89 Brutal Facts From World War 1 for True History Fans

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1Henry Allingham

Henry Allingham, the oldest Briton in history, credited his longevity to “cigarettes, whiskey and wild, wild women – and a good sense of humor.” He fought in WWI, worked as an engineer in WWII, and died at the age of 113.


2. During WWI, Woodrow Wilson kept a flock of 48 sheep on the White House lawn to save money on groundskeepers. The sheep also earned $52,823 for the Red Cross through the auction of their wool.


3. At the start of WWI, Italy developed the Villar Perosa Double Machine Gun that could fire 1200-1500 rounds per minute, but they were unable to figure out a practical use for it until the end of the war.


4. U-28, a WWI German submarine sunk after it was struck by an automobile which flew off a cargo ship it had just torpedoed.


5. During WWI a British recruitment tool called the “Pals Battalion” allowed people from the same town to enter the military together. Though it increased enlistment rolls, it also devastated whole regions of the UK whenever a battalion experienced heavy casualties. By WWII the idea was abandoned.


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6Cooties

The earliest reference to “cooties” was a nickname for lice in the trenches of WWI where they were also known as “arithmetic bugs” because “they added to our troubles, subtracted from our pleasures, divided our attention, and multiplied like hell.”


7. During the WWI fight for Belgrade, Serbia, German troops encountered a very stiff resistance, so German Field Marshal August von Mackensen erected a monument to the Serbian soldiers who died defending Belgrade, saying, “We fought against an army that we have heard about only in fairy tales.”


8. The Hungarian serial killer Béla Kiss is thought to have murdered at least 23 young women and 1 man and attempted to pickle them in giant metal drums. When WWI began, he was conscripted and left his house. When his crimes were discovered, he evaded capture and was never heard from again.


9. The first and the last British soldiers to die in WWI are coincidentally buried only 15 feet apart. In the 4 year period between their deaths, nearly a million other British/Commonwealth troops died.


10. There was an all-black regiment in WWI that the Germans feared so much that they called them the "Harlem Hellfighters". They never lost an inch of ground and none of them was ever captured.


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11"I want You" poster

The Uncle Sam, "I Want You" poster was used in WW1, not WW2!


12. New York City gangster Monk Eastman decided to enlist in the Army at age 42 to fight in WWI. During his physical, the doctor asked Monk in which war he got all of his knife and bullet scars. Monk replied, "Oh! A lot of little wars around New York."


13. During WWI, the Belgian King (Albert I) personally led the army, the Queen served as a nurse, and the 14-year-old Prince enlisted as a private and fought in the ranks.


14. During WWI, at one point, skirmishing Russian and German forces had to declare a temporary truce to fight off a sudden onslaught of wolves that were making regular raids on trenches. The joint operation was successful.


15. An English POW named Robert Campbell of WWI was granted permission to visit his dying mother and voluntarily returned a week later to his German prison camp.


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16Fake Paris

During WWI, France built a 'Fake Paris' near its capital city to confuse German pilots.


17. During WWI, a Hungarian soldier named Paul Kern was shot in the frontal lobe, resulting in him being unable to fall asleep. He lived for years after that and no one really knows how.


18. In 1964, the German government decided to pay back East African soldiers (Askari) that had fought for them in WWI. Most of them had no proof of service, so they had to perform the Manual of arms in German (handling and using weapons in formation) with a broom to prove themselves. Not a single one of them failed and did it perfectly.


19. Minnie Schönberg, the mother of the Marx Brothers, upon hearing that farmers were exempt from being drafted, bought a farm and forced the brothers to work on it, so they won’t be called to fight in WWI.


20. During WWI, a lone Portuguese soldier named Aníbal Milhais convinced the German soldiers that they were fighting against an entire unit for three days without eating or drinking.


21Cataract patients' senses

Some cataract patients have an "extraordinary sensitivity" to ultra-violet light. They were used in WW1 to detect flashing UV beacons.


22. In WW1, US Navy painted complex patterns of geometric shapes on ships as "dazzle camo."


23. During WWI, 16 days before the ship RMS Lusitania set sail, Germany published a warning in the New York Times that they would sink the ship if it set sail to Britain. They went anyway and 1198 people died.


24. There was a wounded pigeon named Cher Ami in WWI that saved the lives of 198 American soldiers.


25. During WWI sauerkraut was renamed as 'Liberty Cabbage' in the USA.

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