kingdom of Romania

 The Kingdom of Romania during World War 1

The Kingdom of Romania was neutral for the first two years of World War I, entering on the side of the Allied powers from 27 August 1916 until Central Power occupation led to the Treaty of Bucharest in May 1918, before re-entering the war on 10 November 1918.

It had the most significant oil fields in Europe, and Germany eagerly bought its petroleum, as well as food exports.

From the point of view of its belligerent status, Romania was a neutral country between 28 July 1914 – 27 August 1916, a belligerent country on the part of the Entente between 27 August 1916 – 9 December 1917, in a state of the armistice with the Central Powers between 10 December 1917 – 7 May 1918, a non-combatant country between 7 May 1918 – 10 November 1918, and finally a belligerent country in the Entente between 10 November 1918 – 11 November 1918.

At the start of World War I, King Carol favored Germany while the nation’s political elite favoured the Entente. As such, the crown council took the decision to remain neutral.

But after King Carol’s death in 1914, his successor King Ferdinand favored the Entente. For Romania, the highest priority was taking Transylvania from Hungary, with around 2,800,000 Romanians out of around 5,000,000 people.

The Allies wanted Romania to join their side in order to cut rail communications between Germany and Turkey and to cut off Germany’s oil supplies.

Britain made loans, France sent a military training mission, and Russia promised modern munitions. 

The Allies promised at least 200,000 soldiers to defend Romania against Bulgaria to the south, and help it invade Austria.

At the outbreak of hostilities, the Austro-Hungarian Empire invoked a casus foederis on Romania and Italy linked to the secret treaty of the alliance since 1883.

However, both Italy and Romania refused to honor the treaty on the grounds that it was not a case of casus foederis because the attacks on Austria were not “unprovoked”, as stipulated in the treaty of alliance.

In August 1916, Romania received an ultimatum to decide whether to join the Entente “now or never”. 

Under the pressure of the ultimatum, the Romanian government agreed to enter the war on the side of the Entente, although the situation on the battlefronts was not favorable.

The Romanian campaign was part of the Eastern Front of World War I, with Romania and Russia allied with Britain and France against the Central Powers of Germany, Austria-Hungary, the Ottoman Empire, and Bulgaria.

Fighting took place from August 1916 to December 1917 across most of present-day Romania, including Transylvania, which was part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire at the time, as well as in Southern Dobruja, which is currently part of Bulgaria.

The Romanian Campaign Plan (The “Z” Hypothesis) consisted of attacking Austria-Hungary in Transylvania while defending Southern Dobruja and Giurgiu from Bulgaria in the south.

Despite initial successes in Transylvania, after German divisions started aiding Austria-Hungary and Bulgaria, the Romanian forces (aided by Russia) suffered massive setbacks, and by the end of 1916 out of the territory of the Romanian Old Kingdom, only Western Moldavia remained under the control of the Romanian and Russian armies.

After several defensive victories in 1917 at Mărăști, Mărășești, and Oituz, with Russia’s withdrawal from the war following the October Revolution, Romania, almost completely surrounded by the Central Powers, was also forced to drop out of the war, it signed the Treaty of Bucharest with the Central Powers in May 1918.

The parliament signed the treaty, however, King Ferdinand refused to sign it, hoping for an Allied victory on the western front. 

On 10 November 1918, just one day before the German armistice and after all the other Central Powers had already capitulated, Romania re-entered the war after the successful Allied advances on the Macedonian front.

Kingdom of Montenegro

Montenegro during World War 1

Montenegro with a largely ethnic Serbian population was still a part of the declining Ottoman Empire at the turn-of-the 20th century.

Knjaz Nikola proclaimed an independent kingdom in Cetinje (1910).

He became Nikola I.

The common ethnicity meant there were close ties with already independent Serbia. The Montenegrins joined Greece, Serbia, and Bulgaria in the First Balkan War (1912).

The Montenegrins suffered substantial casualties.

The Balkan War formally secured Montenegro’s independence from the Ottoman Empire.

When Austria-Hungary attacked Serbia (August 1914).

The small Montenegrin army fought with the Serbs.

