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Participants in World War I The Central Powers and their colonies in orange, the Allies and their colonies in green, and neutral countries in gray.
|-||Established||June 28, 1914|
|-||Dissolved||November 11, 1918|
The Entente Powers were the countries at war with the Central Powers during World War I. The key members of the Triple Entente were the United Kingdom, France, and the Russian Empire. Belgium, Serbia, Italy, Montenegro, Japan, Greece and Romania were minor members of the Entente.
The United States declared war on Germany on the grounds that Germany violated US neutrality by attacking international shipping and because of the alliance between them and Mexico. The U.S. entered the war as an "associated power", rather than a formal ally of France and Great Britain, in order to avoid "foreign entanglements". Although the Ottoman Empire severed relations with the United States, it did not declare war.
Although the Dominion and Crown Colonies of the British Empire made significant contributions to the Allied war effort, they did not have independent foreign policies during World War I. Operational control of British Empire forces was in the hands of the five-member British War Cabinet (BWC). However, the Dominion governments controlled recruiting, and did remove personnel from front-line duties as they saw fit. From early 1917 the BWC was superseded by the Imperial War Cabinet, which had Dominion representation. The Australian Corps and Canadian Corps were placed for the first time under the command of Australian and Canadian Lieutenant General John Monash and Arthur Currie, respectively, who reported in turn to British generals.
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 attack invasion of Serbia on 28 July 1914, in response to the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand. The Austrian Empire followed with an attack on the Serbian ally Montenegro on 8 August. On the Western Front, the two neutral States of Belgium and Luxembourg were immediately occupied by German troops as part of the German Schlieffen Plan.
Of the two Low Countries, Luxembourg chose to capitulate, and was viewed as a collaborationist State by the Entente Powers: Luxembourg never became part of the Allies, and became a constituent state of Germany, 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.
Brazil, Liberia, Siam and Greece also became allies. 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 five Great Powers:
Major affiliated state combatants
In response to Germany's 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, Newfoundland, New Zealand, and South Africa.
Colonies and dependencies
The UK held several colonies, protectorates, and semi-autonomous dependencies at the time of World War I. 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 America
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.
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.
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.
ItalyItaly 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 Allies 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 favorable 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.
Minor affiliated state combatants
Belgium had declared its neutrality when the war began, however 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 Allies.
Brazil entered the war in 1917 on the basis of Germany's unrestricted submarine warfare sinking its merchant ships, which Brazil cited as a reason to enter the war fighting against Germany and the Central Powers.
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 Hasa
The Emirate of Nejd and Hasa agreed to enter the war as an ally of Britain in the Treaty of Darin on December 26, 1915.
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. On July 28, 1918, the Serbian flag was raised at American public buildings, including the White House, on the order of President Woodrow Wilson as a sign of recognition for Serbia's resistance against the Central Powers.
- Raymond Poincaré – President of France
- René Viviani – Prime Minister of France (13 June 1914 – 29 October 1915)
- Aristide Briand – Prime Minister of France (29 October 1915 – 20 March 1917)
- Alexandre Ribot – Prime Minister of France (20 March 1917 – 12 September 1917)
- Paul Painlevé – Prime Minister of France (12 September 1917 – 16 November 1917)
- Georges Clemenceau – Prime Minister of France (From 16 November 1917)
- Divisional General / Marshal Joseph Joffre – Commander-in-Chief of the French Army (3 August 1914 – 13 December 1916)
