5 Interesting Facts You Never Knew About War During The Last 100 Years

War is the abominable event that throughout history has left its mark at one time or another on the population of the world.

A show of military prowess is still seen today as an absolute must for some countries and they will go to whatever lengths necessary to uphold their position.

At the other end of the scale, however, there are some countries who have such an historic affiliation with neutrality that they have not been in a state of war for decades.  Switzerland, for example, haven’t been to war since 1815.

When you consider that in around 3,400 years of documented history across the world, estimates suggest that there have only been 250 years of peace, at this rate, it won’t be too long before the world is in a constant state of international conflict – a state that, with the capability of modern weapons, would not be a very long one.

As difficult or as controversial as war may be as a discussion point, there have without doubt been some particularly intriguing points, with the following facts showcasing five pieces of information many simply aren’t aware of about war during the last century.

1. World War II Fatalities

Image:  PhotosNormandie (fotopedia)

Image:  PhotosNormandie (fotopedia)

This conflict, which took place between 1939 and 1945, is widely recognised as not only the most widespread, but also the deadliest military conflict in history. There were in excess of 100 million military personnel mobilised at one time or another during the war, with more than 60 million people losing their lives during the six years.

Of this figure, one third were military and the other two thirds were civilians, caught up in a conflict they did not want. To put this into perspective, that figure accounted for over 2.5% of the global population at the time.

2. Annual Global Spending On Military

Image:  CAPL

Image:  MATEUS_27:24&25 (fotopedia)

The amount of money that is spent each year by countries to maintain their defence and keep their military at what they consider to be an acceptable level, globally, this figure is well on the way to reaching a truly staggering $1.6 trillion.

As expected, the American military are the biggest contributors, with $698 billion, which is around 43% of the world share.  The UK is third in the table, spending around $93.8 million, giving them a tiny by comparison 3.7% world share.  These figures translate to over $2,000 per capita in the USA and more than $1,400 in the UK.

3. The Phoenix At Pearl Harbour

Image:  Chris Allen (Geograph)

Image:  pedist (fotopedia)

During the attack on Pearl Harbour by the Japanese on the morning of December 7th 1941, there was an American light cruiser anchored there called the USS Phoenix.

After the attack, it was noticed that this vessel had miraculously survived the onslaught almost completely unscathed.

Six years after the end of World War II, the ship was transferred to the navy of Argentina to be a part of their military fleet and such was renamed. On the 2nd of May 1982, she met her end when she became the first ship to be sunken during a period of war by a nuclear powered submarine – the submarine was HMS Conqueror, the conflict was The Falklands War and the new name of the ship was the General Belgrano.

4. A Close Call for Churchill

Image:  Wikipedia

Image:  jzawodn (fotopedia)

The man – who a 2002 BBC poll proclaimed as the greatest figure in British history – was almost shot down during World War II, as on 17th January 1942, Winston Churchill, amongst others, was returning from the United States in the Boeing 314 Clipper Flying Boat ‘Berwick’.

Apparently suffering a navigational error, the plane came very close to the German anti-aircraft guns in France and the scenario was only averted by a last minute course correction.

As if this wasn’t bad enough, on its approach to Britain from the south, radar operators suspected it of being hostile and subsequently six RAF Hurricane fighters were sent to deal with the problem.

Strangely, none of the Hurricanes sent were able to locate the plane, which went on to land safely.

5. Happy Christmas During World War I

Image:  The Well-Tempered Ear

Image:  The Origins Of Football

The First World War was described as the war to end all wars and at the time it was the sixth deadliest conflict in world history. Many millions were killed during its long and bloody course, due in no small way to the technological advances that had been made in weaponry and fire-power

Amongst all of this devastation, man’s sense of self-preservation and compassion came to the fore on Christmas Eve 1914, as both German and British soldiers fighting in Flanders, Belgium stopped trying to kill one another and instead sang Christmas carols in a show of seasonal cheer.

The soldiers went so far as having makeshift Christmas trees and even found time to have a game of soccer. This camaraderie and goodwill to all men lasted until New Year’s Day 1915, when the status quo was restored and the guns were fired in anger once again.

Join the discussion

  • While I am convinced that war is caused by the fear of being attacked by someone who has the same fear of being attacked by the other one, I, then, am deeply grateful for those who were sent to war in my place.

    War is as stupid as two little boys deciding which one is the greater bully. In other words,
    the leaders of those countries who fought never grew up, respected those on the other side, nor made enough attempts to make peace rather than war.

    Today, we have improved and the stupid ones left are the dictators of some countries whose paranoia is still dangerous for the rest of the world.

    • War is instigated intentionally by those who stand to profit from it. If those they condition from birth to volunteer as cannon fodder would wake up and refuse to fight war could have ended. I say could have because it appears that those who play their war games may realize we ARE waking up so they are building machines to wage war for them – from a safe distance of course.

      The best information I’ve ever seen about war is in a video re-enactment of a speech by Major General Smedley Butler called War is a Racket. He offers his unique perspective of why each war was fought, who benefited, and what to do to end wars. I highly recommend watching it.