1916 and World War One

1916 and World War One

The year 1916 saw two of the most devastating battles of World War One: Verdun and the Somme. The former took place between the German and French armies and was the longest battle in World War One, having raged from February to December. The latter resulted in the deaths of around one million men, making it one of the bloodiest battles in history, and continued for more than four months.




Other notable events to take place in 1916 included Field Marshal Lord Kitchener’s request for the United States to participate in the war. Additionally, the Battle of Jutland took place. This was the only large-scale naval battle of the first world war and saw German ships attempt to break through a British blockade in the North Sea.



The Russians also saw huge change in the form of the appointment of General Aleksei Brusilov as the new commander of the southern front. Following his appointment, he carefully planned his operations and easily overwhelmed the Austrians.







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


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


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

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


26 February: Germany ended her first offensive against Verdun.


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


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


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


25 April: The German Navy bombarded the East Anglian towns of Great Yarmouth and Lowestoft.

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


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


25 May: Universal conscription was introduced to Great Britain.


31 May: The Battle of Jutland took place.


4 June: The Brusilov Offensive started.


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


8 June: 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.


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


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


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


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


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


10 July: The start of the final German offensive at Verdun.


19 July: The Battle of Fromelles started.


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


27 August: Romania declared war on Austria-Hungary.


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


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


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


20 September: The Brusilov Offensive ended.


26 September: The British captured Thiepval in the Somme.


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


15 October: Mata Hari was executed.


24 October: A French offensive captured Fort Douaumont.


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


2 November: Fort Vaux recaptured by the French.


13 November: Beaumont Hamel in the Somme was captured.


18 November: The Battle of the Somme ended.


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


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


16 December: The end of the Battle of Verdun

MLA Citation/Reference

"1916 and World War One". HistoryLearning.com. 2024. Web.