50 Facts on The First World War

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50 Facts on the First World War

50 Facts on the First World War

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  • Yes, Scott. You're right about the 'Zimmerman Telegram'. Woodrow Wilson was elected President to 'Keep us [the U.S] out of war'. Then he received a copy of the telegram from British intelligence, who concealed the fact that they had a copy before the German diplomats did. Once he saw the telegram that tipped the scale, and he committed the U.S. to war on the side of the Allies. And, that broke what amounted to a stalemate.
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  • Great insight Mark, and thanks for the clarification. You are right that it is an area often overlooked and I am guilty of it here. Indeed I also think that German encrypted messages to Mexico urging them to join the fight were intercepted and deciphered by the British in WW1 and were a major factor in America joining the war.
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  • I wasn't clear enough re my observation about WWI code-breaking efforts leading to (WWII) Enigma. As explained clearly in BBC's 'The Rise Of Enigma' and 'The Triumph Of The Codebreakers' (DVD) by Norman de Lacy Evans, the British broke the German Naval codes in WWI. A German 1934 report on this led to development of ('unbreakable') Enigma used in WWII. Similarly, breaking of Japanese codes during post-WWI disarmament talks led them to develop 'Purple' (machine-based) codes used during WWII. Thus, events during WWI (and immediately after) had a dramatic effect on WWII as both German and Japanese codes were broken - again, eventually, though each effort proved very difficult. Both German and Japanese coders believed their codes were unbreakable. These mistakes tipped things in, for instance, (WWII) Battle of the Atlantic and Midway.

    In spite of my efforts to learn about all this over many years, I'm still learning new things - even now.* This led to my suggestion about under-appreciated effect of code-breaking in and after WWI.

    None of this detracts from your wonderful '50 Facts ...'.

