Next Episode of The Great War in Numbers is
The Great War in Numbers tells the complete story of World War I - from outbreak to conclusion - and the fragile peace that followed. It was a war unlike any other before it, with a number of firsts along the way. Seventy-milliion men were mobilised to fight around the world, from the trenches of the Western Front to the Middle East and Africa. There were more bullets fired, more bombs dropped, more men killed, more money borrowed and spent than in any war before. It was a war of numbers: men, ammunition, food - quantity was the difference between victory and defeat, and for the first time in human history, everything was recorded in exacting detail: 762,000 Britons enlisted in the first four weeks of the war; 980,000 'war' horses shipped to Europe from America; the life expectancy of a WW1 pilot was only 15 flight hours; the cost of bullets for one day of fighting in 1918 was £3,800,000 - in today's money that's £237,500,000. The series takes these numbers and more to present a new, vivid look at The Great War, with statistics helping to shed new light on the war to end all wars.
By January 1916 the war had become a stalemate. Millions had died and yet no side had achieved a decisive breakthrough. Austria-Hungary tripled the size of its armies to five million men. Germany doubled its forces to seven million. And in Britain men were volunteering to fight at the rate of up to 33,000 a day.
1916's Descent into Hell began at the French fortress city of Verdun. Entire villages were wiped off the map and both sides suffered over 300,000 casualties. At sea the British and German fleets fought the greatest naval battle in history, off the Jutland peninsula in the North Sea. Thousands died, but again no side achieved a crushing victory. And on the Western Front the newly recruited Pals battalions led the attack at 7.30am on 1st July 1916. A day that has gone down as the blackest day in the history of the British Army.
The Great War also had an impact on those on the Home Front, where the demands of modern warfare transformed the lives of the young and the old, women and children.
One of the biggest changes was experienced by women across Europe and North America, Australia and New Zealand. Before 1914 most jobs were virtually closed to women. The war would change that. Meanwhile governments intervened in every area of daily life: in Britain the Defence of the Realm Act banned bonfires and whistling for taxis, carrying cameras and feeding the birds. Russia would even go as far as banning vodka. And in America the Sedition Act outlawed disloyal language, threatening people's right to criticise the government.
Propaganda and censorship became a feature of daily life as governments attempted to hide the awful truth of the war from those on the Home Front. Censorship also slowed down the postal service but soon people had greater worries than delays to the post. Food shortages led to queues, then riots and rationing, then starvation.
In addition, zeppelins and the first long-range bombers brought terror and destruction from the air, and saw London come under attack for the first time in 900 years.
Episode five tells how, after 1916 and the hell of the Somme and Verdun, the imperial powers redoubled their efforts to crush their enemies. In Germany the new commander in chief, Paul von Hindenburg, and his deputy, Erich Ludendorff, demanded that German industry doubled its output of shells, to 11 million a month, and treble production of machine guns, artillery and aircraft. To meet these new targets Germany needed three-million more workers. Those who were too young or too old to fight had to work in the munitions factories. More than a million PoWs would be put to work, hundreds of thousands of inhabitants of occupied Belgium, France and Russia would become forced labourers. Sixty-five thousand of these men would be used to build a massive new line of fortifications along the Western Front, the Hindenburg Line. The Hindenburg Line was built in almost total secrecy. The Allies were stunned. On the Eastern Front the Russian army was also in disarray, and the Tsar was forced to abdicate. The Germans provided a special train to carry the Communist revolutionary Vladimir Ilyich Lenin from exile in Switzerland back to Russia. The country was on the verge of collapse.
Episode six tells how the numbers will favoured one side, then the other in 1918. When the Bolsheviks took Russia out of the war, millions of German and Austro-Hungarian troops were freed up to attack Britain and Belgium, France and Italy. But across the Atlantic, America was training an army of two-million men. The German commanders, Hindenburg and Ludendorff, knew that if they didn't achieve victory in 1918, they faced defeat in 1919. In 100 days what had looked like a German victory was turned into defeat, and Germany's politicians were forced to ask for an armistice. The blood-letting lasted until the very last minute. Eleven-thousand men were killed or injured on 11th November 1918, the last day of the war, but the peace settlement demanded by the victorious Allies did not bring peace. The war to end all wars was over, but the anger and hatred it had generated found new outlets, and the rise of fascism and communism soon plunged Europe into war again in the decades to come.
Looks like something went completely wrong!
But don't worry - it can happen to the best of us,
- and it just happened to you.
Please try again later or contact us.