Chronology of Operations on the Western Front

The following chronology focuses primarily on the fighting on the Western Front between 1914 and 1918, with particular attention paid to the French army's involvement.

Dates Events Casualties
28 June Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria assassinated
2 August Mobilization begins in France
3 August Germany declares war on France and invades Belgium
5 August German attack on the fortress of Liège (Belgium)
Battle of the Frontiers
7-25 August French offensive in Alsace (Battle of Alsace). Two French offensives by French I Army (7 and 14 August) are replused.
14-25 August French offensives in Lorraine (Battle of Lorraine) and in the Vosges by French I and II Armies are repulsed. German counter-attack on 20 August. French return to the offensive on 25 August. Stabilization in September.
16 August End of the Battle of Liège. French V Army marches into Belgium.
20 August Belgian army withdrawals to Anvers. Bruxelles falls to German army.
22-25 August French offensive in the Ardennes (Battle of Ardennes) by French III and IV Armies. Battles of Paliseul, Neufchâteau, Betrix, Vitron, Ethe, Rossignol, Pierrepont. French repulsed and driven back.
22-23 August Battle of Charleroi (Battle of the Sambre), French V Army attacks Germans along the River Sambre and is bloodily repulsed. 22 August is recorded as the bloodiest single day for the French army: 67,000 casualities, including 27,000 killed.
23 August General withdrawal of French V army. British army (BEF) engages Germans at the Battle of Mons.
24 August Seige of the Fortress of Maubeuge begins.
26 August Left flank of BEF folded up by German I Army.
26–30 August Battle of Tannenberg in East Prussia (Poland). Russian army nearly destroyed.
29 August Battle of Guise. French V Army counter-attacks pursuing Germans, checking their advance.
30 August General Joffre gives the order to fall back to the River Seine. The Retreat to the Marne begins.Total for August: 460,000, incl. 230,000 French
31 August German I Army (von Kluck) alters his march from his course west-southwest to south-southeast.
Battles of the Marne and the Aisne
4-10 September First Battle of the Marne 520,000, incl. 250,000 French (of which 80,000 dead)
4 September French VI Army attacks the flank of German I Army.
6 September Counter-attack at the River Marne. General battle on all fronts.
7 September Battle of Saint-Gond swamps. Fall of Fortress of Maubeuge.
10-13 September General withdrawal of German army to the River Aisne. Battle of the Ourcq. Germans resist Allied advance.
20-25 September German offensive on Verdun and in the Woëvre Plain is driven back but salliant forms around Saint-Mihiel.
26 September French forces check German offensive between the River Oise and the River Meuse.
Race to the Sea
18-24 September Battle of Picardy. French II Army transferred from Lorraine to the Somme. Stabilization of the fron to the west of Péronne.
3 October Creation of the French IX Army, for the defense of Arras.
9 October Beligan army withdraws to Ostende. BEF takes up positions north of Béthune.
16 October-30 November Battle of the Yser (Belgium). German IV Army attacks French, Belgian and British forces. Germans prevented from capturing the Channel ports.
27-30 October The locks around Nieuport (Belgium) are opened, inundating the lower valley of the Yser.
30 October-24 November German offensive on Ypres and the mounts of Flanders (First Battle of Ypres). French and British forces prevent German capture of Ypres. Total (Yser and Ypres): 165,000, incl. 50,000 French
6-17 November Renewed German offensive on Ypres and Dixmude. The front has become locked, from the North Sea to the Swiss border.
16 December-5 January French attacks in Artois (First Battle of Artois), attempt to capture Notre-Dame de Lorette defeated with heavy losses.
"Nibbling" Operations
20 December-12 January "Fight for the observatories": General French attacks all along the line: in Flanders, at La Boiselle, in the Argonne Forest, Butte of Vauquois, on the Meuse, the Aisne, and around Reims.
