WWI Casualties

From the Commonwealth War Graves Commission website, WWI casualties by nation state.

With the anniversary this year there will no doubt be many issues about ignoring the sacrifice of service personnel from Commonwealth nations in any commemoration, I think it has already started.

It is rather depressing that those wishing to simply remember, commemorate and learn will be drowned out by the more strident voices from both the left and right seeking to push their own agenda.

The Somme, WWI Casualties

WWI Casualties – The Commonwealth Nations

United Kingdom Forces

830,819 record(s) match your search criteria

Australian Forces

62,082 record(s) match your search criteria

New Zealand Forces

18,051 record(s) match your search criteria

Canadian Forces

64,995 record(s) match your search criteria

Indian Forces

74,199 record(s) match your search criteria

South African Forces

9,560 record(s) match your search criteria

 

25 Comments
Oldest
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Paul Robinson
Paul Robinson
January 12, 2014 9:08 pm

http://www.pbs.org/greatwar/resources/casdeath_pop.html gives rest of world figures. Ex pat in northern France, not far from Lille & countryside surrounded by small large graves, from both wars, but mostly Great War. So far north nearly in Belgium, & Valenciennes not liberated until 2nd November by the Canadians, followed up by the Highland Regt. Found tantalising parts of a story about a certain Armstrong, who served with the British Army in the Great War & stayed on to tend the graves of his fallen comrades, in Valenciennes after the war. He went to the trouble of applying for an Irish passport after partition in 1921. As a supposed neutral, the Germans gave him the by ball to continue tending the cemetries, during occupation in WWII. Arrested in 1944 for helping the resistance & the escape chain for downed airmen, & died in a concentration camp. Hard to tease out any real detail other than the memorial locals erected in his honour in the graveyard he worked in. Be grateful if anyone else has any info on this sketchy story.

Gloomy Northern Boy
Gloomy Northern Boy
January 12, 2014 11:16 pm

@Paul Robinson – The CWGC web entry for the Valenciennes (Saint Roch) Cemetery confirms the facts you have, but without much more detail – beyond his being in the Irish Guards; could try that angle?

GNB

PS – Boss – Gove was unwise, but then those who know anything of the real history are likely to find the endless “duped working class heroes slaughtered by drooling, cowardly upper crust morons to no good purpose” trope a wee bit…wearing…over the next few months…

Chris
Chris
January 12, 2014 11:29 pm

Ref “the more strident voices from both the left and right seeking to push their own agenda” – it was already noted here: https://www.thinkdefence.co.uk/2013/11/remembrance-season/#comment-257571 that BBC coverage of the centenary will downplay the fighting men of the Western Front in favour of the corporation’s preferred slant of sociological impacts.

Oscar Zulu
Oscar Zulu
January 13, 2014 7:59 am

I think you’ll find that the figure for the New Zealand forces is wrong (it is unlikely that both Australia and New Zealand would have precisely the same casualty figure after all of those years of carnage).

The Kiwi figure is closer to 18,000. Nonetheless New Zealand suffered a higher per capita death toll than Australia 1.64% versus 1.38%. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/World_War_I_casualties

WWI had an enormous impact on both fledgling nations sparking the simultaneous ANZAC rivalry and camaraderie.

The Commonwealth forces made a significant contribution not only in fighting (and dieing), but also in the command structure and in formulating new tactics to break the stalemate of trench warfare.

Australian Lieutenant General John Monash not only inflicted heavy defeats on the Germans at the battles of Hamel and Amiens (the latter arguably a turning point in the war), but was also instrumental in developing and employing “combined arms” maneuver tactics building on British General JFC Fuller’s work.

As well as coordinating tank, infantry and artillery attacks, Monash also employed novel techniques including resupply by parachute and under armour and for the first time the use of wireless (in addition to what was the conventional use of phone land lines).

German General Heinz Guderian would later draw on this experience in the inter-war years to develop the Wermacht’s Blitzkreig tactics.

Following the battle of Amiens, Monash was dubbed a Knight Commander of the Order of the Bath on the battlefield by King George V, the first time a British monarch had honoured a commander in such a way in 200 years. Field Marshal Bernard Montgomery later wrote: “I would name Sir John Monash as the best general on the western front in Europe”. High praise indeed from Monty.

Interesting to also note that American troops were under Australian command at the time. How times change.

The omission of the acknowledgement of ANZAC and Commonwealth forces in the UK’s 2014 commemorations has been noted in the press here, although I would say that the level of public comment or outrage isn’t all that high. The commemoration of Gallipoli in 2015 is the big event on the ANZAC calendar.