They helped occupy northern Kosovo which with the Central Powers offensive (October 1915) provided an escape route for the Serbian Army.

Montenegro like Serbia was overrun and occupied by the Central Powers (January 1916).

Nikola I signed the Corfu Declaration (July 1917). It affirmed the unification of Montenegro with Serbia after the War.

King Nichola was a strong believer in unification with Serbia to form a great Serbian state.

After the Austrian evacuation (October 1918) and the King’s return to liberated Montenegro, he proclaimed unification with Serbia (November 1918).

King Nicola quarrelled with King Alexander of Serbia over who should be the monarch of a united Serbia. King Alexander with a much larger army was able to engineer the dethroning and exiled of Nicola.


Greece during World War 1

At the outbreak of World War I in August 1914, the Kingdom of Greece remained neutral.

Nonetheless, in October 1914 Greek forces once more occupied Northern Epirus, from where they had retreated after the end of the Balkan Wars.

The disagreement between King Constantine, who favoured neutrality, and the pro-Allied Prime Minister Eleftherios Venizelos led to the National Schism, the division of the state between two rival governments. 

Finally, Greece united and joined the Allies in the summer of 1917.

Despite Greece remaining officially neutral, by September 1916 the country was effectively a battleground in the war.

The Bulgarians occupied eastern Macedonia, while relations with the Allies were marked by deep hostility and mistrust.

After repeated calls from Thessaloniki, on 25 September Venizelos, accompanied by many of his followers, sailed to Chania in his home island of Crete, with the intention of forming a revolutionary government. 

Although Venizelos stressed that his initiative served national rather than narrow party, interests it was welcomed in Crete and the islands of the eastern Aegean, which had been only recently seized during the Balkan Wars (when Venizelos had been prime Minister), but found few supporters in “Old Greece”, the pre-1912 territory of the kingdom.

Venizelos was joined by two respected military figures, Admiral Pavlos Kountouriotis and Lt.

General Panagiotis Danglis, in the so-called “triumvirate” (τριανδρία). Together they landed at Thessaloniki on 9 October and formed the Provisional Government of National Defence.

Soon recognized by the Allies, the new regime declared war on Germany and Bulgaria on 23 October and 24 October respectively.

Entente and Venizelist efforts to persuade the “official” royal government in Athens to abandon its neutrality and join them failed and relations irreparably broke down during the Noemvriana, when Entente and Venizelist troops clashed with royalists in the streets of the Greek capital.

The royalist officers of the Hellenic Army were cashiered, and troops were conscripted to fight under Venizelist officers, as was the case with the Royal Hellenic Navy.

Still, King Constantine, who enjoyed the protection of the Russian Tsar as a relative and fellow monarch, could not be removed until after the February Revolution in Russia removed the Russian monarchy from the picture.

In June 1917, King Constantine abdicated from the throne, and his second son, Alexander, assumed the throne as king (despite the wishes of most Venizelists to declare a Republic).

Venizelos assumed control of the entire country, while royalists and other political opponents of Venizelos were exiled or imprisoned.

Greece, by now united under a single government, officially declared war against the Central Powers on 30 June 1917 and would eventually raise ten divisions for the Entente effort, alongside the Royal Hellenic Navy.

United States of Brazil

United States of Brazil During World War 1

During World War I (1914–1918), Brazil initially adopted a neutral position, in accordance with the Hague Convention, in an attempt to maintain the markets for its export products, mainly coffee, latex, and industrially manufactured items.

However, following the repeated sinking of Brazilian merchant ships by German submarines, President Venceslau Brás declared war against the Central Powers in 1917.

Brazil was the only country in Latin America to be directly involved in the war.

The major participation was the Brazilian Navy’s patrol of areas of the Atlantic Ocean.

Brazil officially declared neutrality on August 4, 1914.

At the beginning of the war, although neutral, Brazil faced a complicated social and economic situation.

Its economy was largely based on exports of agricultural products such as coffee, latex, and very limited industrial manufacturing.

As these products exported by Brazil were not considered essential by foreign consumers, customs duties and export fees (the main source of government income) decreased as the conflict continued.

This was accentuated further by the German blockade of Allied ports, and then by a British ban on the importation of coffee into England in 1917.

