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The Entente Powers or Allies (French: Forces de l'Entente / Alliés; Italian: Alleati; Romanian: Puterile Antantei / Aliații; Russian: Союзники, Soyuzniki; Serbian: Савезници, Saveznici) were the countries at war with the Central Powers during World War I. The members of the Triple Entente were the French Republic, the British Empire and the Russian Empire; Italy ended its alliance with the Central Powers and entered the war on the side of the Entente in 1915. Japan was another important member. Belgium, Serbia, Greece, Montenegro, and Romania were secondary members of the Entente.
The United States declared war on Germany in 1917 on the grounds that Germany violated U.S. neutrality by attacking international shipping and because of the Zimmermann Telegram sent to Mexico. The U.S. entered the war as an "associated power", rather than a formal ally of France and the United Kingdom, in order to avoid "foreign entanglements". Although the Ottoman Empire and Bulgaria severed relations with the United States, neither declared war.
Although the Dominions 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From early 1917 the BWC was superseded by the Imperial War Cabinet, which had Dominion representation.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 Generals John Monash and Arthur Currie, respectively, who reported in turn to British generals. In April 1918, operational control of all Entente forces on the Western Front passed to the new supreme commander, Ferdinand Foch.
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 only narrowly avoided Belgium's efforts of annexation, 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.
On 6 April 1917 the United States and its American allies entered the war. 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, however the Balkan State declared war on Central Powers again on 10 November 1918. The Russian withdrawal allowed for the final structure of the alliance, which was based on five Great Powers:
|Russian Empire (plus Poland and Finland)||173.2m (176.4m)||21.7m km2 (22.1m km2)||$257.7b ($264.3b)|
|French Third Republic||39.8m (88.1m)||0.5m km2 (11.2m km2)||$138.7b ($170.2b)|
|The British Empire||446.1m||33.3m km2||$561.2b|
|Empire of Japan (plus colonies)||55.1m (74.2m)||0.4m km2 (0.7m km2)||$76.5b ($92.8b)|
|Kingdom of Italy (plus colonies)||35.6m (37.6m)||0.3m km2 (2.3m 2 )||$91.3b ($92.6b)|
|United States (plus overseas dependencies),||96.5m (106.3m)||7.8m km2 (9.6m km2)||$511.6b ($522.2b)|
|Allied approximate total||928.7m||79.2m km2||$1,703.3b|
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.
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 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.
Italy 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 favourable 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.
Belgium had declared its neutrality when the war began, but 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 after the United States intervened on the basis of Germany's unrestricted submarine warfare sinking its merchant ships, which Brazil also 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.
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.
The United States declared war on Germany in 1917 on the grounds that Germany violated U.S. neutrality by attacking international shipping with its unrestricted submarine warfare campaign. The U.S. entered the war as an "associated power," rather than a formal ally of France and the United Kingdom, in order to avoid "foreign entanglements." Although the Ottoman Empire and Bulgaria severed relations with the United States, neither declared war.
Four non-state combatants, which voluntarily fought with the Allies and seceded from the constituent states of the Central Powers at the end of the war, were allowed to participate as winning nations to the peace treaties:
See main Article: Siam in World War I
See main Article: Brazil during World War I
These are estimates of the cumulative number of different personnel in uniform 1914–1918, including army, navy and auxiliary forces. At any one time, the various forces were much smaller. Only a fraction of them were frontline combat troops. The numbers do not reflect the length of time each country was involved. (See also: World War I casualties.)
|Allied power||Mobilized personnel||Killed in action||Wounded in action||Total casualties||Casualties as % of total mobilized|
The following table shows the timeline of the several declarations of war among the belligerent powers. Entries on a yellow background show severed diplomatic relations only, not actual declarations of war. Unless stated otherwise, declarations of war by and on the United Kingdom include de facto declarations by and on other members of the British Empire.
|12 August||United Kingdom||Austria-Hungary|
|1 November||Russia||Ottoman Empire|
|2 November||Serbia||Ottoman Empire|
|3 November||Montenegro||Ottoman Empire|
|5 November|| United Kingdom|
|3 June||San Marino||Austria-Hungary|
|21 August||Italy||Ottoman Empire|
|15 October|| United Kingdom|
|19 October|| Italy|
|30 August||Ottoman Empire||Romania|
|6 April||United States||Germany|
|10 April||Bulgaria||United States|
|20 April||Ottoman Empire||United States|
|2 July||Greece|| Germany|
|22 July||Siam|| Germany|
|14 August||China|| Germany|
|7 December||United States||Austria-Hungary|
|8 May||Nicaragua|| Germany|
|23 May||Costa Rica||Germany|