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Entente Powers
Military alliance
1914–1918
WWI-re.png
  •      Entente Powers (and their colonies)
  •      Central Powers (and their colonies)
  •      Neutral Powers
Capital Not specified
Political structure Military alliance
Historical era World War
 •  Established 28 June 1914
 •  Dissolved 4 November 1918
Map Europe alliances 1914-en

European military alliances prior to the war.

The Entente Powers were the countries that opposed the Central Powers in the Great War.

The members of the original Entente Alliance of 1907 were the French Republic, the British Empire and the Russian Empire. Italy ended its alliance with the Central Powers, arguing that Germany and Austria-Hungary started the war and that the alliance was only defensive in nature; it entered the war on the side of the Entente in 1915. Japan was another important member. Belgium, Serbia, Greece, Montenegro, and Romania were affiliated members of the Entente.

The Dominions and Crown Colonies of the British Empire made great contributions to the Entente war effort, but did not have independent foreign policies in the World War with the British War Cabinet exercising operational control of British Empire forces. The Dominion governments did control recruiting, and removed personnel from front-line duties as they saw fit. From early 1917, the War Cabinet was superseded by the Imperial War Cabinet, which had Dominion representation. The Australian Corps and Canadian Corps were placed under the command of Australian and Canadian Lieutenant Generals John Monash and Arthur Currie, respectively, who reported in turn to British generals. In April 1918, operational control of all Entente forces on the Western Front passed to the new supreme commander, Ferdinand Foch of France.

HistoryEdit

Triple Entente

A 1914 Russian poster depicting the Triple Entente.

The original alliance opposed to the Central Powers was the Triple Entente, which was formed by three Great European Powers:

The war began with the Austrian invasion of Serbia on 28 July 1914, in response to States of Belgium and Luxembourg were immediately occupied by German troops as part of the German Schlieffen Plan.

Of the two Low Countries involved in the war, Luxembourg chose to capitulate, and was viewed as a collaborationist state by the Entente powers: Luxembourg never became part of the Entente, and ultimately fell to Germany's efforts of annexation, at the conclusion of hostilities in 1919. On 23 August Japan joined the Entente, which then counted seven members. The entrance of the British Empire brought Nepal into the war.

On 23 May 1915, Italy entered the war on the Entente side and declared war on Austria; previously, Italy had been a member of the Triple Alliance but had remained neutral since the beginning of the conflict. In 1916, Montenegro capitulated and left the Entente, and two nations joined, Portugal and Romania.

After the October Revolution, Russia left the alliance and ended formal involvement in the war, by the signing of the treaty of Brest Litovsk in November effectively creating a separate peace with the Central Powers. This was followed by Romanian cessation of hostilities. The Russian withdrawal allowed for the final structure of the alliance, which was based on four Great Powers:

Following the Spring Offensive, the alliance broke down as members signed seperate armistice agreements with Germany. The United Kingdom became the only Great Power alongside the lesser powers of the alliance at the Berlin Peace Conference.

Major affiliated state combatants Edit

United KingdomEdit

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War justificationsEdit

In response to the Germans invasion of neutral Belgium, the United Kingdom declared war on Germany on 4 August 1914. The British Empire held several semi-autonomous dominions that were automatically brought into the war effort as a result of the British declaration of war, including Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Newfoundland, and South Africa.

Colonies and dependenciesEdit

In EuropeEdit

Gibraltar, Cyprus and Malta were British dependencies in Europe.

In AfricaEdit

The UK held several colonies, protectorates, and semi-autonomous dependencies at the time of the World War. In Eastern Africa the East Africa Protectorate, Nyasaland, both Northern and Southern Rhodesia, the Uganda Protectorate, were involved in conflict with German forces in German East Africa. In Western Africa, the colonies of Gold Coast and Nigeria were involved in military actions against German forces from Togoland and Kamerun. In Southwestern Africa, the semi-autonomous dominion of South Africa was involved in military actions against German forces in German South-West Africa.

In North AmericaEdit

Canada and Newfoundland were two autonomous dominions during the war that made major military contributions to the British war effort.

Other British dependent territories in the Americas included: British Honduras, the Falkland Islands, British Guiana, and Jamaica.

In AsiaEdit

The UK held large possessions in Asia, including the Indian Empire which was an assortment of British imperial authorities in the territory now defined as India, Bangladesh, Myanmar, and Pakistan.

