So as I write this it's the night before Veteran's Day, which means we're also coming up on the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I. If you dig through my journals you'll see I mentioned something about the start of "The Great War" or however each nation referred to it at the time.
I had intended to talk about bits of the war at different points but never did, so I'll talk about most everything I wanted to talk about in this journal. So this may be long and I might ramble a bit BUT I'll try to get through it with little fuss.
Anyway, the whole thing started when a prince was assassinated while taking in the sights of another city and the whole thing spiraled out of control. Before anyone knew it Europe and Russia had all aligned on one of two sides and had at it. The problem everyone had at the start of the war were the roughly Napoleonic tactics that each army was using where you form lines and try to shoot the other side more accurately than they could shoot you. So you'd get these huge formations that would walk forward and on cue the soldiers on one side would try to shoot more accurately than the soldiers on the other side. The early years of the war became one side attacks and gains some ground, the other side counterattacks and gains that ground back, and in the end no one would really make any notable gains. Give it a couple of years and eventually everyone would start digging trench networks and then things would really bog down in Europe primarily.
One of the things that's interesting about all of this is how some of the sides were different in the First World War. Italy and Japan were part of the allies while the Ottoman Empire aligned itself with the Central Powers of Germany and Austria-Hungary.
One of the things I mentioned before was how bad everyone was handling the war. The French and British troops hated being mistreated the way they were, French troops did go on strike for a bit late in the war to try and get better treatment for themselves. Keep in mind this was in the middle of an active conflict, sure it was during the phase that was trench warfare but still, if Germany hadn't had such a crap spy network at the time things might have turned out very different if they had been able to capitalize on that.
In an event that shows poor planning on the part of Germany (and foreshadows even poorer planning in the future) Germany sent a telegram to Mexico promising to help them regain territories lost to the US in the Mexican-American War (1846-1848). This is while the country is turning to rationing and some forced urban renewal since they had to tear up their lead water pipes to keep making enough bullets and shells to keep the war going. Naturally this gets found out and passed onto the US which gets the public mad enough to want to enter the war as well. And in January of 1918 they did.
Keep in mind at that that by the time the US joined in Russia had dropped out, the Russian peasants that were fighting and dying for a ruler that apparently didn't care about them at all finally got to them enough that they wanted to try something different. If memory serves Lenin was being bankrolled by Germany to stir up trouble, and boy did he succeed in spades.
I will admit I did cover a lot of this at first but I wanted to go over some of the points again to show just how much of a bad idea the whole effort was.
The end result is on 11/11/18 at 11AM the war was called off, not before some army units tried one last time to grab some more territory for their side before things were supposed to stop. The problem with the cease fire is that it was more an end to the war and not one side emerging as the victors. Germany claimed they didn't really lose but in the wrangling for the treaty the Central Powers were ultimately blamed for the whole thing.
Speaking of the Treaty of Versailles, the treaty finalized in June of the following year, that tended to rub most of the parties that wanted to participate in it the wrong way as well. The only countries that seemed to benefit were Britain, France, and the US. Japan tried to take part but was shut out completely, I think Italy got shafted enough that they ultimately didn't get anything of note out of it. Worst of all was Austria-Hungary being broken up into 4 separate countries. The main part of the treaty that set things up for the next 20 years was a clause written in that demanded Germany pay reparations to the countries it fought against. If what I heard there was true the payments Germany was supposed to make would've lasted into the 1980's and crippled the nation for all that time too.
So eventually the war ended and treaties were signed, the Ottoman Empire was broken up into the modern day Middle East, and there were sour grapes all around. Kinda led into the sequel war really. The only real upside is that there were technology advancements through the war that also helped out civilians over the years.
Happy Veteran's Day everyone, do what you can to thank someone who served in the armed forces. I know you can't think a WWI veteran but there are plenty of other veterans of other wars you can try to do something for.