Posted by: mcfinder | March 2, 2010

9 Little Known Facts of WW1

So here is something that I hope will get a little ‘crowd participation’. Here are a few little know or slightly strange facts about WW1, please feel free to add your own facts or sound bites to this little collection..overtime I may add to it so it becomes a little glossary of amazing little Great War soundbites..

PS – If you are interested in learning more about WW1 then why not check out my new app which is now out on Android. The Great War 100 app tells the story of the First World War using infographics. You can buy it from the Android app store here:

IOS version coming very soon…but now, back to the facts….

So, in no particular order:

On June 28th 1914 Gavrilo Princip shoots Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife in Sarajevo. Their car’s registration plate was “A 11 11 18” Do those numbers seem familiar? Answers on a postcard…

In October 1914, H Dennis Cutler performed the first aerial reconnaissance flight in German East Africa, in an attempt to lcoate the German ship HMS Konigsberg. The radiator of his aircraft failed, and he was forced to make an emergency landing. The radiator could not be repaired, as there were no spare parts, but someone remembered seeing a Model T Ford at Mombasa. HMS Fox was despatched on a 200 mile trip northwards to get the radiator from the Ford, which was then fitted to Cutler’s plane, enabling him to fly over the Konigsberg, which was located in the Rufiji River.

In the spring of 1915 the Belgian Army adopted khaki, not because it was the colour of their choice, but because Britain could supply the enormous amount of cloth required to replace the existing coloured uniforms.

USA pilot Howard Clayton Knotts DFC, DSC achieved the unusual feat of destroying more German aircraft as a prisoner of war, than as an active pilot. After recording 6 victories, he was shot down on the 14th of October 1918, and taken prisoner. When he was aboard a train transferring him to a prison camp, Knotts discovered that 7 Fokker aircraft in a freight car were in the same train, on their way to an aerodrome. When the train stopped, Knotts was able to set fire to some refuse used to pack the freight car. When the train started, the draft caused the fire to destroy the freight car and all 7 Fokkers.

On average, 230 combatants died EVERY SINGLE HOUR for the entire duration of the war.

Most RFC pilots lasted only an average of about 3 weeks once they arrived at the Western Front. Those who weren’t killed, wounded, or taken prisoner were often posted to the reserve due to “nerves”. Flying was extremely stressful and dangerous. Those who lived through the first few weeks acquired skills that helped them live longer or even survive the war.

On Christmas Day, 1914, there was a spontaneous cessation of hostilities between British and German troops in the front lines. They met in No Man’s Land (the area between the opposing front lines) where small gifts like chocolate or buttons were exchanged, and in some places they played football. It has become known as the “Christmas Truce”.

Field Punishment # 1 was regularly given for minor offenses such as drunkenness. A soldier would be tied to a wheel or stake for a couple of hours a day for up to 21 days.

The UK started to use Daylight Savings Time from 30th April 1916 initially as an attempt to conserve coal.

For some more facts on WW1 see my other post: More Little Known Facts on WW1



  1. […] 10 Little Known Facts of WW1 March 2010 3 […]

  2. More than 50,000 British and Canadian men below the regulation minimum height of 5ft. 3ins. volunteered to serve as fighting soldiers, and formed 20 “Bantam” battalions.

    • Thank you Sidney, that is an excellent ‘little’ fact!

  3. […] blog post I did a while back: 9 Little Known Facts of WW1 has been very popular, so I thought I would add a few more bite sized nuggets…so here we go: […]

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