Why World War One?

The long Failure of Western Arms.


Chronology of events involving militarisation and development towards World War One.

(Wars and Aggression in bold. Peace in Italics.

1820s Little warfare in Europe outside Greece after long Napoleonic wars. Craft industries making guns and swords cut back after the sixteen years of European war. Ottoman Empire weakens. Spain and Portugal lose colonies and face internal collapse. Britain carries on accumulating colonies and industrializes around railways, cotton etc..

1820-22 Ecudorian War of Independence against Spain.

1821-9 Spanish attempt reconquest of Mexico and Cuba, but fail. Mexico independent.

1821-32 Greek War of Independence. Massacres on both sides.

1821-3 Ottoman-Persian (Iran) War.

1822 – February to 1823 November Brazilian War of Independence from Portugal.

1823-31 First Anglo-Ashanti War. British attack Ashantis from the Cape. In 1831 Sha River accepted as border.

1824 British attack Burma.

1825 26/12 December revolt in Russia against new Tsar Nicholas I.

1825-30 Java War between Dutch and Prince Diponegoro. 200,000 die. Dutch win.

1826 Ten year old Alfried Krupp becomes head of failing Essen works.

1827 20/10 Battle of Navarino in Greek war of Independence. British, French, Russians against Turkish fleet.

1828 Firm of Naylor, Hutchinson, Vickers and Company comes into being in steel production

1828-34 Portuguese Civil War.

1830s Industrialisation in Britain ahead of most other countries in Europe. Reform in Europe with a series of revolutions against autocratic regimes. European industrialisation gets underway. Colonial conquests. United States wars with the Indian Tribes as immigrants head west. Ottoman Empire weak. Beginnings of industrial arms production.

1830 July Revolution in France replaces Charles X with constitutional monarchy of Louis Phillippe.

1830 25/8 Belgium breaks from Kingdom of the Netherlands. Establishes independence.

1830 29/11 Polish November Uprising in Warsaw against Russia crushed by Russian Imperial Army.

1831 Royal Enfield Small Arms Factory threatened with closure.

1830-47 French conquest of Algeria from Ottoman control.

1831-2 Baptist war in Jamaica. 60,000 mainly Baptist slaves led by pastor to rebel seeking emancipation. Brutally put down by plantation owners. Emancipation in 1833.

1831-3 Ottoman-Egyptian War for Syria. Ottomans defeated..

1833-9 Civil War in Spain.

1834-6 Britain fights Xhosa, murders Chief Hintsa.

1835 Samuel Colt’s revolver patented.

1836 Schneider-Le Creusot munitions company founded.

1838 Alfried Krupp goes to Sheffield to find out how to make good steel.

1838 Battle of Blood River between Boers and Zulus.

1839 27/3 British opium supplies confiscated in China.

1839 July. Beginning of Opium Wars.

1840s US WARS WITH INDIAN TRIBES. COLONIAL WARS. OPIUM WAR. 1848 Revolutions. European Conservatives want weapons to put down rebellions. Railway expansion increases demand for iron and steel.

1840 Ernst Benzon becomes agent for Vickers.

1840 June. British Indian Army arrives in China to start Opium War. Modern muskets and cannon defeat Chinese.

1843 Treaty of Nanking. China pays indeminity to Britain, cedes Hong Long for 150 years and opens four ports to Britain.

1843-6 New Zealand Land Wars as settlers take land from Maoris.

1845-6 British East India Company wars against Sikhs. Partial subjugation of Punjab.

1846-8 United States invasion of Mexico. Mexico cedes New Mexico and California.

1847 Prussia receives first Krupp steel cannon.

1848 20/3 Polish uprising against Russian and Prussian control.

1848 French Revolution. Paris uprising against Conservatives who had overthrown Louis Philippe. Universal suffrage 2/3. Economic difficulties. Louis Napoleon III comes to power Second Empire.

1848 March. Uprisings in Prussia, Baden, Palatinate for more liberal regimes.

1848 24/7 Italian uprising against Austrian control. Squashed.

1848 Austro-Hungarian Hapsburg Empire has revolution and counter-revolution.

1849 →United States - Apache wars.

1850s First steel industrial cannon come onto world market. Armstrong and Krupp get going. TAIPING REBELLION – CHINESE CIVIL WAR 20-30 MILLION DIE. CRIMEAN WAR and other wars open up demand for weapons. First moves to iron ships. Birmingham and other weapons centres flourish.

1850-64 TAIPING REBELLION. Chinese Civil War. Lead by Hong Xiuquan, copied west, rich, dissolute. 20-30 million die. European arms companies supply weapons. Krupp gets going on cannon. Bessemer steel starts.

1850-52 Eighth Xhosa War. British led by inept Governor Sir Harry Smith.

1851 Massive Krupp steel ingot at Crystal Palace exhibition.

1852 Anglo-Burmese War British East India Company takeover.

1853 July. Tsar Nicholas sends troops into Ottoman-Empire controlled Moldavia and Wallachia.

1853 United States enforces commercial treaty on Japan with warships.

1854-6 CRIMEAN WAR. High demand for weapons. Defeat for cavalry by musket fire. 500,000 die.

1854 25/10 Charge of the Light Brigade. Later “Thin Red Line” routed Russian Cavalry charge. Superiority of musket over cavalry charge twice shown.

1854 December. Sebastopol deaths described by Tolstoy.

1854 Over the next decade 4 million gun barrels were proved in Birmingham.

1855 Paris World Exhibition.

1855 Armstrong produces first breech-loading cannon.


1854-73 Miao rebellion against Qing Dynasty 4 million deaths.

1856 Bessemer steel.

1856 Krupp gets order for 200 cannon from Egypt.

1856-1860 SECOND OPIUM WAR. Armstrong cannon used. Anglo-French against China.