19 January-26 April German and French attacks and counter-attacks in the Vosges Mountains, primarily on Hartmannswillerkopf (le Viel-Armand). 30,000, incl. 15,000 French
16 February-18 March Attacks by the French IV Army in Champagne (First Battle of Champagne) on 8km front between Beauséjour and Bois-Sabot. Advance made of only 1km. 140,000, incl. 93,000 French
17 February-24 May French and Germans engage in underground mine attacks on the Buttes of Eparges and Vauquois. French only: 40,000, incl. 5,000 "vanished"
10 March British assault on Neuve-Chapelle with minimal gains British only: 12,000
22 April-25 May Second Battle of Ypres. First use of gas by German army against French forces.
2 May-15 June Russian Gorlice–Tarnów Offensive in Eastern Prussia (Poland) resulting in collapse of the Russian lines and mass surrenders
8 May-15 July German attacks in the Argonne. French counter-attack on 14 July French only: 80,000
Seeking the "Breakthrough"
9 May-24 June French offensive in Artois (Second Battle of Artois). French X Army twice attempts to take Vimy Ridge (9-15 May and 16-24 June) but fails. 175,000, incl. 102,000 French
22 September Preparatory French artillery bombardment begins in Champagne
25 September-6 November French offensive in Champagne (Second Battle of Champagne). French II and IV Armies attack twice (25-29 September and 6 October). 400,000, incl. 190,000 French (of which 50,000 dead)
25 September-15 October French offensive in Artois (Third Battle of Artois). French and British attack but make minimal progress. 160,000, incl. 50,000 French
Dardanelles and Balkans
19 February Beginning of Dardanelles campaign. Long-range bombardment of the Turkish works at Kum-Kale and Sedd-ul-Bahr.
18 March Allied naval squadron pushes into the Dardanelles Straits and duels with Turkish batteries. Three warships sunk including the battleship Bouvet.
25 April-October Allied amphibious assault on the Gallipoli penninsula. Offensive against Krithia and Mount Achi Baba. 500,000, incl. 52,000 French
5 May-7 August Battle de Krithia - Kereves Dere (Gallipoli). Anglo-French attacks result in minimal gains.
3 October Creation of the Army of the Orient, intended to support Serbia
8 December Evacuation of the remaining Allied expeditionary units from the Dardanelles to Salonika.
12 December Army of the Orient falls back to the entrenched camp of Salonika
21 February-18 December Battle of Verdun ~710,000, including ~380,000 French (of which 160,000 dead)
21 February German opening bombardment and assault on the right bank of the River Meuse.
25 February Fort Douaumont falls. General Pétain assumes command of the Verdun sector.
6 March German assault on the left bank of the Meuse
9 April-29 May General German assault on both banks of the Meuse, assault on Mort-Homme
1 May General Pétain replaces General Langle de Cary as head of the Center Group of Armies, General Nivelle replaces Pétain at Verdun.
4-29 May German offensive on Hill 304 and Mort-Homme
22 May French assault (General Mangin) to retake Fort Douaumont fails
7 June Fort Vaux falls to Germans after 7-day assault
23 June Germans resume offensive on right bank of the Meuse. Germans take Thiaumont works, from the Fleury to Sainte-Fine Chapel.
11 July German offensive halted at Fort Souville
1-6 August Final German offensive on the right bank of the Meuse
24 October General French offensive (General Mangin) on the right bank of the Meuse. Fort Douaumont is retaken.
2 November French retake Fort Vaux
15-18 December Renewed French offensive, retaking of Hardaumont Range and much of the ground lost in February.
The Somme
24 June Preparatory Allied artillery bombardment begins along the River Somme
1 July-20 November Battle of the Somme~1,200,000, incl. 200,000 French (of which 50,000 dead)
1 July Allied offensive north of the Somme. French VI Army (General Fayolle) makes good initial progress seizing all first-day objectives (German first line) and many objectives in second line.
10 July French forces have advanced 10km to outskirts of Péronne, taking 12,000 prisoners, but must halt their advance due to negligible progress by British forces.