This arose because the British government now considered the cargo space on ships necessary for more vital goods, given the great losses of merchant ships as a result of German attacks.

The Brazilian merchant ship Rio Branco was sunk by a German submarine on May 3, 1916, but as this was in restricted waters and registered under the British flag and with most of its crew composed of Norwegians, it was not considered an illegal attack by the Brazilian government, despite the public uproar the event caused.

Relations between Brazil and the German Empire were shaken by the German decision to introduce unrestricted submarine warfare, allowing its submarines to sink any ship that breached the blockade.

On April 5, 1917, the large Brazilian steamship Paraná (4,466 tons), loaded with coffee and traveling in accordance with the demands made on neutral countries, was torpedoed by a German submarine with three Brazilians being killed.

Kingdom of Belgium

 Kingdom of Belgium during World War 1

The history of Belgium in World War I traces Belgium’s role between the German invasion in 1914, through the continued military resistance and occupation of the territory by German forces to the armistice in 1918, as well as the role it played in the international war effort through its African colony and small force on the Eastern Front.

When World War I began, Germany invaded neutral Belgium and Luxembourg as part of the Schlieffen Plan, in an attempt to capture Paris quickly by catching the French off guard by invading through neutral countries.

It was this action that technically caused the British to enter the war, as they were still bound by the 1839 agreement to protect Belgium in the event of war.

On 2 August 1914, the German government demanded that German armies be given free passage through Belgian territory, although this was refused by the Belgian government on 3 August.

King Albert I addressed his Parliament on 4 August, saying “Never since 1830 has a graver hour sounded for Belgium.

The strength of our right and the need of Europe for our autonomous existence make us still hope that the dreaded events will not occur.”

The same day German troops invaded Belgium crossing the frontier at dawn. Liège was attacked on 4 August and fell on 7 August.

It is widely claimed that the Belgian Army’s resistance during the early days of the war, with the army – around a tenth the size of the German Army – holding up the German offensive for nearly a month, gave the French and British forces time to prepare for the Marne counter-offensive later in the year.

In fact, the German advance on Paris was almost exactly on schedule.

The German invaders treated any resistance—such as demolition of bridges and rail lines—as illegal and subversive, shooting the offenders and burning buildings in retaliation.

Flanders was the main base of the British Army and it saw some of the greatest loss of life on both sides of the Western Front.

Kingdom of Serbia

Kingdom of Serbia during World War 1

The Serbian Campaign is the series of campaigns launched against Serbia at the beginning of the First World War.

The first campaign began after Austria Hungary declared war on Serbia on 28 July 1914, the campaign to “punish” Serbia, under the command of Austrian Oskar Potiorek, ended after three unsuccessful Austro-Hungarian invasion attempts were repelled by the Serbs and their Montenegrin allies.

Serbia’s defeat of the Austro-Hungarian invasion of 1914 ranks as one of the great upsets of modern military history.

The Second Campaign was launched, under German command, almost a year later, on 6 October 1915, when Bulgarian, Austrian, and German forces, lead by Field Marshall August von Mackensen, invaded Serbia from three sides, pre-empting the Allied advance from Salonica to help her.

This resulted in the Great Retreat through Montenegro and Albania, the evacuation to Greece, and the establishment of the Macedonian front.

The defeat of Serbia gave the Central Powers temporary mastery over the Balkans, opening up a land route from Berlin to Istanbul, allowing the Germans to re-supply the Ottoman Empire for the rest of the war.

Mackensen declared an end to the campaign on November 24, 1915. Serbia was then divided and occupied by the Habsburg Empire and Bulgaria.

After the Allies launched the Vardar offensive in September 1918, which broke through the Macedonian front and defeated the Bulgarians and their German allies, a Franco-Serbian force advanced into the occupied territories and liberated Serbia, Albania, and Montenegro.
Serbian forces entered Belgrade on 1 November 1918.

The Serbian Army declined severely from about 420,000at its peak to about 100,000 at the moment of liberation.

