Top 10 Unknown Facts about World War 1



It was known as the ‘war to end all wars’ due to the damage and destruction it caused all over the world. World War 1 led to 16 million deaths including that of 7 million civilians over a period of 4 years between 1914 and 1918, which is why it is regarded as one of the bloodiest wars in history. However, in spite of being such an infamous war there are certain things about the war that people might not be aware of and this article looks at 10 of those things associated with the First World War.

10. The Explosives Used in World War 1 Were Famously Loud

Now, you would think that a bomb is supposed to be loud anyway and even to this day a bomb explosion is heard across a large area but during the World War 1, the sort of explosives that were used by the different armies were not as sophisticated as they are today. They were heavy and clumsy, which is why the noise of an explosion used to be heard literally across countries and in one of the most famous incidents ever known in military warfare; an explosion in France was once heard in London. London is at least 150 miles away from France.


9. A Total of 30 Countries Were Engaged in the War

The First World War was triggered by the assassination of the king of Austria but it quickly developed into an all-encompassing war that triggered the involvement of as many as 30 countries from all across the world. Initially Austria, Hungary and Germany fought against the allies which included Russia, UK and the French; however by the end of the war the number of countries involved were 30 in total. The US was involved in the last year while Italy, Japan, Greece, Turkey, Portugal, Belgium and other countries all got involved at some point to make it a total of 30.


8. Pigeons Were Used to Deliver Messages

You might have come across such moves in movies but in World War 1 pigeons were indeed the mode of transport for messages to soldiers who used to fight on the frontlines across different parts of Europe. According to well-known World War 1 historians, at the peak of the war approximately 200,000 pigeons were used by the armed forces on a daily basis in order to send messages to soldiers. The pigeons used to be air dropped from helicopters and the sort of training they received meant that the messages were always delivered with clockwork precision.


7. The Age of the Youngest Soldier in the World War was Just 12

Everyone is aware of the fact that a soldier has to be of a certain age if he is to be employed by any army, but during the First World War there was acute shortage of soldiers in Britain and almost all able bodied men were recruited by the army. However, what is astonishing is that a 12 year old boy in Britain successfully conned his way into the army by furnishing fake documents and was unfortunately killed in combat. Mental health experts believe that most under age soldiers in the British army joined the army out of a feeling of patriotism but there is no doubt that they were simply not old enough to be in a battlefield.


6. Trench Warfare Itself Led to Thousands of Deaths

Contrary to popular belief that soldiers died in battles, it is indeed revealing that a large percentage of them actually died in the trenches due to exhaustion. One of the biggest reasons why so many soldiers died during World War 1 was trench warfare and considering the fact that soldiers had to be in a trench no more than a few meters in width for a few weeks at a stretch led to plenty of deaths. The soldiers had to contend with insects, rats and other wild animals while the unhygienic conditions were also responsible for the deaths of many due to infections from wounds. Other than those who died in combat, thousands upon thousands of soldiers died due to their exposure in the trenches. It is something that is unthinkable in modern warfare.


5. World War 1 Witnessed a Battle with the Highest Casualties in History

It is not for nothing that the First World War was known as the ‘war to end all wars’ and that expression seems justified when you consider the Battle of Somme in France from July to November of the year 1916. It was a brutal battle in which close to a million lives were lost and to this day there has not been a single battle in which as many lives have been lost. Close to half a million allied soldiers were killed. You will find it quite shocking that there was one particularly bloody day in the war when close to 30,000 soldiers were killed within a span of 24 hours.


4. World War 1 Led to the Creation of Blood Banks

It is often said that innovations are the result of extraordinary circumstances and the sort of injuries suffered by soldiers in the line of duty forced the British authorities to start collecting blood in order to supply it to people who might need it after severe blood loss. Needless to say, the operation was not as sophisticated as it is these days and you would find it interesting to know that the system was in fact introduced by Captain Oswald Robertson, who was in fact a doctor in the US Army. The blood banks helped save plenty of lives during the war and remain one of its biggest legacies.


3. The US Were in the War for a Few Months but Still Lost a Huge Number of Soldiers

It is a well-known fact that the number of casualties in the First World War sent shockwaves across the world and in retrospect many people believe that the war was not worth it in the end. The biggest proof of that is the number of casualties suffered by the American Army which was involved in the war for a little over 6 months towards the end and within that short period of time the army had lost close to 120,000 soldiers in the different skirmishes in which they were involved.


2. Plastic Surgery Came into Being Due to the War

In this day and age, plastic surgery is something that is looked upon as one of the pioneering surgical procedures but very few are aware of the fact that the first facial reconstruction surgeries were done on soldiers, whose faces had been disfigured in the First World War. A surgeon by the name of Harold Gillies was responsible for laying the basis for the techniques of plastic surgery when he decided to take it upon himself to rectify the facial disfigurements suffered by the soldiers in the First World War.


1. 1.3 Million Indian Soldiers Participated in the War

At number one is perhaps the least known aspect of the First World War and it is indeed a pity that not many are aware of the fact that 1.3 million Indian soldiers fought gallantly for the British Empire in the war. The soldiers were deployed in different parts of Europe and they fought the war like it was their own, which also led to the deaths of more than 70,000 of them according to some estimates. However, their contributions are no longer a speck in forgotten history since on the centenary of the First World War in 2014, the British government built memorials for the 6 Indian soldiers who were given Britain’s highest military award-the Victoria Cross.



Hopefully you enjoyed the article on one of the most decisive wars in the history of mankind and have come to know something that you might not have known earlier. Please feel free to share your views in the comments section below.


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