World War 1 ( also known as the Great War) was a global war originating in Europe that lasted from 28 July 1914 to 11 November 1918. It led to the mobilisation of more than 70 million military personnel and directly resulted in an estimated nine million combatant and seven million civilian deaths. It completely changed the world, politically, economically and socially.
The immediate cause for World War 1 was the assassination in Sarajevo of the Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria and his pregnant wife Sophie on June 28th, 1914. Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria was the nephew of Emperor Franz Josef and heir to the throne of Austria and Hungary. The assassin was a Bosnian revolutionary called Gavrilo Princip but the assassination was [planned by a Serbian terrorist group called The Black Hand.
Though the assassination was the trigger for war there were many political factors that led up to it. Before the onset of war there were a number of defence alliances between the major European countries, which meant that if one country declared war on another, the other allied countries would also have to enter the conflict. Germany was allied with Austria-Hungary, known as the Central Powers, whilst Britain, France and Russia were part on an alliance called the Triple Entente.
After the Archduke’s assassination Austria-Hungary threatened to go to war on Serbia, Germany supported Austria-Hungary and the Russians supported Serbia. One month after the assassination, on 28 July 1914, Austria-Hungary declared war on Serbia with the backing of Germany and on 1 August 1914 Germany declared war on Russia then, on 3 August 1914, on France.
On 4 August 1914, German troops marched on France through Belgium and, as Britain had guaranteed the neutrality of Belgium, Britain declared war on Germany. The first clash between British and German forces was on 23 August 1914 at the Battle of Mons in Belgium. In Peterborough as soon as war was declared there was a rush of volunteers to a recruiting office established on Cathedral Square, in the first week over 160 men signed up. Peterborians joined local regiments like the Huntingdonshire Cyclists Battalion. 'Pals' units were made up of men from the same town or factory; men who worked for Werner, Pfleiderer & Perkins (now Baker Perkins) were recruited into 'Werner's Own' and ‘Whitsed’s Light Infantry’ was also made up of Peterborough men. Both of these were part of the Northamptonshire Regiment.
The Official Visits To the Western Front, 1914-1918Troops of the 1st Battalion, Northamptonshire Regiment marching past Prince Arthur, the Duke of Connaught, at his inspection of the 2nd Brigade. Near Bruay, 1st July 1918. The Imperial War Museum.