WW1 Centenary 2014 - 2018
The 4th of August 2014 marks the 100th anniversary of the day Britain entered one of the costliest conflicts in history – the First World War – with fighting continuing until the 11th of November 1918, Armistice Day. To mark the occasion, we’ve put together some incredible WW1 facts…
1. Officially, a British soldier had to be 19 years old to serve overseas but many lied about their age. About 250,000 under-age boys served. The youngest was discovered to be just 12.
2. Average life expectancy in the trenches was about six weeks. Junior officers and stretcher bearers were some of the people most at risk.
3. During four years 25 million tons of supplies were shipped to the British forces on the Western Front including three million tons of food and five million tons of oats and hay for the horses.
4. The war claimed the lives of at least 6,000 men a day. More than nine million soldiers died during the fighting.
5. An incredible 65 million men from 30 countries fought.
6. Some 25,000 miles of zig-zagging trenches were dug on the Western Front alone. Many had nicknames like Bond Street or Death Valley. German lines were given names like Pilsen Trench.
7. German trenches were far superior to Allied ones. Built to last some had shuttered windows and even doorbells. At Hooge, near Ypres, opposing trenches were 50 yards apart.
8. A soldier spent 15% of the year on the frontline, usually for no more than two weeks at a time.
9. On the morning of the Battle Of The Somme, July 1, 1916, the British suffered 60,000 casualties - 20,000 dead. It was the worst toll for a single day in military history. Allied forces advanced six miles.
10. At Christmas 1914 an unofficial truce was observed along two--thirds of the Western Front. Near Ypres, Belgium, some German and British troops played a football match in No Man's Land. Germany won 3--2 (but not on penalties).
On August 4th in Portsmouth, there will be a commemoration of the outbreak of the First World War with a ceremony in Guildhall Square. At midday a choir will be on hand as a candlelit vigil is held with prayers. Everyone is welcome to pay their respects.
Visit www.1914.org to see how else you can take part in this global commemoration.