World War I – 20 Interesting Facts


This year is a 100-year anniversary of World War I ending and important political figure gathered in France earlier in the year. It was the biggest war the world has ever seen at that point and there are plenty of things you should know about it. Here are 20 interesting facts about WWI.

20. World War I was massive and over 65 million men from 30 different countries were fighting. At the end, almost 10 million casualties were counted. The Allies lost around 6 million soldiers, while The Central Powers suffered the loss of 4 million.

19. The British categorized their tanks as males and females. The former came with cannons, while the latter had heavy machine guns.

18. The most successful pilot in the war was German warrior Manfred Albrecht Freiherr von Richthofen. He was known as Red Baron, but he was eventually shot down near Amiens. He knocked down 75 enemy planes.

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17. Woodrow Wilson ran for president with the slogan “He kept us out of war”. A month after he took office, the US declared war on Germany.

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16. Most people died in battles, but the Spanish flu was responsible for 33% of military deaths.

15. Even though the United States joined this war as it was drawing to a close, the country spent over $30 billion.

14. Thousands of soldiers who survived were disfigured and disabled. Some even had to spend their entire lives in nursing homes, despite reconstructive surgery that was performed at the time.

13. World War I is the sixth deadliest conflict in the history of humankind.

12. The world map changed significantly after the war ended. Four empires collapsed: Russian, German, Austro-Hungarian and Ottoman.

11. Today, World War I goes under several different names. These include the Great War, the World War, the War of the Nations, the War to End All Wars.

10. World War I started on June 28, 1914 when Serbian Gavrilo Princip killed Franz Ferdinand, heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne.

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Austria-Hungary declared war on Serbia and they were supported by Germany.
Serbia on the other hand received support by Russia and France, but they suffered lots of casualties and were forced to withdraw all the way to Greece on foot through the mountains of Albania.

9. German trenches included bunk beds, furniture, cupboards, water tanks, electric lights and even doorbells. They were built to last.

8. Despite the popular belief, it was France, not Germany, that used gas against enemy troops.

7. During the war, the United States sent about 7.5 million tons of supplies to France, including 70,000 horses, approximately 50,000 trucks, 27,000 freight cars and 1,800 locomotives.

6. Interestingly enough, the American decided to rename hamburgers (named after the German city of Hamburg) to Salisbury steak. Frankfurters were also renamed to liberty sausages!

5. Millions of soldiers who survived the war suffered what is known as “shell shock”. This is a post-traumatic stress disorder, which isn’t surprising considering the horrors they have seen. The soldiers would stop speaking, they couldn’t sleep, and they whimpered for hours and twitched uncontrollably. Some of them managed to recover, but the others couldn’t.

4. Native Americans didn’t receive the US citizenship until 1924 but almost 13,000 served in World War I.

3. Over 500,000 pigeons carried messages between headquarters and the front lines. They were trained to do so. They were dropped into the occupied areas by parachutes and until soldiers responded, they were kept there.

2. After WWI, the United States became the largest military power in the world, remaining so until this day.

1. Thanks to the collapse of the Ottoman Empire, the Allies had a chance to extend their influence into the Middle East. Jordan, Iraq, Palestine, Syria were all declared mandates under the League of Nations. France would take control of Syria, while the other three fell under the British “rule”.