1857 American railway crisis.

1957 5/11 Naylor, Vickers suspends payments

1858 French launch La Gloire – iron plates on wooden hull.

1858 Armstrong wins cannon competition over Whitworth.

1858 Remington 1858 revolver would become one of the main weapons in the American Civil War.

1859 Armstrong enters employ of Government. Knighted.

1859 Skoda works founded by Waldstein family.

1859 January Krupp gets order of 300 cannon from Wilhelm I of Prussia.

1860s AMERICAN CIVIL WAR promotes European munitions exports and leads to big changes in weapons technology in the States. Allows more continual weapons manufacture. Armstrong established at Elswick making cannon. Breech-loading guns. Vickers get going. Austro-Prussian War begins to show dominance of steel cannon. Birmingham Small Arms world leader. Clear world domination by western industrial arms.

1860 Britain launched HMS Warrior an iron hulled ship.


1861-65 AMERICAN CIVIL WAR. Munitions technology developed rapidly. Ironclads. Rifled cannon. Minié ball. Repeating weapons. Colt. Remington. Smith and Wesson. Springfield and Enfield Rifles. Gatling Gun. Imports from Europe. One million died.

1861 Springfield Model 1961 most widely used rifle in American Civil War, followed by Enfield 1853.

1861-5 Birmingham sends 800,000 guns to American Civil War. Both sides.

1862 Krupp opens Bessemer Steel furnace.

1862 October. Elswick gun contracts terminated. Armstrong moves over to working at Elswick permanently.

1862-3 British Government approaches Krupp to buy guns when Armstrong deal becomes complicated.

1863 BSA sell 50,000 rifles to Ottoman Empire.

1863 Armstrong gun used extensively in New Zealand Wars.

1863 TNT invented by German chemist, Julius Wilbrand, to be used as a dye..

1864 Geneva Convention addressed treatment of the wounded and captured. Henri Dunant and Gustave Moynier.

1864 Japan intimidated by combined British, French, Dutch fleet.

1864 Armstrong selling guns to Italy. Armstrong provide for Egypt, Spain, Turkey.

1865 British began using breech-loading rifles.


1865 Krupps supply artillery to Austro-Hungary.

1866 PRUSSIAN WAR AGAINST AUSTRO-HUNGARY. Attacked by Krupp cannon.

1864-70 Weapons exports encourage War of triple Alliance aganst Paraguay.

1866 Von Roon tries not to get Krupp to sell guns to Bavaria.

1866 Prussia invades Austria with Krupp cannon.

1867 17/4 Vickers and Sons incorporated. Tom Vickers steel maker. Edward the entrepreneur.

1967 Armstrong builds first iron-clad battleships for Austria.

1867 1/4 Paris International Exhibition opens 9 million visitors.

1867 Dynamite invented.

1868 BSA largest small arms producer in Europe.

1869 Tolstoy’s War and Peace published

1869 Emil Skoda buys Pilsen works and creates big munitions company and steelworks.

1870s FRANCO-PRUSSIAN WAR. British firm of Armstrong moves into steel battleship construction and Krupp takes off on cannon production after Franco-Prussian War and has close links with the Kaiser. Munitions firms move close to European governments. Countries buying best European weapons begin to win wars against their rivals and are encouraged to fight.

1870-1 FRANCO-PRUSSIAN WAR. Krupp cannon defeat Napoleon III at Sedan. Bombardment of Paris. Success of Krupp cannon leads to vastly expanded production. Workforce grows to over 10,000.

1870 Armstrongs link with Gatling.

1871 British begin making torpedoes.

1874 Brussels International Conference for codification of war.

1875 Military humiliation of Japan.

1876 GREAT SIOUX WAR. General Custer. Many Sioux and Cheyenne wiped out with Springfield rifles.

1877 Great Schneider steam hammer built at Le Creusot.

1877-78 RUSSO-TURKISH WAR. Romania, Serbia, Montenegro independent of Ottoman Empire. Turkey buys British and American rifles. German artillery.

1877 British annexes Transvaal because it wanted control of diamond mining. Resented by Boers.

1879 ANGLO-ZULU WAR. Bartle Frere starts it. British lose to Cetshwayo initially then recover.

1879 WAR OF THE PACIFIC between Chile, Peru and Bolivia. Chile win with British ships.

1879 Tolstoy’s Confession published.

1880s British Naval Construction begins to dominate world markets and European military rivalry becomes entrenched. British Imperialism in Southern Africa. FIRST BOER WAR. Maxim gun. Naval panics used to bring in orders, but play on people’s fear. Kaiser and Von Tirpitz face Brits showing off navy, want one too.

1880-1 BASUTO GUN WAR. Basutoland independent. Bartle Frere (again) tried to subdue it. Asked natives to give up their guns, bought in the Orange Free State. They would not. Defeated Brits through guerrilla tactics.

1880-81FIRST BOER WAR. Defeat of Cetshwayo allowed Boers to oppose British. British soldiers dressed in red so that they could easily be shot. Brits lose battles of Laing’s Nek, Schuinschoogte and Majuba Hill. Gladstone now Prime Minister sued for peace.

1881 SUDAN WAR. Mahdi’s revolt in Sudan.

1883 Armstrong linked with Mitchell in new public company. Builds new yard at Elswick.

1884 2.48 million men under arms (armies and navies) in major powers[i].

1884 Maxim Gun Company formed by Vickers.

1884 18/1 Gordon leaves Britain to fight Mahdi

1884 18/2 Gordon in Khartoum. Siege begins. First British Naval scare.

1885 25/1 End of Siege of Khartoum.

1886 Gold discovered in Witwatersrand.

1886-90 Military tension between Spain and Portugal. Armstrong supplies.

1887 Vickers commit fully to armaments.

1887 Queen’s Golden Jubilee Review of Navy at Spithead.

1887 Vickers link with Nordenfeld guns and submarines.

1887 Japan starts buying battleships from Armstrong and Vickers for first class navy.

1888 Maxim gun licence to manufacture granted to Krupp.

1888-9 Second British Naval Scare.

1889 Naval “panic” against France. Naval Defence Act pushes up British naval budget to £22.5 million.

1889 5-6/8 Kaiser Wilhelm and Admiral Von Tirpitz guests at Spithead Review of the Fleet.

1890s Peace Movements gain coherence under Tolstoy’s influence. Gladstone’s warning about European militarism. CHILEAN CIVIL WAR. Rival British and German naval companies set up their interest groups. Hague Peace Conference defeated from carrying out any signifiant disarmament.

