Modern Britain timeline 1914-1945

Tyne Cot, CWGC, Ypres, BelgiumHere is a timeline for modern Britain, from 1914, the start of the First World War, to 1945, the end of the Second World War.  There is a separate timeline for 1945-2000.

1914 Lord Kitchener calls for 100,000 men to join the British Army. British and French armies hold Germans on the Marne. Defensive lines appear, running from the North Sea to the Swiss Frontier; British Army is based in northern France and Belgium, around Ypres. British and Indian troops invade Mesopotamia (Iraq, Syria, Kuwait). Scarborough, Whitby and Hartlepool are shelled by the Imperial German Navy.
1915 Zeppelins bomb King’s Lynn, Great Yarmouth and London. The Allies attack Gallipoli. The ‘shell crisis’ (shortage of and faulty munitions) provokes a political crisis, leading to the formation of a coalition government. RMS Lusitania is sunk by a German submarine with the loss of c1200 lives, including 128 Americans. Allied troops land in Salonika. Nurse Edith Cavell is executed for espionage. British Government representatives promise Arab leaders an independent Arab state in return for support against the Turks.
1916 Conscription is introduced. Easter Rising in Dublin – Irish nationalist rebels take over key buildings; most of the leaders are executed. Battle of Jutland – the only major naval engagement of the war. Battle of the Somme – the British Army alone suffers almost 58,000 casualties on the first day, including 19,240 dead. Tanks are used for the first time. Craiglockhart Hospital in Edinburgh is set up to deal with shell-shocked officers. David Lloyd George becomes Prime Minister. The Sykes-Picot agreement sets out to divide parts of post-war Middle East between France and Britain.
1917 Britain tells the US of German plans to bring Mexico into the war. USA declares war on Germany. King George V changes the Royal Family’s name from Saxe-Coburg Gotha to Windsor. New Zealander Harold Gillies pioneers plastic surgery in Sidcup. Ernest Rutherford splits the atom. British launch offensive at Messines and Passchendaele and capture Baghdad and Jerusalem. Revolution in Russia results in withdrawal of Russia from the war. The Balfour Declaration confirms Britain’s support for a ‘national home’ for the Jewish people in Palestine.
1918 Outbreak of an influenza pandemic that went on to kill an estimated 50 million people worldwide and 200,000 in Britain. Allied troops land in Murmansk in support of anti-Bolshevik forces. The Royal Air Force is formed from the Royal Flying Corps and the Royal Naval Air Service. The Germans launch a massive Spring Offensive, which pushes the Allies back on the Western Front. The Allies, now reinforced by the USA as ‘an associate power’, eventually counter-attack and the Germans retreat, culminating in an armistice. The ‘Fourth Reform Act’ gives the vote to all men over 21 and, with certain restrictions, women over 30.
1919 The ‘Battle of George Square’ – massive strike in Glasgow leads to violence and troops mobilised. Treaty of Versailles and the establishment of the League of Nations (forerunner of the UN). Amritsar Massacre – British troops open fire on a crowd of unarmed Indian protestors, killing 300 and wounding hundreds more.
1920 British take over governing Palestine and Mesopotamia (roughly modern Iraq, Syria and Kuwait). Agatha Christie publishes The Mysterious Affair at Styles.
1921 Irish Free State established, leaving the 6 counties of Ulster part of the UK. Marie Stopes opens the first family planning clinic.
1922 Civil War in Ireland. First British Broadcasting Company radio broadcast; the current BBC (British Broadcasting Corporation) was formed in 1926.
1924 Britain’s first Labour Government and Prime Minister, Ramsay Macdonald; The Conservatives won a landslide at the General Election later in the year.
1925 Plaid Cymru – the national party of Wales – is formed.
1926 John Logie Baird demonstrates the first television. The threat of lower pay and longer hours for coal miners results in the Trades Union Congress calling a General Strike. Australia, New Zealand, Canada and South Africa are recognised as autonomous countries. A A Milne publishes Winnie-the-Pooh.
1928 All women over 21 get the vote. The first ‘talkie’, The Jazz Singer, opens in London. Alexander Fleming discovers Penicillin.
1929 Crash on Wall Street in the US leads to the Great Depression.
1931 Financial crisis leads to the formation of a National Government. The world’s first purpose-built recording studio opens in Abbey Road, London.
1932 Unemployment peaks at just under 3 million.
1933 Meanwhile – Hitler comes to power in Germany.
1934 Scottish Nationalist Party is formed.
1935 Penguin paperback books go on sale for six pence (6d = 2.5p). Robert Watson-Watt develops radar (he was supposed to be inventing a death-ray).
1936 George V dies, Edward VIII abdicates in order to marry Wallis Simpson, George VI becomes King. Start of regular TV broadcasts. The Jarrow March – 200 men walk from NE England to London to highlight poverty and unemployment.
1937 J R R Tolkien publishes The Hobbit.
1938 Munich Crisis – Chamberlain avoids war at the expense of an independent Czechoslovakia. Kindertransports start to arrive in Britain; eventually, 10,000 Jewish children escaped the Nazis by coming to Britain, though most of their parents perished.
1939-45 Second World War.
1939 Germany invades Poland, Britain and France declare war on Germany. The Bombe, an electro-mechanical machine to help break enemy codes, was designed by Alan Turing.
1940 Germany invades Denmark and Norway. Britain and France attempt to invade Norway. Italy declares war on France and Britain. Winston Churchill becomes Prime Minister. British and Allied troops evacuated from Dunkirk following the success of Germany’s invasion of France and the Low Countries. Germany occupies the Channel Islands. The Battle of Britain takes place between fighters of the RAF and the German Luftwaffe over Southern England. The Luftwaffe switches to bombing British cities – ‘the Blitz’ – mainly at night.
1941 British and Australian troops push back Italians in North Africa, but are themselves forced to retreat when German troops under Rommel arrive. Germany invades Greece, Yugoslavia and Crete. The Royal Navy captures an ‘Enigma’ machine. Britain’s first jet aircraft flies. Germany attacks the USSR. Japan attacks the US base at Pearl Harbor, bringing the USA into the war, and also attacks Malaya and Hong Kong.
1942 The Fall of Singapore; about 85,000 British, Australian and Indian troops surrender to the Japanese. US troops arrive in Britain. The RAF starts bombing German cities. The Battle of El Alamein pushes the Germans back in North Africa. Beveridge submits his report on social security, which forms the basis of Labour policy on the Welfare State. Operation Torch – British-American invasion of French North Africa. Enid Blyton published Five on a Treasure Island.
1943 American-British invasion of Italy. Education to the age of 15 becomes free for all.
1944 D-Day landings in Normandy by American, British, Canadian, French and Polish troops. Allied armies defeat the Japanese at Kohima and Imphal.  Education Act extends free compulsory education to the age of 15.
1945 The Yalta Conference determines the division of post-war Germany. British troops come across Bergen-Belsen concentration camp. Germany surrenders. Labour win a landslide at the General Election, Churchill is beaten and Clement Atlee becomes Prime Minister. The US drops atomic bombs on Japan; Japan surrenders and the Second World War ends. United Nations established.