The estimates of casualties are various: the Serb sources claim that the Kingdom of Serbia lost more than 1,200,000 inhabitants during the war (both army and civilian losses), which represented over 29% of its overall population and 60% of its male population, while western historians put the number either at 45,000 military deaths and 650,000 civilian deaths or 127,355 military deaths and 82,000 civilian deaths.

According to estimates prepared by the Yugoslav government in 1924, Serbia lost 265,164 soldiers or 25% of all mobilized people. By comparison, France lost 16.8%, Germany 15.4%, Russia 11.5%, and Italy 10.3%

Kingdom of Italy

Kingdom of Italy during World War 1

Before the outbreak of World War One Italy generally allied with Germany and Austria-Hungry as it was an official member of the Triple Alliance.

The Italians had enhanced its diplomatic relationships with Great Britain and France before the First World War Only a few days after the outbreak of World War One

the Italian Government led by Antonio Salandra would not commit any Italian Troops maintaining the Triple Alliance had only a defensive stance and that Austria-Hungry had been the aggressor of the First World War.

Italy refused to join the Germans and Austria Hungry and Italy entered the War on the allied side on May 15th, 1917.

The Italians suffered very heavy losses and made very little progress with continuous Attacks on Austria at the start of the Italians campaign.

The Italians success came in October 1918 with the Italians deep in Austrian Territory and fighting finally ended on November 3rd, 1918.

The Italian front or Alpine front (Italian: Fronte alpino, “Alpine front”; in German: Gebirgskrieg, “Mountain war”) was a series of battles at the border between Austria-Hungary and Italy, fought between 1915 and 1918 in World War I.

Following the secret promises made by the Allies in the Treaty of London, Italy entered the war in order to annex the Austrian Littoral and northern Dalmatia, and the territories of present-day Trentino and South Tyrol.

Although Italy had hoped to gain the territories with a surprise offensive, the front soon bogged down into trench warfare, similar to the Western Front fought in France, but at high altitudes and with very cold winters.

Fighting along the front displaced much of the civilian population, of which several thousand died from malnutrition and illness in Italian and Austrian refugee camps.

The Allied victory at Vittorio Veneto, the disintegration of Austria-Hungary, and the Italian capture of Trento, Bolzano, and Trieste ended the military operations.

Italy also refers to the Great War as the Third War of Independence, which completed the last stage of the Italian unification.

Empire of Japan

Empire of Japan during World War 1

Japan had been an ally with Great Britain since 1902.

On August 7th, 1914 British Government asked Japan for her assistance in destroying the German radars of the Kaiseriliche and also the Chinese waters.

Germany had failed to respond to the Japanese ultimatum sent on the 14th August 1914 and declared war on Germany 9 days later.

Japan pledged her alliance with The Entente Powers and played a major influence part in securing the sea lanes in the South Pacific and the Indian oceans.

Japan also declare war on Austria-Hungary as Vienna refused to withdraw the cruiser, Kaiserin Elisabeth, from Tsingtao.

On September 2nd, 1914 Japanese forces landed in Shandong Provence in China and seized several German island Colonies of the South Pacific.

The Japanese conducted the very first naval launched air raids on the Germans on September 6th, 1914.

The Japanese seaplane carrier “Wakamiya” launched an unsuccessful attack on the Austria-Hungarian cruiser, Kaiserin Elisabeth. ‘

The Siege of Tsingtao came to end with the Germans forces surrendering on November 7th, 1914.

Russian Empire

Russian Empire during World War 1

Russia entered into World War I on July 28, 1914, when the Austro-Hungarian Empire declared war on Russia’s ally Serbia.

Russia sent an ultimatum to Austria-Hungary stating, if Austria-Hungary showed aggression toward its allies, they would meet with military action.

Once Austria-Hungary declared war on Russia Germany followed suit.

In accordance with its war plan, Germany ignored Russia and moved first against France—declaring war on August 3 and sending its main armies through Belgium to attack Paris from the north.

The invasion of Belgium caused Britain to declare war on Germany on August 4.

The main parties were now at war. 

Soon Turkey joined on Germany’s side, and later Italy on the Allied side.

Historians on the causes of World War I have emphasized the role of Germany and the Austro-Hungarian Empire.

