10 Things You Didnt Know About World War I

World War I was the first global conflict that involved over 30 countries and about 65 million soldiers. It consisted of two major powers: The Allies and the Central Powers. The war lasted for four years causing massive amounts of destruction. We all know the outcome of World War I ended with the Allies victory and the spark of the U.S. economy, while on the other hand Germany had crumbled. But what about the facts you didn’t know about World War I? Here are a few fun facts that your high school history teacher didn’t teach you.

1. The Odd Truce of 1914

Wikicommons Creative Commons/ World War I Christmas Truce / Via upload.wikimedia.org

This probably is one of the most interesting facts that no one knows about that took place during World War I. On Christmas Eve of 1914, the fighting had spontaneously stopped. Two-thirds of the Western Front had stopped fighting, and the Americans and the Germans even played a match of football (soccer). Germany had ended up winning 3 to 2. This truce took place in Ypres, Belgium across “no man’s land.” Although it was a moment of peace, a truce was not widespread over the entire war, in some places war continued. Many still find this truce a bit odd, it consisted of humanity and friendliness, even the exchange of gifts and friendly contact across one another took place between the American and the Germans only resulting to continue fighting the day after Christmas. To some, this was called the “Christmas Truce.”

Source: “Causes of World War I Video.” History.com. A&E Television Networks, n.d. Web. 08 Aug. 2014.

2. The True Killer

Flickr Creative Commons/ Emergency Influenza Tents, Aid Centers 1918 / Via Flickr: navymedicine

Another interesting fact that many people aren’t aware of is that there was another power that took the lives of many, about 20 million worldwide to be precise. This power was known as the Influenza Epidemic of 1918. The epidemic kicked in around the ending of World War I or otherwise known as the “Great War.” This epidemic took the nickname of World War I and was known as the “Great Epidemic.” This virus killed about 675,000 U.S. Citizens out of a population of 105 million. More Americans died from this epidemic than in battle.

Source: “The Influenza Epidemic of 1918.” National Archives and Records Administration. National Archives and Records Administration, n.d. Web. 07 Aug. 2014.

3. “He kept us out of war” or so we thought.

Flickr Creative Commons/ Woodrow Wilson Painting. 28th President / Via Flickr: nostri-imago

Woodrow Wilson won his second election in 1916. Woodrow Wilson was the 28th president of the United States. He won his reelection in a bit of an ironic way. Here’s how it trickles down: Woodrow Wilson won his re-election with the slogan “He kept us out of war.” This slogan is ironic because about a year after his victory of presidency he declares war on Germans and thus involving the U.S. in the “Global War.” The U.S. never declared war because American politicians were petrified of fighting on foreign soil. They chose to remain neutral about the matter until April 6th, 1917. The British government intercepted a German telegram that was initially for Mexico offering to reclaim land lost in the 19th century from the United States. Britain immediately informed the U.S. of its plans; these events eventually lead Wilson and the U.S. government no choice but to declare war on Germany.

Source: “1916 Election - The President Woodrow Wilson House.” The President Woodrow Wilson House. N.p., n.d. Web. 08 Aug. 2014.

4. Daylight Savings!

Flickr Creative Commons/ Congress Passes Daylight Savings Bill / Via Flickr: pringlehill

One tradition that lived through World War I is the use of Daylight Savings Time. This allowed businesses to be open longer throughout the day with an additional hour of daylight. The idea was given before; however, it was not implemented until 1916. The U.S. primarily wanted to do this so factories could stay open longer, and more fuel would be conserved for the war. Germany and Austria-Hungary were the first two countries that utilized this idea, then soon the U.S. and the rest of Europe quickly followed. This tradition still lives with us at almost a century later.

Source: “The History of Daylight Saving Time.” The History of Daylight Saving Time. N.p., n.d. Web. 08 Aug. 2014.

5. #MeatlessMondays

Flickr Creative Commons / Meatless Mondays / Via Flickr: 90585146@N08

What you believed to be a social media trend of “#MeatlessMondays” started all the way back in the 1900s. Originally Herbert Hoover, who was president at the time, wanted to preserve more meat and foods for the troops fighting in the war, so he asked the public to go a day without eating meat. Realistically, it was called Meatless Tuesdays, however, after years of catchy phrases and literate individuals, they changed it to Meatless Mondays. Additional to Meatless Mondays, there was also Wheatless Wednesdays. Over 13 million families signed up to preserve food for the troops; that’s an overwhelming amount of people. To this very day Meatless Mondays is known as a social media craze that’s promoted through food networking channels, health diet programs, and even schools.

