World War 1 Facts – 10 Facts about World War 1
- 38 Million Soldiers Were Killed, Wounded, or Went Missing in World War 1
- Between 1908 and 1913, Military Spending in Europe Went up by 50%
- World War 1 Started with Two Bullets on June 28, 1914
- 975,000 Casualties Occurred in One Battle During World War 1
- 19,240 British Soldiers Died on the First Day of One Battle in World War 1
- Germany Lost All Its Pacific Islands During World War 1
- The First Major Battles of World War 1 Were in Africa
- Russia Lost 5 Million Soldiers in the First 2 Years of World War 1
- The First Spy Planes Were Used during World War 1
- Eugenie Mikhailovna Shakhovskaya Was the First Female Military Pilot in 1914
1. 38 Million Soldiers Were Killed, Wounded, or Went Missing in World War 1
World War 1 facts teach us about a war that was so large it impacted the lives of everyone on Earth. The war started in Europe but soon involved countries from outside of the Eurasian continent, including the United States, who would play a deciding role in the outcome.
World War 1 facts tell us about the sheer scale of the war and how it brought warfare into the modern age. When we look at the direct impact that World War 1 had on human lives, the numbers are staggering.
Over 9 million soldiers were killed during World War 1. This is one of the most horrific of World War 1 facts. The number of soldiers wounded paints a grim picture of World War 1. World War 1 facts reveal that over 20 million soldiers were wounded during the course of the war.
When we consider soldiers who went missing in action, we find that over 7 million soldiers were never accounted for. Putting these World War 1 facts together, we learn that 38 million soldiers were killed, wounded or went missing during the course of World War 1. To put this into context, that number is equal to the current population of the entire state of California!
2. Between 1908 and 1913, Military Spending in Europe Went up by 50%
The massive scale of World War 1 was the result of the Industrial Age. When we look at the events leading up to World War 1, World War 1 facts show that nearly every nation in Europe was building up its armaments prior to the war.
In particular, World War 1 facts show that Germany was diverting many of its resources in order to build a navy that would rival the British Royal Navy. In turn, the British upped the ante by creating larger and more powerful ships, most notably the HMS Dreadnought in 1906.
Other nations, fearing that they would be overtaken by the superpowers of Germany and Britain, also built their navies and, in doing so, diverted many of their resources to increasing their military strength.
Between the years 1908 and 1913, military spending in Europe increased by 50%. The European countries had all the weapons they needed to conduct a war on a massive scale.
3. World War 1 Started with Two Bullets on June 28, 1914
While there were many longstanding causes that led to World War 1, when we look at World War 1 facts we find that one event in particular is often pointed to as the start of World War 1. On June 28, 1914, the Austrian Archduke Franz Ferdinand was visiting the Bosnian capital Sarajevo.
There was an assassination plan in place that day, orchestrated by a group called the Black Hand. World War 1 facts show that there were a number of assassins who planned to kill the Archduke while he was on a motorcade route.
The first assassin threw a grenade and missed. The other assassins did not act. Finally, a man named Gavrilo Princip took a pistol and shot the Archduke and his wife. One of the surprising World War 1 facts is that there was not a great public outcry in Serbia directly after this incident.
Life was changing in Europe and some people were tired of the old autocratic systems of government symbolized by the Archduke. However, underlying ethnic tensions in Serbia and in Bosnia and Herzegovina boiled over as a result of the assassination.
Anti-Serbian riots broke out in Sarajevo on June 29, 1914. These riots were encouraged by the Austrian authorities in response to the assassination of the Archduke. As a result, over 5,000 prominent Serbians were extradited and sent to prison.
Different countries took different sides in the conflict, backing either Serbia or Bosnia. There must have been some existing diplomatic ill will. World War 1 facts show that tensions quickly mounted, and much larger nations mobilized armies in response to the involvement of other nations in the conflict.
By July 29, 1914, Russia had mobilized its troops against Austria-Hungary. On August 1, in response to Russia, Germany mobilized and declared war. What would become known as The Great War had begun.
4. 975,000 Casualties Occurred in One Battle During World War 1
World War 1 facts tell us about a deadly type of warfare known as trench warfare. In this type of warfare, opposing sides are in very close proximity to each other. They dig trenches into the earth and, from there, aim artillery at the opposing side. In between the two trenches is a deadly no man’s land.
World War 1 facts show that these tactics of trench warfare were extremely deadly and resulted in prolonged battles over very small portions of land. The French and German forces faced off in February 1916 to begin what would become a 10-month battle at Verdun.
This bloody and prolonged conflict, which lasted until December 1916, epitomized the deadly trench warfare and the high number of casualties during World War 1. In total, the French and German forces lost as many as 975,000 soldiers.
5. 19,240 British Soldiers Died on the First Day of One Battle in World War 1
As we continue to look at the devastating and deadly World War 1 facts that demonstrate the horrific nature of this war, we begin to see how many soldiers lost their lives so quickly and over so little.
The Battle of Somme was a battle that saw French and British forces facing the Germans. On the first day of the battle, the British army suffered 57,470 casualties.
The sheer scale of warfare during World War 1 saw both sides bearing armaments that had incredible killing power. Of the over 50,000 casualties the British Army incurred during the first day of the battle of Somme, 19,240 soldiers were killed. That’s nearly 20,000 soldiers killed in one day of one battle.
The deadly trench warfare of World War 1 incurred costs on both sides. During this same battle, the Germans incurred 500,000 casualties.
6. Germany Lost All Its Pacific Islands During World War 1
When we look at World War 1 facts, we see that it truly was a world war. In particular, when we look at the campaign of German forces in the Asian theatre, we see that there was a large and powerful country that may have spread itself too thin.
