The Conflict Widens

Smashing the barbed wire with trench mortar shells

The war of rapid movement ground to a halt, and the two great enemy armies became completely deadlocked along a 1,000 kilometre long front of impregnable trenches. For the next four years there was little change. As attack after attack failed to penetrate the enemy lines the toll in human lives grew rapidly, and the Western Front became an area of bloody stalemate.

Faced with the prospect of a long struggle both sides began an urgent search for allies. The Dominions had already joined Britain and their troops were soon involved in the far-flung operations. The war became more truly a world war as Japan, in 1914, and Italy, in 1915 joined the Entente Powers, while Turkey lined up with Germany and Austria. Other countries were drawn in, one by one, until by 1917 every continent and all the oceans of the world were involved.

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