1890-93 Military tension between Chile and Argentina. Armstrong supplies battleships.

1891 Chilean Civil War between the Army and the Navy after period of heavy military expenditure. The Navy won, largely with British ships.

1891 2/5 Great Royal Navy Exhibition Chelsea

1892 Jackie Fisher appointer Comptroller of the Navy.

1892 Another naval panic against France gets underway.

1893 22/6 MHS Victoria and Camperdown collide. Third Naval Panic.

1893 Tolstoy’s The Kingdom of God is within You published.

1893 Gladstone resigns refusing to agree an increase in Naval Budget. Warns of generating a European conflagration.

1893-5 John Brown build 8,000 ton armour forging press and rolling mill. Cammells also into arms.

French-Russian dual alliance.

1893 Leo Tolstoy’s The Kingdom of God is within You addresses militarism and non-violence.

1894 11/12 British Navy League formed by naval forms and supporters.

1894 October. Harvey Syndicate to keep up munitions prices among Vickers, Armstrong, Krupp, Schneider, Dillinger, Bethlehem, Carnegie etc.

  • The Flottenverein, the German Navy League formed to promote German Navy by Victor Schweinburg. Modelled on the British Navy League.

1896 First Armenian massacres carried out by Turkey.

1896-7 British Naval Estamates £22million, up £3mn.

1897 Parsons set up full production steam turbines.

1897 Schneider 75mm Field Gun first produced. Technical lead. 15 rounds a minute up to 5 miles.

1897 Vickers become totally armaments company and build battleships integrated. Using Barrow shipyards by taking over Naval Construction and Armaments Company Limited..

1897 Vickers fully take over Maxim-Nordenfeld.

1897 Mass export of Birmingham rifles to Afghanistan militarises tribesmen.

1898 Dum dum bullets outlawed because they were inhumane.

1898/9 Over 7,500 Dukhobor pacifists go to Canada freed from prison, funded by Tolstoy’s novel Resurrection.

1899 Hague Peace Conference. Set up by Nicholas II of Russia. Aim not to increase arms or budgets for a while and then to reduce them. 26 States. Conventions to settle disputes peacefully, and properly conduct war on land and at sea. Prohibition of chemical gas weapons. Britain does not co-operate Boer Wars and colonial wars.

  • Phillipine Uprising against United States Occupation.

1899 Work starts on the War Office in Whitehall.

1899-05 Somali Jihad against Britain, Italy and Ethiopia.

1900 BOER WAR. BOXER UPRISING. SOMALI JIHAD. PHILLIPINE UPRISING DEFEATED BY COLONIAL UNITED STATES. British use Concentration Camps in South Africa. German Naval law passed. European armies grow.

1/1 Britain grabs direct control of southern Nigeria.

24/1 Boer victory at Spion Kop.

28/2 British relief of Ladysmith from Boers.

5/3 Kruger peace offer to British. Turned down.

7/4 US power in the Philippines extended.

30/4 Hawaii becomes US territory.

17/5 British relief of Mafeking.

12/6 Second German Naval Act aims at a fleet of 38 battleships in 20 years.

13/6 – 14/8 BOXER UPRISING against Europeans in NE China.

July-August. International western force defeats Boxers in China.

6/10 Kruger denied audience by Wilhelm II

16/10 Salisbury and Conservatives returned in Kharki election.

17/10 Von Bulow is German Chancellor.

November British concentration camps in South Africa.

6/11 William KcKinley, Republican, re-elected President.

9/11 Russia in Manchuria negotiates with Chinese.

14/12 Secret French-Italian agreement on North Africa.

3.34 million men under arms in major powers[ii]

1901 BOER WAR. BOXER UPRISING. SOMALI JIHAD. PHILLIPINE UPRISING. Queen Victoria dies. Russia has underlying instability because of Tsarist autocracy.

January. Kitchener attacks Boers in scorched earth policy.

22/1 Queen Victoria dies. Kaiser present at her death. Edward VII accedes to throne.

28/2 Boer War peace negotiations fail. British refuse amnesty.

March. Russian riots.

20/5 End of US military rule in Cuba

June. Morocco seeks French, German, British agreement.

12/6 Cuba becomes a US protectorate.

July. Abraham Kuyper Government formed in the Netherlands. Tries to mediate in Boer War, refused. Dutch concern at British behaviour.

7/8 Kitchener issues ultimatum for surrender to Boers.

September Anti-militarist demonstrations in France. Anti- Drefusards pro militarist.

6/9 President McKinley shot. Teddy Roosevelt succeeds.

7/9 Peace of Beijing. China to pay indemnity to western powers for Boxer uprising.

25/10 Joseph Chamberlain makes anti-German speech.

18/11 Panama Canal discussed US-Britain.


20/1 Britain forms Treaty with Japan.

Vickers acquire Beardmore’s Glasgow armour plating.

26/3 Cecil Rhodes dies.

31/3 British Forces in Tibet mow down Tibetans with Maxim machine guns.

12/4 Kitchener begins to push Boers towards a peace proposal.

15/4 Sipoyagin murdered in Russia. Peasants’ revolt suppressed.

31/5 End of Boer War. Peace of Vereeniging.

28/6 renewal of triple Alliance between Germany, Austria and Italy for six years.

28/6 US buys control of the Panama Canal.

30/6 Colonial Conference in London backs Imperial Preference Tariffs.

11/7 Lord Salisbury retires as British Prime Minister, succeeded by Arthur Balfour.

9/8 Coronation of Edward VII and Queen Alexandria in Westminster Abbey

16/10 Roosevelt ends US coal strike.

1/11 Franco-Italian Entente. Italy neutral if France attacked

7/12 Joint British, German and Italian blockade of Venezuela to enforce debts arranged by Kaiser and Edward VII.

11/12 Britain attacks Tibet under influence of Curzon using trumped-up reason.

18/12 First meeting of Committee of Imperial Defence.


1/1 Edward VII holds Durbar At Delhi.

13/2 End of Venezuela Blockade. US concern about Monroe Doctrine.