    Thank you,

    *Apropos, current U.S. NSA snooping, the British read everything transmitted by transatlantic cable during WWI - including diplomatic and military stuff from U.S., France, Sweden, etc. (The Germans cut their end of the cable at the beginning of WWI.)
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  • Nice Post, Great job...
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  • Thank you for this presentation.
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  • 1. 50 Facts from the First World War
  • 2. Weapons
  • 3. Over 86 million British 18 pound artillery shells were fired during the war
  • 4. The largest gun of the war was made by German manufacturer Krupp. Nicknamed the ‘Paris Gun’ it could fire a 210Ib shell over 80 miles
  • 5. Approximately 75,000,000 British No.5 grenades were made during the war
  • 6. ‘Little Willie’ was the first prototype tank. Built in 1915, it carried a crew of 3 and could travel as fast as 3 mph (4.8 km/h)
  • 7. Approximately 30 different poisonous gases were used during WWI
  • 8. Trench warfare
  • 9. All frontline trenches were built in a zig-zag with angular ‘fire-bays’ to minimise the effect of shell fire and to prevent the enemy from firing down the length of the trench
  • 10. During the night, perhaps 1 man in 4 was posted on sentry duty. Their job was to listen and watch for signs of enemy activity
  • 11. During dawn and dusk, the entire front line on all sides was ordered to ‘Stand To!’ Every man was put on full alert in case of enemy attack.
  • 12. The Germans started constructing the Hindenburg Line in September 1916 and it was still being built in late 1918
  • 13. In the trenches in the Vosges area of the front winter temperatures dropped so low that bread and wine froze
  • 14. The Air War
  • 15. The Allies lost 2.2 planes for every one lost by Germany and the Central Powers
  • 16. The temperature in the gondolas of Zeppelins would often fall to -25°C and below
  • 17. To become a British ‘Ace’ a British fighter pilot had to score 5 kills. It was the same for French and American pilots
  • 18. The most successful fighter of the entire war was Rittmeister Manfred von Richthofen. He shot down 80 planes.
  • 19. The Royal Flying Corps decided not to issue their pilots with parachutes because they thought that this would encourage them to bail out of their distressed plane rather than try to bring it home safely
  • 20. The War at Sea
  • 21. The Battle of Jutland took place at the end of May 1916 and was the largest naval battle of the war
  • 22. By the end of the war a total of 375 German U-boats had been commissioned
  • 23. 7,646 Allied ships were hit (sunk/damaged/captured) by U-boats between 1914 and 1918
  • 24. A total of 16,500 depth charges were used by The Royal Navy during the war
  • 25. Infantry Battles
  • 26. In the preliminary artillery bombardment for the Battle of the Somme, British artillery fired 1.73 million shells on to the German lines
  • 27. Kaiser Wilhelm was so confident of victory at Ypres in 1914 he travelled to the front to lead his troops through the town on a victory march. He would be disappointed.
  • 28. During the landings on the Gallipoli peninsular, 17,000 ANZAC troops were dropped off at the wrong beach
  • 29. The battle of Verdun caused almost 1 million casualties, making it one of the most deadly battles in history
  • 30. During 100 days of fighting the Third Battle of Ypres, the Allies managed to advance a little over 5 miles
  • 31. Combatants: Britain & The Commonwealth
  • 32. Almost 5.4 million men from the British and Commonwealth armies served on the Western Front at some point during the war
  • 33. It is thought that 15% of British wartime volunteers were underage
  • 34. 3,080 British men were sentenced to death (1.1% of all convicted). Of these, 89% were reprieved and the sentence converted to a lesser one
  • 35. Within two weeks of Kitchener’s ‘Call to Arms’, 100,000 men had signed up: Kitchener’s first army of volunteers (K1) was born
  • 36. Combatants: Imperial Germany
  • 37. 8 of the German scientists who worked on their gas warfare project went on to win the Nobel Peace Prize
  • 38. During the war the Germans used 600 million sandbags
  • 39. Paul von Hindenburg wrote 1,500 letters to his wife Gertrude during the war
  • 40. The Pickelhaube was gradually replaced with the distinctive Stahlhelm. The coal scuttle steel helmet was also used in various guises throughout WW2
  • 41. Bravery VC, DSO and Bar, MC and Bar, MM group awarded to Captain James McCudden, RFC
  • 42. During the Battle of the Somme, 51 Victoria Crosses were awarded. 17 of them were awarded posthumously
  • 43. Captain Noel Chavasse (RAMC) was the only man awarded the Victoria Cross twice during the war
  • 44. 119 Americans were awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor during the war
  • 45. Known informally as ‘The Blue Max’ the Pour le Mérite was the highest order of merit issued by the Kingdom of Prussia
  • 46. The youngest recipient of the Victoria Cross was Boy (First Class) John Cornwell. He served on HMS Chester and was 16 years old
  • 47. Animals at War
  • 48. 8 million horses died on all sides during the war
  • 49. Sergeant Stubby, a Boston Bull Terrier, was the most decorated dog of the war and the only dog to be promoted to the rank of sergeant
  • 50. By 1918 there were around 22,000 pigeons carrying post to British soldiers along the western front
  • 51. Germany had 6,000 trained dogs ready for action at the beginning of the war
  • 52. Casualties Casualties
  • 53. Each British soldier was given 2 bandages as part of their field dressing kit. This was to enable them to treat a bullet wound that passed completely through their body – thus causing 2 wounds
  • 54. There were 863 British and Commonwealth deaths on 11 November 1918
  • 55. At the end of the war there were over 250,000 wounded British and Commonwealth soldiers who suffered total or partial amputation
  • 56. There were approximately 37,500,000 casualties (killed/wounded/missing/prisoner) during the war
  • 57. Surrender and Armistice
  • 58. There were 3 separate Armistices signed towards the end of the war: Turkey signed an armistice on 30 October 1918, Austria-Hungary signed one on 3 November, and finally, Germany signed an Armistice on 11 November 1918
  • 59. The original peace treaty signed by Germany on 11 November was only actually valid for 30 days but was continually renewed until the signing of the Treaty of Versailles
  • 60. The Treaty of Versailles was the formal peace settlement signed after the war had ended. It was signed on 28th June 1919
  • 61. French Field Marshal Ferdinand Foch, who was of the opinion the restrictions on Germany didn’t go far enough, said of the Treaty of Versailles: ‘This is not peace. It is an Armistice for twenty years.’
  • 62. All of these facts have been taken from The First World War Fact Book by Scott Addington Available on Amazon Kindle for less than the price of a takeaway coffee. Download your copy now! Amazon UK Amazon.com