Still there is always the cricket to console us.

Peter Elliott
January 13, 2014 8:48 am

Just had a quick read up on Monash. Fascinating.

Very interesting to note that the most innovative and successful general of the Western Front was not a professional soldier and right up to 1914 had never served in a regular unit.

Are there future leaders of the British Army sitting in the Reserve Forces today? Would we ever dare to put an officer with a TA Commission in charge of an operational brigade?

Clearly the circumstances were very different then. All hands were called to the pump. But Monash’s successful military career stands as intereting challenge to the ‘groupthink’ and institutional inertia that can grow up in armed forces during a prolonged period of comparitive peace such as the one we are currently in (no disrespect intended to the operations of the past 25 years).

There is a crossover here to the thread I started some time ago on the ‘quiet revolution’ at RMAS. How open should our armed forces be to new thinking from civilian society? We can guarantee that the next war will not be won simply by implementing the docterines and lessons of the last one. So maybe critical thinking and openess to new ideas is the most valuable military skill of all?

Obsvr
Obsvr
January 13, 2014 10:07 am

I fear we are in for 4 yrs of some very ill-informed rubbish.

Re Monash, he was merely building on what was happening. Combined arms warfare (infantry and arty) started to work effectively in 1916, in 1917 is was going very well (eg Messines) and at Cambrai tanks were added, also effectively with the added novelty of minimal preparatory bombardment.

Oscar Zulu
Oscar Zulu
January 13, 2014 11:12 am

@ Obsvr

“I fear we are in for 4 yrs of some very ill-informed rubbish.”

Maybe you’d like to clarify exactly what part of the Commonwealth forces contribution (280,000 dead) to WWI you’d regard as rubbish?

I acknowledged in my post that Monash was building on the work of others. Nonetheless his skill as a general and his record in battle still stands.

I follow a number of blogs around the world and it is sometimes remarkable how insular and closed shop they can be adopting a somewhat myopic view of the world.

I’d like to think that TD was a more open minded forum able to see historic events from another’s perspective. Perhaps I was wrong?

a
a
January 13, 2014 11:34 am

With the anniversary this year there will no doubt be many issues about ignoring the sacrifice of service personnel from Commonwealth nations in any commemoration, I think it has already started.

Turns out that this isn’t true; dear old Michael Gove was briefing the press (unattributably) that the old Commonwealth contribution was going to be ignored in favour of emphasising the contribution of African, West Indies and Indian troops, for “community cohesion” reasons.
But Gove was lying in order to smear the Culture Secretary, Maria Millar, a Lib Dem, for political advantage. Number 10 made it quite clear that Gove was talking complete rubbish.
http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/jan/10/australia-new-zealand-first-world-war-no-10

You may think it’s completely unacceptable that a Cabinet minister would lie to the press about the policies of his own government in order to gain some political advantage. Or you may not.

Engineer Tom
Engineer Tom
January 13, 2014 11:48 am

Looking at the two big stories so far; Blackadder and the Commonwealth, I fear that if there isn’t a rethink of the exact nature of the coverage over the next four years we are in for yet more arguments.

Regards the Blackadder story, how anyone can argue that using a comedy program as teaching material is right is beyond me, and also I think there should be coverage of the previous portrayal of the war, maybe a critical discussion on the coverage over the last 100 years.

On the topic of commonwealth involvement, yes we should cover it and in some detail, but we should be covering all nations involved not just picking certain ones to cover, especially as it looks like two thirds of the casualties are from the countries being cut out.

More generally yes there should be coverage of all aspects of the war including the home front, but I would like to see the majority being of the main campaigns and battles, and not too much concentration on who is doing the fighting, personally I find history programs covering battles more interesting than those talking about the everyday life of a single bloke who happened to have immigrant parents, but that sat in a trench somewhere nothing happened.

What I would love to see is the BBC/Government commissioning a series along the lines of ‘The World At War’ using existing footage (very limited), still images and interviews recorded years ago (I am assuming someone interviewed people on the topic years ago for other purposes and it was archived).

My hopes aren’t high though.