February. Casement Report of atrocities in the Congo against African and Indian labourers by traders.

15/3 British forces complete conquest of Northern Nigeria.

April Britain and France oppose German construction of Baghdad Railway.

May. Campaign against atrocities in Congo.

10/6. Trappen, Skoda’s Director tries to push through arms sale with Serbia.

10/6. King of Serbia Alexander I and his wife assassinated. Dragutin Dimitrijevic, leader of the Black Hand movement in the military first emerges in Serbia.

6-9/7 Britain and France begin discussions on Entente Cordiale.

20/7 Pope Pius X elected.

25/7 Arthur Henderson elected to Commons in by-election.

August. Lord Curzon prepares invasion of Tibet. Younghusband’s force moves in and starts fighting. Maxim guns.

August. At London Congress Russian Social Democrats split into Mensheviks (Democrats, Whites) led by Plecharov and Bolsheviks (Militarists, Reds) led by Vladimir Illich Lenin.

12/8 Japanese interchanges with Russia over Manchuria.

16/9 Franz Joseph unifies Austro-Hungarian Army.

18/9 Joseph Chamberlain resigns from Balfour Government over Imperial Preference.

October Anglo-Russian tensions over Persia.

20/10 Britain gives deciding vote for Alaska joining US rather than Canada.

18/12 United States Treaty with Panama gives them Canal Zone.

1904 SOMALI JIHAD. JAPANESE-RUSSIAN WAR STARTS. BRITAIN MASSACRES TIBETANS, THEN CONQUERS TIBET. European powers maneouvring for alliances. United States under Roosevelt becomes dominant new world power.

8/2 Japan attacks Russia and then declares war.

March Massacre in Tibet using Maxim guns to mow down Tibetan forces.

April. Naval Expenditure £42 million. Naval Expenditure on new construction fell slightly.

1/5 Japan defeats Russian army at Xinyizhou.

May. Cheaper cross Atlantic rates means more than a million a year going to the United States.

12/9 Britain wins in Tibet, forces Treaty on Tibetans “ramming it down their throats”. Tibet to pay indemnities for having been attacked by the British. Well, fair’s fair.

3/10 Secret Spanish-French Agreement to control Morocco.

October. Jackie Fisher becomes First Sea Lord and begins to get rid of substandard battleships.

21/10 Russian Fleet bound for Japan mistakes fishing vessels on Dogger Bank for Japanese fleet, sinks one vessel. British indignation. Hague Court settles compensation.

8/11 Theodore Roosevelt (Republican) elected United States President. Stronger imperial and military policy.

23/11 Russian negotiations with Germany for an alliance break down because Russia has prior loyalty to France. Russian-French arms deals through Schneider and banks.

1905 SOMALI JIHAD. JAPANESE-RUSSIAN WAR – RUSSIA DEFEATED. Tsar weakened even further – attempted Russian revolution. Fall in British budget for naval construction, but Fisher lays down Dreadnought. Russian defeat leads to big arms deals with France and Britain for better weapons. Anti-Jewish pogroms in many Russian cities. New British Liberal Government raises hopes of stronger containment of arms and navy. Japan subdues Korea.

2/1 Russia surrenders Port Arthur to the Japanese.

22/1 “Bloody Sunday” in St Petersburg where crowd led by priest are fired on outside the Winter Palace.

19/2 – March. Battle of Mukden – Russian army defeated and Japanese control Manchuria.

3/3 Tsar Nicholas agrees to wide-ranging reforms.

31/3 Kaiser Wilhelm visits Tangier to test French attitudes and Entente Cordiale. It holds.

30/4 British and French hold discussions on military co-operation.

May. German-French tensions over Morocco.

27/5 Battle of Tsushima – Russian Baltic Fleet destroyed.

Spring Arthur Lee, Civil Lord of the Admiralty, talks about using first strike against Germans. Reported in German and raises fear and zenophobic reaction.

7/6. Norway decides to separate from Sweden. It goes ahead peaceably.

28/6 Mutiny on battleship Potempkin. Naval unrest at defeat and military pressure on Tsar Nicholas. Re-arming begins.

George Bernard Shaw’s Major Barbara hits the stage.

5/9 Treaty of Portsmouth between Japan and Russia. Japan disappointed by result of Treaty. Russian fleet two thirds destroyed and Tsar faces rebellion at home. Russia removed as a naval threat.

Balfour’s reduction in naval estimates. Britain builds four ships and Germany builds two.

Fisher moves over to Dreadnought naval strategy.

10/11. First Dreadnought laid down.

18/11 Japan begins to exercise control over Korea. Emperor of Korea forced to sign Treaty giving Japan control over foreign policy.

5/12. Liberals form British Government under Henry Campbell-Bannerman. Move away from armaments. Grey becomes Foreign Secretary.

1906 Mulliner starts scare. Bribery outlawed. Fisher’s Naval Recession in Britain to get more advanced ships. Dreadnought launched.

Schneider sells guns to Bulgaria.

March Von Tirpitz, under threat of resignation, gets promise of response to Dreadnaughts

No orders for Coventry Ordnance Works.

British Corrupt Practices Act.

May. Mulliner communicates to Admiralty and War Office “vast German scheme of expansion.”

5/6 Third German Naval Bill gives Tirpitz some increases in battleship construction.

27th July 50% cut in Britain’s capital ship construction estimates announced.

November. Germany plans widening of the Kiel Canal to take Dreadnought type battleships.

December. Dreadnought launched. Fisher’s programme of Dreadnought construction underway.

4/12 Number of workers at Woolwich Arsenal cut by a third in favour of private interests.

1907 Hague Peace Conference meets and fails to broker disarmament.. Failure to co-operate by Germany and other military powers, backed by munitions’ people. In November Germans announce naval expansion.


15/6-18/10 Hague Peace Conference. Attempt at stopping arms race fails. Germany opposes naval limitation.

Triple Alliance of Germany, Austria and Italy renewed for six years, though Italy reluctant.

Deutsche Waffen and Munitions Factory inserts ads describing the great advance in French Army machine guns, then uses these ads to get bigger government orders for their machine guns.

