An A to Z of World War One

An A to Z of World War One

A

Allies: the armies, primarily, of Britain, France, Russia and America.

Armistice: November 1918 - an agreed cease-fire in the war that proved to be the end of the war

ANZAC’s: force from Australia and New Zealand. Suffered badly at Gallipoli.

B

Beatty, David: Admiral in the British Navy; fought at Jutland.

Brest-Litovsk, Treaty of: signed between Russia and Germany. It took Russia out of the war in 1917 and took huge amounts of Russian land away from the country.

British Expeditionary Force (BEF): the professional army of Britain that went to France in 1914. Referred to as "contemptible" by Kaiser Wilhelm II. 100,000 soldiers were hastily sent to France at the start of the war but the BEF had lost 50,000 men by December 1914. Fought on the Battle of Mons

C

Caporetto, Battle of: a battle in north Italy that lead to the destruction of the Italian Army

Central Powers: Germany, Austria and Turkey

Conscription: introduced in 1916 in Britain. So many men had been killed that volunteers simply did not make up the loss. Conscription is where men of a certain age had to join the military (health permitting). Others became conscientious objectors.  

Chlorine: one of the poison gases used during the war.

Court Martial: a military court to try soldiers. It had the right to pass the death sentence.

D

Dreadnought: the name given to a new ‘breed’ of ship in the British navy. The first of these new super-large battleships was launched in 1906 and lead to a naval race between Britain and Germany. This naval race was one of the long term causes of World War One.

E

Execution: usually for cowardice in the face of the enemy. 332 British soldiers were executed in the war. A campaign is still running to get these men officially forgiven as "shell shock"  victims but was not recognised by the military then as a genuine reason for failing in your duty.

F

Foch, Ferdinand: Generalissimo of Allied forces in 1918.

Front Line: the area of trenches nearest to the enemy

G

Gallipolli, Battle of: Winston Churchill’s plan to relieve the fighting in western Europe was an attack in Turkey. It proved to be a disaster for the ANZAC’s - Australian and New Zealand forces who suffered very bad casualties.

H

Haig, Field Marshall: commander of British forces at the Somme. His leadership during this battle has its supporters and critics.

I

Infantry: soldiers who fought on foot. Took many casualties from machine gun fire, poison gas and poor and out-of-date tactics. Suffered trench warfare.

J

Joffre, Joseph: senior French army commander

Jutland, Battle of: the only major naval battle of the war. No conclusive outcome though Britain claimed a victory.

K

Kaiser: Germany’s king - William II. Spelt Wilhelm in German.

Kitchener: Minister of War and in one of the most famous posters of all time - "Your country needs you". Killed when his ship was torpedoed.

L

Lloyd George, David: British Prime Minister at the start of the Somme campaign.

M

Marne, Battle of: battle where the British and French stopped the German advance in 1914 - to the south of Mons

Mons, Battle of: where the BEF hindered the advance of the Germany Army into France in August 1914 and thus reduced the chance of any success for the Schlieffen Plan. Mons is north-east of Paris.

Mustard Gas: one of the poison gases used on the Western Front

N

No Man’s Land: land between the British/French trenches and the German trenches.

O

Ostend: Belgium port; the northern most extent of trenches. A target for the Allies to stop German U boat activities.

P

Passcendaele, Battle of: near Ypres. The "Battle of Mud".

Pétain, Philippe: French army commander most associated with Verdun.

Phosgene: poison gas used in the war.

Poppy: associated with the slaughter on the Somme and became the symbol of the British legion after the war.

Q

Q ships: Disguised British armed naval vessels that looked like an unarmed schooner and sailed in waters known to contain German U boats. They tried to catch U boats on the surface.

R

Rats: plagued soldiers from all sides in the trenches. Carried disease which could spread to soldiers.

Royal Flying Corps: the forerunner of the Royal Air Force.

S

Schlieffen Plan: devised by Schlieffen of the Germany Army before the war. The plan = Russia would take 6 weeks to get her army ready. In this time, Germany would attack France, defeat her and then turn the full force of her army against the Russians. It failed.

Somme, Battle of: fought mainly between the British and German armies in 1916. The plan was to relieve the French at Verdun but the battle bled both British and German armies and achieved little.

T

Tanks: first seen in this war. Failed badly in the Somme but much more successful at the Battle of Flers.

Tannenburg, Battle of: a battle on the Eastern Front in which the Russian Army suffered very bad losses against the Germans.

"Tommy": nickname for the British soldier probably from a musical hall soldier called Tommy Atkins.

Treaty of Versailles: peace terms signed by Germany in June 1919.

Trench War: forever linked to World War One. When the German advance failed in 1914, no-one was sure what to do. So they dug in and trench warfare lasted for the next 3 years.

Trench Foot: if soldiers could not keep their feet dry, they could get this. It could lead to the more serious gangrene.

U

U Boats: German submarines. Used against merchant ships and one sunk the Lusitania which brought America into the war. Towards the end of the war, British submarines were especially active north of Kiel.

V

Verdun, Battle of: fought between the Germans and the French. Verdun was near a series of forts and the French believed that they should not lose it. Both sides suffered huge losses. To help the French, Britain attacked the Germans at the Somme.

Vimy Ridge, Battle of: fought between the Canadians and the Germans to control the ridge at Vimy north of Arras.

W

Western Front: name of the front line that ran through France and Belgium. For three years, as a result of trench warfare, it barely moved a great deal.

X

 

Y

Ypres, Battle of: Ypres was a famous medieval city but was destroyed in the series of battles that took place here. Adolf Hitler fought in these battles for the German Army.

Z

Zeppelins: large air ships used by Germany to bomb Britain. Very vulnerable to attack.






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