Uncovering Fascinating Facts About World War I and II

Table of Contents

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 Introduction: Exploring the Causes, Impact, and Consequences of World Wars I & II

WW I soldiers

1. mobilized 4.5 million men, France mobilized 3.8 million men, and Britain mobilized 0.75 million men.

2. In the first month of the war, Britain recruited 200,000 men, but surpassed their target when 300,000 enlisted. A total of 2.5 million Britons volunteered for the war, but only a quarter was eligible for enlistment.

3. As soon as the war started in 1914, many in Britain thought it would be over very soon, and those who joined the army expected to be home by Christmas.

4. Before the war, Europe was divided into two main alliances: the Triple Entente, which included Britain, Russia, and France, and the Triple Alliance, which included Germany, Italy, and Austria-Hungary.

5. In 1914, Italy failed to join the war when it broke out, backtracking on its promise to the Triple Alliance.

6. There was a naval arms race between Germany and Britain in the decade leading up to WWI. Britain won the race by acquiring thirty-eight battleships, while Germany had only twenty-four.

7. There were 928,000 more soldiers in France and Russia before the war began in 1914 than there were in Austro-Hungary and Germany. Compared to other major countries at the time, Great Britain had a very small standing army of 248,000, which meant the Triple Entente had a numerical advantage over the Triple Alliance.

8. Serbia emerged as a nationalist state after two consecutive wars in 1912 and 1913 in the Balkan States (a collection of countries in Eastern Europe).

9. British army compulsory enlistment was introduced in 1916. Within the first six months after compulsory enlistment came into effect, almost 750,000 British citizens appealed against it. As a symbol of their cowardice, each of them received a white feather as a symbol of their refusal to fight out of principle, and for no other reason. Most of them were given temporary exemptions so they could sort out their affairs before joining the army.

10. There were more than 400 million people living in the British Empire in 1914, and Britain was able to bring fighters from India and other places into the war.

11. Before the end of 1915, 27% of Scotsmen between fifteen and forty nine volunteered for the war.

12. In 1917, the Russian government started “Battalions of Death” that consisted entirely of women soldiers. These battalions were never placed on the battlefield, but they were used to shame Russian male soldiers into fighting harder.

13. During WWI, Germany mobilized 13.4 million men in total, which was the highest number of any country.

14. During the war, the Battle of Verdun was the longest battle. It lasted more than 300 days, starting in February 1916 and ending in December 1916. The Battle of Somme was the bloodiest battle in the entire conflict. A total of 460,000 men were lost by Britain, 200,000 by France, and 500,000 by Germany during the Battle of Somme.

15. When the war began in 1914, none of the armies offered their soldiers equipment or uniforms designed to meet modern warfare requirements. In addition to colorful uniforms and soft hats, all nations adopted steel helmets and camouflage outfits during the war, making them easy targets on the battlefield.

16. The use of trench warfare in WWI began in September 1914, when both sides had sophisticated machine guns capable of firing 600 rounds per minute and mowing down soldiers in open fields.

17. In February 1915, Germany pioneered the use of flamethrowers in battle. Flamethrowers could shoot jets of fire up to 130 feet.

18. As part of what became known as The Battle of Somme, military tanks were used for the first time in battle on September 15, 1916. In an effort to fool German spies into thinking they were building water tanks instead of weapons, Britain named tanks “tanks” instead of “land-ships.”

indian soldiers working for the british

19. Before major assaults, soldiers would dig mine shafts through no man’s land to place and blow up explosives beneath enemy lines. During World War I, some explosives were so loud that they could be heard miles away. Explosions at Messines Ridge (Ypres) could be heard in London 139 miles (225 kilometers) away in 1917.

20. Twenty) Both sides used toxic gas during the war. 1.2 million soldiers were killed in gas attacks and many more were injured.

21. During WWI, 70 different types of aircraft were used. The majority of these aircraft were used for spying on the enemy, but as the war progressed, they were increasingly used as fighters and bombers.

22. The British whippet tanks, which were faster and more flexible than German machines, played a significant role in the allies’ victory near the end of the war.