25/7 Japan has full control of Korean Government.

Summer. Successful flights of Zeppelins up to 200 miles.

18/11 Germans announce 25% increase in naval building plans over the next five years.

Cammell Laird struck off list of contractors for Navy and Army

31/8 Russia moves towards alignment with Britain and France.

/12 Lenin leaves Russia until 1917.

16/12 US Fleet of sixteen battleships goes on round the world tour.

1908 Year of increasing British German tension. The Kaiser is a problem. Mulliner still gets nowhere with his scare until the Summer.

1/2. King Carlos of Portugal and Crown Prince murdered in Lisbon.

14/2 Kaiser’s letter to Lord Tweedmouth assuring him that the German Navy was no threat.

4/3 Colonel Repington accuse Kaiser of trying to influence Naval policy.

6/3. Cambell-Bannerman retires as liberal Prime Minister and is replaced by Asquith.

14/6. German Navy Bill proposes four new Dreadnaughts.

/6 Mulliner-Blatchford public campaign against German naval expansion gets underway.

16/7 Lloyd George, Sir Edward Grey and Count Paul Metternich meet and discuss German Navy. Metternich points out the naval building is public as set out in Navy Bill. There is no secret building. Points out spy scares and press distortions.

August. Lloyd George visits Germany. Von Bülow keeps him away from the Kaiser. Sees Zeppelin catch fire. Bethmann-Hollweg talks of ring of iron of France, Russia, Britain.

20/8 Leopold II hands over Congo to Belgium from being a personal fiefdom.

16/9 Russia agrees Austrian annexation of Bosnia and Herzegovina and Austria agrees to opening of Dardenelles to Russian warships.

25/9 Casablanca incident between Germany and France.

Autumn 1908 Cabinet told of Mulliner’s claims.

27/10 Kaiser’s indiscrete Daily Telegraph interview.

3/11 Taft beat William Jennings Bryan in United States’ Presidential Election.

November Mulliner gets hearing from Generals and Admirals, but they do not trust him.

10-11/11 German Reichstag debates Kaiser’s Daily Telegraph interview. Anger at Kaiser and Britain.

3.99 million men under arms in major powers.[iii]

No orders in Coventry Ordnance Works

1909 Dreadnaught scare. “We want eight and we won’t wait.” German concern about misinformation. Sultan of Turkey deposed. Lloyd George Budget.

1/1. Slight decline in employment figures at Krupp’s over previous two years.

9/2 Germany and France sort out Morocco tension.

February. Mulliner interviewed by Imperial Defence Committee, by Cabinet in presence of Fisher and Jellicoe and sees McKenna. Cabinet Committee appointed to investigate. Concludes later that Mulliner is “completely inaccurate”.

2/3 Powers intervene to prevent an Austro-Serbian War.

March – Mulliner panic in the press.

12/3 “We want eight and we won’t wait.” panic leads to acceptance of large naval estimate for eight Dreadnaughts.

22/3 Asquith condemns panic as unscrupulous misrepresentation of the situation in Commons. Grey says that he accepts that Germans do not intend to accelerate their programme.

9/4 Great powers recognize Austro-Hungarian annexation of Bosnia-Herzogovina.

27/4 “Young Turks” depose Sultan of Turkey. Is succeeded by his brother Mohammed V who rules until 1918.

29/4 Lloyd George’s “People’s Budget”

17/6. Nicholas II and Wilhelm II meet.

14/7 Bethman Hollweg is German Chancellor after von Bülow.

24/7 Aristide Briand forms new ministry after Clemenceau.

25/10 Japan imposes dictatorship in Korea after murder of Prince Ito.

30/11 House of Lords throws out Lloyd George budget by 350 to 75.

1910 British Constitutional Reform of Lords. International tensions fall.

15/1 British General Election over Lloyd George’s Budget, Lords’ Reform results in reduced Liberal majority.

20/2 Boutros-Ghali, the first native Prime Minister of Egypt, a Christian Copt, is shot by Nationalist.

31/3 Dissolution of Greek Military League.

27/4 “People’s Budget” of Lloyd George passed.

6/5 Edward VIII dies. Succeeded by George V.

26/5 Pope Pius X encyclical angers Germans by criticisms of Luther and Reformation.

27/5 Prussian diet rejects reform of suffrage.

4/7 Russo-Japanese agreement on Manchuria and Korea.

22/8 Japan annexes Korea.

7/9 Hague Court arbitrates US-Britain over Newfoundland.

4/11 Nicholas II and Wilhelm II agree over Baghdad railway.

20/11 Leo Tolstoy dies.

12 British election again returns Liberals and guarantees passage of Parliament Bill and Home Rule for Ireland.

1911 Parliament Act passed. Agadir Crisis increases tension and hardens relationships between Germany and France, Britain and Russia. Russian Prime Minister assassinated. French-Russian rapprochement.

17/1 Attempted assassination of Aristide Briand in French Chamber of Deputies.

23/2 French vote for two more battleships.

24/2 Reichstag passes expanded army bill.

27/2 Resignation of Aristide Briand’s ministry.

23/5 London Imperial Conference.

26/5 Reichstag allows former French territory Alsace Lorraine relative autonomy.

22/6 Coronation of George V.

1/7 German gunboat to Agadir starts Agadir Crisis.

10/7 Russia notifies Germany of its support for France.

21/7 Lloyd George comes out against Germany on Agadir. Metternich is recalled to Berlin.

31/8 French-Russian military conversations.

14/9 Assassination of Stolypin, Russian prime minister.

9/10 Launch of George V super Dreadnaught.

23/10 Churchill moves to the Admiralty.

4/11 Agadir Crisis formally brought to a close. German climbdown.

12/12 George V holds great Delhi Durbar.

30/12 Vickers bribes Admiral Matsumoto for sale of battle-cruiser, Congo. Against 1906 British Corrupt Practices Act

1912 Republic in China. Suffragettes. Socialists strong in Germany. Woodrow Wilson elected US President. BALKAN WAR

2/1 Socialists strongest party in Reichstag elections.

10/1 Poincaré succeeds Caillaux as French Prime Minister.

