The British government had previously promised to defend Belgium and felt that German troops directly across the Channel were too close for comfort. On 7 August, four divisions making up a British Expeditionary Force crossed to France to attempt to halt the German advance. With French forces, they were successful in achieving their objective at the Battle of Mons (August) and the Battle of the Marne (September).
As each side tried to outflank the other, a “race to the sea” developed and this meant that huge trench systems took shape from the Swiss border through all of northern France. With these trench systems and weapons such as the machine gun, defending was considerably easier than attacking, and so within months of beginning, the war was already showing signs of stagnating. Although the war in Europe was the main focus - as with the first battle of Ypres (October) - the conflict soon truly became a “world war”: Japan was allied to the Entente forces and the Ottoman Empire soon joined the Central Powers.
Conflict between the imperial forces of these competing power-blocs in Africa and South America aggravated the situation. Like previous continental wars, confrontation was not confined to land. Prior to the outbreak of war, there had been an ...
... middle of paper ...
...he Allied forces and Germany was signed and fighting stopped. Other Central powers sued for peace but across the world, millions of young men were dead - 947,000 of them from the British Empire. At home in Britain, victory was greeted with celebrations and a return to something like normality. So many things had changed, however, and in a General Election held in December (where the coalition government were returned with a massive majority), women over 30 were allowed the vote for the first time. Although an armistice was agreed in November 1918, it was not until June 28, 1919 that the Treaty of Versailles was signed between the Allied powers and Germany, thus officially ending the war 'to end all wars '. Further treaties with the other defeated Central powers followed through 1919 and, in the victorious countries, public celebrations marked the end of hostilities.
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