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The
Western
Front
Museum

Created: 30/12/1999

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Western Front

Alpine Front

Eastern Front

Reference list

1914

1915

1916

1917

1918

War deaths

Gas casualties in the First World War

Poison Gases

Facts and figures

What is a website without some facts and figures? Well, we're not going to disappoint you. Here are some facts and figures about The Western Front in chronological order.

Western Front - Alpine Front - Eastern Front

1914 - 1915 - 1916 - 1917 - 1918

War deaths

Gas casualties in the First World War

Poison Gases

The Western Front was a term used during the First and Second World Wars to describe the "contested armed frontier" between lands controlled by Germany to the East and the Allies to the West. After the first few months of World War I (WWI) which started in August 1914, until the last few months during the summer of 1918, the Western Front consisted of a relatively static line of trench systems which stretched from the coast of the North Sea southwards to the Swiss border. To try to break through the opposing lines of trenches and barbed wire entanglements, both sides employed huge artillery bombardments followed by attacks by tens of thousands of soldiers. Battles could last for months and lead to casualties measured in hundreds of thousands for attacker and defender alike. After most of these attacks, only a short section of the front would have moved and only by a kilometer or two. The principal adversaries on the Western Front, who fielded armies of millions of men, were Germany to the East against a western alliance to the West consisting of: France and the United Kingdom with sizable contingents from the British Empire and British Dominions. The United States of America entered the war in 1917 and by the summer of 1918 had an army of around half a million men which rose to a million by the time the Armistice was signed on November 11, 1918.

The Alpine Front between Italy which was a member of the western alliance and Austro-Hungarian Empire which was allied to Germany and Turkey, is usually considered to be a separate front.

The Eastern Front refers to a theatre of war during World War I in Central and, primarily, Eastern Europe. The term is in contrast to the Western Front. Both terms refer to Continental Europe. Despite the geographical separation, the events in the two theaters strongly influenced each other. The geography of Eastern Europe in general has played a key role in how both World Wars' Eastern Front conflicts played out. Eastern Europe is, for the most part, physically similar to Western Europe as both belong to the same European plain. The key difference was the level of economic development. While Belgium and Northern France were among the most industrially advanced areas in the world, with excellent road and rail networks, Eastern Europe was undeveloped in comparison. Furthermore, the length of the front in the East was much longer than in the West. The theatre of war was roughly delimited by the Baltic Sea in the West and Moscow in the East, a distance of 1,200 kilometers, and Saint Petersburg in the North and the Black Sea in the South, a distance of more than 1,600 kilometers. This had a drastic effect on the nature of the warfare. While World War I on the Western Front developed into trench warfare, the battle lines on the Eastern Front were much more fluid and Trench War never truly developed. This was because the greater length of the front ensured that the density of soldiers in the line was lower so the line was easier to break. Once broken, the sparse communication networks made it difficult for the defender to rush reinforcements to the rupture in the line to mount a rapid counteroffensive and seal off a breakthrough. In short, on the Eastern front the side defending did not have the overwhelming advantages it had on the Western front.

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Reference list

Front situation in 1916


1 9 1 4

1914 August 2 Luxemburg German invasion and occupation
4 Belgium German invasion
5-16 Belgium Battle against the Fortresses of Luik
7 Germany France invading Elzas and Lotharingen
12 Belgium Resistance Belgium troups at Halen and Dinant
17 Belgium German occupation of Luik
19 Belgium German occupation of Leuven
20-23 Germany German counter-attack on Lotharingen
20 Belgium German occupation of Brussels
21-22 Belgium Battle on the Sambre
22-25 Belgium Battle in the Ardenne
22 Belgium German occupation of Dinant
23-24 Belgium Battle at Bergen. First time BEF (British Expeditionary Force) gets into action
24 Belgium German occupation of Namen
1914September6-9 France Battle at the Marne
14-21 France Battle at the Aisne, heavy fighting in Champagne
14 France Front stabalized, beginning of trench warfare
19 Belgium Race for the coast
20-21 France German attack on Côtes Lorraines
27 France Battle of Arras (till 9 October 1914)
28 Belgium Battle against the fortresses of Antwerp
1914October10 Belgium Occupation of Antwerp
11 Belgium Occupation of Gent
18 Belgium Battle at the IJzer (till 4 November 1914)
27-29 Belgium Inundating the area around the IJzer
30 Belgium Flanders, First Battle of Yper (till 4 November 1914)
1914November10 Belgium Occupation of Diksmuide
17 Belgium Stabilization of the front, start of trenches
1914December14 Flanders Start of French offensive (till 28 Januari 1915)
16-27 France Artois, French offensive
20 France Argonne, French offensive (till 28 Februari 1915)
20 France Champagne, French offensive (till 15 Januari 1915)

