"All through the war the great armament firms were supplied from the enemy countries. The French and the British sold war materials to the Germans through Switzerland, Holland and the Baltic neutrals, and the Germans supplied optical sights for the British Admiralty. The armament industry, which had helped stimulate the war, made millions out of it."
British historian C.J. Pennethorne Hughesz, 1935
German machinegunners in a flooded shell-hole during the Battle of Ypres.
"In war-time the word patriotism means suppression of truth."
S. Sassoon in 'Memoirs of an Infantry Officer'
CASUALTIES DURING THE FIRST WORLD WAR (DEAD & KILLED)
British Empire 908,371
United States 126,000
Grand Total 8,538,315
Several allied countries, e.g. Canada, Australia and New Zealand, are not itemized. They are counted under the British Empire.
Canada: Enlisted 595,000. Served overseas 418,000. Killed in Action 35,666. Died of wounds 12,420. Died of disease 5,405. Wounded 155,799. Prisoners of War 3,575. Presumed dead 4,671. Missing 425. Deaths in Canada 2,221. Total Dead 60,383.
Australia: 416,809 Personnel enlisted (including the Australian Flying Corps). 331,781 of these people served overseas. Among them at least 400 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. Total casualties: 215,585 (captured, missing, wounded or killed). Killed: 53,993. Wounded: 137,013 plus 16,496 gassed.
New Zealand: A total of 110,386 men and women served, 100,444 of these served overseas (in Samoa, Egypt, Turkey, Palestine, France, Belgium and Germany). Casualties: 58,526, of whom 18,166 died.
Hiding in a trench hole in the first line Germans assail the French garrison troops at Fort Vaux, near Verdun.
QUOTESGermans in a trench left behind by the French. It ran right through a French village!
"There were many words that you could not stand to hear and finally only the names of places had dignity. Abstract words such as glory, honor, courage, or hallow were obscene."
American novelist and WW1 veteran Ernest Hemingway, in 'A Farewell to Arms', 1929
QUOTESGermans in a trench
"This is a war to end all wars."
American President Woodrow Wilson
"Only the dead have seen the end of war."
George Santayana, Spanish-American philosopher, in a counter to Wilson's words
CHRISTMAS IN THE TRENCHESSource
"We and the Germans met in the middle of no-man's-land."
Frank Richards was a British soldier who experienced the "Christmas Truce". We join his story on Christmas morning 1914:
"On Christmas morning we stuck up a board with 'A Merry Christmas' on it. The enemy had stuck up a similar one. Platoons would sometimes go out for twenty-four hours' rest - it was a day at least out of the trench and relieved the monotony a bit - and my platoon had gone out in this way the night before, but a few of us stayed behind to see what would happen. Two of our men then threw their equipment off and jumped on the parapet with their hands above their heads. Two of the Germans done the same and commenced to walk up the river bank, our two men going to meet them. They met and shook hands and then we all got out of the trench.
Buffalo Bill [the Company Commander] rushed into the trench and endeavoured to prevent it, but he was too late: the whole of the Company were now out, and so were the Germans. He had to accept the situation, so soon he and the other company officers climbed out too. We and the Germans met in the middle of no-man's-land. Their officers was also now out. Our officers exchanged greetings with them. One of the German officers said that he wished he had a camera to take a snapshot, but they were not allowed to carry cameras. Neither were our officers.
We mucked in all day with one another. They were Saxons and some of them could speak English. By the look of them their trenches were in as bad a state as our own. One of their men, speaking in English, mentioned that he had worked in Brighton for some years and that he was fed up to the neck with this damned war and would be glad when it was all over. We told him that he wasn't the only one that was fed up with it. We did not allow them in our trench and they did not allow us in theirs.
The German Company-Commander asked Buffalo Bill if he would accept a couple of barrels of beer and assured him that they would not make his men drunk. They had plenty of it in the brewery. He accepted the offer with thanks and a couple of their men rolled the barrels over and we took them into our trench. The German officer sent one of his men back to the trench, who appeared shortly after carrying a tray with bottles and glasses on it. Officers of both sides clinked glasses and drunk one another's health. Buffalo Bill had presented them with a plum pudding just before. The officers came to an understanding that the unofficial truce would end at midnight. At dusk we went back to our respective trenches.
...The two barrels of beer were drunk, and the German officer was right: if it was possible for a man to have drunk the two barrels himself he would have bursted before he had got drunk. French beer was rotten stuff.
Just before midnight we all made it up not to commence firing before they did. At night there was always plenty of firing by both sides if there were no working parties or patrols out. Mr Richardson, a young officer who had just joined the Battalion and was now a platoon officer in my company wrote a poem during the night about the Briton and the Bosche meeting in no-man's-land on Christmas Day, which he read out to us. A few days later it was published in The Times or Morning Post, I believe.
During the whole of Boxing Day [the day after Christmas] we never fired a shot, and they the same, each side seemed to be waiting for the other to set the ball a-rolling. One of their men shouted across in English and inquired how we had enjoyed the beer. We shouted back and told him it was very weak but that we were very grateful for it. We were conversing off and on during the whole of the day.
We were relieved that evening at dusk by a battalion of another brigade. We were mighty surprised as we had heard no whisper of any relief during the day. We told the men who relieved us how we had spent the last couple of days with the enemy, and they told us that by what they had been told the whole of the British troops in the line, with one or two exceptions, had mucked in with the enemy. They had only been out of action themselves forty-eight hours after being twenty-eight days in the front-line trenches. They also told us that the French people had heard how we had spent Christmas Day and were saying all manner of nasty things about the British Army."
This eyewitness account appears in Richards, Frank, Old Soldiers Never Die (1933); Keegan, John, The First World War (1999); Simkins, Peter, World War I, the Western Front (1991).
After the Armistice German troops march through the Dutch province of Limburg back to Germany. The (neutral) Dutch government had given permission for this shortcut. This roused anger in Belgium and France.
"I saw them tie a soldier to a cartwheel with his arms outstretched as a punishment. I also knew of men who did themselves in. British soldiers weary of sitting in the trenches who cut their throats during leave. If order hadn't been maintained, they would have deserted. They were coerced. When you're in the army, you can't just do whatever you want."
Gaston Boudry, in the (Belgian) book 'Van den Grooten Oorlog'
Under an heavy artillery attack a German machine gun unit retreats. Last stages of the war
"Once lead this people into war, and they'll forget there ever was such a thing as tolerance. To fight, you must be brutal and ruthless, and the spirit of ruthless brutality will enter into the very fiber of our national life, infecting Congress, the courts, the policeman on the beat, the man in the street."
-- American president Woodrow Wilson, on the evening before declaring war on Germany
-- Rare German WW1 pictures: Part 1
-- Rare German WW1 pictures: Part 2