SOME GREAT WAR STATISTICS


When considering the Great War, the numbers of almost everything involved with it were vast. Here are just some which deal only with Great Britain, and its Empire and Commonwealth.

I am indebted to Major-General J.F.C. Fuller's book, The Army in My Time, and the compilers of the, Statistical Abstract of Information regarding the Armies at Home and Abroad, 1914 - 1920, from which I have gleaned much of my information.


MEN

On 1st August, 1914 the British army contained almost one million men (excluding native troops in India) and was made up from the these units:

START OF THE WAR

FORCE OFFICERS OTHER RANKS TOTAL
Regular Army 10,800 236,632 247,432
Army Reserve - 145,347 145,347
Special Reserve 2,557 61,376 63,933
Territorial Force 10,684 258,093 268,777
Territorial Force Reserve 661 1,421 2,082
Militia & Volunteers 194 5,749 5,943
National Reserve 5,784 209,667 215,451
TOTAL 30,6800 918,285 948,965

The total is almost one million men, but the bulk were only partially trained, and many were over-age or unfit.

In 1914 the Expeditionary Force consisted of one Cavalry Division, and six Infantry Divisions

In the British Isles between August and the end of November 1914, 1,250,000 men voluntarily enlisted into the armed services. This represents about one quarter of the manhood between the ages of twenty and thirty-five.

END OF THE WAR

Omitting India, by November 1918 the total recruits to the British Army were:

COUNTRY ENLISTMENTS POPULATION MALE POPULATION PERCENTAGE OF MALE POPULATION
England 4,006,158 34,618,346 16,681,181 24.2
Wales 272,924 2,489,202 1,268,284 21.52
Scotland 557,618 4,849,500 2,351,843 23.71
Ireland 134,202 4,374,500 2,184,193 6.14
G. B. TOTAL 4,970,902 46,331,548 22,485,501 -
Commonwealth* 1,000,213 - - -
TOTAL 5,971,115 - - -

* Note: Commonwealth enlistments were as follows:

COUNTRY ENLISTMENTS MALE POPULATION PERCENTAGE OF MALE POPULATION
Canada 458,218 3,400,000 13.48
Australia 331,814 2,470,000 13.43
New Zealand 112,223 580,000 19.35
South Africa 76,184 685,000 11.12
Newfoundland** 6,173 - -
West Indies 15,601 - -
TOTAL 1,000,213 - -

** Note: Newfoundland became a self-governing colony in 1917, and finally united with Canada in 1949.

By December, 1918 the Army had grown to nine mounted Divisions, and eighty-seven Infantry Divisions.

During the War, the expansion in size of all army units was phenomenal, as is shown by this table:

UNIT INITIAL
STRENGTH
END of WAR
STRENGTH
Army Printing 10 922
Cavalry & Yeomanry 45,190 74,086
Chaplains 117 3,416
Cyclist Corps 4,280 15,094
Foot Guards 7,312 45,526
Household Cavalry 1,306 1,256
Infantry 299,342 1,638,513
Labour Corps 110,815 389,895
M.G.C. Cavalry 576 7,883
M.G.C. Infantry 3,536 119,986
Motor M.G.C. 496 2,396
Non - Combatants 203 3,209
Nursing Service 3,246 23,029
R.A.M.C. 17,840 138,017
R.A.O.C. 2,505 40,446
R.A. Pay Dept. 575 14,549
R.A.S.C. 14,491 326,590
R.A.V.C 2,377 40,850
R.E. 24,035 357,389
R.F.A. 51,228 311,854
R.F.C. 1,200 144,078
R.G.A. 27,275 200,996
R.H.A. 7,538 16,218
Tank Corps 1,202 28,299
W.A.A.C.'s 2,377 40,850


BATTLE CASUALTIES

Reliable casualty numbers are notoriously hard to find, and tend to vary according to the viewpoint of their author. These ones quoted here are taken from J F C Fuller's book, "The Army in my Life", written in 1933.

According to Fuller, the total British casualties reported up to March, 1920 were:

Western Front - 128,205 officers, and 2,632,592 other ranks

and in all theatres - 144, 135 officers, and 2,953,257 other ranks.

Casualties in long-drawn battles were colossal:

BATTLE PERIOD OFFICERS OTHER RANKS
Somme 1 1.7.1916 - 31.11.1916 23,080 474,974
Arras 9.4.1917 - 6.6.1917 9,367 178,416
Messines 7.6.1917 - 30.7.1917 5,377 103,505
Third Ypres 31.7.1917 - 31.12.1917 20,725 380,335
Cambrai 20.11.1917 - 31.12.1917 4,296 71,385
Somme & Lys 21.3.1918 - 31.5.1918 16,482 327,330
Somme, etc 27.5.1918 - 7.8.1918 14,708 82,959
Amiens, etc 8.8.1918 - 14.11.1918 17,841 345,376

On the Western Front there were five casualties to every nine men sent out;

in the Dardanelles the ratio was two to nine;

in Mesopotamia two to twelve; and

in other theatres the average was one to twelve.

