1916 witnessed two of the most decisive battles of World War One – at Verdun and the Somme. 1916 is seen as the year when the armies of Britain, France and Germany were bled to death.

January 1st: Riots in Austria-Hungary forced down the price of grain and flour as set by the government.


February 21st: Start of the Battle of Verdun; Germany bombarded French positions for 9 hours and then occupied the first line of French trenches.


February 25th: Fort Douaumont, Verdun, was captured by the Germans. Pétain was put in charge of the defence of Verdun.


February 21st: Germany informed America that armed merchant ships would be treated in the same manner as cruisers.


February 26th: Germany ended her first offensive against Verdun.


March 18th: Russia started an offensive against German positions in Vilna. Made limited territorial gains but suffered very heavy casualties.


March 24th: British cross-channel steamer ‘Sussex’ was torpedoed with Americans among those lost.


April 9th: The Germans launched a major offensive against Le Mort Homme at Verdun but failed to capture it.


April 25th: The German Navy bombarded Great Yarmouth and Lowestoft.


April 29th: British forces surrendered to Turkish forces at Kut in Mesopotamia.


May 1st: British Summer Time introduced as a “daylight saving” measure. Nivelle appointed commander of the French 2nd Army.


May 25th: Universal conscription introduced to Great Britain.


May 31st: Battle of Jutland.


June 4th: The Brusilov Offensive started.


June 7th: French defenders at Fort Vaux, Verdun, surrendered to the Germans.


June 8th: The fortification at Thiaumont is taken by the Germans but immediately retaken by the French. During the Battle of Verdun, the fortification changed hands 16 times.


July 10th: Start of the cruise by U-35, which proved the most destructive of the war with 54 ships sunk totalling 90,000 tons.


June 22nd: Phosgene gas used at Verdun by the Germans.


June 24th: The Allies opened up an artillery barrage along a 25-mile front against German trenches on the Somme.


July 1st: Start of the Battle of the Somme. Allied air supremacy was confirmed with 386 Allied fighters pitted against 129 German aircraft.


July 7th: British troops made an unsuccessful attempt to capture Mametz Wood, Somme.


July 10th: Start of the final German offensive at Verdun.


July 19th: Battle of Fromelles started


July 20th: The British attacked High Wood, but it was not captured until September 15th.


August 27th: Romania declared war on Austria-Hungary.


August 28th: Falkenhayn was dismissed from his post as commander-in-chief and replaced by Hindenburg. Italy declared war on Germany.


August 29th: Under the Hindenburg Programme, Germany was organised for a war economy.


September 15th: First en masse use of tanks at the Somme – the Battle of Flers-Courcelette.


September 20th: The Brusilov Offensive ended.


September 26th: The British captured Thiepval in the Somme.


October 8th: The German Air Force was created, amalgamating the various units of the German Air Service.


October 15th: Mata Hari executed.


October 24th: A French offensive captured Fort Douaumont.


October 28th: Oswald Boelke was killed in action. Boelke was credited with introducing new tactics that gave the German Air Force greater aerial dominance.


November 2nd: Fort Vaux recaptured by the French.


November 13th: Beaumont Hamel in the Somme was captured.


November 18th: Battle of the Somme ended.


December 7th: David Lloyd George became British Prime Minister. The new War Cabinet organised Great Britain for ‘total war’.


December 15th: Final French offensive in the Battle of Verdun.


December 16th: End of the Battle of Verdun


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April 2009