ALLIED POWERS OF WORLD WAR I
The Allied Powers of World War I included some of the most powerful nations at the time, including France, Russia, and the United Kingdom (Britain). Other nations joined the war alongside the Allied Powers such as: Belgium, Greece, Italy, Japan, Serbia, and the United States. World War I first began in 1914 from a series of important causes that included the assassination of Austrian Archduke Franz Ferdinand. The fighting continued until 1918 and saw the Allied Powers face off against the Central Powers in battlefields across Europe, Africa and the Middle East. The main nations of the Central Powers of World War I included: Austria-Hungary, Germany, the Ottoman Empire and Romania. Many of the most notable battles between the Allied Powers and the Central Powers occurred on the two fronts in Europe, which included the Western Front and the Eastern Front.
TRIPLE ENTENTE & THE START OF WORLD WAR I
In the years before World War I first began, Europe was divided by two different alliance systems, which included the Triple Entente and the Triple Alliance. The Triple Alliance was made up of Germany, Austria-Hungary and Italy, while the Triple Entente was made up of France, Russia and the United Kingdom. In general, the Triple Entente was an informal agreement between the different member nations. The French term ‘entente’ means agreement or friendship, thus showing that the Triple Entente was an agreement of mutual support for the member nations. With that said, the Triple Entente was not necessarily a true military alliance as was its counterpart – the Triple Alliance.
The member nations of the Triple Entente maintained their loyalty with one another and when war broke out in 1914, the three nations entered World War I as the Allied Powers. The Allied Powers of World War I faced off against the Central Powers, which included the member nations of the Triple Alliance. The only significant change was the allegiance of Italy. Italy, which had previously been a member of the Triple Alliance with Germany and Austria-Hungary flipped sides and instead joined the Allied Powers in World War I.
The event that sparked the creation of the Allied Powers was the assassination of Austrian Archduke Franz Ferdinand on June 28th, 1914. Pro-Serbian nationalists killed Ferdinand and his wife Sophie in the city of Sarajevo. The assassination of Ferdinand obviously angered Austria-Hungary and caused them to threaten the government of Serbia. In response, Russia came to the defense of Serbia. Russia did this as part of its larger movement for Pan-Slavism. Pan-Slavism was the theory that supported the promotion of all Slavic people of which Russians and Serbians were both. As such, Russia wanted to support the Serbians against Austro-Hungarian aggression because Russia viewed Serbians as sharing a similar ethnic heritage. After Russia came to the defense of Serbia, Germany pledged its support to Austria-Hungary in the form of a ‘blank check’, meaning Germany was offering Austria-Hungary its unlimited support. This act by Germany caused an alliance between Russia and France to take effect and both France and Britain were pulled into the conflict in support of Russia. As such, the Allied Powers of World War I were established and faced off against the Central Powers in a brutal and devastating war.
MAIN ALLIED POWERS OF WORLD WAR I
As stated above, the main Allied Powers of World War I was France, Russia, and the United Kingdom (Britain). Also significant, but to a lesser extent, were the contributions of Italy and Japan. These five nations combined to represent most of the Allied response in World War I. It’s also important to note that many of the colonies of the large European Allied Powers also participated in the fighting of World War I. For instance, both France and Britain has vast empires that included colonies in North America, Africa and Asia. As such, there were Canadian, Indian and Australian forces who fought as part of the Allied Powers in World War I Battles, due to them being colonies in the British Empire.
Each of the main Allied Powers of World War I differed greatly in terms of their resources and military capabilities. For example, Britain and France had vast colonies from which they could gather more soldiers and resources, while others such as Italy and Russia had little or no colonies. As well, due to its vast empire, Britain also had the largest and most powerful navy on the planet. While France also had a capable naval force, its real power rested in its large mobilized army. For example, before World War I began in 1914, France had a force of over 3.5 million soldiers ready for battle. This was due in part to the arms race that France and Germany competed in during the decade before. On the other hand, Russia was a large but weak nation at the outbreak of war in 1914. The largest nation-state involved in World War I and the largest in the world, Russia had many natural resources but lacked the ability to use them properly. Not only was it the largest country but it also had the largest population at nearly 160 million people. With that said, Russia struggled to match the industrial output of other European nations and struggled to properly equip the 1.2 million Russian soldiers with weapons when they went off to the frontlines in 1914.