- Divisional General Robert Nivelle – Commander-in-Chief of the French Army (13 December 1916 – April 1917)
- Divisional General / Marshal Philippe Pétain – Commander-in-Chief of the French Army (April 1917 – 15 August 1918)
- Divisional General / Marshal Ferdinand Foch – Supreme Allied Commander (26 March 1918 – 15 August 1918)
- Divisional General Maurice Sarrail – Commander of the Allied armies at Salonika Front (1915 – 1917)
- Army General Adolphe Guillaumat – Commander of the Allied armies at Salonika Front (1917 – 1918)
- Divisional General / Marshal Louis Franchet d'Espèrey – Commander of the Allied armies at Salonika Front (1918)
- Brigadier General Milan Rastislav Štefánik – General of French Army, Commander of Czechoslovak Legions
- George V – King of the United Kingdom, Emperor of India
- H. H. Asquith – Prime Minister of the United Kingdom (Until 5 December 1916)
- David Lloyd George – Prime Minister of the United Kingdom (From 7 December 1916)
- Field Marshal Horatio Herbert Kitchener – Secretary of State for War (5 August 1914 – 5 June 1916)
- General William Robertson – Chief of the Imperial General Staff (23 December 1915 – February 1918)
- General Henry Wilson – Chief of the Imperial General Staff (February 1918 – February 1922)
- General John French – Commander-in-Chief of the British Expeditionary Force (4 August 1914 – 15 December 1915)
- General / Field Marshal Douglas Haig – Commander-in-Chief of the British Expeditionary Force (15 December 1915 – 11 November 1918)
- General Hugh Trenchard – Commander of Royal Flying Corps – (August 1915 – January 1918)
- Winston Churchill – First Lord of the Admiralty – (1911 – May 1915)
- Arthur Balfour- First Lord of the Admiralty – (May 1915 – December 1916)
- Edward Carson – First Lord of the Admiralty – (10 December 1916 – 17 July 1917)
- Eric Geddes – First Lord of the Admiralty – (July 1917 – January 1919)
- Admiral of the Fleet John "Jackie" Fisher – First Sea Lord – (1914 – May 1915)
- Admiral Henry Jackson – First Sea Lord – (May 1915 – November 1916)
- Admiral John Jellicoe – Commander of the Grand Fleet (August 1914 – November 1916); First Sea Lord (November 1916 – December 1917)
- Admiral Rosslyn Wemyss – First Sea Lord (December 1917 – November 1919)
- Admiral David Beatty – Commander of the Grand Fleet (November 1916 – April 1919)
- General Edmund Allenby – Commander of the Egyptian Expeditionary Force (June 1917 – November 1918)
- Robert Borden – Prime Minister of Canada (1914–18)
- Sam Hughes – Minister of Militia and Defence (1914 – January 1915)
- Joseph Flavelle- Chairman of Imperial Munitions Board (1915–19)
- General Julian Byng (June 1916 – June 1917) Canadian Corps commander
- Lieutenant-General Edwin Alderson – Commander of the unified Canadian Corps of the Canadian Expeditionary Force (26 January 1915 – September 1915)
- General Arthur Currie – Commander of the unified Canadian Corps of the Canadian Expeditionary Force (June 1917 –)
- Joseph Cook – Prime Minister of Australia (until 17 September 1914)
- Andrew Fisher – Prime Minister of Australia (17 September 1914 – 27 October 1915)
- Billy Hughes – Prime Minister of Australia (from 27 October 1915)
- General John Monash – Commander of the Australian Corps (all five Australian infantry divisions serving on the Western Front) (May 1918 –)
- Major General William Holmes – Commander of the Australian Naval and Military Expeditionary Force (August 1914 – February 1915)
- General Harry Chauvel – Commander of Desert Mounted Corps (Sinai and Palestine) (August 1917 –)
- Charles Hardinge, 1st Baron Hardinge of Penshurst – Viceroy of India 1910–1916
- Frederic Thesiger, 1st Viscount Chelmsford – Viceroy of India 1916–1921
- Austen Chamberlain – Secretary of State for India
- Lieutenant-General John Nixon commander of the British Indian Army (active in the Middle East)
- General Louis Botha – Prime Minister of South Africa
- General Jan Smuts – Led forces in South-West Africa Campaign and East African Campaign, later member of the Imperial War Cabinet
- William Massey – Prime Minister of New Zealand
- General Sir Alexander Godley – Commandant of New Zealand Military Forces (to October 1914); Commander of the New Zealand Expeditionary Force
- Major General Sir Alfred William Robin – Quartermaster-General and Commandant of New Zealand Military Forces (from October 1914)
- Sir Edward Morris – Prime Minister of Newfoundland (1909–1917)
- Sir John Crosbie – Prime Minister of Newfoundland (1917–1918)
- Sir William Lloyd – Prime Minister of Newfoundland (1918–1919)