12/2 Manchu Dynasty ends. Republic in China.

14/3 Taft forbids shipment of arms to Mexico.

19/3 Tom Mann arrested for inciting soldiers to mutiny.

28/3 British Women’s Franchise Bill rejected.

15/4 Titanic goes down.

22/5 Reichstag adjourned following Socialist attacks on the Kaiser.

30/9 Bulgarian and Serbian armies mass for attack on Turkey.

17/10 BALKAN WAR. Turkey, Bulgaria, Serbia.

26/11 Lansbury loses Bow election on women’s suffrage.


1913 Heavy military build-up across main European Powers. Churchill’s “Naval Holiday” rejected. SECOND BALKAN WAR. King of Greece assassinated. MEXICAN CIVIL WAR.

5/1. Von Jagow becomes German Foreign Minister.

21/1 Aristide Briande becomes French Prime Minister.


4/3 Wilson becomes US President.

18/3 French Senate rejects PR and Briande resigns.

30/5 Peace treaty after First Balkan War.

26/6 Bulgaria signs defensive treaty with Austro-Hungary.


30/6 Reichstag passes bill to fund large increase in army.

10/7 Russia declares war on Bulgaria.

12/7 Turkey re-enters war.


1/8 Krupp Bribery trial involving Pfeiffer and Brandt giving inside information on contracts and bribing state officials.

21/10 Churchill suggests naval holiday to try to get escalation of naval rivalry under control. Rejected both in Germany and Britain.

1/11 German military mission to Turkey to help them improve army.

8/11 Brandt of Krupp convicted of bribery.

4-6/12 Zabern Affair where the Military, Government and Kaiser face overwhelming censor vote in Reichstag.   

13/12 Britain and France oppose German-Turkish military convention.

1914 THE GREAT WAR. Events leading to the outbreak of the Great War. July assassination of Franz Ferdinand. Start of WWI 4.60 million men under arms in major powers, after mobilisation this rises to 8.43 million. [iv]

8/1 German General Otto Liman von Sanders becomes inspector-general of Turkish army.

15/2 Franco-German agreement on Baghdad railway.

14/3 Turkish-Serbian Peace Treaty

20/3 Curragh Mutiny near Dublin against action in Northern Ireland.

April. Deutsche Waffen and Munitions Factory/Steyr Works in Austro-Hungary deliver 200,000 German designed rifles to Serbia. They would shortly be used against Austro-Hungary.

May. Large delegation from Krupps invited to and inspects Beardmore’s Armaments and Shipbuilding Company heavy gun making.

25/5 Irish Home Rule Bill passed in Commons.

15/6 British-German Agreement on the Baghdad Railway

28/6 Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife assassinated in Sarajevo by Gavrilo Princip, a Serb.

5/7 Germany promises support to Austro-Hungary for any conflict with Serbia, the so-called "blank cheque" from the Kaiser.

8/7 Ulster resists Home Rule.

20-29/7 French President Poincaré visits Russia.

23/7 Austro-Hungary issues ultimatum to Serbia.

24/7 Edward Grey proposes four power mediation of Balkan Crisis, but Serbia appeals to Russia.

28/7 Austro-Hungary declares war on Serbia.

30/7 Jean Jaurès is murdered in Paris.

August. Widening of the Kiel Canal to allow Dreadnought battleships passage completed.

1/8 GREAT WAR STARTS. Germany declares war on Russia who is already mobilized against Austro-Hungary.

4/8 Germany declares war on France and invades Belgium and France.

4/8 Britain declares war on Germany.

23/8 Japan declares war on Germany.

26-28 Germans defeat Russians at battle of Tannenberg in East Prussia.

5/9 Battle of the Marne slows German advance.

17-18/9 Western Front established through from Switzerland to North Sea.

5/12 Mussolini repudiates Socialism.

12/10 First Battle of Ypres

1915 THE GREAT WAR. Gallipoli failure. Germans win on Russian Front. US tensions with German subs. ARMENIAN MASSACRES. Lloyd George becomes Minister of Munitions. US lends Britain $500 million for arms.

3/1 Germans start using gas.

18/1 Japanese ultimatum to China.

19/1 First German zeppelin raid in East Anglia.

30/1 First German submarine attack.

4/2 German submarine blockade announced.

18/3 Three allied battleships sunk in Dardanelles.

8/4 Armenian massacres start in Turkey.

22/4 German offensive. Second Battle of Ypres

22/4 Germans use chlorine. Allied gas attacks within six months.

25/4 Gallipoli landings British, French, Australians and New Zealanders.

26/4 Secret Treaty to tie Italy on Allies side. Mussolini paid by

7/5 Germans sink Lusitania killing 1200.

14/5 Insurrection in Portugal against military ruler.

15/5 Fisher resigns on Dardanelles policy.

26/5 Asquith re-orders coalition with Lloyd George as Minister of Munitions. Lloyd George begins total re-organisation of munitions output


3/6 Russian Southern Front collapses.

9/6 William Jennings Bryan resigns as President Wilson moves towards war.

23/6 German Social Democrats manifesto argues for negotiated peace.

27/7 Revolution in Haiti.

29/7 US Marines land in Haiti. Stay for 34 years.

5/8 Germany captures Warsaw and moves East.

6/8 More Gallipoli landings. Not successful.

12/10 Nurse Edith Cavell executed by the Germans for aiding British and French soldiers.

15/10 J.P. Morgan organizes and co-ordinates $500 million loan to Britain and France.

28/10 Briand forms ministry in France.

13/11 Churchill resigns after the failure of the Gallipoli landings.

21/11 Italy agrees not to make a separate peace.

3/12 Joseph Joffre becomes French Commander in Chief.

15/12. Unmasking of US Navy League as a general sales- promotion bureau for munitions and steel groups.

19/12 Haig becomes British Commander in Chief

21/12 William Robertson becomes Chief of Staff.

1916 GREAT WAR CONTINUES. BATTLES OF VERDUN AND SOMME. Tank Warfare Starts. Easter Rising in Ireland. BATTLE OF JUTLAND. Wilson re-elected President. Lloyd George becomes Prime Minister. German Peace Note. Conscription in Britain.