Before the start of World War I, Italy was actually a member nation of the Triple Alliance, alongside Germany and Austria-Hungary. However, at the start of the war in 1914, Italy remained neutral and eventually joined the Allied Powers in 1915. This was significant for the Allied nations because it weakened the fighting capabilities of the Central Powers and helped force Austria-Hungary to devote a certain portion of their forces to fight Italy along their shared border. By the end of the war Italy had mobilized over 5.6 million soldiers.
While not a European power, where much of the fighting of World War I occurred, Japan was still an important member of the Allied Powers. In fact, in 1914 Japan was a major industrial leader and had significant military capabilities. This is due in part to Japan’s earlier period of modernization, which saw it model itself after several of the major European powers. Japan’s role in World War I was established based upon the Anglo-Japanese Alliance. This alliance was agreed to by both Japan and Britain on January 30th, 1902. As such, Japan entered the fighting of World War I on the side of the Allied Powers. With that said, Japan’s role in World War I was limited to carrying out military operations in the Far East. For instance, much of Japan’s military actions were centered on China, which Japan sought to expand its influence over. As well, Japanese forces worked to limit German influence in the region, as aid to the European Allied Powers.
OTHER ALLIED POWERS OF WORLD WAR I
Besides the main Allied Powers of World War I (France, Russia, United Kingdom) there were also a number of other ‘affiliated’ Allied Powers. These included smaller nations that participated in the fighting of World War I but to a much lesser degree. The main affiliated Allied Powers of World War I included: Belgium, Greece, Montenegro, Romania and Serbia. These nations played a significant role in the events of World War I and together they mobilized over 1.5 million soldiers for the war effort.
Also of note was the role that the United States played in the later events of World War I. While not officially an Allied Power, the United States fought alongside the Allied Powers beginning in 1917 when the country entered the war. The contributions of the United States were important for the Allied victory. This is because, just over a year later in 1918, Russia withdrew from World War I after undergoing the events of the Russian Revolution. This removed an important member of the Allied Powers. As well, the United States had not fought in World War I before 1917, which meant that American soldiers came into the fighting of the war without having suffered in the trenches throughout the earlier years of the war. This meant that the American soldiers of World War I were not ‘beaten down’ by their experiences as were the French and British soldiers. Also, the United States committed millions of soldiers to the war effort, with over 4.3 million soldiers mobilized.
MAJOR BATTLES OF THE ALLIED POWERS IN WORLD WAR I
As stated previously, the Allied Powers of World War I participated in many significant battles. Most of the battles were focused along the Western Front and Eastern Front, but several others also occurred in the Balkans and the Far East. The Western Front refers to a line of trenches that stretched along the eastern border of France. Along this line of trenches, several major battles were fought primarily by the Allied Powers of France and Britain. Some of the most important battles of the Western Front included:
- First Battle of the Marne
- First Battle of Ypres
- Second Battles of Ypres
- Battle of Verdun
- Battle of the Somme
- Battle of Vimy Ridge
- Third Battle of Ypres (Battle of Passchendaele)
The Eastern Front was different than the Western Front in that it involved much more movement as the armies advanced against each other. The major nations involved with the Eastern Front included Russia and Austria-Hungary. The most significant battle along the Eastern Front, included:
- Battle of Tannenberg
Besides the fighting that occurred along the Western Front and Eastern front, there were also other significant battles that occurred in other areas of Europe, the Middle East and the Far East. For instance, Italy and Austria-Hungary faced off against each other in the Alps, while Britain attacked the Ottoman Empire in the Gallipoli Campaign. The other significant battles of World War I included:
- Battle of Gallipoli
- Battle of Caporetto
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