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1 9 1 5

1915 January 19 France/Elzas French are being driven from Hartmannsweilerkopf by the Germans
1915February16 France Champagne, French offensive (till 17 March 1915)
26 France Argonne, first use of flametrowers by the Germans
1915March10-12 France Neuve-Chapelle, offensive of the BEF
23 France Elzas, battle of Hartmannweilerkopf (till 26 April 1915)
1915April5-14 France Woëvre, French offensive
22 Belgium Second Battle of Yper (till the end of May 1915)
22 Belgium Flanders, first use of poissoness gas by the Germans
24-30 France Woëvre, German offensive
1915May9-15 France Artois, French offensive at Vimy
9 France Artois, British offensive at Aubers
15-26 France Artois, British offensive at Festubert
1915June16-18 France Artois, French offensive at Vimy
23 Italy Isonzo, 1st. Ialian offensive (till 7 Juli 1915)
18 Italy Isonzo, 2nd. Italian offensive (till 3 August 1915)
1915September25-29 France Artois, French-British offensive at Vimy
25-29 France Champagne, French offensive
1915October18 Italy Isonzo, 3rd. Italian offensive (till 4 September 1915)
1915November10 Italy Isonzo, 4th. Italian offensive (till 2 December 1915)

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1 9 1 6

1916 February 21 France Verdun, German offensive
25 France Verdun, Fort Douamont captured by German troups
1916March11-16 Italy Isonzo, 5th. Italian offensive
14 France Verdun, German attack on Mort-Homme
1916May3-7 France Verdun, heavy fighting on Hill 304
15 Italy Austrian-Hungarian offensive (till the end of Juli 1916)
1916June1-7 France Verdun, German attack on Fort Vaux
7 France Verdun, Fort Vaux captured by the German troups
1916July1 France Somme, British-French offensive (till 18 November 1916)
12 France Verdun, German offensive halted
14 France Somme, British-French attacks renewed
1916August6-17 Italy Isonzo, 6th. Italian offensive
1916September14-17 Italy Isonzo, 7th. Italian offensive
15 France Somme, First time British tanks were used in action
1916October10-12 Italy Isonzo, 8th. Italian offensive
24 France Verdun, French troups recaptured Fort Douamont
31 Italy Isonzo, 9th. Italian offensive (till 2 November 1916)
1916November2 France Verdun, French troups recaptured Fort Vaux
18 France Somme, offensives stopped
1916December15 France Verdun, offensives stopped

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1 9 1 7

1917 March   Northern France German troups retread to the Siegfried Line
1917April9 France Artois, British offensive at Arras (till 21 May 1917)
1917May14-31 France Chemin-des-Dames, Nivelle offensive
1917May/June  France Part of the French Army mutinied, threw down their guns and refused to fight. French trenches were empty for miles. Luckely the German did not know this. Fifty-five French soldiers were executed. At the same time General Pétain said soldiers must have more leave, better food and more rest the mutiny was ended.
1917June7 Belgium Flanders, British troups recaptured hillsites at Mesen
1917July4 France Paris, First American Battalion marches through the streets
31 Belgium Flanders, Third Battle of Yper (till 6 November 1917)
1917August18-29 Italy Isonzo, 11th. Italian offensive
1917October24 Italy Battle at Caporetto (till 3 November 1917)
1917November6 Belgium Flanders, British and Canadian troups recaptured Passendale
10-16 Italy Italian troups maintained position at Piave
20 France Cambrai, British tank offensive and German counter-attack (till 7 December 1917)

