The Great War - also known as the First World War (WW1) - started for Britain on 4 August 1914 following Germany's invasion of Belgium, an act designed to avoid France's heavily defended border with Germany. Britain had guaranteed to uphold Belgian neutrality, and joined the war as a result.
At the start of the War there were six major European powers who had made treaties with each other - Britain, France and Russia (making up the Triple Entente), and Germany, Austria Hungary and Italy (who made up the Triple Alliance).
The main dates related to the start of the war were:
June 28, 1914 - Gavrilo Princip assassinates Franz Ferdinand.
July 28, 1914 - Austria-Hungary declares war on Serbia.
August 2, 1914 - Ottoman Empire (Turkey) and Germany sign a secret treaty of alliance.
August 3, 1914 - Germany declares war on France.
August 4, 1914 - Germany invades Belgium, leading Britain to declare war on Germany.
August 10, 1914 - Austria-Hungary invades Russia.
April 2, 1917 - America declares war on Germany.
The fighting ended with the signing of the Armistice at 11:00am (Paris time) on Monday 11 November 1918. This was not a surrender by Germany. On Saturday 28 June 1919 the signing of The Treaty of Versailles ended the state of war.
The U.S.—German Peace Treaty is a peace treaty between the U.S. and German governments, signed in Berlin on August 25, 1921. The main reason for the conclusion of that treaty was the fact that the U.S. Senate did not ratify the multilateral peace treaty signed in Versailles, thus leading to a separate peace treaty. Ratifications were exchanged in Berlin on November 11, 1921, and the treaty became effective on the same day. The treaty was registered in League of Nations Treaty Series on August 12, 1922.
I re-enact The Great War with two groups - "The Birmingham Pals Living History Association" and "The Bluejackets". I am also a Historic Advisor for films and other media, as well as being an Armourer for this period.