Fight to the Finish
We remember months, because months have names, because they are linked to the seasons, and because they have their own character. Looking at the First World War month by month reveals its complexity while preserving a sense of time.
From the opening shots to the signing of the armistice, the First World War lasted almost 52 months. It was fought on land, sea and in the air. It became industrial, and unrestricted: poison gas, aerial bombing of cities, and the sinking without warning of merchantmen and passenger ships by submarines.
Casualties, military and civilian, probably exceeded 40 million. Four empires collapsed during the course of the war – the German, Austro-Hungarian, Russian and Ottoman.
The First World War is almost impossible to comprehend. Day-by-day narratives can be dizzying for the reader wanting to make sense of the conflict as a whole. Freer-flowing accounts, while helping to understand the broader trends and factors, can give less of a sense of the human dimension of time. The month is a more digestible gauge.