British battles of the Great War

A party of the 55th (West Lancashire) Division going into action near Bethune during the Battle of The Lys in April 1918. Copyright image Q341 from the Ministry of Information First World War Official Collection held at the Imperial War Museum, with my thanks. The division's defence of Givenchy on 9 April 1918 and following days was one of the turning points of the war on the Western Front.

France & Flanders: the Western Front

Background articles

The Long, Long Trail contains much information on how and why the army came to be fighting on the Western Front...
Why Britain went to war in 1914 > Strategy
Parliament commits Britain to war in France > Grey's speech
Public proclamations of mobilisation > Proclamations
Lloyd George commits the army to an unwanted extension of the line in 1918 > Lloyd George
Manpower crisis in 1918 forces reorganisation > Manpower
Overall chronology of the Great War > Chronology


Articles on each officially-named battle

First phase: a war of encounter and movement, leading to both sifdes digging in and trench warfare beginning
Battle Dates
The Battle of Mons and subsidiary actions 23 - 24 August 1914
The Battle of Le Cateau and subsidiary actions 26 August - 1 September 1914
The Battle of the Marne 1914 7 - 10 September 1914
The Battle of the Aisne 1914 and subsidiary actions 12 - 15 September 1914
The Defence of Antwerp 4 - 10 October 1914
The Battle of La Bassee 10 October - 2 November 1914
The Battle of Messines 1914 12 October - 2 November 1914
The Battle of Armentieres 13 October - 2 November 1914
The Battles of Ypres 1914 ("First Ypres") 19 October - 22 November 1914


Second phase: entrenched siege warfare in which British work to French strategy
Winter Operations 1914-1915 23 November 1914 - 6 February 1915
The Battle of Neuve Chapelle and subsidiary actions 10 March - 22 April 1915
The Battles of Ypres 1915 (Second Ypres) 22 April - 25 May 1915
The Battle of Aubers 9 - 10 May 1915
The Battle of Festubert 15 - 25 May 1915
Other actions in Spring 1915 15 June - 9 August 1915
The Battle of Loos and associated actions 25 September - 18 October 1915
Actions in Spring 1916 14 February - 13 June 1916
The Battles of the Somme 1916 1 July - 18 November 1916
Operations on the Ancre 11 January - 13 March 1917
German Retreat to the Hindenburg Line 14 March - 5 April 1917
The Arras Offensive and associated actions 9 April - 16 June 1917


Third phase: entrenched siege warfare in which British and Commonwealth forces begin to play the leading role
The Battle of Messines 1917 and associated actions 7 June - 11 July 1917
Operation Hush, 1917 Cancelled
The Battles of Ypres 1917 (Third Ypres, or Passchendaele) 31 July - 10 November 1917
The Cambrai Operations and associated actions 20 November - 30 December 1917


Final phase: return to open warfare as German offensives are held and Allied ones succeed
The First Battles of the Somme 1918 and associated actions 21 March - 4 July 1918
The Battles of the Lys 9 April - 29 April 1918
The Battle of the Aisne 1918 27 May - 6 June 1918
The Battles of the Marne 1918 20 July - 2 August 1918
The Battle of Amiens and associated actions 8 August - 17 August 1918
The Second Battles of the Somme 1918 21 August - 3 September 1918
The Advance in Flanders 18 August - 6 September 1918
The Second Battles of Arras 1918 26 August - 3 September 1918
The Battles of the Hindenburg Line and associated actions 12 September - 12 October 1918
The Final Advance in Flanders 28 September - 11 November 1918
The Final Advance in Artois 2 October - 11 November 1918
The Final Advance in Picardy 17 October - 11 November 1918


Other theatres

The Long, Long Trail also includes histories of the major campaigns outside the Western Front.

  • The Mesopotamia campaign > Mesopotamia
  • The Gallipoli campaign > Gallipoli
  • The campaign in Egypt and Palestine > Palestine
  • The campaign in the Western Desert > Desert
  • The campaign in Salonika > Salonika
  • The campign in Italy > Italy
  • I hope to add pages on the campaigns in Africa and North Russia in due course

Commander's Despatches

British Commanders-in-Chief of each theatre of war or campaign were obliged to report their activities and achievements to the War Office in the form of a despatch. They were published in the London Gazette. Many had attached lists of men deemed worthy of a mention, although it is rare to find any text explaining the precise reason why a particular individual was chosen. The despatches form a most valuable condensed history of each campaign:

The campaign in France and Flanders (Western Front)

The campaign at the Dardanelles (Gallipoli)

The campaign at Salonika

The fighting in Ireland

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Related information

11 November 1918: Crowds waving and smiling around the Victoria Memorial outside Buckingham Palace in London on Armistice Day. It is over - and the British Armies have secured victories against all enemies. ImageQ47894 courtesy of the Imperial War Museum.



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