50 facts on the first world war

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50 Facts on the First World War

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  • 50 Facts from the First World War
  • Weapons
  • Over 86 million British 18 pound artillery shells were fired during the war
  • 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
  • Approximately 75,000,000 British No.5 grenades were made during the war
  • 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)
  • Approximately 30 different poisonous gases were used during WWI
  • Trench warfare
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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.
  • The Germans started constructing the Hindenburg Line in September 1916 and it was still being built in late 1918
  • In the trenches in the Vosges area of the front winter temperatures dropped so low that bread and wine froze
  • The Air War
  • The Allies lost 2.2 planes for every one lost by Germany and the Central Powers
  • The temperature in the gondolas of Zeppelins would often fall to -25C and below
  • To become a British Ace a British fighter pilot had to score 5 kills. It was the same for French and American pilots
  • The most successful fighter of the entire war was Rittmeister Manfred von Richthofen. He shot down 80 planes.
  • 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
  • The War at Sea
  • The Battle of Jutland took place at the end of May 1916 and was the largest naval battle of the war
  • By the end of the war a total of 375 German U-boats had been commissioned
  • 7,646 Allied ships were hit (sunk/damaged/captured) by U-boats between 1914 and 1918
  • A total of 16,500 depth charges were used by The Royal Navy during the war
  • Infantry Battles
  • In the preliminary artillery bombardment for the Battle of the Somme, British artillery fired 1.73 million shells on to the German lines
  • 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.
  • During the landings on the Gallipoli peninsular, 17,000 ANZAC troops were dropped off at the wrong beach
  • The battle of Verdun caused almost 1 million casualties, making it one of the most deadly battles in history
  • During 100 days of fighting the Third Battle of Ypres, the Allies managed to advance a little over 5 miles
  • Combatants: Britain & The Commonwealth
  • Almost 5.4 million men from the British and Commonwealth armies served on the Western Front at some point during the war
  • It is thought that 15% of British wartime volunteers were underage
  • 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
  • Within two weeks of Kitcheners Call to Arms, 100,000 men had signed up: Kitcheners first army of volunteers (K1) was born
  • Combatants: Imperial Germany
  • 8 of the German scientists who worked on their gas warfare project went on to win the Nobel Peace Prize
  • During the war the Germans used 600 million sandbags
  • Paul von Hindenburg wrote 1,500 letters to his wife Gertrude during the war
  • The Pickelhaube was gradually replaced with the distinctive Stahlhelm. The coal scuttle steel helmet was also used in various guises throughout WW2
  • Bravery VC, DSO and Bar, MC and Bar, MM group awarded to Captain James McCudden, RFC
  • During the Battle of the Somme, 51 Victoria Crosses were awarded. 17 of them were awarded posthumously
  • Captain Noel Chavasse (RAMC) was the only man awarded the Victoria Cross twice during the war
  • 119 Americans were awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor during the war
  • Known informally as The Blue Max the Pour le Mrite was the highest order of merit issued by the Kingdom of Prussia
  • The youngest recipient of the Victoria Cross was Boy (First Class) John Cornwell. He served on HMS Chester and was 16 years old
  • Animals at War
  • 8 million horses died on all sides during the war
  • 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
  • By 1918 there were around 22,000 pigeons carrying post to British soldiers along the western front
  • Germany had 6,000 trained dogs ready for action at the beginning of the war
  • Casualties Casualties
  • 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
  • There were 863 British and Commonwealth deaths on 11 November 1918
  • At the end of the war there were over 250,000 wounded British and Commonwealth soldiers who suffered total or partial amputation
  • There were approximately 37,500,000 casualties (killed/wounded/missing/prisoner) during the war
  • Surrender and Armistice
  • 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
  • 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
  • The Treaty of Versailles was the formal peace settlement signed after the war had ended. It was signed on 28th June 1919
  • French Field Marshal Ferdinand Foch, who was of the opinion the restrict