World War 1: 50 Things You Need To Know

World War 1 also known as the Great War was the first war in history that showed massive destruction, political influence, so much casualties, start of using modernized weapons. The first war that fought between two groups having many allies in both groups. It caused fall of many nations, economical recession and the very reason for another, more destructive world war to come.

1. First time military used dogs as messengers or to lay telegraph wires, in world war 1.

2. German designer Gustav Krupp developed a howitzer of 48 tons; it could fire 900 kg shells at a distance of 15 km. In WW1, it was known as a wonder weapon and Germans had 13 of these.

Gustav Rail gun

3. Tanks were first used in this and initially called as land ships. In order to disguise them as water tanks rather than a weapon British first used the code tanks, hence the name tank came from.

4. During this war Spanish flu caused about one third of military deaths.

Spanish Flu

5. Germans were the first to flame throwers. Their flame throwers can jet flames as far as 130 feet.

6. More than 60 million soldiers from 30 countries fought in WW1, whereas up to 10 million people died. Estimated 6 million casualties are of allies and rest 4 million from the central powers.

7. In 1914, German troops killed 150 civilians at Aerschot. The policy known as schrecklichkeit or frightfulness was to scare the civilians as the occupied areas wouldn’t have any rebels.

8. The British categorized tanks in gender, male tanks had cannons and female tanks had heavy machine guns.

9. Little Willie was the first prototype tank in world. Built in 1915, needs 3 crews to operate and can move as fast as 5 km/hr.

Little Willie
Must Read: 40 Weird facts about World War II you may not know.

10. Artillery shells and mines were so loud at that time. London ,270 km away heard explosion noise beneath the German Lines in Belgium in 1917.

11. The pool of peace is a 40ft deep lake in Belgium. It fills a crater made by the British by detonating 45 tons of explosives in 1917.

Pool of Peace

12. German pilot Manfred Von Richthofen was the most successful fighter pilot in the entire war taking 80 planes down, he was also known as the red baron.

Manfred Von Richthofen

13. Herbert Hoover, who would become the US president in 1929, was appointed US food administrator. His job was to supply food to American soldiers and allies. So, he encouraged people to build victory gardens or personal gardens. As a result 20 million Americans planted their gardens and food consumption decreased by 15% in US.

Herbert Hoover

14. The total cost of world war 1 for the US was over 30 billion dollars.

15. Many soldiers got disable or disfigured in this war. Reconstructive surgery was the process to recover, but much of them lasted using facial mask for the horrific disfigurement and some spent their lives in hospitals.

16. The Turtle may be the first submarine but, submarines got its military impact in WW1 when German U-boats came in. They do remain surfaced most of their time and only submerge at the time of attack. This indiscriminate submarine warfare was the primary reason that US joined the war.

Turtle Submarine
Also Read: The Evolution and History of Submarine.

17. World war 1 began in 28th June, 1914. A Serbian terrorist shot and killed Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife, the heir of Austro-Hungarian throne. Austria and Hungary declared war against Serbia on July 28th. Russia and France came in support of Serbia whereas, Germany supported Austria and Hungary. Many other countries soon pulled in. The war officially ended on 11th November, 1918.

18. Russia mobilized over 10 million troops which was the largest army in the entire war. 80% of them, killed, wounded or went missing.

19. The terrorist group called Black Hand, was responsible for the assassination of Franz Ferdinand.

Black Hand Logo

20. In the span of 1914-1918, 274 German U-boats sank over 6500 ships. The five most famous U-boats were U-33 (sank 84ships), U-34 (121ships), U-35 (224ships), U-38 (137ships), U-39 (154ships). Most of these sunk near to coast in English Channel.

21. France was the first nation to use gas in war. In 1914, they used tear gas grenades against Germans. Then in 1915, Germans used tear gas against Russian army and few months later Germany was the first country to use poisonous chlorine gas in war.

22. During world war 1, Germans released over 70,000 tons of gas whereas France and Britain also released around 50,000 tons of gas. Resulting around 120,000 soldiers got gasified and around 92,000 of them died horribly on both sides.

Also Read: Most Interesting Facts About Cold War.

23. Nearly 30 different types of gases in the war. In 1918, masks with filter respirators became effective protection but, at the end of war many countries signed treaty for outlawing chemical weapons.

24. During the war US supplied about 7.5 million tons of shipping to France. The supplies included around 70000 horses, 50000 karts, 25000 trucks and 2000 locomotives.

25. Hiram Maxim patented a machine gun design in 1884. But, it got serious attention in WW1. It could fire around 450-600 rounds and barrel water cooled. Much of the other designs used in the war were based on maxim’s design.

Hiram Maxim showing his gun

26. The term ‘dog fight’ originated in WW1. Pilots usually shut down their plane’s engine to prevent stalling at the time of quick turn, and then they need to restart their engines in air which produced sounds like dog barking.

27. France had a gun of 75mm and accurate up to 6 km; they called it the devil gun which also helped to won the war.

28. At the time of war many words connected with Germany were renamed. Such as hamburger (Hamburg, German city) renamed as Salisbury steak, frankfurters (Frankfurt) was called liberty sausages.

Also Read: 20 Fun Facts About Sahara Desert.