Japan responded swiftly to the Germans in the Pacific. Japan declared war on Germany and Austria-Hungary. World War 1 also saw the mobilization of Australian forces on a large scale.
Japan, Australia and other Allied navies defeated Germany quickly. Germany lost all of its territories in the Pacific within a short period of time early in World War 1, and only isolated hideouts remained by 1915.
7. The First Major Battles of World War 1 Were in Africa
One of the surprising World War 1 facts is that the first major conflicts of World War 1 did not occur in Europe, but in Africa. While there were skirmishes occurring in Europe in the summer of 1914, large-scale offensives had not yet begun.
At the onset of World War 1, while the governments of the colonies wanted to remain neutral, they were quickly drawn into the conflict by the larger powers that controlled them. In August of 1914, French and British troops invaded the German colony of Togoland in Africa.
World War 1 facts show that Cameroon suffered a similar fate. French, Belgian and British troops invaded Cameroon in 1914. At the time, it was a German colony. The forces in Cameroon fared better than those in Togoland, and lasted until 1916 when the final troops were forced to concede and the Allied forces took over.
While World War 1 was started over what seemed to be a local political issue, clearly there were other large-scale movements taking place. Ultimately, World War 1 facts, such as the fact that the earliest conflicts occurred in Africa, show that, in many ways, World War 1 was more a battle for resources and control than it was a battle for any sort of political ideology.
8. Russia Lost 5 Million Soldiers in the First 2 Years of World War 1
World War 1 facts show that nearly two million Russian soldiers were killed, two million were taken prisoner, and one million went missing in the first two years of World War 1 alone. World War 1 facts show us how conflicts between countries can have surprising consequences.
While the war itself was started over large-scale resource and power conflicts between some of world’s most powerful countries, the war would ultimately lead to the creation of new nations. For instance, the incredibly high number of casualties suffered by Russia in World War 1 would lead to the Communist Revolution of 1917.
Russian soldiers in World War 1 suffered many casualties. For the citizens of Russia directly impacted by these losses, there was no obvious reason why they were involved in this conflict that seemed to be more a matter of Western European dominance.
World War 1 facts show that, as a result of these high numbers of casualties, people in Russia began to ask for an end to the war. Emerging political parties, including the Worker’s Party, used these sentiments to fuel their growth.
From these new political parties, new governments would be formed. What began in 1917 as a series of revolutions in Russia would ultimately lead to the creation of the USSR, or the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, in 1922.
Many other countries surrounding Russia shared the feeling that autocratic governments caused the deaths of many citizens for what seemed like only political reasons. Many underlying political tensions bubbled over as a result of the war. From the revolutions in Russia, communist sentiment spread in Eastern Europe, and the USSR was formed, incorporating additional territories surrounding Russia. After World War 1, the USSR emerged as a new powerful nation in the world, yet it was a nation which had not even existed before the war!
9. The First Spy Planes Were Used during World War 1
World War 1 facts show us that World War 1 was one of the first wars that incorporated battles in the sky as a significant part of the warfare that was commenced. World War 1 was one of the first times that aircraft were used as part of military strategy. Their primary role was not in battle; armaments for aircrafts had not been developed enough. Instead, the most valuable role of aircraft in World War 1 was their contribution to reconnaissance.
It was a combination of two technologies coming together to meet the needs of military strategists during World War 1 that made airplanes so useful for reconnaissance. Photography had advanced enough that cameras were more lightweight, and more resilient to rough handling, than earlier versions in the 1800s.
Combining maturing photograph technology with emerging aircraft technology produced a unique tool for military strategists. World War 1 saw the first use of the spy plane! While offenses on the ground moved very slowly during World War 1, sometimes crawling at inches through trench warfare, up in the sky, military leaders could get a picture of the state of their forces on the front at any time, as well as the opposing forces and any reinforcements they may have.
Part of the reason there were so many casualties during World War 1 was due to the highly detailed information about enemy forces provided by these early spy planes. From protected positions, soldiers could launch artillery with exact position based upon the photographs of the spy planes. Inflicting many direct hits on both sides resulted in massive numbers of casualties. Technology in World War 1 had allowed warfare to occur on an incredible scale, and with deadly precision.
10. Eugenie Mikhailovna Shakhovskaya Was the First Female Military Pilot in 1914
While we may think that the roles women generally occupied in World War 1 were merely in support of the men on the front, World War 1 facts show that the truth is, women had a direct role in the conflicts. One woman in particular would become the first female military pilot. Eugenie Mikhailovna Shakhovskaya was the first woman to fly a spy plane; she flew reconnaissance missions for Russia in 1914.
In 1917, Loretta Perfectus Walsh became the first woman to serve in the Navy in active duty in the United States. First enlisting as part of the Naval Reserve, she went on to become the first female Navy petty officer, in her role as Chief Yeoman. At the conclusion of the war, the United States had sworn in 11,274 women as members of the Navy in equal status to men.
World War 1 facts show that World War 1 was the first modern war, not only in terms of the deadly use of industrial warfare, but also in the involvement of both sexes in direct combat operations. The world would never be the same again.
Interesting Facts about World War 1 Summary
Facts about WW1 teach us that the world was not the same after the war. Millions of people had been killed, and many millions more directly affected by the war. World War 1 facts show that people from Africa and Asia were impacted just like people in Europe. It truly was a war waged across the entire world.
Many innovations occurred in World War 1. Facts about WW1 show us that for the first time, spy planes were used, and that women were able to serve as full members of the United States Navy.
World War 1 was waged by the existing superpowers in the world. At the end of the war, the political landscape had changed. World War 1 resulted in the creation of new nations, including the USSR, which would become a new superpower in the 1900s.