First World War timeline of events

German prisoners help to carry British wounded back to their trenches after an attack by XIV (Irish) Corps on Bavarian units holding Ginchy during the Battle of the Somme. Picture by PA

Timeline of events related to the Battle of the Somme:


June 28 - Archduke Franz Ferdinand, heir to the throne of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, assassinated in Sarajevo, beginning events which lead to a general European war.

August 4 - Britain declares war after Germany invades neutral Belgium.

August 5 - Lord Kitchener becomes Britain's Secretary of State for War and launches mass recruitment campaign.

August 28-29 - Fighting on Somme during French retreat.

September 22-27 - Fighting near the town of Albert during the "race to the sea".


February 19 - British naval attack in the Dardanelles, Turkey begins.

April 25 - Start of the Gallipoli campaign.

Late 1915 - General Sir Douglas Haig becomes commander-in-chief of British Expeditionary Force. Allied conference at which an offensive on the Somme is agreed.


February 21 - German bombardment of Verdun begins.

May 19 - German attack on Verdun forces French to divert troops from Somme.

May 31 - Battle of Jutland inflicts major damage on German navy.

June 24 - Allied bombardment at the Somme begins.

June 29 - Heavy rain forces postponement of attack.

July 1 - Battle of the Somme begins. French troops advance, but British forces suffer almost 20,000 men dead in one day.

July 14 - Renewed British assault. South African troops begin attack on Delville Wood.

July 23 - British and Commonwealth attack on key Guillemont-Pozieres area begins. Australians capture Pozieres two days later.

September 3 - Renewed British attack in northern section of Somme battlefield.

September 15 - Tanks used in battle for first time in history.

September 26 - Joint Franco-British offensive. Thiepval finally taken.

October 7 - Rain delays further Allied advances, leading to a renewed war of attrition.

November 18 - End of Somme offensive.


March 16 - Germans withdraw from the Somme to Hindenburg Line.


March 21 - Beginning of new German offensive which led to renewed fighting on the Somme.

August 8 - Allied counter-offensive, later referred to as the "Black day of the German Army".

November 11 - Armistice.

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