The key play­ers

One hun­dred years af­ter the con­clu­sion of the First World War, EMMA BOW­DEN looks at the piv­otal fig­ures in the con­flict

Bristol Post - - ARMISTICE DAY 100 YEARS ON -

SIR DOU­GLAS HAIG Field Mar­shal, Bri­tish Com­man­der

Field Mar­shal Sir Dou­glas Haig be­came Com­man­der in Chief of Bri­tish troops on the Western Front in late 1915. His plans for the Bat­tle of the Somme in 1916, which led to a high num­ber of Bri­tish ca­su­al­ties, made him a con­tro­ver­sial fig­ure. In 1918, he launched an of­fen­sive against the Ger­mans which claimed thou­sands of Al­lied lives but broke Ger­man lines and led to vic­tory.

FRANZ FER­DI­NAND Arch­duke Of Aus­tria

Arch­duke Franz Fer­di­nand be­came heir to the Aus­tro-Hun­gar­ian throne in 1896, af­ter the death of his fa­ther Karl Lud­wig. Franz and his wife were as­sas­si­nated on a trip to Sara­jevo, Bos­nia, which had been an­nexed by Aus­tria-Hun­gary. His coun­try, sup­ported by Ger­many, swiftly de­clared war on Ser­bia. Ger­many de­clared war on Rus­sia, Ser­bia’s ally, days later and in­vaded France via Bel­gium.

KAISER WIL­HELM II Em­porer Of Ger­many

Wil­helm II sup­ported Aus­tria’s in in­va­sion of Ser­bia in 1914, but a al­legedly wanted to scale back Ger­many’s mil­i­tary plans when

Bri­tain en­tered the war. His Ger­man fo forces were keen to press on and be­gan to ex­clude him from mil­i­tary de­ci­sions. Wil­helm was forced to ab­di­cate fol­low­ing at the end of the war, mak­ing him the last Kaiser of Ger­many. He went into ex­ile in the Nether­lands.

WOODROW W WIL­SON Amer­i­can Pres­i­dent

In 1917, Ger­man sub­marines sank sev­eral Amer­i­can ships, which led to the in­volve­ment of the United States. Pres­i­dent Woodrow Wil­son had pre­vi­ously sought to be neu­tral, but, fol­low­ing the Ger­man of­fen­sive, the US joined forces with the Al­lies. Fol­low­ing the ar­mistice, Pres­i­dent Wil­son was in­stru­men­tal in the cre­ation of a new League of Na­tions, which was es­tab­lished in 1920.

HH ASQUITH Bri­tish Prime Min­is­ter

Ap­pointed Prime Min­is­ter of Bri­tain in 1908, Asquith, a Lib­eral, brought in wel­fare re­forms in­clud­ing pen­sions and un­em­ploy­ment in­sur­ance. His wartime de­ci­sions were ini­tially pop­u­lar, but he lost sup­port due to mu­ni­tions short­ages. Mil­i­tary fail­ures and the in­tro­duc­tion of con­scrip­tion, con­trib­uted to his res­ig­na­tion in 1916. He was re­placed by the Sec­re­tary of State for War, Lloyd Ge­orge.

LORD KITCH­ENER Bri­tish Sec­re­tary Of State For War

Prior to Lloyd Ge­orge’s ap­point­ment,

Lord Kitch­ener was ap­pointed Sec­re­tary of State for War when fight­ing broke out in 1914. He launched the fa­mous “Your coun­try needs you” poster cam­paign. This led to him be­com­ing pop­u­lar with the pub­lic, but his sup­port for the failed Gal­lipoli cam­paign soured his rep­u­ta­tion. He drowned in June 1916, when his ship was sunk by a Ger­man mine.

TSAR NI­CHOLAS II Ruler of Rus­sia

At the out­break of the war in 1914, Ni­cholas II, sided with Bri­tain and

France against Aus­tria-Hun­gary and Ger­many. His strict rule made him un­pop­u­lar in Rus­sia, but early mil­i­tary vic­to­ries helped sus­tain him. In 1917, he lost sup­port of the army and th­ese ten­sions led to the Rus­sian Revo­lu­tion in the same year. He was ousted from power and ex­e­cuted along­side his wife and five chil­dren on July 17, 1918.

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Troops’ lives were in the hands of their lead­ers

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