What happened during the First World War? -August

Continuing on with this monthly series on key events that happened during this First World War, this post will focus on what happened during the month of August.

1914

1st – Germany declares war on Russia and mobilizes its army. France also commences mobilisation. Italy declares its neutrality in the coming conflict. Denmark, Sweden and Norway declare their neutrality together.

Germany and the Ottoman Empire sign a secret alliance. The alliance was created as part of a cooperative effort between the two that would modernise and strength the Ottoman military as well as providing German with access to the Eastern Mediterranean and allied interests in the area.

2nd – Germany invades Luxembourg and besieges Longwy, ‘The Iron Gate to Paris’ which is in north-eastern France. Longwy is then captured on 26th August.

The Skirmish at Joncherey occurs, being the first military action on the Western Front. The skirmish occurs the day before the formal declaration of war on France by Germany. It was during this incident that the first French and German deaths of the First World War occurred – Jules Andre Peugeot and Albert Meyer, respectively.

3rd – Germany declares war on France. Belgium denies German forces permission to pass through the country in order to reach France. Switzerland declares its neutrality and mobilises forces for purposes of defence.

4th – Germany invades Belgium to outflank the French army, regardless of the Belgian refusal to do so. Britain protests against the violation of Belgian neutrality which had been guaranteed by the Treaty of London. The German chancellor replies that the treaty is just a chiffon de papier (a scrap of paper). The United Kingdom declares war on Germany. The Unites States declares neutrality.

The Siege of Liege begins on this day and lasts for nearly two weeks before the capture of the fortresses around the city by the Germans. The Belgian defence held up the German advance in that area of Belgium.

5th – The German steamer SS Pfalz became the target of the first shots fired by Australian forces in the First World War. This incident happened close to Fort Nepean, south of Melbourne. Montenegro declares war on Austria-Hungary. The Ottoman Empire closes the Dardanelles Straits.

6th – Austria-Hungary declares war on Russia. Serbia declares war on Germany.

7th – Spain declares ‘the strictest neutrality’. The Battle of the Frontiers starts on this date and continues until mid-September. Phases include the Battles of Mulhouse, Halen, Lorraine, Morhange, Sarrebourg, Charleroi, the Ardennes and Mons. The Germans obtain victories over the British Expeditionary Force and the French Fifth Army.

8th – Montenegro declares war on Germany.

9th – The Togoland Campaign begins in Africa.

11th – France declares war on Austria-Hungary

12th – The United Kingdom declares war on Austria-Hungary.

15th – German troops cross into British East Africa and occupies Taveta.

17th – The Russian army enters East Prussia and the Battle of Stalluponen takes place.

20th – The Germans attack the Russians at the Battle of Gumbinnen. The Germans occupy Brussels.

23rd – Japan declares war on Germany. The Battle of Tannenberg commences on this day and lasts for a week. The Russians suffer a heavy defeat at the hands of the Germans.

24th – The Germans besiege on this date and capture the Mauberge Fortress in mid-September. The Allied Retreat to the River Marne begins on this date and lasts until 28th September.

25th – Japan declares war on Austria-Hungary.

26th – The Battle of Le Cateau begins on this day. This ends with the continued Allied retreat towards the River Marne. The Siege of Mora begins on this day in German East African and ends on 18th February 1916 with an Allied Victory.

27th – The Action at Étreux occurs on this day. Three companies of the 2nd Battalion the Munster Regiment supported by a couple of field guns halt the advance of the German Army for fourteen hours. Under continual pressure from German attacks the Munsters fell back to an orchard. As night fell, they found themselves surrounded. Having exhausted their ammunition, they surrendered. The battalion delayed the German pursuit of the British, allowing more time for the retreat.

The Battle of Tsingtao begins on this day. The offensive ends on 7th November that year, when British and Japanese forces capture the German-controlled port.

28th – The Royal Navy wins the First Battle of Heligoland Bight in the North Sea. Austria-Hungary declares war on Belgium.

29th – The Battle of Saint Quentin begins on this day. After continuing the retreat from Le Cateau, the French engage again with the Germans. The retreat to the Marne continues after the battle ends.

30th – New Zealand forces occupy German Samoa (later Western Samoa but now known as Samoa). The country remained under New Zealand rule until 1962.

1915

6th – The August Offensive begins at Gallipoli and lasts until the end of the month. It was the last and unsuccessful attempt by the Allies to seize the peninsula in multiple efforts – the first north of the Sari Bair range and the second being a breakout at Helles with the last coming from Suvla Bay. Various phases of the Offensive include the battles of Lone Pine, Krithia Vineyard, Suvla Bay, Sari Bair, the Nek, Chunuk Bair, Scimitar Hill and Hill 60. The Allies – which was compromised of Australian, Indian, New Zealand and British troops – suffered 13000 casualties. The Ottoman Empire suffered 18000 casualties.

19th – A German U-Boat sinks the SS Arabic killing forty four people, including three Americans.

21st – Italy declares war on the Ottoman Empire.

1916

27th – Romania enters the war on the side of the Allies. The country’s army is defeated within a few weeks. The Battle of Transylvania begins, which is a phase in the process of the conquest of Romania by the Central Powers, which carries on until the end of December.

28th – Italy declares war on Germany.

29th – Paul von Hindenburg replaces Erich von Falkenhayn as the German Chief of Staff.

30th – The Ottoman Empire declares war on Romania.

1917

4th – Liberia declares war on Germany.

14th – China declares war on Germany and Austria-Hungary.

15th – The Battle of Hill 70 begins on this day and lasts ten days. The battle is a continuation of British operations around the town of Lens in Northern France. The attack is carried out by the Canadian Corps and is an Allied victory. Canadian casualties’ amount of 8677 and German casualties are around the 10000 mark.

16th – The Battle of Langemarck, a phase of the Third Battle of Ypres, commences. Unusually heavy amounts of rain, poor drainage and lack of evaporation of water turned the ground being fought over into a quagmire, making the Allied even more difficult. High levels of mud and flooded shell holes impacted on the mobility of the infantry and the ability of the artillery to keep up with the troops. Aside from smaller, local attacks, the offensive did not pick up again until the end of September.

1918

August – The Spanish Flu pandemic mutates. There are simultaneous deadly outbreaks in Brest, Freetown and Boston.

8th – The Hundred Days Offensive begins on this day. It is an Allied Offensive, intending to break through the German line that has advanced since the Spring Offensive began at the end of March. The Battle of Amiens, which was the first phase of the offensive begins on this day. Through careful planning and preparation, with an effective use of all arms warfare, the British Fourth Army breaks through the German positions, creating a 15mi/24km gap in the line south of the River Somme. Total German losses were estimated to be around 30000 while the British had suffered 6500 casualties. The 8th August became known as ‘The Black Day of the German Army’ Other phases of the offensive in August include the Second Battle of Noyon, the Second Battle of the Somme, the Fourth Battle of Arras, the Fourth Battle of the Scarpe and the Battle of Mont Saint-Quentin.

26th – the Battle of Baku begins on this day, which is the last Turkish offensive of the war.

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