The First World War was a global conflict with men from across the world joining both sides to fight. The forces of the British Empire and her Allies fought those of the Central Powers: Germany, Austro-Hungry, Bulgaria and the Ottoman Empire across Europe, Africa and Asia. At sea, fleets of warships and merchant transport braved the waters of every ocean around the globe.

© IWM (Q 2105) British troops moving up to the trenches near Arras, 29th April 1917.

Western Front

The Western Front was the major fighting front in Europe during the First World War, stretching some 700 kilometres through France and Belgium from the North Sea to the Swiss border.

Helles MEM E i RN carries Cwealth troops to Gp 24 April 1915 (Q 103294)


Allied forces launched an amphibious invasion to seize the Gallipoli peninsula from the Ottoman Empire in April 1915. What was envisaged as a quick operation became a protracted campaign.

© IWM (HU 90361) The Advance through Palestine and the Battle of Megiddo: A long line of prisoners captured by the Australian Light Horse at Es Salt in Palestine make their way up a bare hillside on the track for Jericho.

Middle Eastern Fronts

In November 1914, forces of the British Empire invaded Mesopotamia. British Empire forces would battle their way up the ancient waterways, across the open deserts, and the mountain ranges.

© IWM (Q 31882) British and French senior officers at the saluting base during an inspection of the British 28th Division near Salonika, April 1916. In the front row are (l ro r): General Maurice Sarrail, Lieutenant General Sir Bryon Mahon and Lieutenant General Sir Henry Wilson. Sarrail is wearing the insignia of the Grand Cross of the Order of St Michael and St George with which he was invested by Mahon earlier in the day.


The Salonika Campaign was perhaps the most diverse of the First World War. By 1917, the Allies fielded 600,000 men in six national contingents: British, French, Greek, Italian, Russian and Serbian.

© IWM (Q 19954) A Royal Navy convoy zig-zags through a danger zone in the Atlantic Ocean during the First World War.

War at Sea

In 1914, the British Royal Navy was the most powerful fleet in the world. The First World War saw this dominance challenged by the German High Seas Fleet and by a new and terrifying weapon.

Flight Commander Lieutenant Stuart Douglas Culley with Technical Officer Lieutenant Joseph Armitt and NCOs of Special Flight at Felixstowe.

War in the Air

During the First World War thousands of men took to the skies to fight. By 1916, whole squadrons of aircraft were in action. They performed many tasks from observation to bombing raids.

Waiting with full kit


It was in Africa, not Europe, that the first shots were fired by soldiers of the British Empire during the First World War. And it was in Africa, on 25 November 1918, that the last German troops surrendered.