The History of World War I series recounts the battles and campaigns that took place during the 'Great War'. From the Falkland Islands to the lakes of Africa, across the Eastern and Western Fronts, to the former German colonies in the Pacific, the World War I series provides a six-volume history of the battles and campaigns that raged on land, at sea and in the air.
The act that sparked World War I – the assassination in Sarajevo of the heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne, Archduke Franz Ferdinand – was the culmination of a series of events stretching back into the nineteenth century. A mixture of ethnic tensions, nationalism, political opportunism, and the quest for power and status within the Balkans helped to plunge all of Europe into a conflict that would cost millions of lives.
Austro-Hungary faced conflict with both Serbia and Russia during the opening phase of the war. German allegiance to Austria had been clear from the outset, but the decision of the Bulgarians to commit themselves to the Central Powers in October 1915 made a notable difference to the war in the Balkans. It led to the opening of the Salonika front in Greece, where 150,0000 British and French troops saw little fighting unitl the disastrous 1918 Doiran campaign.
At the war's outbreak in 1914, the British authorities in Africa were totally unprepared, with relatively few forces available to attack the German colonies, who themselves were effectively left isolated from help. The German commander in East Africa, Paul von Lettow-Vorbeck, set about launching a brilliant guerrilla campaign with scant resources, conducting lightning attacks on Allied targets, particularly the Uganda Railway. He was opposed by the South African General Jan Smuts and his mixture of Boer, British, Rhodesian, Indian, African, Belgian and Portuguese soldiers. Fighting would continue in the African colonies until November 1918.
Italy entered the war against the Central Powers in April 1915. For two years, Austro-Hungarian forces were kept at bay on Italy's northern borders, until disaster overtook the Italian forces at the Battle of Caporetto in October 1917. The humiliation of such a defeat by a combined German and Austro-Hungarian force would only be partially relieved by the Allied victory at Vittorio Veneto in November 1918, which led to the collapse of the Austro-Hungarian Empire.
With the aid of over 300 black and white and colour photographs, complemented by full-colour maps, The Balkans, Italy & Africa provides a detailed guide to the background and conduct of the war in the Balkan, Italian and African theatres from the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand in Sarajevo to the surrender of the Central Powers.