Interesting Facts About World War I: The 6th Deadliest Of All Conflicts In History

One of the most devastating conflicts in all of history, the First World War set the stage for the rest of the century and what would include another, even more brutal conflict. WW1 was the first war to be fought on a global scale. Many European countries were destroyed, many were created and many were financially torn.
World War, I also known as the First World War, was a global war centered in Europe that began on 28th July 1914 and lasted until 11th November 1918. The war lasted exactly four years, three months and 14 days. Before World War II began in 1939, World War I was called the Great War, the World War or the War to End all Wars. 135 countries took part in World War I, and more than 15 million people died.
World War 1 was a military conflict lasting from 1914 to 1918 which involved nearly all the biggest powers of the world. It involved two opposing alliances – the Allies and the Central Powers. The countries of the Allies included Russia, France, British Empire, Italy, United States, Japan, Rumania, Serbia, Belgium, Greece, Portugal and Montenegro. The countries of the Central Powers included Germany, Austria-Hungary, Turkey and Bulgaria.
Here are 14 interesting facts you probably didn’t know about World War I:
1. German trenches were in stark contrast to British trenches. German trenches were built to last and included bunk beds, furniture, cupboards, water tanks with faucets, electric lights, and doorbells
2. Herbert Hoover, who would become president in 1929, was appointed U.S. Food Administrator. His job was to provide food to the U.S. army and its allies. He encouraged people to plant “Victory Gardens,” or personal gardens. More than 20 million Americans planted their own gardens, and food consumption in the U.S decreased by 15%.
3. The term “dogfight” originated during WWI. The pilot had to turn off the plane’s engine from time to time so it would not stall when the plane turned quickly in the air. When a pilot restarted his engine midair, it sounded like dogs barking.
4. During WWI, people of German heritage were suspect in the U.S. Some protests against Germans were violent, including the burning of German books, the killing of German shepherd dogs, and even the murder of one German-American.
5. In early 1917, British cryptographers deciphered a telegram from German Foreign Secretary Arthur Zimmermann to Germany’s minister in Mexico. The telegraph encouraged Mexico to invade U.S. territory. The British kept it a secret from the U.S. for more than a month. They wanted to show it to the U.S. at the right time to help draw the U.S into the war on their side.
6. Margaretha Zelle (1876-1917), also known as Mata Hari, was a Dutch exotic dancer accused of being a double agent. Though she always denied being a spy, the French executed her in 1917.
French Second Lieutenant Alfred Joubaire wrote in his diary about WWI just before he died that “Humanity is mad! It must be mad to do what it is doing. What a massacre. What scenes of horror and carnage! I cannot find words to translate my impressions. Hell cannot be so terrible! Men are mad!”
7. To increase the size of the U.S. Army during WWI, Congress passed the Selective Service Act, which was also known as the conscription or draft, in May 1917. By the end of the war, 2.7 million men were drafted. Another 1.3 million volunteered.
8. Some Americans disagreed with the United States’ initial refusal to enter WWI and so they joined the French Foreign Legion or the British or Canadian army. A group of U.S. pilots formed the Lafayette Escadrille, which was part of the French air force and became one of the top fighting units on the Western Front.
9. Landship Tanks were first used during the Battle of Flers-Courcelette (1916)
Tanks were initially called “landships.” However, in an attempt to disguise them as water storage tanks rather than as weapons, the British decided to code name them “tanks.”
10. The Pool of Peace is a 40-ft (12-m) deep lake near Messines, Belgium. It fills a crater made in 1917 when the British detonated a mine containing 45 tons of explosives.
11. The most successful fighter of the entire war was Rittmeister von Richthofen (1892-1918). He shot down 80 planes, more than any other WWI pilot. He died after being shot down near Amiens. France’s René Fonck (1894-1953) was the Allies’ most successful fighter pilot, shooting down 75 enemy planes.
12. During WWI, dogs were used as messengers and carried orders to the front lines in capsules attached to their bodies. Dogs were also used to lay down telegraph wires.
13. Big Bertha was a 48-ton howitzer used by the Germans in WWI. It was named after the wife of its designer Gustav Krupp. It could fire a 2,050-lb (930-kg) shell a distance of 9.3 miles (15 km). However, it took a crew of 200 men six hours or more to assemble. Germany had 13 of these huge guns or “wonder weapons.”
14. Russia mobilized 12 million troops during WWI, making it the largest army in the war. More than 3/4 were killed, wounded, or went missing in action.

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