Since the 2014 – 2018 timeframe has been declared the First World War Centennial, we want to present some of the most interesting and least known facts about the War to End All Wars. Note that most of these facts can be verified using online resources, while others might be rooted in hearsay or on documents which were either lost or destroyed
Big Bertha Was the Largest Piece of Artillery of the First World War
During the First World War, the Germans employed a 48-ton howitzer also known as Big Bertha. The massive cannon could lob 930-kg shells at over 15 kilometers. The name of the howitzer was given by Gustav Krupp, the engineer who designed it, in honor of his wife. Reportedly, assembling and calibrating the howitzer was a challenging task, as it required a crew of approximately 200 men who toiled over six hours on the cannon.
Because land lines were often damaged and destroyed by enemy artillery, both sides employed carrier pigeons to transmit valuable information. According to some estimates, during the First World War, approximately 500,000 pigeons were ‘drafted’ and trained to carry messages.
The Bloodiest Battles of the First World War
Although most of us shiver at hearing the names of Tannenberg or Gallipoli, according to the records, these were not the bloodiest battles of World War I. It appears that the bloodiest conflict was the Hundred Day Offensive, when approximately 1,8 million men lost their lives. Ranking second in the bloodiest battle of World War I is the Spring Offensive, which claimed the lives of 1.6 million men.
Germany’s Secret Pact with Mexico
Soon after the United States of America, Germany made a pact with Mexico. As part of this newly-founded friendship, Germany tried to lure Mexico into attacking America, in an attempt to claim Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas.
The Day Earth Stood Still
Did you know that, officially, World War One on the 11th of November at exactly 11 o’clock?
Reportedly, sometime during the First World Conflict, a combatant was shot in his frontal lobe. Although the soldier survived, he could never sleep again, due to his battlefield injury.
Chemotherapy and Mustard Gas
Although it would seem highly unlikely given the connection, but according to the medical records, the idea of using chemotherapy to treat cancerous outgrowths has its origin in how mustard gas affected the soldiers on the battlefield.
Hitler Was Saved by the British Army
Henry Tandey, a British rifleman, saw an enemy soldier wounded in a trench. Seeing that the solder made no attempts to attack, Tandey lowered his rifle and allowed him to flee. Reportedly, that soldier got up, thanked Tandey, and left. That soldier spared by Tandey was Adolf Hitler.
Image source: Wikipedia