27/1 Labour Conference votes against conscription.

21/1-18/12 all year. BATTLE OF VERDUN. Germans and French suffer about 400,000 casualties each.

29/2 British Black List of firms not to be traded with.

2/3 Russians advance into Turkey

15/3 Von Tirpitz resigns as Secretary of State for the Navy.

17/3 -4/4 Clyde strike of munitions workers.

24/3 Passenger ship Sussex sunk by German sub. US passengers.

27/3 Allied War Conference in Paris.

13/4 In States Bethlehem Steel bribes newspapers to oppose Government steel armour plant rather than Bethlehem’s factory.

24/4 Easter Uprising in Dublin by Irish republican Brotherhood and Sein Fein.

5/5 German pledge not to sink boats without warning.

31/5 -1/6 Battle of Jutland between British and German Fleets. British lost more ships but German fleet corralled in habour.

13/6 General Smuts defeats Germans in Tanzania.

18/6 Russians victory at Cernowitz.

1/7- 19/11 BATTLE OF THE SOMME. British and French casualties 620,000 and German casualties 450,000.

27-30/8 Romania and Italy join Allies and declare war on Germany and Austro-Hungary.

15/9 British use tanks in Somme offensive.

7/11 Woodrow Wilson re-elected to Presidency on “He kept us out of the war” slogan.

28/10 Germans deport 60,000 Belgians to work in Germany.

November. Setting of Solzhenitsyn’s novel. November 1916.

7/12 Lloyd George becomes Prime Minister after Asquith forced to resign.

12/12 German Peace note to Allies about negotiation rejected.

20/12 President Wilson’s peace note to both sides.

23/12 Anger over refusal to bomb Comité des Forges iron ore basin and blast furnaces at Briey near Thionville even though they we vital to the German war effort because the company wanted them back unbombed at the end of the War.

31/12 Rasputin murdered

1917 GREAT WAR. Russian Defeat. White and Red (October) Revolutions. United States enters the War

22/1 Wilson’s “Peace without victory” appeal for an armistice.

Winter foods shortages in central Europe.

1/2 Germans unrestricted submarine warfare.

3/2 US liner sunk by submarine.

1/3 Zimmerman telegram proposing German link with Mexico to attack the United States.

8/3 US Marines land in Cuba to occupy it.

8-14/3 the February Revolution, white revolution, against Tsar.

15/3 Tsar Nicholas II abdicates.

16/3 Germans withdraw in West to Hindenburg Line.

6/4 President Wilson calls sessions of Congress and the United States declares war on Germany.

Lenin publishes “The State and Revolution”

April. Allied advances on western front.

17/4 munities in French forces.

30/4 Lloyd George oders admiralty to use convoys.

14/6 American Expeditionary Force arrives.

12/7 Germans use mustard gas. 160,000 casualties.

14/8 China declares war on Germany and Austria.

1/9 German offensive on eastern front.

14/9 Kerensky declares republic.

22/10 Congress of Soviets passes resolution for armistice.

2/11 Balfour, British Foreign Secretary issues Balfour declaration on home rule for Israel.

7/11 (26th October in Russian Old style calendar) Russian Revolution. Lenin and Bolsheviks seize Winter Palace in St Petersburg.

26/11 Russian Soviet Government offers armistice.

29/11 Lord Landsdown letter to Telegraph suggesting compromise peace with Germany rejected by Lloyd George.

5/12 German/USSR Treaty of Brest-Litovsk discussed .

1918 FINAL YEAR OF GREAT WAR. First World War ends in Novemberafter heavy fighting in western front.. The War to end all Wars. Resentment at the rich munitions manufacturers who had made money out of the deaths of millions. Russian Revolution. Churchill Minister for War.

8/1 President Woodrow Wilson identifies 14 points for world peace later used in League of Nations Covenant.

28/1 Red Army founded.

3/3 Bolsheviks sign Treaty of Brest-Litovsk to get out of War. Cede territory to Germans.

3/3 Russian Capital moves from Petrograd (St Petersburg) to Moscow.

21/3 – 17/7 Ludendorff’s German Spring Offensive on Western Front. The big bulge. Germans push towards Paris. Krupp’s Big Bertha used to shell Paris.

1/4 Royal Air Force founded.

14/4 Foch is Supreme Commander of all Allied Forces.

1/5 Germans occupy Sebastopol.

15-17/7 Second Battle of Marne halts German Advance.

18/7 Allied counter-offensive against Germans – fast after 8th August.

8/8 Allies break German line.

29/9 Ludendorff approaches Allies for Armistice.

24/10 Collapse of Austro-Hungarian army on Italian Front.

26/10 Ludendorff resigns.

4/11 Allies sign armistice with Austro-Hungary.

11/11 Armistice signed between Allies and Germany. END OF THE GREAT WAR.

13/11 USSR annuls Brest-Litovsk treaty..

18/11 Kolchak and others form White challenge to Bolsheviks.

29/11 Socialist Revolutionary Forces in Germany suppressed.

1/12 Allied Occupation of Germany starts.

14/12 British General Election. Conservatives dominate Lloyd George led Government.

14/12 Woodrow Wilson arrives for Versailles Peace Conference.

30/12 Spartacists found German Communist Party.

1919 The Versailles Conference and Peace. AFGHANISTAN WAR OF INDEPENDENCE. RED/WHITE RUSSIAN CIVIL WAR. The Red Scare. The Great Munitions Recession. Churchill fights the Reds.

3/1 Herbert Hoover is Director-General of Commission for Relief and Reconstruction of Europe.

5-15/1 In Spartacist (Communist) uprising in Berlin Karl Liebknecht and Rosa Luxembourg shot.

5/1 German Workers Party formed. Hitler attends.

18/1 Versailles Conference opens. Clemenceau chairs it.

19/1 German elections won by Social Democrats (38%) and Centre Party (19%).

25/1 Proposals for founding the League of Nations accepted at the Versailles Peace Conference. Covenant of the League of Nations Para5 of Article 8 declares grave objections to the manufacture of weapons by private companies.