23. The aviator term “dogfight” actually originated in WWI. Pilots had to switch off engines mid-air to prevent stalls during sharp turns. Pilots noticed that they could hear barking dogs when they restarted the engines. As a result, the midair confrontations with enemy pilots became known as dogfights.

24. Even during the war, over twelve million letters were sent from Britain to France every week.

25. On May 7th, 1915, a German submarine attacked a civilian cruise line, killing roughly 1,200 people, 128 of whom were Americans. This influenced America’s decision to join the war.

26. As a result of German submarine attacks (U-boats) during World War I, 1.4 million tonnes of supplies shipped by the allies in late 1916 were sunk by German submarines. It was Germany’s intention to weaken the British economy during the war that it constructed 360 submarine U-boats. Of those, 176 were destroyed. German U-boat submarines managed to sink half of all British merchant ships.

27. The Battle of Jutland was the most intense sea battle of WWI, taking place between May 31st and June 1st, 1916. The British navy lost fourteen battleships, while the German navy lost eleven.

28. The North Sea was nearly impossible to navigate during WWI because both sides of the conflict used heavy mines there, violating a 1907 treaty that prohibited mines near an enemy’s coast.

29. From August 1914 to January 1919, the allies imposed a naval blockade on Germany. This plan proved very effective since Germany relied heavily on imports. Scholars estimate that 424,000 German lives were lost during the blockade.

30. During World War II, more than 700,000 women worked in weapons factories in Britain.

31. Approximately 16,000 British soldiers refused to fight for moral reasons. A few were placed in non-combatant roles, while the rest were sent to prison.

33. Women rarely worked in factories before WWI, but by the end of the war, 36% – 37% of the industrial workforce in both France and Britain was female.

34. In Germany, turnips were used as livestock feed until the winter of 1916, when potato and meat shortages led to people using them as food. The winter is still known as “Turnip Winter” in Germany. As a result of the war, meat became very scarce in Germany. In 1916, meat supplies had dropped to 31%, and by 1918, they had dropped to 12 percent.

35. Private Billy Sing, a sniper who killed over 150 Turkish soldiers during WWI, earned the nickname “murderer” from his fellow soldiers.

36. During WWI, a German pilot named Ernst Udet flew sixty one successful missions, making him one of the best pilots of his time.

37. Anibal Milhais, a Portuguese soldier, held off two German assaults on his own. During the gunfight, he fought so hard that the German soldiers believed that they were dealing with an entire army unit.

38. During World War II, a British nurse named Edith Cavell helped 200 allied soldiers escape from Belgium, which was occupied by Germany.

39. A sixteen-year-old boy named John Cornwell was the youngest soldier to receive the Victoria Cross (the highest and most prestigious award of the British honours system).

40. Both sides used dogs during the war in many crucial roles. One million dogs lost their lives on the battlefield during World War I, carrying supplies, finding wounded soldiers, sniffing out enemy positions, delivering messages across the battlefield, and providing companionship.

41. During the war, homing pigeons were very important messengers. There was even a law in Britain that punished killing, wounding or molesting homing pigeons with up to six months in prison. While 194 American soldiers were trapped behind enemy lines, a homing pigeon named Cher Ami is credited with saving their lives. Despite being shot through the chest and losing one eye, Cher managed to get to her loft and deliver her message.

42. The war resulted in the death of approximately eight million horses.

43. During WWI, approximately 37.5 million people were killed. Seven million soldiers were permanently injured or crippled for the rest of their lives. It is estimated that 230 soldiers died every hour.

44. It was a mental condition caused by spending a lot of time on battlefields where artillery shelling was intense. 80,000 British servicemen suffered from shell shock during the war.

45. The central powers spent $11,345 on every soldier they killed during WWI, while the allies spent $36,486. 46. In order to encourage support for the war at home, Britain produced and distributed war-themed toys, such as toy tanks and soldiers.

47. The British army used an elephant named Lizzie to transport munitions into battle.

48. A Boston terrier bulldog named Stubby was trained to detect incoming shells before the soldiers could hear them. He would bark, and soldiers would know it was time to take cover.

49. Occasionally, cats served as mascots for various army units, such as Peter the cat, who accompanied the Northumberland Hussars.

50. In WWI, two out of three Australian soldiers did not return home.

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