Now all roads lead to France and heavy is the tread
Of the living; but the dead returning lightly dance.
Edward Thomas, Roads

Monday, April 7, 2014

It Was a WORLD War

It is. . . important to remember this was a true world war: it was fought not only on the fields of Flanders and the Somme. But how many in Britain have ever heard of the battle of Gorlice-Tarnów in 1915, in which German and Austrian-Hungarian troops broke through the Russian front line and occupied most of Galicia and the Polish salient? Who knows that in 1918 the Central Powers occupied vast areas in the east that almost equaled the territory occupied in the Second World War? Who has ever heard of the Carpathian winter campaign of 1914–1915, in which Habsburg forces fought in vain to rescue 130,000 Austro-Hungarian soldiers trapped by Russian troops in the fortress Przemyśl and which resulted in 600,000 casualties? 

Memorial to Indian Fallen Near Loos, Western Front

Who knows that the British forces were the junior partner on the Western Front pretty much throughout the war — they never held more than a quarter of the front. One-and-a-half million volunteers from the Indian subcontinent served in the "great war", and 850,000 of these went overseas.

Matthias Strohn, July 2013 Guardian Interview


  1. There were actually 40 countries that declared war on the Central Powers with every continent represented. These included Ecuador, Honduras, Armenia, Panama, Peru, Siam, Bolivia, China, Costa Rica and Cuba, amongst others.

    1. Many of these nations declared war simply to be able to confiscate German and Austro Hungarian assets.

  2. Not to forget theaters in Africa and of course the Near East. It even affected remote Easter Island, From the Easter Island Foundation web site: "World War I brought the German fleet to Easter Island, although the island’s inhabitants were unaware of the conflict. The Germans purchased meat from the sheep ranch manager and offered to pay with either a check or gold. Unaware of the war, the check was accepted! The SMS Prinz Eitel Friedrich came to the island with a captured French bark in tow. The Germans put the captain and crew of the French ship on shore, as well as some men from an English ship that had been sunk near the Horn. Two months later, a Swedish steamer appeared and took the English crew and most of the Frenchmen with them. Some, however, elected to stay and one married a Rapanui vahine."