3-9/2 Denikin’s White Army routs Bolsheviks in Caucasus.

6/2 Weimar National Assembly convenes Ebert becomes President.Scheidemann forms ministry of Social Democrats and Centre Party.

14/2 Woodrow Wilson lays League of Nations Covenant before Versailles Conference.

21/2 Kurt Eisner, Bavarian Prime Minister, is assassinated in Munich.

28/2 Senator Lodge begins campaign against League of Nations in the States.

10/3 Riots in Egypt put down by British.

15/3 American soldiers meet in Paris and found the American Legion for veterans.

23/3 Mussolini founds Fascist Party.

4/4 Philippines demands independence from USA.

April United states bomb plot uncovered to mail 36 bombs to figures on the Right.

8/4 Red Army enters Crimea.

13/4 Amritsar Massacre of Indians by Gurkhas in British Army.

30/4 Japan given Shandong. China leaves Versailles Conference.

1/5 Mayday marches in States put down by troops. Beginning of Red Scare

1/5 Red Army begins counter-offensive against Whites.

1/5 Bavarian army captures Munich from Communists.


7/5 Peace terms imposed on Germany. Reparations. Territory losses.

2/6 Eight bombs explode in American cities, one of them outside house of Palmer, Attorney General where the bomber was killed. Red Scare. Palmer raids. Palmer said Revolution would occur on 1st May, 1920.

3/6 Churchill’s support of White armies in Archangel.

19/6 Mustafa Kamal resist allies plans for Turkey.

20/6 German Chancellor Scheidemann falls for opposing Peace Treaty. Gustav Bauer forms cabinet.

Summer. Woodrow Wilson gradually loses debate on League of Nations. He is ill.

28/6 German Representatives sign peace treaty in Hall of Mirrors, Versailles.

27-31/7 Race riots in Chicago and throughout US including lynchings.

11/8 Weimar Constitution set up.

2/9 Denikin’s white army enters Kiev.

25/9 Wilson on speaking tour suffers stroke.

27/9 Churchill’s British troops in Archangel withdraw.

October-December White armies defeated.

1920 Germany in chaos. Guns on the streets. Resentment to armistice terms. RUSSIAN CIVL WAR THROUGHOUT YEAR. RUSSIAN WAR WITH POLAND. Post-war recession in United States and Europe..

1/5 Predicted “American revolution” fails to materialize. Red Scare fades.

10/1 Ratification of the Treaty of Versailles. League of Nations comes into existence with 29 members immediately, others follow, but not the United States and China.

16/1 US Eighteenth Amendment for Prohibition of Alcohol passed.

16/1 US votes against joining the League of Nations.

28/1 Turkish national assembly established.

26/2 League of Nations takes over Saar region.

13-17 /3 Kapp Putsch in Berlin backing Kaiser tries military take- over in Germany.

Thompson in US invents submachine gun..

27/3 Bauer is succeeded by Hermann Müller as German Chancellor.

6/4-17/5 German troops suppress rebellion in Ruhr, French troops occupy area. Fritz Thyssen acts as nationalist rallying figure.

23/4 Turkish National Assembly finally opens in Ankara with Mustafa Kamal as President.

20/5 Assassination of President Carranza of Mexico. Huerta becomes provisional President.

4/6 Treaty of Trianon between Allies and Hungary imposes limits on Hungary’s armed forces and reparations.

6/6 German elections show swing away from Social Democrats and Centre Party towards extremists.

12/6 Republican Convention chooses Harding for Presidential and Coolidge for Vice-Presidential candidate.

5/7 Democratic Convention nominates Cox for Presidency and FDR for V-P.


8/7 Britain annexes Kenya.

September. Half a million Italian steel workers occupy factories and seek to run them.

16/9 Wall Street bomb frightens capitalists. Merely building explosives.

September League of Nations Brussels Economic Conference.

12/10 Russian Polish Peace Treaty ENDS RUSSO-POLISH WAR.

27/10 League of Nations moves to Geneva.

2/11 Harding becomes President and Republicans dominate in US elections.


23/12 Partition of Ireland Bill passed

1921 GREEK-TURKISH WAR. Gustav Krupp begins secret rearmament working on weapon designs. French invasion of Ruhr. Reparations lead to hyperinflation of the Mark. Social Democrat-Centre Party coalition weakened. Fascist Party strengthens in Italy. Washington disarmament Conference cuts navy of US, Britain, Japan,

1/1 Greek offensive starts GREEK-TURKISH WAR.

16/1 Aristide Briand is French Prime Minister.

24-29/1 Paris Conference of Allies fixes German reparations.

9/2 State opening of Central Parliament in India.

27/2 Riots in Florence between Communists and Fascists.

4/3 Warren Harding becomes US President.

21/3 treaty of Riga between Russia and Poland.

23/3 Invasion of Ruhr because Germany fails to pay reparations.

28/3 Independent Labour Party in Britain refuses to affiliate with Communists.

1/4 Turkish victory over Greeks

12/4 Harding declares US will play no part in League of Nations.

27/4 German reparations liability 132 billion gold marks.

5/5 Allied Supreme Council warns that failure of Germany to accept reparations will lead to occupation of Ruhr.

10/5 German Cabinet Crisis. Wirth, Centre Party becomes Chancellor. Accepts ultimatum.

14/5 35 Fascists elected in Italy.

24/5 Foundation of UK British Legion.

7/6 New Northern Ireland Parliament opened.

8/7 De Valera accepts Irish/British truce.

11/8 United States invites powers to conference on Far East and the limitation of armaments.

12/8 Silesian dispute between Germany and Poles referred to League of Nations.

29/8 – 16/12 State of Emergency declared in Germany.

30/9 French troops evacuate from Ruhr.

November Mark falls to 330 Marks per US Dollar.

12/11 Washington Conference on Disarmament limits navies of USA, Britain, France, Italy and Japan, signed 29/12.

[i] Noel-Baker The Arms Race (London: Atlantic books, 1958) 40

[ii] Noel-Baker The Arms Race 40

[iii] Noel-Baker The Arms Race 40.

[iv] Noel-Baker The Arms Race 40-1