United States Declares War on Austria-Hungary
Theatre definitions: Western Front comprises the Franco-German-Belgian front and any military action in Great Britain, Switzerland, Scandinavia and Holland.
Eastern Front comprises the German-Russian, Austro-Russian and Austro-Romanian fronts. Southern Front comprises the Austro-Italian and Balkan (including Bulgaro-Romanian) fronts, and Dardanelles. Asiatic and Egyptian Theatres comprises Egypt, Tripoli, the Sudan, Asia Minor (including Transcaucasia), Arabia, Mesopotamia, Syria, Persia, Afghanistan, Turkestan, China, India, etc. Naval and Overseas Operations comprises operations on the seas (except where carried out in combination with troops on land) and in Colonial and Overseas theatres, America, etc. Political, etc. comprises political and internal events in all countries, including Notes, speeches, diplomatic, financial, economic and domestic matters. Source: Chronology of the War (1914-18, London; copyright expired)
German U-boats attempted to cut the supply lines between North America and Britain. The nature of submarine warfare meant that attacks often came without warning, giving the crews of the merchant ships little hope of survival. The United States launched a protest, and Germany modified its rules of engagement. After the notorious sinking of the passenger ship RMS Lusitania in 1915, Germany promised not to target passenger liners, while Britain armed its merchant ships, placing them beyond the protection of the "cruiser rules" which demanded warning and placing crews in "a place of safety" (a standard which lifeboats did not meet). Finally, in early 1917 Germany adopted a policy of unrestricted submarine warfare, realizing the Americans would eventually enter the war. Germany sought to strangle Allied sea lanes before the U.S. could transport a large army overseas, but were only able to maintain five long range U-boats on station, to limited effect.