29. Over 200,000 African Americans served in WW1, but only 11% were in combat force. Rest were in labor units like loading cargo, building roads, digging ditches. They were the segregated divisions and were trained separately.

30. Germans were very skilled in intercepting and solving codes of allied messengers. They almost cracked 1 out of every 4 messages. So, US commander appointed the Choctaw tribe from Oklahoma national guard unit, and passed messages in a very complex language that Germans couldn’t break it. Those men later known as Choctaw code talkers.

Choctaw coders

31. More than 500,000 pigeons were trained and used to deliver messages from headquarters to front-line and back.

32. On Christmas Eve, 1914, soldiers from both sides in Western front sung carols to each other and 2/3 of the soldiers declared a truce. But a year later sentries from both sides ordered to shoot anyone who repeats that performance.

33. Edith Cavell was a British nurse who helped soldiers in all ways possible, doing good nursing, she even helped 200 allied soldiers to escape from German occupied Belgium. Later Germans capture and executed her which became a global opinion against Germany.

Edith Cavell

34. Margaretha Zelle was a Dutch exotic dancer who was accused to be a double agent. Although she always denied being a spy, she was executed by the French in 1917.

Margaretha Zelle
Also Read: 25 Mind Blowing Facts About Oceans.

35. The most decorated soldier of WW1 was American Alvin Cullum York. He attacked on a German gun nest and destroyed over 30 machine guns, killed 29 German soldiers and captured 135 more. He returned with the medal of honor, a promotion to sergeant. France honored him with the Croix de Guerre and 400 acres of good farmland.

Alvin C York

36. US troops first fought in WW1 on 2nd Nov, 1917, in the trenches of Barthelemont, France.

37. The greatest single day loss of life in WW1 was the ‘Battle of Somme‘, where the British had casualties of 60,000 soldiers, more than the US armed forces and National Guard units combined in the war.

38. As effects of WW1 formation of the League of Nations happen, which laid the groundwork for the US and worldwide arms race, and the treaty of Versailles put severe sanctions on Germany, which drove the country in recession, leading to more destructive WW2.

39. The Harlem hell fighters were one of the African American soldiers who were honored by the allied France with Croix de Guerre medal for their bravery, but in US their participation was largely ignored.

Croix de Guerre medal

40. During the war, the Turks slaughtered approximately 1.5million Armenians, this genocide act later would attract Hitler, responsible of holocausts.

41. The trench network in the war was approximately 40,000 km stretching from English Channel to Switzerland, known as the western front.

42. Due to the war medical science got huge advancement. Doctors learnt new methods of wound management, surgeries and taught them to others for quick and effective recovery. Facial disfigure treatment got pioneered and many process of bone setting methods were mastered.

Also Read: 30 Amazing Unknown Facts About Space.

43. The Treaty of Versailles stated that Germany had started WWI. It gave Alsace and Lorraine back to France. Poland snatched German territories from the east, and other territories were given to Belgium and Lithuania. The treaty also handed the Upper Silesia to Czechoslovakia. The eastern part of Upper Silesia was assigned to Poland. Only Lower Silesia was left to Germany. The key Baltic port of Danze, the industrial region of the Saar Basin, and the strategically important Rhineland were also taken from Germany. Its armed forces were strictly limited; A 1921 Reparations Committee decided that Germany should pay 33 billion to compensate the Allies for the damage it caused. The Treaty left Germany humiliated.

44. Some important battles of WW1 with the casualties,

I. Hundred Day Offensive-1,855,369

II. Spring Offensive-1,539,715

III. Battle of Verdun-976,000

IV. Battle of Passchendaele-848,614

V. Serbian Campaign-633,500

VI. First Battle of Marnes-483,000

VII. Battle of Gallipoli-473,000

VIII. Battle of Arras-278,000

IX. Battle of Tannenberg-182,000

45. Millions of soldiers left with shell shocks ,post traumatic disorder. Shell shock people suffered of uncontrollable diarrhea, stopped talking, uncontrollable twitching, couldn’t sleep. Some of them recovered but most couldn’t.

46. First in WW1 women got attention and realized that women are equally efficient like men. So,women assigned as driver,mechanic even as soldiers in the battlefield. Above 30years of age Women got the right to vote in election also.

Also Read: 20 Incredible fun facts about Amazon Rain-Forests.

47. Motorized ambulances used during the war first. Thousands of men and women volunteered themselves as drivers including famous animator Walt Disney.

48. In 1914, aircraft were still very new. So, Germans used airships known as zeppelins for bombing raids on London. British guns were barely able do any damage but, in 1917 they invented a new type of bullet which ignited the gas in those airships and destroyed. Hence, fear of the zeppelins was over.

49. Despite being shot by German soldiers, Cher Ami, a brave pigeon delivered a vital message from the soldiers who had been cut off behind enemy lines and saved them. She lost an eye and a leg, but US army medics saved her life. She was later awarded the Croix de Guerre for bravery.

Cher Ami

50. World War 1 is memorialized by every nation. All common wealth nations including Canada, UK, Australia and New Zealand do their rituals on the 11th hour of the 11th day in 11th month to signify the formal end of war. Traditions like minute silence or bungling of the military call “the last post” etc. Other countries like the US have their own rituals also.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *