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Balfour declaration Statement by the foreign secretary Arthur Balfour (1848-1930) on 2 November 1917, giving British support for the creation of a national home for the Jews in Palestine, provided that the rights of 'existing non-Jewish communities' there were respected.

Bapaume Town in northern France. One of the main first-day targets for British troops in the Battle of the Somme (1 July-18 November 1916), it was, in fact, not reached during the entire five-month campaign. map

Barrage balloon Tethered balloon attached to cables or net, designed to deter low-flying air attacks. Used to protect London from German bombing raids during the First World War.

Basra Port in SE Iraq, on the Shatt-al-Arab delta. Captured by British forces (21-23 November 1914). map

Battle of the Somme British government propaganda film showing real and simulated scenes from the Somme campaign. Breaking with convention, it showed images of dead combatants. The film was hugely popular, drawing large crowds after its release in August 1916.

Beatty, Admiral Sir David (1871-1936) Naval secretary to Winston Churchill, 1911-13; commander of the Grand Fleet's Battlecruiser Squadron, 1913-16; succeeded Jellicoe as commander of the Grand Fleet in November 1916, a post he held until 1919.

'Beer hall putsch' Name by which the failed Nazi attempt to seize power in Munich in November 1923 is commonly known.

Belorussia Baltic province of the Russian empire in 1914; known today as Belarus. Ceded to Germany under the terms of the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk (3 March 1918); declared a Soviet Socialist Republic by the Bolsheviks in January 1919. map

Bethmann-Hollweg, Theobald von (1856-1921) Chancellor of Germany, July 1909-July 1917.

Bitlis Predominantly Armenian town near Lake Van in the Ottoman province of Eastern Anatolia. Roughly 15,000 Armenians were massacred here by Turkish troops in June 1915. map

Blue Book Booklet of diplomatic correspondence published by the British government in late 1914, purporting to show that the war had been forced on Britain by Austria-Hungary and, in particular, Germany.

Boehn, Max von Commander of the German Seventh Army during the Ludendorff offensive in the early summer of 1918.

Boer War (1899-1902) War between Britain and the Boer forces of the South African provinces of Orange Free State and Transvaal. Also known as the South African War.

Bolshevik Party Russian Communist party led by Vladimir Ilyich Lenin, first formed in 1903 when the Russian Social Democratic Party split into 'majority' (Bolshevik) and 'minority' (Menshevik) wings.

Bolshevik revolution The world's first Communist revolution, begun when a small group of Bolshevik Party activists seized control of the Russian capital Petrograd (6-8 November 1917).

Bosphorus Strait between European and Asian Turkey, linking the Black Sea and the Sea of Marmara. map

Bourlon Wood Stretch of woods near Cambrai. Scene of bitter fighting after the initial British tank offensive at the Battle of Cambrai (20 November-7 December 1917).

Brest-Litovsk, Treaty of Peace treaty signed between Germany and Russia in March 1918 in the city of Brest-Litovsk in present-day SW Belarus.

British Expeditionary Force (BEF) British troops on active service overseas. During the First World War, especially the British army in France and Flanders.

British Grand Fleet Name by which the Royal Navy fleet was commonly known.

British Legion Organisation founded in 1921 to provide services and assistance for former members of the British armed forces.

British West Indies Regiment Volunteer regiment, founded in 1915, consisting of troops from the British colonies of the West Indies, which served on the Western Front and in the Middle East during the First World War.

Brittain, Vera (1893-1970) Served as a Voluntary Aid Detachment (VAD) during the First World War before embarking on a post-war career as a writer. Most famous for her best-selling account of her wartime experiences, Testament of Youth (1933).

Brooke, Rupert (1887-1915) First World War poet. Sub-lieutenant in the Royal Naval Division; died of septicaemia on his way to Gallipoli on 23 April 1915.

Brusilov, General Aleksei (1853-1926) Aristocratic Russian army commander, best known for the 'Brusilov offensive'.

Brusilov offensive The most successful Russian military operation of the First World War, led by General Aleksei Brusilov, against Austro-Hungarian forces on the Eastern Front (4 June-20 September 1916).

Bryce, Lord James (1838-1922) Former British ambassador to the USA, respected professor of jurisprudence and member of the House of Lords. Chosen to head the Committee on Alleged German Outrages in the autumn of 1914. The sensational results of its enquiries, published in May 1915 and commonly known as the 'Bryce report', accused German troops of committing various war crimes during the invasion of Belgium.


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