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Long Term Causes of the First World War

The Spark: The assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand

The Schlieffen Plan

Reactions to the outbreak of war

The British Expeditionary Force

Interactive Timeline of the First World War

Simulation: The Western Front

Statistics relating to the First World War

The First World War and the role of women

War Poetry

Life in the Trenches

Coastal Bombardments

Zeppelin Raids

The Battle of the Somme

The British Expeditionary Force

The BEF was established by Minister for War, Richard Haldane, after the Boer War. it's purpose was to enable the British Government to respond quickly to any crisis in the world that threatened British interests. The need for the force had been illustrated in the Boer War as many of the soldiers involved had been ill equipped and lacking in training in modern warfare. By the time that the First World War broke out, the BEF was a fighting force of approximately 120,000 men.

When Germany invaded Belgium on August 4th 1914, the BEF was sent to France to prepare to halt the German advance. It was first engaged in combat at the Battle of Mons at which it was heavily outnumbered and forced to retreat. The BEF, alongside French troops, was more successful at the battle of Marne. Here the German forces were pushed back over the River Aisne, preventing the capture of Paris. as a result of the advance being halted here, the Germans did two things. Firstly, they dug defensive trenches in the Aisne valley, secondly, they tried to outflank the Allies on their northern side. This second action is commonly called the race for the sea.





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