Here are 11 facts that try to covey a sense of the massive, unprecedented slaughter of World War One. This section makes grim reading and viewing – but the war was extremely grim.
Although in terms of the scale of the slaughter World War One was surpassed by World War Two, the sense of pointless and wasteful loss of life that the meeting of antiquated tactics with industrial weaponry created, remains unparalleled.
1. Total casualties caused directly by the war are estimated at 37.5 million
2. Approximately 7 million combatants were maimed for life
3. Germany lost the most men, with 2,037,000 killed and missing in total
4. On average 230 soldiers perished for every hour of fighting
5. 979,498 British and Empire soldiers died
See a Commonwealth War Dead: First World War Visualised – based on figures from the Commonwealth War Graves Commission.
6. 80,000 British soldiers suffered shell shock (roughly 2% of all that were called up)
Shell shock was an incapacitating mental illness believed to be brought on by intense sustained artillery shelling.
7. 57.6% of all combatants became casualties
8. It cost the Allies $36,485.48 to kill an opposing serviceman – significantly more than it cost the Central Powers
Niall Ferguson makes these estimations in The Pity of War.
9. At nearly 65% the Australian casualty rate was the highest of the war
10. 11% of France’s entire population was killed or wounded
11. On the Western Front total casualties were 3,528,610 dead and 7,745,920 wounded
The Allies lost 2,032,410 dead and 5,156,920 wounded, The Central Powers 1,496,200 dead and 2,589,000 wounded.