1914-08-02 00:00:00

Germany invades Luxembourg and Belgium.

Germany implements the Schlieffen Plan and invades Luxembourg and Belgium with the aim of defeating France quickly and then moving troops to Germany’s Eastern frontier before Russia can fully mobilize its forces.

1914-08-02 00:00:00

Italy declares its neutrality.

The Italian Foreign Minister informs Germany that Italy is only required to support her Triple Alliance partners if they are attacked but not, as in the current case, if they are the aggressors.

1914-08-03 00:00:00

Germany declares war on France.

Having invaded Belgium the day before, Germany declares war on France and a few hours later France declares war on Germany.

1914-08-04 00:00:00

Britain warns Germany to withdraw from neutral Belgium.

Britain's warning to Germany to respect Belgium’s neutrality is ignored and Britain declares war on Germany.

1914-08-05 00:00:00

The war spreads to East Africa.

German forces near Lake Victoria attacked by British

1914-08-05 00:00:00

Withdrawal of German East Asia squadron from Tsingtao.

When the war began, the German East Asia Squadron, commanded by Admiral Graf von Spee, was at Tsingtao in China. Spee decided to sail east across the Pacific. One ship, S.S. Emden is sent commerce raiding in the Indian Ocean

1914-08-06 00:00:00

The War in South East Europe spreads.

Austria-Hungary declares war on Russia and Serbia declares war on Germany.

1914-08-07 00:00:00

Russia invades Germany.

Honouring its alliance with France, Russia sends its 1st and 2nd armies into East Prussia where initially they face little resistance.

1914-08-08 00:00:00

Bombardment of Dar-es-Salaam by British warships.

A battle group of British warships bombards the German naval base in Dar-es-Salaam in German East Africa.

1914-08-09 00:00:00

The British Expeditionary Force is sent to Belgium.

Once landed the BEF (all regular army) march for the Belgium-German border to join the Belgian army. The French army is deployed along the Franco-German border.

1914-08-17 00:00:00

Battle of Gumbinnen.

The German 8th Army launches a counter-attack on the Russian 1st army. After early success they are forced to retreat at the Battle of Gumbinnen, close to the Russian border.

1914-08-19 00:00:00

U.S. neutrality.

President Woodrow Wilson announces that the United States will remain neutral in the conflict.

1914-08-20 00:00:00

Austrian invasion of Serbia.

Austrian troops cross the River Drina into Serbia but are defeated at the Battle of Cer and are forced to retreat.

1914-08-21 00:00:00

Battle of Charleroi.

The French 5th Army is fighting the German 2nd and 3rd armies at Charleroi in southern Belgium. After an unsuccessful counter-attack against the Germans the French are forced to retreat back towards Paris. Although losing the battle the retreat by French and British troops prevents German forces from encircling them and moving on Paris.

1914-08-21 00:00:00

Battle of Mons.

Mons is the first major military engagement of the British Expeditionary Force. The French, fighting on the British right at Charleroi, had asked the British to hold the German 1st army for 24 hours in order to protect the French left flank. After 48 hours the British and French are forced to retreat back across the French border.

1914-08-21 00:00:00

Russian forces advanced into East Prussia.

The Schlieffen Plan has stalled because of the defensive actions and timely retreat of British and French forces. This gives the Russian forces time to advance into eastern Germany.

1914-08-22 00:00:00

Establishment of German control over Lake Tanganyika.

German warships are deployed to establish naval control over Lake Tanganyika.

1914-08-22 00:00:00

Invasion of German West Africa.

German West Africa (Togoland and Cameroon) is invaded by French, British and Belgian colonial forces.

1914-08-23 00:00:00

Battle of Galicia.

Austrian troops launch an attack on Russian-controlled territory in the area of Lublin. After initial victories they are defeated and Russian forces counter-attack. The Austrians were forced to surrender Lviv and most of Galicia. The Austrians suffer 324.000 casualties and 130.000 are taken prisoner. The Russian victors also suffer 225.000 casualties and 40.000 prisoners.

1914-08-23 00:00:00

New German commanders on the Eastern Front.

Fearing that the Russians might now threaten Berlin the German High Command replaces the commanders on the Eastern Front with Generals Hindenburg and Ludendorff who halt the German retreat.

1914-08-23 00:00:00

Japan enters the war.

Japan declares war on Germany. Russia and Japan are now allies and the Russian High Command does not face a threat from the east. Russia can now concentrate on attacking the German army in the west.

1914-08-26 00:00:00

Battle of Tannenberg.

The Russian 2nd army continues to advance southwards and becomes detached from the 1st army, which is advancing due west towards Königsberg. The Russian 2nd army suffers a major defeat at the hands of the German 8th army at the Battle of Tannenberg, with 78.000 killed or wounded and 92.000 taken prisoner. The Commander of the Russian 2nd Army, General Samsonov commits suicide rather than tell the Tsar that the 2nd army has been destroyed.

1914-08-27 00:00:00

Allied victory at Kamina, Togoland.

German forces at Kamina in Togoland, German West Africa, surrender to invading Allied forces.

1914-08-30 00:00:00

Allied occupation of Western Samoa.

New Zealand forces land by sea to conquer German-held Western Samoa.

1914-09-01 00:00:00

First Battle of the Masurian Lakes.

Russian forces are spread along a line from Königsberg in the north to the Masurian Lakes in the south. After a fierce battle with the German 8th army the Russians are forced back across the Russo-German border. Only the arrival of the Russian 10th Army prevents the Germans making further advances. 125.000 Russian soldiers are killed or wounded and 45.000 taken prisoner. By comparison the Germans have 40.000 casualties.