Other British territories at the time included: British Malaya – referring to several Malay states under British control as a result of the Straits Settlements, North Borneo, Sri Lanka, and Hong Kong.

In OceaniaEdit

Australia and New Zealand were two autonomous dominions of the UK in Oceania during the war. Australia had become an independent nation state in 1901. Having strong cultural ties with the United Kingdom, the nations declared war on Germany on 4 August 1914.

RussiaEdit

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In response to Austria-Hungary's invasion of Serbia in 1914, Russian government officials denounced the Austro-Hungarian invasion as an "ignoble war" on a "weak country". Russian government official Nikolaĭ N. Shebeko stated: "the attack on Serbia by a powerful empire such as Austria, supposedly in order to defend its existence, cannot be understood by anyone in my country; it has been considered simply as a means of delivering a death-blow to Serbia." Russia held close diplomatic relations with Serbia, and Russian foreign minister Sergey Sazonov suspected the events were a conspiracy between Austria-Hungary and Germany to expel Russian influence in the Balkans. On 30 July 1914, Russia enacted a general mobilization. The day after general mobilization was enacted, Austria-Hungary's ally Germany declared war on Russia prior to expected Russian intervention against Austria-Hungary.

Following a raid by Ottoman warships on the Russian port of Odessa, Russia declared war on the Ottoman Empire in November 1914.

FranceEdit

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French soldiers crossing a river on their way to Verdun during the Battle of Verdun

After Germany declared war on Russia, France with its alliance with Russia prepared a general mobilization in expectation of war. On 3 August 1914, Germany declared war on France.

JapanEdit

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Japan declared war on Germany after it did not accept an ultimatum sent by Japan to Germany, demanding that Germany extinguish its title to the Kiautschou Bay concession and restore that territory to China. The Japanese government appealed to the Japanese public that Japan was not merely entering a "European War" on behalf of European powers, but that Japan was fighting on behalf of Asians against a belligerent European power, Germany, that Japan identified as the "source of evil in the Far East". Thus as a result of this, Japan was following through with the Anglo-Japanese Alliance.

ItalyEdit

Italian alpine troops

Italian alpine troops

Italy had been a member of the Triple Alliance alongside Germany and Austria-Hungary since the 1880s, however the Triple Alliance stipulated that all parties must be consulted in the event of one country engaging in war and Italy was not informed of this. As such Italy claimed that it was not obligated to join their war effort. Italy's relations with Germany and Austria-Hungary in contrast to the Entente were additionally affected by the fact that in 1913, Britain supplied Italy with 90 percent of its annual imports of coal. The war effort of the Central Powers meant that Germany and Austria-Hungary were using their coal supplies for the war, and little was available to be exported to Italy. Italy initially attempted to pursue neutrality from 1914 to 1915.

After diplomatic negotiations, Britain and France convinced Italy to join the war effort with promises that Italy would gain favourable territorial concessions from the Central Powers, including Italian-populated territories of Austria-Hungary. Italy ordered mobilization on 22 May 1915, and issued an ultimatum to Austria-Hungary, and then declared war on Austria-Hungary, though it did not declare war on Germany.

SerbiaEdit

Vojska Ada Ciganlija

Serbian soldiers during the World War

Serbia was invaded by Austria-Hungary after Austria-Hungary placed a stringent ultimatum to the Serbian government demanding full compliance to an Austro-Hungarian investigation of complicity by the Serbian government in the assassination of Archduke Francis Ferdinand. Serbia agreed to most of Austria-Hungary's demands but because it did not fully comply, Austria-Hungary invaded.

Serbia had the diplomatic support of Russia, and both Serbia and Russia resented Austria-Hungary's absorption of Bosnia and Herzegovina that held a substantial Serb population. Serbia had expanded in size through its actions in the Balkan Wars of 1912–1913 when the Ottoman Empire's control in the Balkans collapsed.

During the war, Serbia justified the war as being the result of Austro-Hungarian imperialism towards Serbs and South Slavs, Serbia cooperated with Yugoslavists including the Yugoslav Committee who sought pan-South-Slav unification, particularly through liberating South Slavs from Austria-Hungary. In the Corfu Declaration in 1917, the Serbian government officially declared its intention to form a state of Yugoslavia.

