The Great War: 74 World War 1 Facts, Heroes and Stories

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1Monk Eastman

Monk Eastman

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."

2. 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.

3. 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.

4. 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.

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

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6Paul Kern

Paul Kern

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.

7. 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.

8. 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.

9. 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.

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

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11Dazzle camouflage

Dazzle camouflage

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

12. 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.

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

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

15. 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.

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16Arthur Conan Doyle

Arthur Conan Doyle

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."

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

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

19. 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

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

21Taiping rebellion

Taiping rebellion

The casualties during Taiping Rebellion almost equals that of WWI

22. 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.

23. 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.

24. 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.

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

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