Zaitsev
Zaitsev
January 13, 2014 12:12 pm

@Engineer Tom History isnt the teaching of an athorative narrative of what happend in the past. It is the teaching of how to understand sources of what happened in the past and to understand the bias of the source and how that effects how you should analyize its relvance to what really did happen. When i was tought about WW2 I was tought NAZI propaganda. Not because the teachers thought the nazi narrative of the war was correct but because they wanted to make a point about how we have to undertand sorces have bias. So In the exam you might have a NAZI propaganda poster of the burning reichstag and have to answer what it tells you about ww2. You would have to show some historical knolledge, but also some knolldge of the inherritant bias, So you would answer It tells us that the NAZIs wanted people to think the communist burnt down the reichstag, showing you understand what the reichstag was, but you also understood how the source coming from the nazis had a nazi bias.
Like wise with Blackadder and good teacher (and history teachers in my expriance are normaly good) is going to show Blackadder in the context of a seires of anti war views about the war. There not showing the kids this and then saying this is what happened, their saying this is one view of what happened and it comes with the bias of being part of the anti war movement, it tells us how people have come to think about ww1.

Chris
Chris
January 13, 2014 12:14 pm

I note the “Guardian”, a “newspaper” that “appears” to have “found” quotation marks this “week”, recorded the EU response to the spat as: “Gove’s comments are likely to cause consternation in Germany, where politicians are keen to stress the lessons learned from two world wars and the role that European integration has played in promoting peace.” What a fine example of hijacking history for modern political leverage.

ET – hopes may be raised as high as you like – the World at War was a successor to the earlier similar series on WW1 also made by the BBC (back when they were still moderately unbiased) called The Great War. Made in 1964: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Great_War_(documentary).

DVD & VHS copies are still surfacing on the likes of Ebay, but they are a bit pricey. I sent an e-mail to BBC asking if they were going to re-release it but got no response – presumably they judged me as a baby-eating warmonger unworthy of civil communication. Maybe I should have asked about something ‘ethnic’ or ‘diverse’ to gain their approval first.

Engineer Tom
Engineer Tom
January 13, 2014 3:41 pm

@ Zaitsev

If you are dealing with a sufficiently mature group of students, they would need to understand these programs are based on a politicised viewpoint of the war, in my opinion A-Level+. For just basic WW1 teaching (that is all most students get, especially as it is no longer a compulsory subject) I would hope they wouldn’t be using a comedy show, especially for younger students, who may not understand this nuance.

@ Chris

I have been considering ordering it, I also notice the BBC has reused some of their archive interviews from it, but it centres on the individuals interviewed rather than the war itself.

The BBC’s upcoming documentaries on WW1:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/mediacentre/mediapacks/ww1/docs.html

Britain’s Great War – covering the home front etc. as well as an overview of the entire war
Teenage Tommies – looking at young and underage soldiers
The Story Of Women In World War One – self explanatory
Royal Cousins At War – The Royal Family in the lead up to the war
Pipers Of The Trenches – self explanatory
The Machine Gun & Skye’s Band Of Brothers – story of the maxim gun
My Great War – as mentioned above
Gallipoli – seems to have a British focus
The World’s War – covers Indian, African and Asian troops on both sides
Tommy And Jerry’s Camera – covers photos taken during the war

15 hours of documentaries ordered for the next 4 years

Challenger
Challenger
January 13, 2014 3:54 pm

I remember The Great War being repeated on the BBC 10-15 years ago, what I saw was very good. I also wish they would release it again for the anniversary this year, I’ve long wanted a copy but the existing ones are hard to find and rather expensive.

Although their is nothing wrong with producing new programs on well worn topics and it’s often good to get a fresh perspective and take on things I wish the BBC got better at wheeling out it’s seminal documentaries for more showings, the ones that have dated well over the decades and still have a relevance to the subject such as The Great War but also Civilization, The Ascent of Man, The Shock of the New, The Cosmos and so on….

Zaitsev
Zaitsev
January 13, 2014 4:19 pm

@ Engineer Tom. I did gcse history not so long ago and that was the level of nuance that was required and it wasnt suddenly sprung on us at 16 it was tought with increasing sophistication years before.

Chris
Chris
January 13, 2014 4:27 pm

ET – your more comprehensive list of Beeb documentaries reaffirms my earlier assessment that they refuse to deal with the ordinary fighting men in trenches/ships/aircraft, instead applying their normal spin to make out the real hardships were suffered by women, children and ethnic cousins. Very PC. I have no issue with these areas of society at war being explored and presented, providing they remain in proportion – that means that the lives bravery sacrifice and horror of the fighting men is not recast as pathetic alpha-males fighting pointlessly over worthless mud while their poor families suffered great hardships at home. If the Beeb tried that I think there would be a case for it being shut down as having failed as a publicly funded publicly owned unbiased national broadcaster.

