The First World War was the most important conflict of the 20th-century, and to this day we live in its shadow.  As just one example, the near-endemic conflict between Israel and Palestine is the direct result of the peace settlement of the First World War, whereby the Ottoman Empire was carved up by the victorious British and English, and wartime pledges to both Jewish groups and Arabs led them to believe they would assume ownership over Palestine in its entirety.  The war transformed Europe - four great monarchies were swept away, and it heralded the end of European dominance on the global stage.  It was the First World War that propelled the United States to become the dominant superpower, in no small part because all of the other Great Powers spent over four years annihilating each other.  The war created the Soviet Union, and gave birth to the ideological struggles that would dominate the world until the end of the Cold War.  The war devastated the European economy, with London ceding its role as the global capital of commerce to New York.  Old cultural certainties were swept away, while gender norms were upset.  In many ways, the true beginning of the 20th-century was in 1914, and the world that marched to war in those summer days would never be seen again.  Indeed, in practical terms the Second World War was nothing more than an (incomplete and partially-failed) attempt to tie up some of the loose-ends of the First World War.

What this blog seeks to do is to bring the First World War 'back to life' on the occasion of its 100th anniversary.  To do so, each day will be posted those events of the war that occurred precisely 100 years previously.  I make no claim to be presenting a comprehensive history of the war, though needing to find something to post about each day will necessitate attention to detail.  The content will likely be skewed somewhat towards my personal interest in British and Imperial history, though every effort will be made to discuss all aspects of the war, and I hope to show how the war was truly a global conflict.  In truth, one of the aims of this project is to show that there was much more to the First World War than the muddy trenches and futile offensives of the Western Front that have become the dominant popular memory of the conflict.  By taking its history one day at a time, perhaps something can be shown of the diversity both of the war itself and the experiences of those whose lives were touched by it.

I have no particular expectations of this project, either in terms of audience or even whether I will see it through to completion.  Having taught courses on the First World War at the university level, the project is in many ways my last link to academia, having now moved on to other work.  Plus, if nothing else I am fascinated at the idea that as we live out our normal day-to-day lives, precisely one hundred years ago the world was being transformed - perhaps this project will show something of the world that was lost, and the world that was wrought.

A few caveats:

  • All times are local to where the events described occurred, unless otherwise noted.
  • Place names will generally be those most recognizable to modern eyes, though I cannot pledge to always follow this in practice.
  • All sources used for this project are academic works, such as books, journal articles, etc.  Wikipedia et al will be avoided at all costs - old habits die hard!
  • I cannot promise that all images used are open-source or out of copyright - if you see anything that I should not be using, please let me know.
  • 'Empire' and 'Imperial' refer to the British Empire, including the four dominions (Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa).
  • Finally, I am a neophyte to such online projects - my apologies for the spartan appearance, and all suggestions for improvement welcome!


  1. Hi, thanks for all the work done! Can you please tell me from which book the battle maps come from? Especially the maps you used for 16th of May 1915 (battle of Opatow). I'd like to buy the book where these maps come from.

  2. Why did you not continue writing your day by day? It's the best thing I've read!