1914-09-06 00:00:00

“The taxis of the Marne”.

After retreating from Charleroi and Mons the Entente armies are pushed back to the Rivers Seine and Marne, 50 kilometres from Paris. With German forces threatening to break through the Entente lines and march on Paris 600 taxis are used to take 6.000 French reservists from Paris to the battle front.

1914-09-06 00:00:00

The Battle of the Marne.

With their reservist reinforcements Entente forces launch a counter-attack against the German army under the command of General von Moltke. They succeed in driving a wedge between the German 1st and 2nd armies in what came to be known as “The miracle of the Marne". The Germans are forced to retreat away from the Marne to the North East towards the French and Belgian coast.

1914-09-11 00:00:00

Battle of Bita Paka.

Australian forces occupy German New Guinea.

1914-09-12 00:00:00

“The Race to the Sea”.

The only room for manoeuvre now is further north in Flanders. Both sides embark on what some historians call “the race to the sea” in an attempt to outflank each other. If the Allies were outflanked the whole of France would be vulnerable. If the Germans were outflanked their communications link back to Germany would be cut off. Neither side was able to gain an advantage.

1914-09-22 00:00:00

German bombardment of Madras.

The German cruiser SMS Emden is detached from the German East Asia squadron and sent commerce-raiding in the Indian Ocean. One of its most damaging attacks is the bombardment of the British base at Madras.

1914-09-27 00:00:00

French invasion of Cameroon.

Douala in German Cameroon is captured by French forces

1914-09-30 00:00:00

Japanese attack on German-held islands in the Pacific.

Japanese forces occupy the island settlements of the Northern Marianas, Caroline Islands & Marshall Islands.

1914-10-18 00:00:00

German invasion of Portuguese West Africa.

German colonial forces invade the southern part of the Portuguese colony of Angola in West Africa.

1914-10-19 00:00:00

Beginning of the first Battle of Ypres.

Both sides see Ypres as the gateway to the coast. The German army had taken it in August; it is recaptured in October by British forces. When a larger German force counter-attacks the Allies construct defences along a salient; a pocket of land which projects out into enemy-held territory.

1914-10-19 00:00:00

A new kind of war begins.

The battle of Ypres marks the end of the race to the sea and the beginning of trench warfare in World War 1. Over half of the British Expeditionary Force are either killed or wounded, and after this battle the British need to reinforce their regular army with conscripted soldiers. The Germans also experience heavy losses and abandon their offensive in late November because of the deteriorating winter weather.

1914-10-28 00:00:00

The Ottoman Empire joins the war.

The Ottoman Empire formally enters the war on the side of the Triple Alliance when it bombards the Russian Black Sea ports of Odessa, Sevastopol and Theodosia.

1914-10-29 00:00:00

The opening of the Russo-Turkish front.

This begins with an attack on Russian ports in the Black Sea by Turkish warships on 29 October 1914. Russia formally declares war on 2 November.

1914-10-31 00:00:00

Siege of Tsingtao.

After skirmishes with the German navy, Japanese and British forces begin the siege of the German-held port of Tsingtao in China.

1914-11-01 00:00:00

The Bergmann Offensive.

A day before Russia formally declared war on the Ottoman Empire Russian forces under the command of General Bergmann cross the Ottoman border into eastern Anatolia (also known as Asia Minor at that time) and begin their Caucasus campaign. A counter-offensive by Ottoman troops leads to high Russian casualties and only reinforcements prevent a retreat.

1914-11-01 00:00:00

Battle of Coronel.

The British West Indies squadron had been searching for the German East Asian squadron of 2 battle cruisers and 3 light cruisers under Admiral Graf von Spee which had been crossing the Pacific from the China Seas where they had attacked commercial shipping. When they meet at Coronel off the coast of Chile two British cruisers are sunk with all hands lost and the other two ships are badly damaged.

1914-11-03 00:00:00

Battle of Kilimanjaro.

The British launch a two-pronged invasion of German East Africa, one inland and one along the coast. In a battle on the slopes of Mount Kilimanjaro the 4.000 troops of the British Indian Expeditionary Force are repulsed by German defenders and forced to retreat.

1914-11-05 00:00:00

Battle of Tanga.

British forces attack the port of Tanga as part of the two-pronged invasion of German East Africa. The British invasion force is defeated by a much smaller force of German Schutztruppen (volunteers) led by Paul von Lettow-Vorbeck.

1914-11-07 00:00:00

Tsingtao is ceded to Britain and Japan.

After a successful siege lasting eight days Britain and Japan gain joint control of the German concession of Tsingtao in China.

1914-11-09 00:00:00

Battle of Cocos, Indian Ocean.

After its commerce-raiding activities in the Indian Ocean, the German cruiser SMS Emden is located and destroyed by the Australian warship HMAS Sydney at the Battle of Cocos, halfway between Australia and Sri Lanka.

Key Moments in the First World War

Copy this timeline Login to copy this timeline 3d Game mode

Contact us

We'd love to hear from you. Please send questions or feedback to the below email addresses.

Before contacting us, you may wish to visit our FAQs page which has lots of useful info on Tiki-Toki.

We can be contacted by email at:

You can also follow us on twitter at

If you are having any problems with Tiki-Toki, please contact us as at:


Edit this timeline

Enter your name and the secret word given to you by the timeline's owner.

3-40 true Name must be at least three characters
3-40 true You need a secret word to edit this timeline

Checking details

Please check details and try again