Pictures of World War I

Each Worth 1000 Words…

The Grim Reaper: World War One’s Most Effective Soldier

Mortality is the condition of being susceptible to death and is often pictorialized as a hooded figure holding a scythe; the Grim Reaper.  Indeed, more than any other conflict in the recorded history of humanity, WW1 set record after record for death, illness, casualty, pain and destruction.

In The First World War a great number of people died and given that the mortality rate is the number of deaths in a population….

  • The mortality rate for The First World War = a great number/the world population = 1%
  • The mortality rate for all warring nations = 16.6 million/954.2 million = 1.74%
  • The mortality rate for mobilized troops = 10 million/65 million = 15.4%
  • In France 1.2 million French military personnel died or were missing in action.
  • Artillery shells caused 70% of trench deaths.
  • The Verdun battlefield is a vast graveyard since the mortal remains of over 100,000 missing combatants are still dispersed underground where they died.
  • Over 8 million horses died, 1 for every 2 men who died.

It is some few of these statistics that are depicted in these photographs on this web page.

The Way of Death in World War 1

In Europe the Germans were so much better, than the allies, at killing; by the staggering number of 2 to 1. On the Eastern and Western fronts the German armies had many fewer casualties until 1918, when the number evened out to 1 to 1. Why? Some of the contributing factors were:

  1. German weaponry was technically more advanced at the beginning of the war and through 1916.
  2. The German military had a superior system of training and leadership.
  3. The German wounded had a higher recovery rate = a return of manpower to the front not seen in the statistics.

Then Why Did The Allies Win in 1918?

At the beginning of the end of the killing 2 million Americans were dispatched to France and the mortality ratio of German dead to Allied dead equaled 1 to 1. The Germans, who were hungry at home after 4 years of sustained warfare and blockades, looked for terms of surrender.

Armenian Genocide & The Ottoman Empire

From 1914 to 1918 the Germans and the Ottoman Empire armies were being killed at roughly the same rate (3.1 and 3.7) but for the civilians this was not so (0.66 and 10.1)! When another statistic is added, it reveals that in the Ottoman Empire 1 of every 2 civilian deaths was caused by famine and massacre of Armenians, Assyrians and Greeks.

This equated to genocide. Winston Churchill described the massacres as an “administrative  holocaust”. The Grim Reaper in these cases were starvation and diseases of malnutrition, forced labor (particularly in Africa and Siberia), deportation, concentration camps, gassings, firing squad and hanging.

WW1 Executions

British military executions although not statistically significant were; 346 executed, 266 for desertion, 18 for cowardice and 37 for murder (these men would probably have been hanged under civilian law at the time). The surviving German records account for 46 executions with the most notorious that of the ‘traitor’ Nurse Edith Cavell.

WWI Disease & The Spanish Flu

Diseases caused about 1/3 of the total military deaths for all combatants. Diseases know no boundaries and flourish under crowded, stressed and unsanitary conditions; Russia had 3 million deaths from epidemic typhus alone. There was malaria, cholera, dysentery, trench fever, measles to name a few. Then there was also Spanish flu. Overall, the flu pandemic killed at least 50 million people. Influenza affected the war with a mortality rate = 2.5%. Entire fleets were ill with the disease and men on the front were too sick to fight. The flu was devastating to both sides, killing more men than the weapons did.

The 1918 has gone: a year momentous as the termination of the most cruel war in the annals of the human race; a year which marked, the end at least for a time, of man’s destruction of man; unfortunately a year in which developed a most fatal infectious disease causing the death of hundreds of thousands of human beings. Medical science for four and one-half years devoted itself to putting men on the firing line and keeping them there. Now it must turn with its whole might to combating the greatest enemy of all–infectious disease.” (Journal of the American Medical Association 12/28/1918).

Life goes on and we must remember and learn the lessons taught by our past history.


(Warning: Graphic Images not suitable for children)

Horror, Deaths, and Casualties of World War 1 Photographs