14 July New British offensive along the Somme. In British sector, German second line is finally taken.
18 July German counter-attack on the Bois Delville
3 September French VI Army relaunches offensive on 3 September, followed the next day by French X Army (General Micheler)
15 September British offensive resumes. First use of tanks on the battlefield.
20 September German counter-attacks are repulsed
October 5 French V and X Armies make final push
20 November Allied offensive called off
12 December General Pétain replaces General Joffre as commander-in-chief of the French army.
Aisne offensive
8 March Start of the Russian Revolution
15 March Tsar Nicholas abdicates the throne
16 March Operation "Albéric": Germans begin withdrawal to Hindenburg Line, between the Somme and the Oise.
6 April United States declares war on Germany
9-16 April British attack in Artois. Canadians capture Vimy Ridge.
9-15 April French III Army assault on Saint-Quentin is checked
16 April-20 May Chemin-des-Dames "Nivelle" offensive (Second Battle of the Aisne) with large deployment of tanks350,000, incl. 187,000 French (130,000 by April 25 alone)
29 April First outbreak of mutiny among French troops. Incidents of mutinies and general insubordination would increase in number in May, topping off in June.
15 May General Pétain replaces Nivelle as commander of the French Armies of the North and North-East.
Limited offensives
28 May-7 June BEF attack and reduction of the Messine salient
25 June First American troops land in France.
31 July-10 November Third Battle of Ypres (Passchendaele). British and French (I Army) attacks on Ypres salient fail.
31 July Beginning of Franco-British offensive in Flanders
20 August-21 September French offensive at Verdun (main efforts on 20-26 August and 7-8 September)
7 November Russian "October Revolution" begins
23-26 October Battle of Malmaison
20-30 November British offensive on Cambrai with massive deployment of tanks
16 December
German offensives
21 March-5 April Operation "Michael": German offensive against the British III and V Armies on the Somme, between Bapaume and Noyon in the direction of Amiens. Intervention of French reserves.
26 March General Foch appointed as Supreme Allied commander-in-chief
9-30 April Operation "Georgette": German offensive in Flanders to take Lys. French intervention. Half of the French army positioned north of the River Oise. French only by 1 May: 340,000
27 May-6 June Operation "Blücher": German offensive on the River Aisne. Disaster of the French VI Army.
1-26 June 26 American forces engage Germans in Battle of Belleau Wood.American only: 10,000
9-13 June Operation "Gneisenau": German offensive agaist the French III Army. Battle of Matz. French counter-attack on 11 June.
15 July-2 August Opertation "Friedensturm"("Assault for Peace"): German offensive in Champagne (Fourth Battle of Champagne). French IV Army north of Reims resists, V and VI Armies are beaten back. X Army counter-attacks at Viller-Cotterets. French only for July: 210,000
Allied counter-attack
8-10 August Franco-British offensives in Picardie and around Matz.
20 August-3 September Second phase of releasing offensives. French X Army attacks north of the Aisne. British offensives in Artois and Soissons, withdrawal of German army to Hindenburg Line (20km retreat). The line is reached on 10 September. French only for August: 170,000
12-16 September Reduction of Saint-Mihiel sailient by Franco-American offensive
15 September In Macedonia, rupture of the Bulgarian front by the Army of the East
26-30 September Allied general offensive against the Hindenburg Line. Meuse-Argonne Offensive: French IV Army and American I Army attacks on a front from Moronvillers to the Meuse. 410,000, incl. 122,000 Americans and 70,000 French. French only for September: 100,000
29 September Bulgaria signs armistice with Allied powers
October Army of the East offensive extends in three directions: Constantinople, Roumania, and Hungary.
4-12 October South of the Oise, French forces push German army back to Hunding Line. North of the Oise, on 8 October Germans begin retreating to Hermann Line.
8 October-November American forces pushes German army back to Hermann Line, devolves into a general fighting withdrawal.
14-26 October Allied general offensive against Hermann-Hunding-Brunhild Line. Taking of the Lille-Roubaix-Tourcoing Triangle. The Frontier of the Pays-Bas reached on 20 October. Hermann-Hunding Line taken between the Escaut and the Argonne. French only for October: 133,000
31 October-November General push between the Frontier of the Pays-Bas and the River Moselle. An offensive is planned in Lorraine for 14 November.
11 November The Armistice is signed by Germany
French total cas.: ~1,500,000 killed, ~3,200,000 wounded

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