The major nations of Europe had now effectively divided themselves into two military alliances, these being:-
Triple Entente: – Great Britain, France and Russia
Triple Alliance: – Austria-Hungary, Germany and Italy
On October 29th 1914 a Turkish fleet attacked Russian Black Sea ports which brought the Ottoman Empire into the conflict on the side of the Triple Alliance.
Great Britain’s standing army and reservists at the declaration of war in August 1914 amounted to 975,000 men, small by comparison to its adversaries such as Germany which had 4,500,000 men at arms. In an attempt to redress this imbalance Lord Kitchener, the Secretary of State for War, moved swiftly to enlarge the British army by appealing initially for volunteers – the poster “Your country needs you” remains iconic to this day. However, owing to the mounting and unsustainable losses in the first two years of the war it became necessary to introduce conscription. This came into force in 1916 when all single men between the ages of 18 and 41 were liable for call-up to the armed forces.