Note: as a rough guide, about one third of casualties were men killed.


CASUALTY PROPORTIONS

Chances of becoming a casualty depended to some extent on the fighting arm in which a soldier served:


RATES per HUNDRED

ARM KILLED & DIED WOUNDED MISSING & PRISONERS TOTAL
Cavalry 0.25 0.72 0.11 1.08
Artillery 1.54 5.73 0.31 7.58
Engineers 0.52 1.87 0.18 2.57
Infantry 17.17 56.17 12.73 86.07
M.G.C. 0.43 1.63 0.40 2.46
Tank Corps 0.03 0.17 0.04 .24
TOTAL 19.94 66.29 13.77 100.00


SHIPMENTS

Withhold the Royal Navy securely guarding the English Channel during the whole conflict, the War could not have been won by the Allies.


As an indication of this vital protection, the following totals of materials and men were carried safely carried to France from August, 1914 to November, 1918.

757,206 Officers

9,986,504 Other ranks

41,416 Nurses

804,2312 Horses

By 2nd November, 1918, on the Western Front there were, in total, 2,260,054 men and women, and 404,176 animals.

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At the War's end the following dead weight (imperial) tonnage of stores shipped to France was:

Oats & Hay 5,438,602
Ammunition 5,253,338
Royal Engineer Stores 3,962,497
Coal 3,922,391
Food 3,240,948
Ordnance Stores 1,761,777
Petrol 758,614
Miscellaneous 539,398
Canteen Stores 269,317
Mechanical Transport Stores 158,482
Royal Air Force Stores 123,570
Tanks and Stores 68,167
TOTAL 25,497,351


AMMUNITION, MATERIAL, & COSTS

AMMUNITION

The number of shells fired by the British during the War was prodigious.

For example, on 17th November, 1918 the British Army had available on the Western Front:

7,578 guns

15,790,023 shells

694,575 mortar bombs

52,358 machine guns

7,191,763 grenades

343,037,061 rounds of rifle and pistol ammunition

==========

During the whole War some 170,385,295 shells were fired.

Thus, as the average cost of each round fired was £5, the total expenditure on shells was about £852,000,000 - an astronomically large amount even by today's values.

At the preliminary bombardments of the Arras, Messines, and Third Ypres Battles, the following shell costs were incurred:

BATTLE DATES SHELLS FIRED COST
Arras 25.3.1917 - 8.4.1917 2,687,653 £13,162,689
Messines 26.5.1917 - 6.6.1917 3,561,530 £17,505,453
Ypres 17.7.1917 - 30.7.1917 4,283,550 £22,211,389


MISCELLANEOUS ITEMS AND COSTS

MEDICAL

Even with the absence of most of the drugs which are commonplace today, during the War the Royal Army Medical Corps supplied:

1,088,000,000 drugs in tablet form

34,000,000 doses of various vaccines

Also, the R.A.M.C. from its huge range of stock, issued the following items:

350,000 pairs of glasses

22,386 artificial eyes

1,675,000 splints

108,000,000 bandages

7,250 tons of cotton-wool and lint.

==========

In August 1914, hospital accommodation for soldiers in the United Kingdom amounted to about 7,000 beds in some 200 hospitals. By November, 1918 this was increased to 364,133 in 2,426 occupied by 333,074 patients.

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CLOTHING, ANCILLARY, and MISCELLANEOUS ITEMS

During the War, amongst a host of other items, these articles of clothing were issued to soldiers:

46,973,000 pairs of boots

57,421,000 shirts

136,396,000 socks

31,764,000 jackets, and

28,297,000 pairs of trousers.

Miscellaneous and ancillary items included:

10,638,000 spades and shovels

200,529,000 yards of canvass

62,715,000 horse-shoes

52,883,000 yards of flannelette for cleaning rifles

121,702 motor vehicles

4,134 miles of broad-gauge railway line were laid

2,745 miles of narrow-gauge railway line were laid

3,333 locomotives were built for use in France and Belgium.

143,011 railway wagons were supplied

2,250,000 photographs were taken

57,107 rubber stamps were made

16,000,000 books were supplied to camp libraries.

However, it was not all expenditure on the part of the army for:

Over the length of the War 5,649,797 rabbit skins were sold for £123,192

In 1917, waste ration fat was converted into 1,500 tons of crude glycerine, sufficient to provide the propellant charge for 15,000,000 18-pounder cartridges.

Also in 1917, £101,877 was raised from the sale of swill.


FINANCIAL COST

By the last few months of the War, the financial cost each day was about £7,500,000. Yearly, the costs were estimated thus:

YEAR COST (in £s)
1914 - 1915 362,000,000
1915 - 1916 1,420,000,000
1916 - 1917 2,010,000
1917 - 1918 2,450,000,000
1918 - 1919 2,500,000,000
TOTAL £8,742,000,000


© Karl Murray, 1997


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