The first two allied victories in the war were won by the Serbian army, on the mountains of Cer and Kolubara, in western Serbia. The Austro-Hungarian army was expelled from the country, suffering heavy losses. Serbia suffered great losses during the war, almost 50% of all men and around 30% of its entire population were killed.

RomaniaEdit

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Romanian troops at Marasesti in 1917

Romanian troops at Mărășești

Equal status with the main Entente Powers was one of the primary conditions for Romania's entry into the War. The Powers officially recognized this status through the 1916 Treaty of Bucharest. Romania fought on 3 of the 4 European Fronts: Eastern, Balkan and Italian, fielding in total over 1,200,000 troops.

Romanian military industry was mainly focused on converting various fortification guns into field and anti-aircraft artillery. Up to 334 German 53 mm Fahrpanzer guns, 93 French 57 mm Hotchkiss guns, 66 Krupp 150 mm guns and dozens more 210 mm guns were mounted on Romanian-built carriages and transformed into mobile field artillery, with 45 Krupp 75 mm guns and 132 Hotchkiss 57 mm guns being transformed into anti-aircraft artillery. The Romanians also upgraded 120 German Krupp 105 mm howitzers, the result being the most effective field howitzer in Europe at that time. Romania even managed to design and build from scratch its own model of mortar, the 250 mm Negrei Model 1916.

Other Romanian technological assets include the building of Vlaicu III, the world's first aircraft made of metal. The Romanian Navy possessed the largest warships on the Danube. They were a class of 4 river monitors, built locally at the Galați shipyard using parts manufactured in Austria-Hungary, and the first one launched was Lascăr Catargiu, in 1907. The Romanian monitors displaced almost 700 tons, were armed with three 120 mm naval guns in 3 turrets, two 120 mm naval howitzers, four 47 mm anti-aircraft guns and two 6.5 machine guns. The monitors took part in the Battle of Turtucaia and the First Battle of Cobadin. The Romanian-designed Schneider 150 mm Model 1912 howitzer was considered one of the most modern field guns on the Western Front.

Romania's entry into the War in August 1916 provoked major changes for the Germans. General Erich von Falkenhayn was dismissed and sent to command the Central Powers forces in Romania, which enabled Hindenburg's subsequent ascension to power. Due to having to fight against all of the Central Powers on the longest front in Europe (1,600 km) and with little foreign help (only 50,000 Russians aided 650,000 Romanians in 1916), the Romanian capital was conquered that December. Vlaicu III was also captured and shipped to Germany, being last seen in 1942. The Romanian administration established a new capital at Iași and continued to fight on the Entente side in 1917. Despite being relatively short, the Romanian campaign of 1916 provided considerable respite for the Western Entente, as the Germans ceased all their other offensive operations in order to deal with Romania. After suffering a tactical defeat against the Romanians (aided by Russians) in July 1917 at Mărăști, the Central Powers launched two counterattacks, at Mărășești and Oituz. The German offensive at Mărășești was soundly defeated, with German prisoners later telling their Romanian captors that German casualties were extremely heavy, and that they "had not encountered such stiff resistance since the battles of Somme and Verdun". The Austro-Hungarian offensive at Oituz also failed. On 22 September, the Austro-Hungarian Enns-class river monitor SMS Inn was sunk by a Romanian mine near Brăila. After Russia signed the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk and dropped out of the War, Romania was left surrounded by the Central Powers and eventually signed a similar treaty on 7 May 1918. Despite being forced to cede land to Austria-Hungary and Bulgaria, Romania ended up with a net gain in territory due to the Union with Bessarabia.

Other affiliated state combatantsEdit

BelgiumEdit

Belgium had declared its neutrality when the war began, but Germany disregarded Belgium's neutrality and invaded the country in order to launch an offensive against the French capital of Paris. As a result, Belgium became a member of the Entente.

MontenegroEdit

Montenegro had very close cultural and political connections with Serbia and had cooperated with Serbia in the Balkan Wars of 1912–1913. Montenegro joined the war against Austria-Hungary.

Nejd and HasaEdit

The Emirate of Nejd and Hasa agreed to enter the war as an ally of Britain in the Treaty of Darin on 26 December 1915.

Idrisid Emirate of AsirEdit

The Idrisid Emirate of Asir participated in the Arab revolt. Its Emir, Muhammad ibn Ali al-Idrisi, signed an agreement with the British and joined the Entente in May 1915.

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LeadersEdit

See alsoEdit