Echoes of the Trenches: 68 Essential Facts About World War I

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1Minnie Schönberg

Minnie Schönberg

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.

2. 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.

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

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

5. 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.

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6Cher Ami

Cher Ami

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

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

8. In WWI, British armed merchant cruiser RMS Carmania engaged and sank the German merchant cruiser SMS Cap Trafalgar. Ironically, the two ships had been disguised as each other.

9. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (Author of Sherlock Holmes) tried to enlist when WWI broke out at the age of 55 stating, "I am 55, but I am very strong and hardy and can make my voice audible at great distances."

10. The pharmaceutical company "Bayer" discovered Heroin and, until WWI, sold it as a cough treatment.

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11Chinese laborers Corps

Chinese laborers Corps

Over 90,000 Chinese laborers were used by the British Army to dig trenches on the Western Front in WWI.

12. Woodrow Wilson, the President of the US during WWI, was known to be a white supremacist and who was responsible for revitalizing the Ku Klux Klan in 1915

13. About as many horses were killed on the Western Front in WWI as people (8 million)

14. The casualties during Taiping Rebellion almost equals that of WWI

15. Due to steel shortages during WW1, concrete ships (pictured above) were built. Only ten of them are still afloat, all of them in a small coastal town of British Columbia.

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16Karl Von Müller

Karl Von Müller

Karl von Müller, Captain of the German WWI vessel the SMS Emden allowed the passengers of the enemy merchant ships enough time to gather their belongings and abandon the ship before sinking it.

17. The ban on condoms in America due to anti-contraception laws (which lasted until 1972) led to higher rates of STDs among American soldiers during WW1.

18. The deadliest nonnuclear explosion every recorded was a mine explosion (Messines_Ridge) during WWI that killed 10,000 Germans.

19. Hugh Lofting, not wishing to write his children about the horrors of trench warfare in WWI, instead wrote them imaginative letters that later became the Dr. Doolittle Stories.

20. Safety Razors were invented in the late 18th century but weren’t popularized until World War 1. During World War I, Gillette worked out a deal with the U.S. Armed Forces to provide with the U.S. Armed Forces to provide Gillette safety razors and blades to every enlisted man or officer on his way to Europe as part of his standard-issue gear.



WWI pilots used to use pistols and carbines in air to air combat before guns were installed on planes.

22. Rudyard Kipling urged John Kipling, his 18-year-old son to join WWI. He had such a bad eyesight that he was repeatedly turned down. Kipling used his connections with a Commander-In-Chief of the Army to get him in. John was sent into battle, where an exploding shell ripped his face apart.

23. Because metal was in great demand WWI, corsets began to fade and bras became popular.

24. During World War 1, the United States Government tried to rename hamburgers as "liberty sandwiches" to promote patriotism.

25. Kleenex brand of tissues was used as gas mask filters during the WW1.

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