THE WAR TO END ALL WARS

November 11, 2018


Exactly one hundred (100) years ago today (November 11) the first world war ended.  World War I, which introduced industrialized killing to a world utterly unprepared for it, ended at 11 a.m. on Nov. 11, 1918 — the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month.

WWI actually ended in 1918.  That day was described in America as Armistice Day. Church bells would sound at 11 a.m. and people would observe a moment of silence to remember the men who died in the 1914-18 war. In 1954, in the aftermath of World War II, Congress renamed the day as Veterans Day. Let’s take a brief look at several reasons for the term “War to End All Wars”.

  • By that first Christmas, over 300,000 Frenchmen had been killed, wounded or captured. During the same period, the Germans suffered 800,000 casualties.
  • Throughout four years of war, casualties on both sides on the western front averaged 2,250 dead and almost 5,000 wounded every day,” Joseph Persico writes in his “11th Month, 11th Day, 11th Hour.
  • Battles large and small were fought on three contents — Africa, Asia and especially in Europe — the war claimed some nine million combatants and an estimated seven million more civilian lives.
  • America, which entered the war in April 1917, lost 53,402 of her sons in combat and another 63,114 to non-combat deaths, according to the Department of Veterans Affairs.
  • 204,000 American soldiers were wounded.
  • Germany lost 2.050 million men, while Russia lost 1.8 million. Great Britain lost 885,000 men — more than twice the number of Americans killed in World War II.
  • France’s losses were catastrophic. Fully 1.397 million men, 4.29 percent of France’s population, died in the war.

I would like now to present a timeline relative to the events of WWI.  This may be somewhat long but I think on this Veterans’ Day very important.

1914:

  • June 28—a Serb teenager, Gavrilo Princip kills Austrian Archduke Franz Ferdinand
  • July 18—Austria-Hungry declares war on Serbia
  • August 1—Germany declares war on Russia
  • August 4—Germany declares war on France
  • August 23—Japan declares war on Germany
  • September—Battle of the Marne stops the German advance in France
  • October 29—Ottoman Empire enters the war
  • November—Beginning of trench warfare
  • December 25—Unofficial Christmas Truce

1915:

  • February—German U-boat campaign marks the first large use of submarines in warfare
  • April—Allied troops land in Gallipoli, Turkey, a defining moment for Australia and New Zeeland
  • April 22—First use of a chemical weapon, chlorine gas, near Ypres, Belgium
  • May 7—British ship Lusitania sunk by German U-boat
  • May 23—Italy enters the war against Austria-Hungary
  • October—Bulgaria joins the war on the side of the Central Powers

1916:

  • February 21—Battle of Verdun begins
  • March 9—Germany declares war on Portugal
  • July 1—Battle of the Somme begins with the first mass use of tanks
  • August 27—Romania enters the war and is invaded by Germany
  • September 4—British take Dar es Salaam in German East Africa
  • October—Soldier Adolf Hitler is wounded
  • December 23—Allied forces defeat Turkish in Sinai Peninsula

1917:

  • March—Bagdad falls to Anglo-Indian forces
  • April 6—United States declares war on Germany
  • April—Battle for Vimy Ridge which was the defining moment for Canada
  • July—The last Russian offensive ends in failure as their revolution nears. Inconclusive Battle of Passchendaele in Belgium
  • October 15—Spy Mata Hari is executed by a French firing squad
  • October 26—Brazil declares war joining the Allied Powers
  • December—Battle of Jerusalem

1918:

  • March 3—Treaty of Brest-Litovsk ends Russia’s involvement in the war on the Eastern Front
  • April 21—Legendary German fighter pilot known as the Red Baron is shot down and killed near Amiens, France
  • June—Battle of Belleau Wood, which the defining moment for the United States
  • July 21—German submarine fires on Cape Cod which was the only attack on the mainland U.S.
  • September 26—Battle of the Meuse-Argonne begins
  • October 30—Ottoman Empire signs armistice with the Allies
  • October 31—Dissolution of Austro-Hungarian Empire
  • November 9—Germany’s Kaiser Wilhelm II abdicates
  • November 11—Germany armistice ending the war

You can see from the chronology of major events above: this was a war of global significance.  A war our planet has never known.  As we know, it was not a war that ended all wars.  We never learned that lesson.

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