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1916 (MCMXVI)was a leap year starting on Saturday of the Gregorian calendar and a leap year starting on Friday of the Julian calendar, the 1916th year of the Common Era (CE) and Anno Domini (AD) designations, the 916th year of the 2nd millennium, the 16th year of the 20th century, and the 7th year of the 1910s decade. As of the start of 1916, the Gregorian calendar was 13 days ahead of the Julian calendar, which remained in localized use until 1923.
Below, the events of the First World War have the "WWI" prefix.
- April – The toggle light switch is invented, by William J. Newton and Morris Goldberg.
- April 11 – WWI: The Egyptian Expeditionary Force begins the occupation of the Sinai Peninsula.
- April 20 – The Chicago Cubs play their first game at Weeghman Park (modern-day Wrigley Field), defeating the Cincinnati Reds 7–6 in 11 innings.
- April 22 – The Chinese troop transport SS Hsin-Yu capsizes off the Chinese coast; at least 1,000 are killed.
- April 24–30 – The Easter Rising occurs in Ireland. Members of the Irish Republican Brotherhood proclaim an Irish Republic, and the Irish Volunteers and Irish Citizen Army occupy the General Post Office and other buildings in Dublin, before surrendering to the British Army.
- April 24–May 10 – Voyage of the James Caird: An open boat journey from Elephant Island in the South Shetland Islands to South Georgia in the southern Atlantic Ocean (800 nautical miles (1,500 km; 920 mi)) is undertaken by Sir Ernest Shackleton and five companions, to obtain rescue for the main body of the Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition, following the loss of its ship Endurance.
- April 27 – WWI: Gas attack at Hulluch in France: The 47th Brigade, 16th (Irish) Division is decimated, in one of the most heavily concentrated German gas attacks of the war.
- April 29 – WWI – Mesopotamian campaign: The Siege of Kut ends with the surrender of British forces to the Ottoman Empire, at Kut-al-Amara on the Tigris in Basra Vilayet.
- July 1–November 18 – WWI: Battle of the Somme, opening with explosion of the British Y Sap mine and the Battle of Albert: More than one million soldiers die, with 57,470 British Empire casualties on the first day, 19,240 of them killed, the British Army's bloodiest day. The immediate result is tactically inconclusive.
- July 1–12 – Jersey Shore shark attacks of 1916: At least one shark attacks 5 swimmers along 80 miles (130 km) of New Jersey coastline, resulting in 4 deaths and the survival of one youth, who requires limb amputation. This event is the inspiration for author Peter Benchley, over half a century later, to write Jaws.
- July 2 – WWI: Battle of Erzincan – Russian forces defeat troops of the Ottoman Empire in Armenia.
- July 15 – In Seattle, William Boeing incorporates Pacific Aero Products (later renamed Boeing).
- July 15–19 – WWI: Battle of Delville Wood – 766 men from the South African Brigade are killed, in South Africa's biggest loss during the First World War.
- July 19–20 – WWI: Battle of Fromelles – An attack by Australian and British troops is repulsed by the German army, with heavy casualties.
- July 22 – Preparedness Day Bombing: In San Francisco, a bomb explodes on Market Street during a Preparedness Day parade, killing 10 and injuring 40; Warren Billings and Tom Mooney are later wrongly convicted of it.
- July 26 – WWI: East African Campaign – The German armed ship SMS Graf von Goetzen scuttles herself on Lake Tanganyika.
- July 29 – Matheson Fire: In Ontario, Canada, a lightning strike ignites a forest fire that destroys the towns of Cochrane and Matheson, killing 233.
- July 30 – German agents cause the Black Tom explosion in Jersey City, New Jersey, an act of sabotage destroying an ammunition depot and killing at least 7 people.
- September 1 – Bulgaria declares war on Romania, going on to take Dobruja.
- September 2 – WWI: British pilot Leefe Robinson becomes the first to shoot down a German airship over Britain.
- September 4 – WWI: East African Campaign – Dar es Salaam surrenders to British Empire forces, securing them control of the Central Line of railway through German East Africa.
- September 5 – D. W. Griffith's film Intolerance: Love's Struggle Through the Ages is released in the United States.
- September 6 – The first true self-service grocery store, Piggly Wiggly, is founded in Memphis, Tennessee, by Clarence Saunders, opening 5 days later.
- September 11 – A mechanical failure causes the central span of the Quebec Bridge, a cantilever-type structure, to crash into the Saint Lawrence River for the second time, killing 13 workers.
- September 13 – Mary, a circus elephant, is hanged in the town of Erwin, Tennessee for killing her handler, Walter "Red" Eldridge.
- September 15–22 – WWI – Battle of Flers–Courcelette, France: The battle is significant for the first use of the tank in warfare; also for the debut of the Canadian and New Zealand Divisions in the Battle of the Somme.
- September 19 – WWI: East African Campaign – Belgian troops occupy Tabora in German East Africa.
- September 27 – Iyasu V of Ethiopia is deposed in a palace coup, in favour of his aunt Zewditu.
Troops from New Zealand during WWI.