Engineer Tom
Engineer Tom
January 13, 2014 5:03 pm

@ Zaitsev

I am not arguing that we shouldn’t teach about that point of view and I would be reluctant to say when it should be taught (though I was thinking A Level, maybe at a stretch GCSE), but my main point is about comedy being used as a teaching instrument when not specifically covering this angle on the public perception of the war.

@ Chris

I agree, but what worries me is how there are only 15 hours planned, how is that right, I dare say Nelson Mandela got that much documentary coverage in less than 2 weeks let alone 4 years. We are talking about a public service broadcaster with about 10 digital channels.

John Hartley
John Hartley
January 13, 2014 9:59 pm

Given the ongoing financial crisis, I wish the BBC would repeat “The Age of Uncertainty” by John Kenneth Galbraith.

Phil
January 13, 2014 10:38 pm

Are we surprised WWI is so politicised and remains so to this day? I think it demonstrates how eviscerating and unspeakably shocking the whole event was and it resonates because we’ve never seen that many killed before or thankfully yet since. And I think people can’t quite shake that big question, “why”? Why did it happen, what did it achieve?

Why did a regional war with such uninspiring causes, consume a million Commonwealth lives and make some very deep changes to society?

And to be hones the Lions Led By Donkeys historiography has been thrashed a few times. There’s still some far more intransigent WWII myths out there that bother me more, like the Myth of the Blitz (read The Peoples War or Mass Observation) and the Miracle of Dunkirk or the Battle of Britain. Or that the Germans were the only nation beastly to the Jews.

a
a
January 14, 2014 10:46 am

your more comprehensive list of Beeb documentaries reaffirms my earlier assessment that they refuse to deal with the ordinary fighting men in trenches/ships/aircraft, instead applying their normal spin to make out the real hardships were suffered by women, children and ethnic cousins. Very PC.

Chris, you need to read that list again, and pay some attention this time. The BBC is not “refusing to deal with the ordinary fighting men”. It’s producing the following documentaries about them:

Teenage Tommies – looking at young and underage soldiers.
Pipers Of The Trenches – self explanatory
The Machine Gun & Skye’s Band Of Brothers – story of the maxim gun
My Great War – as mentioned above
Gallipoli – seems to have a British focus
The World’s War – covers Indian, African and Asian troops on both sides
Tommy And Jerry’s Camera – covers photos taken during the war

If you have a problem with the BBC making some mention of the contribution of the Indian Army in one out of many documentaries, because you would rather that it remain an all-white affair, then may I cordially invite you to get stuffed. 75,000 men of the Indian Army died in the Great War – my great-grandfather among them, a few months before the birth of his only child.

a
a
January 14, 2014 10:50 am

how is that right, I dare say Nelson Mandela got that much documentary coverage in less than 2 weeks let alone 4 years.

As far as I can tell from the BBC website, the BBC has broadcast two documentaries about Mandela since his death. “Obituary: The Life of Nelson Mandela” went out on the World Service on 5 December. “Nelson Mandela: The Fight for Freedom” was on BBC 1. That’s it.

Chris
Chris
January 14, 2014 11:37 am

Phil – one of my colleagues, an intensely brainy fellow, suggested throughout history the Jews – particularly Jewish moneylenders – had been viewed as heartless profiteering and undeserving because of their religious teachings, which almost uniquely apparently do not teach that the amassing of personal wealth is wrong or the act of unconditional charity is right. I’ve not checked if this is so, but since the man truly has a brain the size of a planet I’m prepared to accept the gist of the theory.

That the prejudice exists however is fact. If you have a half hour to spare, reading the Magna Carta is illuminating; the document is widely known for both the creation of the British legal system and trial by jury of 12 good men & true, and for the power-play it enveloped between the Lords who wrote the Magna Carta and King John (Booo! Hisss!) who they disliked in the extreme. But reading the clauses you find the 10th & 11th clauses start with text such as “If a man dies owing money to Jews” and proceed directly limit the rights of the lender. As far back as 1215 in this country the Jewish moneylender was evidently present in significant numbers, and viewed as a bit of a vulture in need of regulation. Obviously 350 years later the views had changed little, as Shakespeare’s character Shylock illustrated. I suspect this resentment of very wealthy outsiders was prevalent across Europe, not limited just to our island. And nothing much changes; over the past decade we have seen how despised Greedy Bankers have become, we have seen how much resentment normal society has for the investment bankers – even the lower ranks – that are paid sums that are bigger than pools wins or the lottery jackpot. The focus is different but the resentment is exactly the same – why have they got so much wealth; they haven’t earned it; they do no good with it; they are greedy money-grabbers; in a just world their wealth would be taken from them and distributed to the benefit of the hard working ordinary folk.