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1 9 1 8

1918 March 21 France German Spring-offensive (till 10 June 1918)
23 France Paris, bombardment by German long distance guns (till 8 August 1918)
1918May28 France Castigny, first appearance of American troups
1918June9 France Metz, German offensive
10 France Metz, French counter-attack
15-19 Italy Austrian-Hungarian offensive at Piave
1918July15-17 France Marne, Peace offensive of Ladendorff
18 France Marne, Allied offensive
1918August8-11 France Amiens-Montdidier, Allied offensive
8 France Amiens-Montdidier, Black Day for the German Army
11 France Allied offensives along the whole of the front
21 France Oisne-Aisne, French offensive
1918September12-14 France St. Michiel, American offensive
26 France Argonne, French-American offensive (till 11 November 1918)
28 Belgium Flanders, Belgium-British offensive
29 Belgium Flanders, Diksmuide liberated by Belgium and British troups
1918October8 France Artois, Allied offensive (till 11 November 1918)
9 France Cambrai liberated by allied troups
16 Belgium Flanders, Allied troups crossed the IJzer
17 Belgium Flanders, Belgium King and Queen visited the liberated town of Oostende
24 Italy Italian offensive at Piave
1918November11 Belgium Flanders, Belgium troups liberated Gent
22 France Elzas, French troups entered Strassbourg
1918December1 Germany Allied troups crossed the German border
17 Germany
Allied troups occupied the left bank of the River Rijn and all the bridge-heads at Kőln, Koblenz and Mainz

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WAR DEATHS

Country Killed

Australia54.000
Austria-Hungary1.290.000
Belgium44.000
Bulgaria90.000
Canada57.000
France1.400.000
Germany1.800.000
Great Britain700.000
Greece5.000
India62.000
Italy615.000
Japan300
Montenegro3.000
New Zealand16.000
Newfoundland1.000
Portugal7.000
Rumania335.000
Russia1.700.000
Serbia45.000
Turkey325.000
Union of South Africa7.000
United States116.000

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Primitive gas protection, June 1915
2nd Batallion Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders wearing primitive gas protection
Bois Grenier sector, June 1915.



GAS CASUALTIES IN THE FIRST WORLD WAR

Country Non-fatal injuries Deaths Total
Austrian-Hungary97.0003.000100.000
British Empire180.5978.109188.706
France182.0008.000190.000
Germany191.0009.000200.000
Italy55.3734.62760.000
Russia419.34056.000475.340
United States71.3451.46272.807
Others9.0001.00010.000
 
Total1.205.65591.1981.296.853


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British mustard gas victims, April 1918
Soldiers of the 55 West Lancashire Division at a dressing-station
Béthune 10th. April 1918.



POISON GASES

Category Type Date of Used by
introductionGBFGA
Acute lung irritantsChlorine1915×××-
 Phosgene1915×××-
 Chlormethyl-chloroformate1915×-×-
 Trichlormethyl-chloroformate1916×-×-
 Chloropictrin1916×××-
 Stannit chloride1916×---
 Phenyl-carbylamine-chloride1917--×-
 Cyanogen bromide1918---×
 Dichlor-methyl-ether1918--×-

Lachrymators (tear producers)Benzyl bromide1915--×-
 Xylyl bromide1916--×-
 Ethyl-iodoacetate1916×---
 Bromacetone1916×--×
 Monobrom-methyl-ethyl-ketone1916--××
 Dibrom-methyl-ethyl-ketone1916--××
 Acrolein1916×---
 Methyl-chlorsulphonate1916--×-

ParalysantsHydrocyanic acid1916××--
 Sulphuretted hydragon1916×---

Sternutators (sensoryirritants of eyes, nose and chest)Diphenyl-chlorarsine1917--x-
 Diphenyl-cyanarsine1918--x-
 Ethyl-dichlor-arsine1918--x-
 Ethyl-dibrom-arsine1918--x-
 N.ethyl carbazol1918--x-

Vesicants (blister producers)Dichlor-ethyl-sulphide (mustard gas)1917xxxx

Abbreviations:

GB= Great Britain
F= France
G= Germany
A= Austria-Hungary

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