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World War I casualties

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World War I casualties

The total number of military and civilian casualties in World War I was more than 38 million: there were over 17 million deaths and 20 million wounded, ranking it among the deadliest conflicts in human history.

Contents

The total number of deaths includes about 11 million military personnel and about 7 million civilians. The Triple Entente (also known as the Allies) lost about 6 million military personnel while the Central Powers lost about 4 million. At least 2 million died from diseases and 6 million went missing, presumed dead. This article lists the casualties of the belligerent powers based on official published sources. About two-thirds of military deaths in World War I were in battle, unlike the conflicts that took place in the 19th century when the majority of deaths were due to disease. Nevertheless, disease, including the 1918 flu pandemic and deaths while held as prisoners of war, still caused about one third of total military deaths for all belligerents.

Classification of casualty statistics

Casualty statistics for World War I vary to a great extent; estimates of total deaths range from 9 million to over 15 million. Military casualties reported in official sources list deaths due to all causes, including an estimated 7 to 8 million combat related deaths (killed or died of wounds) and another two to three million military deaths caused by accidents, disease and deaths while prisoners of war. Official government reports listing casualty statistics were published by the United States and Great Britain. These secondary sources published during the 1920s, are the source of the statistics in reference works listing casualties in World War One. This article summarizes the casualty statistics published in the official government reports of the United States and Great Britain as well as France, Italy, Belgium, Germany, Austria and Russia. More recently the research of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) has revised the military casualty statistics of the U.K. and its allies; they include in their listing of military war dead personnel outside of combat theaters and civilians recruited from Africa, the Middle East and China who provided logistical and service support in combat theaters. The casualties of these support personnel recruited outside of Europe were previously not included with British war dead, however the casualties of the Labour Corps recruited from the British Isles were included in the rolls of British war dead published in 1921. The methodology used by each nation to record and classify casualties was not uniform, a general caveat regarding casualty figures is that they cannot be considered comparable in all cases.
First World War civilian deaths are "hazardous to estimate" according to Michael Clodfelter who maintains that "the generally accepted figure of noncombatant deaths is 6.5 million." The figures listed below include about 6 million excess civilian deaths due to war related privations, that are often omitted from other compilations of World War I casualties. The war brought about malnutrition and disease caused by the U-boat Campaign and the Blockade of Germany which disrupted trade resulting in food shortages. The civilian deaths in the Ottoman Empire include the Armenian Genocide, Assyrian Genocide, and Greek Genocide. Civilian deaths due to the Spanish flu have been excluded from these figures, whenever possible. The figures do not include deaths during the Russian Civil War and the Turkish War of Independence.

Casualties by 1914–18 borders

(when the number of deaths in a country is disputed, a range of war losses is given)
(sources and details of the figures are provided in the footnotes)

Casualties by 1924 Post War Borders

The war involved multi-ethnic empires such as Great Britain, France, Germany, Russia, Austro-Hungary and Turkey. Many diverse ethnic groups in these multi-ethnic empires were conscripted for military service. The casualties listed by modern borders are also included in the above table of figures for the countries that existed in 1914. The casualty figures by 1924 post war borders are rough estimates by Russian historian Vadim Erlikman in a 2004 handbook of human losses in the 20th century, the sources of his figures were published in the Soviet era and in post-Soviet Russia. According to the 1914–1918 Online Encyclopedia "In addition to losses suffered by African military personnel and the laborers supporting their operations, very large, but unknown numbers of African civilians perished during the war." They made an estimate of civilian losses in Africa of 750,000 based on the study by the Vadim Erlikman. They noted that Erlikman's figures are based on the work of the Russian demographer Boris Urlanis,they noted that these estimates were "imprecise" and "could be used to provide a frame of reference for further inquiry The Oxford History of World War One notes that "In east and central Africa the harshness of the war resulted in acute shortages of food with famine in some areas, a weakening of populations, and epidemic diseases which killed hundreds of thousands of people and also cattle."

  •  Austria
  • The following estimates of Austrian deaths, within contemporary borders, were made by a Russian historian in a 2015 handbook of human losses in the 20th century. Total dead 175,000: including military losses 120,000 with the Austo-Hungarian forces and POW deaths in captivity of 30,000. Civilian dead due to famine and disease were 25,000.

  •  Democratic Republic of the Congo
  • The Belgian Congo was part of the Kingdom of Belgium during the war. A Russian historian Vadim Erlikman in a 2004 handbook of human losses in the 20th century based on sources published in the Soviet Union and Russia estimated a total of 155,000 deaths in the Belgian Congo during the war.

