40 Fascinating Facts about World War 1 – Part 2

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1Trench guns

Trench guns

In World War 1, trench guns were given to US soldiers skilled in trapshooting so they could shoot incoming grenades out of the air.

2. During World War 1, cotton was in high demand for the manufacture of uniforms and explosives. For bandages, doctors turned to use sphagnum moss. It can hold up to 22 times its own weight in liquid -- twice as absorptive as cotton. The moss is also antiseptic, making the surrounding environment acidic.

3. A goat called Sergeant Bill became a Canadian war hero during World War 1 when he head-butted three soldiers into a trench to avoid an exploding shell.

4. During World War 1, the British created a campaign to shame men into enlisting. Women would hand out White Feathers to men not in uniform and berate them as cowards. The campaign was so successful that the government had to create badges for men in critical occupations so that they would not be harassed.

5. During World War 1, the Ottoman government murdered over 1,500,000 Armenians living in their empire. The event coined the word "Genocide". The Armenian Genocide is the second most-studied case of genocide after the Holocaust.

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6John Monash

John Monash

John Monash was an Australian World War 1 general who was so good at organizing battles and overseeing the wellbeing of his troops that during the Battle of Hamel in 1918, he managed to arrange the delivery of hot meals to troops, even up to the front line.

7. During World War 1, all Army recruits underwent intelligence testing, which became the largest mass testing that had ever been attempted. By the end of the war close to 2 million soldiers had been tested. As a result of the tests roughly half of the recruits were classified at or below the level of “moron.”

8. During World War 1, 'f*cking’ and ‘bloody’ were used as palliatives, so that the order to ‘get your f*cking rifles’ was recognised as considerably less urgent than the order to ‘get your rifles.’

9. The first battle of World War 1 consisted of a British ship firing a single shot at a German ship on Lake Nyasa (now Lake Malawi) in Africa, and taking the captain "prisoner." The two captains had been drinking buddies for years, and weren't about to let the war ruin it.

10. During World War 1, French prostitutes with severe cases of syphilis charged higher rates than uninfected prostitutes, because soldiers infected with syphilis were removed from the front line.

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In World War 1, glow worms were gathered and used in lamps to light the trenches. Also, due to their extreme ability to detect particles in the air, slugs were used to detect gas attacks. If the slugs closed their breathing spires and contracted, troops would know to put on their gas masks.

12. During World War 1, French commander Joseph Joffre employed professional car racer Georges Boillot to drive him around the conflict zone at blazing speeds.

13. When World War 1 began, it was compulsory for all British officers to have a mustache. Poignantly, that edict was revoked in October 1916, because the new recruits were so young that some could not rustle up more than a thin, mousey streak.

14. In World War 1, a German ship (SMS Emden) made its way to a British colony about 1700 km off the tip of India. The captain of the ship was surprised when he was welcomed. No news of the war had reached the colony. The ship was repaired and restocked, and in thanks, the captain had a local’s boat fixed.

15. After a horse ran into No Man's Land during World War 1 and got shot, French soldiers decided to replace it with a fake papier-mache horse with a sniper inside. He also had a telephone wire so he could message back to the trenches on enemy movement. The ploy was discovered after three days.

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16Francis Pegahmagabow

Francis Pegahmagabow

Canadian First Nations soldier Francis “Peggy” Pegahmagabow was one of the most effective snipers of World War 1. He volunteered for service despite the Canadian government’s exclusion of Aboriginal people in the army. With a kill record of 378, Peggy once ran into No-Man’s Land to retrieve ammo when his company ran out.

17. During World War 1, British newspapers falsely claimed that the Germans rendered down soldiers' corpses to make soap, candles and nitroglycerin. As a result, when news of the Holocaust reached Britain during World War 2, the government assumed it was another made-up atrocity story.

18. During World War 1, before the traction splint was introduced, femur fractures had an 80% mortality rate. After the splint was introduced, the rate dropped to around 8%.

19. In World War 1, darts were dropped from aircraft to attack infantry.

20. During World War 1, London was protected by massive lengths of steel cables suspended from observation balloons to guard against air raids. These "balloon aprons" forced pilots to fly above their range or too low to avoid AA fire.

21Toxic Battlefields

Toxic Battlefields

Many World War 1 battlefields are still so contaminated with unexploded ordnance and chemicals that human development is not allowed and won't be for at least another 300 - 500 years.

22. So many men died in World War 1 that serious proposals were made to bring back polygamy. One German expert estimated that Europe had 10 million more women than men, and stated that unless farmers and others were allowed two wives, "30-40% of German women will remain spinsters."

23. Near the end of World War 1, a small fortified town in France called Le Quesnoy was liberated from the Germans after 4 years of occupation, by New Zealand soldiers in a sneak attack, with zero civilian casualties. Multiple memorials and many of the town's streets are named in New Zealand’s honor.

24. World War 1 was the first war in which mass media and propaganda played a significant role. It was one of the keys to convincing people to fight in the war. At the start of the war, the British cut Germany’s undersea cables to influence the reporting of the war to the world.

25. In 1917, during World War 1, U.S. troops in Paris stopped at the grave (composed of soil from the U.S.) of French Revolutionary War Hero, Marquis de Lafayette, and proclaimed “Lafayette, we are here!”

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