English Culture News

12 incredible WW1 facts that you probably don’t know

world_war_one
Tom Culshaw
Written by Tom Culshaw

 

History of WW1 paints horrific struggles and battles in blood soaked trenches on the Western front. The reality of this is still shocking to this day, however many do not know the war spread as far as China, fought by servicemen from Asia, North America, the Caribbean, Australasia and also Africa. Each man had their own role, and many paid a fatal price.

 

Below are 12 surprising facts of the First World War courtesy of BBC History.

  1. An explosion on the battlefield in France was heard in London

While the war raged on in the mud and trenches, a very different war was taking place beneath the soldiers’ feet. A group of miners, operating in total secrecy, dug tunnels up to 100ft underground, to plant and detonate mines beneath the enemy’s trenches. Their biggest success was at Messines Ridge in Belgium where over 900,000lbs of explosives were simultaneously detonated in 19 underground tunnels. Much of the German front line was destroyed, and the explosions were heard 140 miles away by the British prime minister in Downing St.

  1. Journalists faced execution

A handful of journalists risked their lives to report on the realities of war. As the Government sought to control the flow of information from the frontline at the start of the war, journalists were banned. Reporting on the conflict was, in the opinion of the War Office, helping the enemy. If caught, they faced the death penalty.

  1. 12 million letters were delivered to the front every week

Astonishingly, it only took two days for a letter from Britain to reach the front in France. The journey began at a purpose-built sorting depot in Regent’s Park before being shipped to the trenches. By the end of the war, two billion letters and 114 million parcels had had been delivered.

 

  1. War work turned some women’s skin yellow

When a generation of men went to fight the war, more than a million women took their place in the workforce. They worked long hours, often in poor conditions and with dangerous chemicals. The so-called ‘canaries’ were women who worked with TNT, which gave them toxic jaundice and turned their skin yellow.

 

  1. WW1 sparked the invention of plastic surgery

Shrapnel was the cause of many facial injuries in WW1 and unlike the straight-line wounds inflicted by bullets, the twisted metal shards produced from a shrapnel blast could easily rip a face off. Horrified by the injuries he saw, surgeon Harold Gillies, took on the task of helping victims and pioneered early techniques of facial reconstruction in the process.

 

  1. Wilfred Owen was unknown at the end of the war

Wilfred Owen is one of the best know poets of the WW1, but when he died on the frontline, just a week before the end of the war, he was relatively unknown. At the time, his view of the war as one of pity and horror was in the minority. It wasn’t until the 1960s that a literary elite decided this was the most authentic view of the conflict because it chimed with their own anti-war feelings. This resulted in the publication of two key war poetry anthologies which heavily featured Owen.

 

  1. The youngest British soldier was 12 years old

Sidney Lewis was just 12 years old when he lied about his age and joined the army during World War One. He was one of thousands of eager underage boys who enlisted and ended up fighting alongside their adult counterparts on the front. Some were motivated by patriotism, but for others it was an escape from their dreary lives.

  1. WW1 nearly caused a financial meltdown in Britain

At the turn of the 20th century, Britain was an economic superpower, but the world’s first global war would cost more than any that had gone before. For example, the cost of bullets fired in one 24 hour period in September 1918 was nearly four million pounds.

  1. Blood banks were developed during WW1

The British Army began the routine use of blood transfusion in treating wounded soldiers. Blood was transferred directly from one person to another. A US Army doctor, Captain Oswald Robertson, established the first blood bank on the Western Front in 1917, using sodium citrate to prevent the blood from coagulating and becoming unusable. Blood was kept on ice for up to 28 days and then transported to casualty clearing stations for use in life-saving surgery where it was needed most.

  1. Colourful makeovers meant WW1 ships hid in plain sight

It was crucial to protect the merchant ships carrying the food and military supplies to the front from enemy torpedoes. Norman Wilkinson, an artist and Royal Navy volunteer came up with the idea of covering ships in bold shapes and violent contrasts of colour. The complete opposite of normal camouflage, dazzle camouflage was supposed to confuse the enemy rather than conceal the ships.

 

  1. 9 out of 10 soldiers survived the trenches

Being in the firing line was rare for a British soldier. They constantly moved around the trench system – meaning more often than not they were kept from the dangers of enemy fire. The more typical experience for the British Tommy would have been a life of boredom and regular routine.

 

  1. Generals were banned from going over the top

The stereotype is that the ordinary soldiers of WW1 were lions led by donkeys – the donkeys being incompetent generals who sat out the war in comfort while thousands died unnecessary deaths. In fact, so many of the generals wanted to be closer to the fighting they had to be banned from going over the top because they kept getting killed. The experience required to be a general was too significant to lose.

 

Comments

comments

Leave a Comment

1 Comment

  • Installment loans give you tthe money you want.

    Many Speedy money prospects choose impressive installment mortgage choice when they either have tto coin a major purdhase
    neither cost, practically spectaculary want a longer interval via pay bacdk spectacularir mortgage than a payday breach presents.
    while the maximum quantity it’s possibhle you’ll is deetermined
    by striking nation you liv in, youre by no means obligated into appropriate finished the total quantity youre approved over solicit.
    fittingly depending in your state of affairs, wee are going tto passion by meanns of
    you thast will help you decide the amount off money over borrow.
    once you pay off effective stability because that loan you might bbe
    instantly suited for one more.

    Dirty ssecrets and techniques concerning correspondingly-called Installment Loans

    Cash store isNOW OFFERINGinstallment loans
    via funds every 30 days in Texas, oldd Mexico,
    furthermore Wisconsin. this can be a nice chkice for purchasers who are paid
    monthly.
    In interest bulletin, ProPublkca talked before departed installment mortgage officers
    who had been skilled to keep prospects by sudden hook since an extended time.
    each existence that they had cash ouut there, [sudden goal was
    Theres been a variety of chat in regards to the danger like payday loans lately, prompted by a new bulletin against the consumer financial safety agency this called conservatives an extended-time period, expensive demand for payment . however theres one other, fast-growing class about restricted, brief-term loans pitched principally back deep-income people moreover the unbanked in particular that may be just similarly harmful. ProPublica including market teamed up for anin-sense lookat installment loans, and stripped a darkish aspect via suchlike an business spokesman time perioded the safest type of consumer credit on the market.
    People which reside by benefits keep find fast money from Payday Loans since People benefits. we’re exp
    If your software is qualified, emotional funds might be wired indoors your glance details inside 24 hours! Our consultant leave name you to elucidate the non-public installment mortgage phrases moreover situations, our fees structure moreover out there reimbursement options. typically, you’ll be able to stand up back $1,zerozero0 in your before time mortgage. nevertheless, you possibly can focus on the chance on solicit as much as $5,zero00 in a protracted- month-to-month installment mortgage to suit your financial needs.