  •  Czechoslovakia
  • Czechoslovakia was part of Austro-Hungary during the war. The estimates of Czechoslovak deaths within 1991 borders were made by a Russian historian in a 2004 handbook of human losses in the 20th century. Total dead 185,000: including military losses 110,000 with the Austro-Hungarian forces and POW deaths in captivity of 45,000. Civilian dead due to famine and disease were 30,000. The Czechoslovak Legions fought with the armies of the Allies during the war.

  •  Estonia
  • Estonia was part of the Russian Empire during the war and about 100,000 Estonians served in the Russian Army. Of them about 10,000 were killed.

  •  Finland
  • From 1809 Finland was an autonomous Grand Duchy in the Russian Empire until the end of 1917. In 1924 the Finnish government in a reply to a questionnaire from the International Labour Office, an agency of the League of Nations, reported 26,517 were dead and missing in World War I.

  • French colonies
  • The following estimates of deaths, within contemporary borders, during World War I were made by a Russian historian Vadim Erlikman in a 2004 handbook of human losses in the 20th century. Erlikman's estimates are based on sources published in the Soviet Union and Russia.

     Algeria (1914 known as French Algeria): 26,000  Vietnam (1914 known as French Indochina): 12,000  Mali (1914 part of French West Africa): 60,000  Morocco (1914 known as the French protectorate of Morocco): 8,000  Senegal (1914 part of French West Africa): 36,000  Guinea (1914 part of French West Africa): 14,500  Madagascar: 2,500 military  Benin (1914 part of French West Africa): 27,000  Burkina Faso (1914 part of French West Africa): 17,000  Republic of the Congo (1914 part of French Equatorial Africa): 32,000  Ivory Coast (1914 part of French West Africa): 12,000  Tunisia (1914 known as French Tunisia): 2,000  Chad (1914 part of French Equatorial Africa): 1,500  Central African Republic (1914 known as French Oubangui-Chari): 1,000  Niger (1914 part of French West Africa): 1,000  Gabon (1914 part of French Equatorial Africa): 10,500


    Total: 263,000

  • German colonies
  • The following estimates of deaths, within contemporary borders, during World War I were made by a Russian historian Vadim Erlikman in a 2004 handbook of human losses in the 20th century. Erlikman's estimates are based on sources published in the Soviet Union and Russia.

     Tanzania (1914 part of German East Africa): 50,000  Namibia (1914 known as German South-West Africa): 1,000  Cameroon (1914 known as Kamerun): 5,000 military and 50,000 civilian  Togo (1914 known as German Togoland): 2,000  Rwanda (1914 part of German East Africa): 15,000


    Total: 123.000

  •  Hungary
  • The following estimates of Hungarian deaths, within contemporary borders, during World War I were made by a Russian historian in a 2004 handbook of human losses in the 20th century. Total dead 385,000: including military losses 270,000 with the Austro-Hungarian forces and POW deaths in captivity of 70,000. Civilian dead due to famine and disease were 45,000.

  •  Ireland
  • Ireland was a part of the UK during World War I. Five sixths of the island left to form the Irish Free State, now the Republic of Ireland, in 1922. A total of 206,000 Irishmen served in the British forces during the war. The number of Irish deaths in the British Army recorded by the registrar general was 27,405. A significant number of these casualties were from what, in 1920, became Northern Ireland. While 49,400 soldiers died serving in Irish divisions (the 10th, 16th and 36th), although not all of the men serving in these divisions were natives of Ireland and many Irish who died in non-Irish regiments are not listed. For example, 29% of the casualties in the 16th Division were not natives of Ireland. Neither does it include Irish emigrants in Britain who enlisted there and are not categorised as Irish. Australia lists 4,731 of its first World War soldiers as having been born in Ireland and more than 19,000 Irish-born soldiers served in the Canadian Corps. The rolls do list 30,986 soldiers who were born in Ireland. Prof John Horne of Trinity College Dublin says a figure of between 30,000 and 35,000 Irish war dead is a "conservative" estimate and one likely to rise.

