Here 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 20th century timeline for the years 1945-2000.
Lord Kitchener calls for 100,000 men to join the British Army.
The British Expeditionary Force (BEF) engages the Germans in Belgium but is forced to retreat.
British and French armies hold Germans on the Marne. Defensive lines appear, running from the North Sea to the Swiss Frontier; the 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.
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.
British nurse Edith Cavell is executed by the Germans for espionage.
British Government representatives promise Arab leaders an independent Arab state in return for support against the Turks.
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.
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, then Passchendaele and, in the Middle East, capture Baghdad and Jerusalem.
Revolution in Russia results in withdrawal of Russia from the war and the formation of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR).
The Balfour Declaration confirms Britain’s support for a national home for the Jewish people in Palestine.
Spring sees the outbreak of an influenza pandemic that went on to kill an estimated 50 million people worldwide, including 200,000 in Britain.
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.
Allied troops land in Murmansk in support of anti-Bolshevik forces.
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.
The so-called Battle of George Square – massive strike in Glasgow leads to violence and troops being mobilised.
The 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.
John Alcock and Arthur Brown make the first non-stop transatlantic flight.
Nancy Astor, Viscountess Astor, becomes the first woman to sit in the House of Commons.
British take over governing Palestine and Mesopotamia (roughly modern Iraq, Syria and Kuwait).
Agatha Christie publishes The Mysterious Affair at Styles.
Marie Stopes opens the first family planning clinic.
The Football Association banned women’s football. The ban was lifted in 1971.
Irish Free State established, leaving the 6 counties of Ulster (Northern Ireland) as part of the UK.
Civil War in Ireland.
First British Broadcasting Company radio broadcast; the current BBC (British Broadcasting Corporation) was formed in 1926.
In a wider context, Stalin becomes General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union.
Introduction of an annual 10 shilling (50p) licence fee for radios.
The tradition of using Welsh gold for royal wedding rings began with the marriage of the future King George VI and Lady Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon in Westminster Abbey on 26 April 1923.
Britain’s first Labour Government and Prime Minister, Ramsay Macdonald; the Conservatives won a landslide at the General Election later in the year.
Plaid Cymru – the national party of Wales – is formed.
In a wider context – Mussolini becomes dictator of Italy – Il Duce.
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.
All women over 21 get the vote.
The first ‘talkie’, The Jazz Singer, opens in London.
Alexander Fleming discovers Penicillin.
Crash on Wall Street in the US leads to the Great Depression.
Sliced bread appeared in Britain under the Wonderbread label.
Financial crisis leads to the formation of a National Government.
The world’s first purpose-built recording studio opens in Abbey Road, London.
In a wider context – Japan invades Manchuria.
A mass trespass by ramblers on Kinder Scout, Derbyshire, highlighted the lack of public access to the countryside in England and Wales.
Unemployment peaks at just under 3 million.
George V delivered the first Christmas Day message from the monarch, via radio.
In a wider context – Hitler comes to power in Germany.
Scottish Nationalist Party is formed.
Penguin paperback books go on sale (they cost 6d – equivalent to 2.5p).
Robert Watson-Watt develops radar (he was supposed to be inventing a death-ray).
In a wider context, the Spanish Civil War.
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.
J R R Tolkien publishes The Hobbit.
The 999 emergency phone number was first introduced in London on 30 June. It spread to the rest of the country after WW2.
Munich Crisis – Prime Minister 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.
Second World War.
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.
Germany invades Denmark and Norway. Britain and France attempt to invade Norway, but are repulsed.
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; it lasts until well into 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 (Soviet Union).
Japan attacks the US base at Pearl Harbor, bringing the USA into the war, and simultaneously attacks Malaya and Hong Kong.
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.
The Battle of Stalingrad – eventual Soviet victory is a turning point in the war.
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 publishes Five on a Treasure Island.
American-British invasion of Italy.
The Allies bomb Hamburg, unleashing a firestorm.
Butler’s 1944 Education Act raised the school-leaving age to 15 and provided universal free schooling in three different types of secondary school – grammar, secondary modern and technical – based on an examination, the 11+.
D-Day landings in Normandy by American, British, Canadian, French and Polish troops.
The Germans launch V1 and V2 rockets against Britain and her allies.
Allied armies defeat the Japanese at Kohima and Imphal.
The Yalta Conference determines the division of post-war Germany.
The Soviets liberate Auschwitz death camp.
British troops come across Bergen-Belsen concentration camp.
Soviet and American troops meet at the Elbe.
Germany surrenders unconditionally.
Labour win a landslide at the General Election, Churchill is beaten and Clement Atlee becomes Prime Minister.
The US drop atomic bombs on Japan.
The Soviet Union declares war on Japan.
Japan surrenders and the Second World War ends.
United Nations established.