History

Eye-Watering Numbers – The Staggering Cost Of World War One

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The cost of war cannot be measured only by the amount of money spent on the war. World War One, one of the most devastating wars in human history, resulted in huge and wide-ranging costs. The conflict, which involved over thirty countries, was waged from 28 July 1914 to 11 November 1918. The scale and cost of the war were so large that they are not easily or accurately quantifiable up to this day. These costs can be broken down into the number of the dead, the wounded, the refugees, the financial costs as well as other consequences of the violent conflict.

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The staggering costs of World War One
The power of the technology employed during the war was mind-blowing. As the war raged on, the number and power of artillery that was used increased dramatically. At the same time, military strategies became more efficient, adding to the destructive power of the war.

Number of the dead and wounded
Almost ten million soldiers and around five million non-combatants were killed during The World War One. In terms of the wounded, an approximate twenty one million combatants were severely wounded in the course of the war. U.S deaths alone totaled around one hundred and sixteen thousand.

Financial cost of the war
The war came with a heavy financial burden for both the allied powers and the central powers. It is estimated that the violent conflict took up $ 186 billion in direct costs and $ 151 billion in indirect costs. This amount is higher than any spent in previous wars in world history.

Artillery
The sheer number and power of artillery used in the war is mind-boggling. Improvements in gun technology, ranging technology and military strategies pushed this number even higher. For instance, at some point during The Battle of Verdun, Germans used a total of four million shells from 1200 guns in a period of eighteen days. Thirty trains supplied this enormous amount of artillery on each day. The French retaliated, using three million shells in ten days in a four-kilometer by half a kilometer area. By the end of the ten-month battle, it is estimated that the German and French forces had used sixty five million shells. Around 75% of the over 700,000 casualties of the battle were caused by artillery fire.

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Logistics and supplies
Logistics systems were necessary to supply soldiers on the war front with required materials. In addition to supplying ammunition, there were systems for food, water, transport, medical services, communication, entertainment, engineering, training grounds and other everyday necessities had to be built and maintained. For instance, the Canadian corps had engineers build over 50 kilometers of road and over 20 kilometers of rail over a six-kilometer portion in the western front. 600,000 gallons of water were supplied daily for the corps and the 50,000 horses that they used.

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