World War I casualties

B.H. Liddell Hart was a Captain in the British army during the war. He was horrified by the carnage and afterwards set about studying the war to determine why casualties had been so high. His conclusions were published in a book called 'Strategy' ISBN 0452010713, a book that was endorsed in words and actions by many of the leading commanders in World War II (Erwin Rommel, for instance).

Liddell Hart's conclusion, basically, was that the heavy casualties suffered in World War I were due primarily to the incompetence of the officers in charge.

Most of the lessons needed to conduct this war effectively were revealed in the American Civil War, which was the first major industrial war (machine guns, trains to move troops, ironclad ship, but more importantly, a war where the industrial base of a nation was recognized as a proper military target). Tactics and strategies were developed in America that were suitable to mechanized warfare. These lessons were ignored by the European officers, who looked back to the Napoleonic wars and Carl Von Clausewitz for guidance. The Americans, when they arrived in 1917, were not blind to the lessons of their own history, and consequently conducted themselves a little more sensibly.

Here is a list of percentage of soldiers killed, for major participants of the war:

Romania                   44.76%

France                    16.36%

Germany                   16.12%

Austria-Hungary           15.38%

Russia                    14.17%

Italy                     11.58%

Turkey                    11.40%

Great Britain             10.20%

US                         2.89%

See also:
Trenches on the Web

See also : World War I

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