Once Franz Ferdinand had been assassinated, it didn’t take long for countries to start to ‘mobilise’ their troops, which means that they gathered their armies together and started to prepare for The First World War.
Each country wanted different things from the war, with some (such as Belgium) seeking to merely protect themselves, while others (such as Germany) were looking to expand their borders to make their territory larger and more wealthy.
Even today, many historians disagree on the reasons for each nation going to war and even why it started in the first place, although many agree that it is clear that the aggression of Germany and the other Central Powers was a key cause of the fighting.
At the start of August in 1914, Germany, backed by the rest of the Central Powers, declared war on Russia, Belgium and France, starting a period where many nations declared war on nations from the opposing powers. Belgium stated that it wanted to remain neutral, which meant it didn’t want to fight and wanted to stay out of the war, but Germany invaded anyway, causing Great Britain to declare war on Germany because of its alliance with Belgium.
It didn’t take long for Britain to respond to the invasion of Belgium, and on the 7th August 1914, a British army called the ‘British Expeditionary Force’ (or BEF for short) landed in France to try to stop Germany.
The forces soon met at places called ‘Mons’ and the ‘Marne’ and fierce battles erupted as each side tried to beat each other in creating a pathway to the sea to receive reinforcements.
Eventually each side realised they couldn’t get past the other and they ordered their soldiers to start building deep grooves in the land called ‘trenches’ in which to protect themselves. These were soon deepened to became home to millions of men for the next 4 years and this ‘trench warfare’ became a key feature of the First World War that it is still known for today.