The main theatre of fighting in World War I was the Western Front, a meandering line which ran from the Swiss border in the south to the North Sea. Most of the Western Front’s 700km length traversed the north-east of France, with its ends in Belgium and southern Germany.
The largest battles of the war – Marne, Ypres, Verdun, the Somme, Passchendaele and others – were fought along this ever changing Line.
Though the death toll from this area of conflict will never be accurately known, at least four million lost their lives. Despite the size, frequency and ferocity of attempts to break through the line or push back the enemy, the Line remained relatively static until 1918.
Many aspects of the Western Front have become symbolic of World War I: mud-filled trenches, artillery bombardments, appalling tactical blunders, futile charges on enemy positions, periods of stalemate, high death rates and atrocious conditions.