The consensus of scholars includes scant mention of Russia, and briefly mentions Russia’s defense of Orthodox Serbia, its pan-Slavic roles, its treaty obligations with France, and its concern for protecting its status as a great power.

The Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austro-Hungary was assassinated by Bosnian Serbs on 28 June 1914 to protest the Austrian takeover of a largely Slavic province.

Vienna was unable to find evidence that Serbia had sponsored the assassination but a month later issued an ultimatum to Serbia, which it knew would be rejected and thus lead to war.

Austria-Hungary felt that Serbia had to be destroyed or else it would destabilize Austria by alienating Austria’s very large Slavic minority element.

Russia did not have a treaty obligation to Serbia but stood in opposition to Austria for control of the Balkans.

From a long-term perspective, Russia was militarily gaining on Germany and Austro-Hungary, and thus had an incentive to wait.

Most Russian leaders wanted to avoid war.

However, in the present crisis, they had the support of France, and they feared that failure to support Serbia would lead to a loss of Russian credibility and a major political defeat to Russia’s goals for a leadership role in the Balkans.

Tsar Nicholas II mobilised Russian forces on 30 July 1914 to threaten Austria if it invaded Serbia.

Christopher Clark states: “The Russian general mobilisation [of 30 July] was one of the most momentous decisions of the July crisis.”

This was the first of the general mobilisations.

It came at the moment when the German government had not yet even declared the State of Impending War”.

Germany now felt threatened by Russia and responded with her own mobilisation and declaration of war on 1 August 1914.

At the opening of hostilities, the Russians took the offensive against both Germany and Austria-Hungary

France & Empire

France and Empire during World War 1

During World War I, France was one of the Triple Entente powers allied against the Central Powers.

Although fighting occurred worldwide, the bulk of the fighting in Europe occurred in Belgium, Luxembourg, France, and Alsace-Lorraine along what came to be known as the Western Front, which consisted mainly of trench warfare.

Specific operational, tactical, and strategic decisions by the high command on both sides of the conflict led to shifts in organizational capacity, as the French Army tried to respond to day-to-day fighting and long-term strategic and operational agendas.

In particular, many problems caused the French high command to re-evaluate standard procedures, revise its command structures, re-equip the army, and to develop different tactical approaches.

Upon mobilization, Joffre became Commander-in-Chief of the French Army. Most of his forces were concentrated in the northeast of France, both to attack Alsace-Lorraine and to meet the expected German offensive through the Low Countries.

First Army (7th, 8th, 13th, 14th, and 21st Army Corps), with the objective of capturing Mulhouse and Sarrebourg.
Second Army (9th, 15th, 16th, 18th, and 20th Army Corps), with the objective of capturing Morhange.

Third Army (4th, 5th, and 6th Army Corps), defending the region around Metz.

Fourth Army (12th, 17th and Colonial Army Corps) held in reserve around the Forest of Argonne

Fifth Army (1st, 2nd, 3rd, 10th, and 11th Army Corps), defending the Ardennes.

Over the course of the First World War, another five field armies would be raised.

The war scare led to another 2.9 million men being mobilized in the summer of 1914 and the costly battles on the Western Front forced France to conscript men up to the age of 45.

This was done by the mobilization in 1914 of the Territorial Army and its reserves; comprising men who had completed their peacetime service with the active and reserve armies (ages 20–34).

In June 1915, the Allied countries met in the first inter-Allied conference. Britain, France, Belgium, Italy, Serbia, and Russia agreed to coordinate their attacks but the attempts were frustrated by

German offensives on the Eastern Front and spoiling offensives at Ypres and in the hills west of Verdun.

By 1918, towards the end of the war, the composition and structure of the French army had changed. Forty percent of all French soldiers on the Western Front were operating artillery and 850,000 French troops were infantry in 1918, compared to 1.5 million in 1915.

Causes for the drop in infantry include increased machine guns, armored cars, and tank usage, as well as the increasing significance of the French air force, the Service Aéronautique.

At the end of the war on November 11, 1918, the French had called up 8,817,000 men, including 900,000 colonial troops.

The French army suffered around 6 million casualties, including 1.4 million dead and 4.2 million wounded, roughly 71% of those who fought.