The First World War 1914-1918
From 1914 to 1918, immediately after the Balkan wars, the world was riven by conflict. The assassination in 1914 of Archduke Ferdinand, heir to the Austrian throne, in Sarajevo, served as the trigger. The spiral of violence was relentless. The World War set Germany and Austro-Hungary, then Turkey, Bulgaria and Serbia, against France, Russia, Belgium, Great Britain and the Allies (Japan, Italy, Rumania, Portugal, United States, Greece, China and a number of South American countries).
In France, 1914 was a year of carnage with the "free-for-all" of Flanders. 1915 saw the French infantry cut down during attacks in Champagne and Artois. The year of Verdun, 1916, was the "terrible" year of the trenches to which the ossuary of Douaumont in the Meuse still testifies. After the troubled year of 1917, the French army won a number of victories, notably in the Marne at the Chemin des Dames, in Champagne, Flanders and Greece. The armistice of 11 November 1918 was to end this deadly war in which more than 27% of Frenchmen aged between 18 and 27 were killed. The memorials at Caen and Péronne commemorate them.
The Great War is represented by, among others, the names of Clemenceau, Foch and Pétain. The use of heavy artillery, gas, assault tanks, planes, automatic weapons, submarines and motor vehicles was a sign of industrial progress. The cultural and social changes it brought about were to make it a real turning point in the history of civilisation, as the Battle of the Marne, the military cemeteries and memorials, such as that at Péronne, show.