Much of the fighting in World War I took place along the Western Front, within a system of opposing manned trenches and fortifications (separated by a "no man's land") running from the North Sea to the border of Switzerland. On the Eastern Front, the vast eastern plains and limited rail network prevented a trench warfare stalemate from developing, although the scale of the conflict was just as large. Hostilities also occurred on and under the sea and — for the first time — in the air. More than nine million soldiers died on the various battlefields, and millions more civilians perished.
The war caused the disintegration of four empires: the Austro-Hungarian, German, Ottoman, and Russian. Germany lost its overseas empire, and states such as Czechoslovakia and Yugoslavia were created, or recreated, as in the cases of Lithuania and Poland. This contributed to a decisive break with the world order that had emerged after the Napoleonic Wars, which was modified by the mid-19th century’s nationalistic revolutions. The results of World War I would also be important factors in the development of World War II just over two decades later.
At this stage of the war, the Western Front was a continuous line of trenches stretching from the Belgian coast to the Swiss border. With minor adjustments caused by the ebb and flow of asaults and counter-assaults, this corresponded roughly to the final line of confrontation in the last phase of the war of movement of 1914. From behind barbed wire and fortifications, about 100 German divisions faced about 150 French and British Empire divisions in seeming deadlock. In its simplest terms, the Allied objective from early 1915 onwards was to break through the German defences into the open ground beyond and engage the numerically inferior German army in open battle.
The Battle of Arras was planned in conjunction with the French High Command, who were planning a massive attack (the Nivelle Offensive) about eighty kilometres to the south. This had the stated aim of ending the war in forty-eight hours. At Arras, the British Empire's immediate objectives were more modest: (i) to draw German troops away from the ground chosen for the French attack and (ii) to take the German-held high ground that dominated the plain of Douai.
When the battle officially ended on 16 May, British Empire troops had made significant advances, but had been unable to achieve a major breakthrough at any point. New tactics had been battle-tested, particularly in the first phase, and had demonstrated that set-piece assaults against heavily fortified positions could be successful. This sector then reverted to the stalemate that typified most of the war on the Western Front.
The Paris Gun (German: Parisgeschütz) was the name of an artillery piece with which the Germans bombarded Paris during World War I. This oversized railway gun was used from March to August 1918. When it was used, Parisians believed they were being bombed by an airship, because neither the sound of an airplane nor of a gun could be heard. It was the largest gun used during the war, and is considered to be a supergun.
Also called the "Kaiser Wilhelm Geschütz" (Kaiser Wilhelm Gun), it is often confused with Big Bertha, the howitzer used by the Germans against the fortified position of Liège in 1914, and indeed the French called it by this name as well. It is also confused with the smaller "Langer Max" (Long Max) cannons from which it was derived. Although the famous Krupp-family artillery makers produced all these guns, the resemblance ended there.
David Beatty, 1st Earl Beatty (17 January 1871 – 11 March 1936), was an admiral in the Royal Navy. During World War I, he took part in actions at Heligoland Bight (1914), Dogger Bank (1915) and Jutland (1916). He was an aggressive commander who expected his subordinates to always use their initiative without direct orders from himself. The Battle of Jutland proved to be decisive in Beatty's career, despite the loss of two of his battlecruisers. Beatty is reported to have remarked "there seems to be something wrong with our bloody ships today" after two of them had exploded within half an hour during the battle.
...that the Lake Tanganyika passenger ferry MV Liemba began its life as a German warship in World War I, spent eight years on the bottom of the lake, and later portrayed the Empress Luisa in the film The African Queen?