British operations

In August 1914 the British expeditionary force fought in Belgium (Mons) and in northern France (Le Cateau). After a brief time in the Marne and the Aisne, the British troops fought at Messines and Armentières from October onwards, as well as participating in the First Battle of Ypres.

In April 1915 the British soldiers took part in the Second Battle of Ypres, during which the German army used gas for the first time. They provided support for the French offensive in May 1915 and also fought to the north of the La Bassée Canal (Festubert and Aubers). On September 25th, 1915 they launched an attack with gas in the area around Loos.

From February 1916 the British took over the French positions in Artois. They held the frontline from the Somme to Ypres. The year 1916 was mainly marked by the Somme offensive, which started on July 1st. On July 19th and 20th the Australians fought in the Battle of Fromelles.

During the Battle of Arras on April 9th, 1917 the Canadians distinguished themselves by capturing Vimy Ridge. The year 1917 was marked by the British involvement in Belgium (Third Battle of Ypres) and in France, near Cambrai, where they used tanks.

In spring 1918, following the German offensive, the British fought in the region around the Lys Valley and in the Flemish hills. The Allied counter-offensives, which kicked off in the summer of 1918, however, finally marked the beginnings of the German retreat, until the Armistice.

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  • Royal Fusiliers resting after the storming of La Boisselle, 1916, gelatin silver print on paper, coll. Historial de la Grande Guerre, Péronne

    On July 1st, 1916 the British launched a major offensive against the German lines. The Battle of the Somme started with a series of explosions caused by mines packed under the first lines of German trenches. At La Boisselle, the mines created the Lochnagar cater, which is 100 metres wide and 30 metres deep.

  • Loos-en-Gohelle, 1918, photo, Departmental Archives of Pas-de-Calais – mark 8 FiD 946

    The Battle of Loos (Pas-de-Calais) lasted from September 25th until October 18th, 1915. The city was liberated during this large-scale British offensive. Prior to this battle the British only held a few kilometres of the frontline, in the region around Festubert, Richebourg and Givenchy-lès-la-Bassée.

Royal Fusiliers resting after the storming of La BoisselleLoos-en-Gohelle devastated