20 Interesting Facts About World War I

We all have read a lot about the first ever global war in the history of this planet, i.e. World War I. Every time it brings up a horrific image of blood bath and destruction. It saw the financial meltdown of Britain and U.S emerging as a powerful nation. Lasting for four years the war had resulted in destruction as well as creation of many countries. Even after being fairly well versed with the facts of war there are some interesting facts about World War I that we might be unaware of. Let’s explore.

Eastern Front (World War I)Image: wikimedia.org

1. The deadliest conflict

machine-gunWWI is known to be the sixth deadliest conflict the world has witnessed. It took the lives of 9 million combatants and 7 million civilians. The Spanish flu also caused about a third of total military deaths during the war.
Source: factslides.com, image: wikimedia.org

2. Intriguing 11

This no. eleven played an important role in the war, coincidentally maybe. The war ended at 11 AM of the 11th day in the month of November (11 again) 1918. Fascinating right?
Source: factslides.com

3. Kept out of war or took to war

Woodrow Wilson
Woodrow Wilson

Though Woodrow Wilson won the election to the presidential office in 1926 with the help of the slogan “He kept us out of war” but a month after he took office, U.S declared war on Germany.
Source: factslides.com, image: wikimedia.org

4. A pigeon saved hundreds

Cher Ami
Cher Ami

Shocking right? But as unbelievable as it may sound, the fact remains that a brave pigeon Cher Ami even after being shot through the chest, losing a leg and an eye delivered a message which saved 500 men during the war. She was awarded Croix de Guerre for bravery.
Source: theguardian.com, image: wikimedia.org

5. War debt on Germany

Do you guys know, the Treaty of Versailles imposed a war indemnity on Germany equivalent to 96,000 tons of gold? That’s a lot of money, isn’t it? Germany made its final payment of war indemnity in 2010.
Source: factslides.com

6. Kings and Queens in war

Albert I and Leopold III
Belgian king Albert I with son Leopold III

The Belgian King personally led the army during the World War I. Even the Queen served as a nurse and the young 14 year old Prince was enlisted as a private (a soldier of the lowest military rank).
Source: factslides.com, image: wikimedia.org

7. Brave American President

Theodore Roosevelt
Theodore Roosevelt

Teddy Roosevelt volunteered to serve in World War I ten years after having served as the U.S. president.
Source: Wikipedia, image: wikimedia.org

8. Turning yellow

Canary girls
Canary girls

Women’s skin turned yellow during the war as they suffered from toxic jaundice. During the war many women joined the work force and worked with TNT as they came in contact with this dangerous chemical. These women who worked with TNT were known as canary girls.
Source: history.co.uk, image: wikimedia.org

9. Concrete ships

Concrete ShipWWI and II witnessed a shortage of steel which resulted in ships being built with concrete. 10 of those ships are still afloat in a small coastal town of British Columbia. Hard times call for concrete measures indeed.
Source: concreteships.org, image: warhistoryonline.com

10. Birth of Dr. Doolittle

Doctor DoolittleIn order to keep his children away from the horrors of trench warfare during the world war I Hugh Lofting started writing imaginative letters which we now know as the Dr. Doolittle stories.
Source: Wikipedia, image: amazon.com

11. Fake Paris

France in order to fool Germany had built a fake Paris with roads and railway lines which were lit at night. It was to give German bombers an impression of real Paris so that if they hit Paris, there would be no loss of life. Clever right?
Source: talkoftheweb.com

12. Deafening explosions

The explosions in France were heard in London. Literally! Miners worked to dig a secret tunnel under the trenches to plant and detonate mines. The explosion during detonation which destroyed the German front line was so loud; it could be heard 140 miles away.
Source: history.co.uk

13. Bond street and Death valley

Cheshire Regiment trench Somme 1916
Cheshire Regiment trench Somme 1916

Don’t confuse them with the name of streets. These were the names given to the trenches dug during the war. Zigzag trenches for almost 25,000 miles were dug on the western front. German’s had better trenches were superior to those of allied built with shuttered windows and doorbells. Pilsen trench was one of them.
Source: express.co.uk, image: wikimedia.org

14. Millions and billions of letters

Astonishingly every week 12 million letters were delivered to the front and guess what; it took just 2 days for a letter sent from Britain to reach France. At the end of the war around 2 billion letters and 114 million parcels had been delivered.
Source: bbc.co.uk

15. Invention of plastic surgery

Walter Yeo skin graft
Walter Yeo, assumed to be the first person to receive plastic surgery in 1917

Invention of plastic surgery was sparked by World War I as the shrapnel’s used in the war resulted in many facial injuries. The twisted metal from Shrapnel had the ability to rip off the face. Surgeon Harold Gillies horrified by the injuries decided to help the victims and invented techniques of facial reconstruction.
Source: bbc.co.uk, image: wikimedia.org

16. Extravagant war

Vickers IWWThe expenditure on World War I was more than any other war in the history. The cost of bullets fired in one 24 hours period alone was approximately 4 million pounds in 1918.
Source: bbc.co.uk, image: wikimedia.org

17. Colorful makeovers for ships

In an effort to protect the merchant ships carrying food and military supplies from enemy the ships were painted with bright colors in violent contrasts and bold shapes. It was Norman Wilkinson’s idea, an artist and royal navy volunteer. The plan was to confuse the enemy more than concealing the ships.
Source: bbc.co.uk

18. Self-defense by urinating on handkerchiefs

World War I had ushered an era of chemical weapons and in the initial stages of the war face masks were still unknown. Canadians survived the first chemical attack by using a handkerchief they had urinated on to cover their face.
Source: talkoftheweb.com

19. The first and last in the war

Andorra one of the earliest states to declare war in 1914 was also the last to declare it over. As their demands were not considered in the Treaty of Versailles, Andorra remained in war with Germany until the 2nd World War.
Source: abc.net.au

20. Heard of zeppelins

ZeppalinsSince aircraft’s were still new in 1914, so the bombing raids carried out by Germans on London were through airships known as zeppelins. British unsuccessfully tried to shoot them down but when bullets hardly caused them any damage new bullets were invented. These bullets were made to ignite the gas inside zeppelins and destroy them to pieces.
Source: theguardian.com, image: wikimedia.org