By Bill McStay

At eleven in the morning of 11 November 1918, the date recognised annually ever since as Armistice Day, the guns fell silent, as the most destructive war the world had ever known, came to an end after four years.

The seeds of the War had been sown in the early years of the century, as the Great Powers of Europe – the Empires of Austria and Germany on the one hand, and the Western Powers of France and Britain – competed for mastery. The match which ignited the powder keg of all-out combat had been lit on 28 June 1914.

On that day in the Central European city of Sarajevo in Bosnia, the heir to the Imperial throne of Austria-Hungary, Prince Franz Ferdinand, with his wife Sophie, were assassinated by a young Serb revolutionary called Gavro Princip.

When Serbia rejected Austria’s demands, and the Great Powers of Europe speedily took sides, all of Europe, wrote one commentator “was engaged in a fatal waltz of war.” Germany announced its support for Austria, Russia took its stand with Serbia, and war broke out on 25 July 1914.

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