Interesting to conject; had Germany struggled by until the mid 2000s before Hitler & the Nazis erupted into power, it would have been the Greedy Bankers being stripped of their ill-gotten wealth and deported to camps in punishment. With the current raw nerves relating to irresponsible greed of the bankers throughout the population of the western world, at least in the initial stages I suspect there would be more than a scant minority that would think that the treatment was deserved to some degree; just retribution for the bankers’ selfish and unrepentant destruction of ordinary people’s wealth. Turning the clock back to 1933, the mindset in Germany would have been much the same with respect to the rich Jewish money-lending financiers – initially at least you can see how the Nazi policy would have been seen as a popular move?

Anyway. Just as Phil says – major historical events, particularly cataclysmic conflict, are used and abused by later commenters to justify and strengthen their own agendas. Its always been that way, and it is important in my opinion that the historical events are re-examined using the viewpoint of the participants’ own time, not whatever sensibilities we might have invented since.

An example – talking last night with a friend who spends a lot of his time learning about the daily life of Tommies in the trenches, he noted that there were a number of deserters who were convicted and shot that were not hapless victims of shell-shock; that there were those that spread fear and subversion along the lines and then scarpered to save their own hide. By the rules of the day that behaviour was a huge risk to military order; had the deserters been sent to a cushy prison to sit out the war then you could see that desertion would have become a rational soft option. The punishment had to be at least as nasty as remaining in the line following orders and, when the time came, going over the top. Modern sensitivities however have recast every convicted deserter as a victim of shell-shock/PTSD without individual investigation or evidence for each of the executed. The pendulum has swung from the original military view that they were all guilty of abandoning their brothers in arms to save their own miserable skin, to the current social worker view that they were all every one suffering mental exhaustion due to prolonged stress under fire and were all entirely innocent victims. Both positions are untrue; the truth will be that some were chancers risking desertion to save themselves and to hell with the rest of the lads, and some were mental wrecks unable to function as soldiers, particularly under fire. However on two counts the original military view is more understandable – firstly there was the military imperative to hold the troops to their duty; to make following orders the easiest and least risky option for the soldiers. And secondly the understanding of shell-shock/PTSD/mental exhaustion and how to detect and verify the condition was simply absent. Being scared of going over the top was not an acceptable defence.

If the actions taken at the time are not presented in the context of the time – the level of knowledge; the rules of personal duty, of deference, of obedience to authority; the military need; the consequences of other courses of action as seen by those present – then we do all those involved a great injustice.

Chris
Chris
January 14, 2014 11:57 am

a – ref your invented outrage – had you taken the sentence that immediately followed the one you chose to copy, you will have read “I have no issue with these areas of society at war being explored and presented, providing they remain in proportion” and as you point out the Indian Regiments fought hard and suffered great losses. So did the Australians, New Zealanders and Canadians, notable in the description of the documentary called ‘The World’s War’ by their absence. So no, I am not a whites only advocate, nor do I want to suppress any aspect of the impact of the war. I want all aspects dealt with in proportion. I am sorry your Great-Grandfather was lost; I’m sure he fought bravely – from what I have read in direct transcriptions of despatches from commanders in the field the Indian soldiers were held in very high regard for their abilities and honour.

But surely you must be equally keen that the efforts of the British tommies, and the efforts of the other Empire/Commonwealth forces, are equally well presented and honoured? Everything in proportion.

Zaitsev
Zaitsev
January 14, 2014 2:52 pm

“which almost uniquely apparently do not teach that the amassing of personal wealth is wrong or the act of unconditional charity is right” Or maybe its got somthing to do with the fact that both chirstians and muslims banned money lending amoung themselves, while simultaniously banning jews from holding offical jobs and so leaving only the montary and legal proffesions open to them. not only did this these retarded laws increase the cost of browing, and so enterprise, they also forced jewish people into a postion where not only was money lending the only proffesion open to them, but they where also granted a monopoly on money lending. Leading to the indebted christians to resent a siutuation entirely of their own making where by the outsiders ended up with all the money.

Chris
Chris
January 14, 2014 3:02 pm

Zaitsev – you may well have described the reason better than did I – I heard the theory many years ago and the details are fuzzy now. It certainly seems to be the same as I heard.

A situation of their own making. Sounds like politicians at work. I suggested on another post this sort of result needed an acronym and I suggested Fully Unforeseen Consequences of Keeping to the Unchallengeable Policies. What politicians are best at creating.