7 Things You Didn't Know About WWI

by
Lauren Burgoon
On the 100th anniversary of the Great War, check out these little-known facts, including an entire fake Paris being built.

It was supposed to be the "war to end all wars." One hundred years later, we know all too well that World War I certainly wouldn't be the last deadly conflict to ravage the world.

July 28 marks the 100th anniversary of the official start of WWI, when Austria-Hungary declared war on Serbia. So began a four-year conflict that took an estimated 37 million lives. 

We know WWI was one of the deadliest modern wars at the time. Here are 7 other facts you might be surprised to learn about World War I:

How Tanks Got Their Name

Tanks were first used in battle in WWI, and got their name because they were first disguised as water tanks. There were even male and female tanks, which had cannons and machine guns, respectively.

 

Plastic Surgery Was Invented Because Of WWI

One of the more devastating effects of modern warfare was shrapnel wounds. More soldiers lived with better medical care, but came home disfigured. Harold Gilles helped pioneer plastic surgery to treat soldiers.

 

Bonjour, Fake Paris

France built a second, fake Paris to trick German bombers. Given the technology at the time, most bombers looked for landmarks and dropped their payload by hand. France started to construct the fake city, complete with streets and lights, 11 miles from the real Paris. It was never finished and the world didn't know about fake Paris until 1920.

 

The Oldest And Youngest Soldiers

Fifty-five years separates the two British soldiers believed to be the oldest and youngest on the WWI battlefield. Henry Webber was 67 years old when he joined up for Britain. Young enough to be Webber's grandson, Sidney Lewis snuck into the ranks when he was 12.

 

The Spanish Flu Was Deadlier Than War

The Spanish flu epidemic of 1918 killed more people -- an estimated 50 million to 100 million -- than died in the war. It raced through the trenches and the homefront with equal deadliness, killing healthy soldiers or veterans who had just returned home.

 

Goodbye, Hamburgers

The whole "freedom fries" around the 2003 Iraq war isn't the first time the U.S. changed food names to spite the enemy. In WWI, German food names were dumped: hamburgers became Salisbury steak or liberty steak, sauerkraut became liberty cabbage and frankfurters turned to liberty sausages. Even dachshunds were renamed liberty dogs.

 

Hitler's Infamous Mustache Debuted In WWI

Adolph Hitler's toothbrush mustache is a symbol of the evil of World War II, but it was the Great War that prompted the look. Hitler apparently sported a full, pointy 'stache in WWI, but was ordered to trim it so his gas mask would fit.