  •  Mozambique
  • The losses of Portuguese Mozambique were estimated by a Russian historian Vadim Erlikman in a 2004 handbook of human losses in the 20th century. Erlikman's estimates are based on sources published in the Soviet Union and Russia. 52,000

  •  Poland
  • Poland was an annexed territory of Germany, Austria-Hungary and Russia, from 1795 to 1918. By late 1915, Germany had complete control over modern-day Poland. A 2005 Polish study estimated 3,376,800 Poles were conscripted into the armed forces of the occupying powers during World War I, an additional 300,000 were conscripted for forced labor by the Germans. The Russians and Austrians forcibly resettled 1.6 to 1.8 million persons from the war zone in Poland. According to Michael Clodfelter, Polish war dead were 1,080,000, whilst 200,000 Polish civilians were killed in the fighting on the Eastern Front; 870,000 men served in the German, Austrian and Russian armies. Another estimate made by a Russian historian in a 2004 handbook of human losses in the 20th century, put total Polish war dead at 640,000, including military losses of 270,000 Poles conscripted, civilian losses of 120,000 due to military operations and 250,000 caused by famine and disease. The ethnic Polish Blue Army served with the French Army. The ethnic Polish Legions fought as part of the Austro-Hungarian Army on the Eastern Front.

  •  Romania
  • The territory of Transylvania was part of Austria-Hungary during World War I. The following estimates of Romanian deaths, within contemporary borders, during World War I were made by a Russian historian in a 2004 handbook of human losses in the 20th century. Total dead: 748,000, including military losses of 220,000 with the Romanian forces, 150,000 with the Austro-Hungarian forces and POW deaths in captivity of 48,000. Civilian dead were as follows due to famine and disease: 200,000, killed in military operations 120,000 and 10,000 dead in Austrian prisons.

  • British colonies
  • Britain recruited Indian, Chinese, native South African, Egyptian and other overseas labour to provide logistical support in the combat theatres. Included with British casualties in East Africa are the deaths of 44,911 recruited labourers. The CWGC reports that nearly 2,000 workers from the Chinese Labour Corps are buried with British war dead in France.

    The following estimates of British Empire colonial military deaths, within contemporary borders, during World War I were made by a Russian historian Vadim Erlikman in a 2004 handbook of human losses in the 20th century. Erlikman's estimates are based on sources published in the Soviet Union and Russia.

     Ghana (1914 known as the Gold Coast): 16,200  Kenya (1914 known as British East Africa): 32,000  Malawi (1914 known as Nyasaland): 3,000  Nigeria (1914 part of British West Africa): 85,000  Sierra Leone (1914 part of British West Africa): 1,000  Uganda (1914 known as the Uganda Protectorate): 1,500  Zambia (1914 known as Northern Rhodesia): 2,000  Zimbabwe (1914 known as Southern Rhodesia): 5,716 persons of European origin served in the war, of whom about 700 were killed, or died of wounds or other causes. In explicitly Rhodesian units, 127 were killed, 24 died of wounds, 101 died of disease or other causes and 294 were wounded. Of the territory's black African servicemen, 31 were killed in action, 142 died of other causes and 116 were wounded.


    Total: 141.573

  •  Kingdom of Yugoslavia
  • The following estimates are for Yugoslavia within the 1991 borders.

    Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia and Vojvodina (Now part of Serbia) were part of Austria-Hungary during World War I. Serbia, which included Macedonia, and Montenegro was an independent nation. The Yugoslav historian Vladimir Dedijer put the total losses of the Yugoslav lands at 1.9 million, of which 43% were from Serbia. The following estimates of Yugoslav deaths, within 1991 borders, during World War I were made by a Russian historian in a 2004 handbook of human losses in the 20th century. Total dead: 996,000 including military losses, 260,000 with the Serbian forces, 80,000 with the Austro-Hungarian forces, 13,000 with Montenegrin forces and POW deaths in captivity of 93,000. Civilian dead were as follows due to famine and disease: 400,000, killed in military operations: 120,000 and 30,000 dead in Austrian prisons or executed.

  •    Nepal
  • During WW1, the Nepalese army was expanded and six new regiments, totaling more than 20,000 troops—all volunteers—were sent to India, most of them to the North-West Frontier Province, to release British and Indian troops for service overseas. Simultaneously, the Nepalese government agreed to maintain recruitment at a level that would sustain the existing British Gurkha units and allow the establishment of additional ones. The battalions were increased to thirty-three with the addition of 55,000 new recruits and Gurkha units were placed at the disposal of the British high command for service on all fronts. Many volunteers were assigned to non-combat units, such as the Army Bearer Corps and the labour battalions but they also were in combat in France, Turkey, Palestine and Mesopotamia. The Rana prime ministers urged Nepalese males to fight in the war. Of the more than 200,000 Nepalese who served in the British army, there were some 20,000 Gurkha casualties included above with the British Indian Army.

    References

    World War I casualties Wikipedia


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