Do you think you’re an expert on the subject of World War 1?
Even though there are countless books, documentaries, and films based on World War 1, most of us lack basic knowledge about it. It’s rather worrying considering it was one of the bloodiest wars in human history.
It’s estimated that there were around 40 million casualties during the conflict, including 20 million deaths. Every year we stand silent on November 11th to remember all those who lost their lives. So why don’t we know more about it?
Well, some of the most interesting facts about World War 1 have been left out of the textbooks at school. This may just be due to the fact that studying the entire conflict in depth would take years.
But that doesn’t mean we can’t keep learning about this deadly war after we’ve left school.
In this article, we’ll share 6 of the most lesser-known facts about World War 1. These facts will astonish you and leave you wanting to know even more.
Read on for more information.
1. The Youngest Known British Soldier to Serve Was Only 12
It was very common for young men to lie about their age in order to join the army and fight.
They often did this so they could fight for their king and country which was regarded as very heroic. The public was also told that the war would be over by Christmas 1914.
The youngest British soldier to enlist and fight was Sidney Lewis. Sidney was just 12 years old when he enlisted in August 1915. By 1916 when he was 13, his mother sent his birth certificate to the war office and demanded he was sent home.
After it was authenticated, Sidney was forced to return home to his mother. During his time in the army, Sidney fought at the battle of the Somme.
2. World War 1 Cost an Estimated $200 billion Which Is Equivalent to $5 Trillion Today
Wars have always been costly and this is one reason countries try to stay out of them. Plus, politicians have to justify spending money on war instead of on public services.
It’s rather shocking to hear that the estimated cost of World War 1 in today’s money was over $5.5 trillion.
To put this in perspective, the estimated cost to eradicate world poverty is around $3.5 trillion. So, for the cost of World War 1, you could eradicate world poverty and have 1.5 trillion dollars left over.
3. Explosions on the Front Line in France Were Heard Back in London
Miners worked in secret to dig tunnels under German trenches. The goal was to lay mines and then detonate them.
The miners were very successful and the detonations were so loud that the explosions could be heard back in London.
This is extraordinary due to the fact London was 140 miles away. In fact, the British Prime Minister is even said to have heard them.
4. Over Christmas in 1914, Soldiers From Both Sides Declared a Ceasefire and Ended up Playing Soccer
This is undoubtedly one of the most extraordinary stories from World War 1.
Starting on Christmas Eve 1914, many British and German troops stopped fighting. Instead, they sang Christmas carols to each other. Then on Christmas morning, the German soldiers climbed out of the trenches and headed across no man’s land towards the British.
But they weren’t trying to fight. Instead, they were shouting Merry Christmas in English. At first, the allied soldiers believed it was a trick until they realized the Germans were unarmed.
They then climbed out of the trenches and greeted the German soldiers. They shook hands and even exchanged food. It’s even documented that some German and British soldiers played a friendly game of soccer.
Both sides also used the ceasefire to recover the dead bodies of fallen comrades.
The truce was never repeated for the rest of the war.
5. The Last Soldier to Be Killed in WW1 Died Just 1 Minute Before the War Was Officially Over
You often hear stories of people who are really unfortunate and this is one of them.
The last soldier of any side to be killed was American Henry Gunther. He died at 10:59 am on the 11th of November 2018. This is extraordinary because the Armistice came into effect just 1 minute later at 11:00 am.
The Armistice was an agreement from both sides to stop fighting on land, sea, and air. So, it was officially the end of the bloodied war.
We suspect Henry’s family and friends had a hard time coming to terms with the timing of his death. It would have been devastating to know he was so close to returning home.
6. Around a Third of All Military Deaths Were Caused by Diseases
It’s not common knowledge that a significant amount of military deaths weren’t caused by combat at all. Instead, they were a result of diseases that devastated both sides.
If you picture the trenches, it’s not hard to see how easily diseases would have spread. The conditions were awful, hygiene was poor and, there were thousands of soldiers in a confined space.
A lot of life-saving medicines had also yet to be discovered.
One of the most devastating diseases at the time was the Spanish Flu. This of course ended up causing a global pandemic in the years which followed.
Finally, if you would like to honor fallen soldiers and serving military men and women, you can do it. Why not create your own personalized military coins?
These coins are a symbol of allegiance and commitment. They are given to commemorate a special achievement or anniversary. For military personnel, they signify that you were part of a special unit with a unique bond.
Every President since Bill Clinton has designed and given out their unique coin to soldiers and civilians.
Interesting Facts About World War 1 Everyone Should Know
We hope you have enjoyed reading our article and now know more about World War 1.
As you can see, there are many interesting facts about World War 1 which are often not taught at school. It’s important to know these facts in order to remember those who sadly lost their lives.
Finally, check out the rest of our blog for more educational articles.