The British Contribution To World War One Compared With The French, Russian And American Contributions
The results and consequences of World War I forever changed the 20th century in a way that the world had not expected. With ruins and deaths, as well as social change, World War I changed the worlds’ outlook on European nations. The death toll of the wars fought in the previous one-hundred years did not touch the amount of deaths that resulted in World War I. Nearly ten million soldiers were lost in the four years that encompassed the war, and there were nearly twenty-one million men that were wounded. With these deaths came the mass destruction of land all across Europe. The fighting destroyed factories, farms, bridges, and railroad tracks. Due to artillery shells, chemical weapons, and trenches, the Western Front became barren.
Britain had a peacetime strength of 190,000 men and a colonial strength of 248,000 people. It had a wartime strength of 160,000 men in 1914. The total (army and naval) military personnel as a percentage of the population was 1.17% in 1913/14. Britain had a population of 46 million people and a colonial population of 434 million people where 6.430 million men were of military age of which only 248,000 were trained professionals equivalent to approximately 4-8 percent. Britain had a mobilised strength of 5,680,247 men in 1918.
Russia had a peace time strength of 1,445,000 men and a wartime strength of 3,400,000 men in 1914. The total (army and naval ) military personnel as a percentage of the population was 0.77% in 1913/14. The population of Russia was 164,000,000 in 1914. Although that may seem a lot, only 17,000,000 men were of military age of which only 6,000,000 men were trained professionals (excluding navy).
France had a peacetime strength of 827,000 men (the second best out of the Allied and Central powers) and w wartime strength of 1.8 million in 1914. France has population of 36.6 million people and a colonial population of 57.7 million people. The total (army and naval) military personnel as a percentage of the population was 2.29% in 1913/14. It had 5.940 million men of military age of which 5.067 million men were trained professionals in 1914. France had mobilised strength of 5.075 men in 1918.
The United States of America did not join the war until April 1917. It took some time for the American’s presence to make much of a difference in the war on the western Front. A small contingent of troops arrived in the early summer of 1917,and received weary reception when they were paraded in Paris, appropriately enough on 4th July 1917. However, to provide additional manpower for the Allied cause, the United States brought in conscription on 18th May 1917. On Tuesday 5th June over 10 million men were registered for selective service. Initially two drafts of 500,000 men were chosen. From March 1918, 250,000 men were sent overseas per month. By the end of the war over 4 million men were in the arm, and nearly 2 million in Europe. This was more than the sum of British forces then in action. In total 112,475 Americans were killed in action or died on active service by the end of the war (including deaths from flu).
Britain lost 723,000 dead, equivalent to 16 dead per 1000 people. The total killed as a percentage of total mobilised in Britain and Ireland was 11.8%. the total killed as a percentage of males between the ages of 15-49 in Britain and Ireland was 6.3%.The total killed as a percentage of the population was 1.6 percent. The total mobilised in the British Empire was 8,904,467 million men of which 908,371 were killed and 2,090,211 million men were wounded and 191,652 were prisoners or were missing, giving a total casualty rate of 35.8%.
An estimate of Russian losses are that she lost 1.8 million men dead, or eleven men per thousand people. The total killed as a percentage of total mobilised was 11.5%. The total killed as a percentage of males between the ages of 15-49 was 4.5% and the total killed as a percentage of the population was 1.1%. Russia’s total mobilised forces were 12 million of which 1.7m were killed, 4.95 million were wounded and 2.5 million prisoners or were missing, giving a total casualty rate of 76.3%.
France lost 1.3 million dead, or 34 dead per thousand head of the pre-war population. The total killed as a percentage total mobilized was 16.8%. The total killed as a percentage of males between the ages of 15-49 was 13.3%. the total killed as a percentage of the population was 3.4%. France had a total mobilised force of 8.41 million of which 1.357 million were killed, 4.266 million were wounded and 537,000 were prisoners or were missing, giving a total casualty rate of 73.3%.
America lost 114,000 dead in just under a year of fighting, or one man per thousand people dead. The total killed as a percentage of total mobilised was 2.7%. The total killed as a percentage of males between the ages of 15-49 was 0.4% and the total killed as a percentage of the population was 0.1%. The United Sates had a total mobilised force of 4.355 million men of which 116,516 men were killed or were missing, 204,002 were wounded and 4,500 men were prisoners or were missing giving a total casualty rate of 8.1%
Britain’s industrial strength in 1914 had been the strongest of the European countries producing 292 million tons of coal, 11 million tonnes of iron and 6.5 million tons of steel. However, Germany produced more steel. Britain had the second largest expenditure after America starting at $2.5 billion and that rose to $12.6 billion in 1918, giving a total of $45.3 billion. However, Britain relied on America’s loans which gave an overall total of $1.365 billion which was far higher than the Central Power’s total expenditure put together.
Russia’s industrial strength in 1914 had been the weakest of the allies, producing only 36 million tons of coal, 4 million tons of iron and 4 million tons of steel. Russia’s expenditure throughout the duration of the war was only larger than Italy’s total; expenditure. Their expenditure rose from $1.23 billion to $2.77 billion in 1917, giving a total of $11.77 billion.
The industrial strength of Russia was extremely weaker than the Central and Allied powers. She produced 36million tons of coal, 4million tons of iron and 4million tons of steel compared to 277million tons of coal, 15 million tons of iron and 14miullion tons of steel of Germany, or 292mmillion tons of coal, 11milliomn tons of iron and 6.5million tons of steel of Britain. Russia’s expenditure was increasing from 1914/15 to 1916/17. However, it decreased in 1917/18. it was $1.239 in 1914/15, $3.18 in 1915/16 and $4.585million and in 1916/17, it decreased to $2.774million, the total expenditure worth $11,778million.
France had 40million tons of coal, but had only 5million tons of iron and 35million tons of steels, which was quite low. France’s expenditure was increasing throughout the war. In 1914/15, they spent$1.994million, in 1915/16, $3.827million, in 1916.17, $6.227million, in 1917/18, $7.74 million and in 1918/19, $10.16million giving a total of $30,009million, the third largest amount of the Central and Allied powers, showing that France was fully stretched in terms of economic power. France borrowed money from Britain and USA, while lending money to Russia and other countries. A higher level of external finance certainly helped Britain and France to spend more on waging war than Germany and Austria-Hungary.