Source: “Meatless Mondays Wheatless Wednesdays.” Meatless Mondays Wheatless Wednesdays. N.p., n.d. Web. 08 Aug. 2014.

6. There was a time before Hollywood Plastic Surgery.

Flickr Creative Commons / Plastic Surgery / Tank wound Facial Reconstructions / X-rays / Via Flickr: 22719239@N04

One interesting fact you probably didn’t know was that plastic surgery was first practiced during World War I. That’s right, the many “fixed” faces you see on modern celebrities actually originated in World War I. British doctor Harold Gillies and his colleagues performed over 11,000 surgeries on disfigured World War I veterans including soldiers of the U.S. military. He set the basis of skin graphing and other techniques used in plastic surgery that are implemented today. Gillies worked hard to set the basis of plastic surgery; however some of the results looked astonishing for its time. After working on countless amounts of patients, Gillies was able to hone his skill of skin-graphing.

Source: Four Things You Didnt Know about World War I. Prod. Post TV. Gillian Brockell, 2014. Video.

7. We reach a whole new level!

Flickr Creative Commons / World War I USS Texas Battleship / Via Flickr: tomsaint

Okay, so you might have learned this fact in high school, but this is one that has to state. World War I brought the United States into the modern era. The war shaped what is known to be the United States today. Planes and bigger ships were being developed, and technology began to unfold. It reached the point where one worker in a factory was able to produce the same amount of work over a hundred workers would be able to do back in the 18th century. On top of that, mass weapons began to develop. Since more factories were established for the war more weapons began to arise. Them machine gun was introduced during this era and even the use of chemical weapons. World War I started the age of technology for the U.S. More information of World War I technology can be found here.

Source: The One Thing You Should Know About WWI Video. History.com. A&E Television Networks, n.d. Web. 08 Aug. 2014.

8. The Hellfighters

Flickr Creative Commons / Harlem Hellfighters / Via Flickr: 26746018@N03

The Harlem Hellfighters were one of the most-important regiments in history. They portrayed a great example of the power and influence African-American soldiers had during the war. It was difficult for African-Americans to join the military because there would be a perception that they would not do well in battle. The Hellfighters first started off loading ships and worked in the labor units rather than fighting in the war. Eventually, they were given to the French Army which eventually let them fight in the war. One man named Henry Johnson, a member of the Hellfighters, was awarded a medal for his bravery by the French for single-handedly holding off what seemed to be 30 Germans. Even after realizing how well the African-Americans fought in the war, they still returned home to racism, inequality, and segregation.

Source: “Who Were the Harlem Hellfighters?” PBS. PBS, n.d. Web. 08 Aug. 2014.

9. The Lusitania

Flickr Creative Commons / The Lusitania / Via Flickr: x-ray_delta_one

The Lusitania was the first of its kind, a ship that was enormous and fast, but not fast enough to evade the German U-Boats. The Lusitania was headed for Liverpool from New York in 1915. The Germans warned passengers of the Lusitania that it was going to pass through German patrolled waters, the captain of the boat reassured its shipmates that nothing was going to happen. The Lusitania was carrying a small sum of American passengers. When the Lusitania crossed the German patrolled waters, a U-boat had fired a torpedo that ended up sinking the ship. The Germans had suspected that the ship had artillery and ammunition for the British to use in the war against the Germans. The American population became furious with the Germans and pressured Wilson to declare war on the Germans. Wilson finally gave in and declared war on Germany on April of 1915.

Source: “The Lusitania.” PBS. PBS, n.d. Web. 07 Aug. 2014.

10. The 70 pound backpack!

WikiCommons/ Creative Commons/ Soldier wearing modified WWI haversack / Via commons.wikimedia.org

U.S. Soldiers during World War I carried about 70 pounds of gear with them. They packed it into a haversack that they carried with them. There would be a four-page instruction manual that taught them to carry and pack necessities from food to shaving equipment. One of the most important pieces a soldier carried was an entrenching tool. Each man ended up having either a pickaxe or shovel to dig foxholes. They even carried first aid kits with them for obvious reasons. One major necessity for these soldiers was tobacco. Tobacco seemed to ease the minds of the soldiers and even carried a bit of home with them.

Source: World War I Packs. A&E Television Networks, n.d. Web. 08 Aug. 2014.

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