H.G. Wells, who wrote the classic science fiction novel The War of the Worlds, also wrote that World War I would be the war that will end war. In a series of London newspaper articles in 1914, Wells reasoned that the defeat of Germany and its allies could somehow bring about an end to war.
Wells’s reference today is mostly a historically sardonic observation of that conflict. Despite its costs in human misery and upheaval, World War I did not even have the benefit of a hard lesson learned. The victors demonstrated no vision and foresight, seeking vengeance instead. The vanquished never accepted defeat, but blamed their surrender and loss on leaders who stabbed them in the back. World War II was merely an even more deadly sequel.
Here are 12 facts about World War I, which highlight the tragedy that engulfed much of the world 100 years ago:
1. World War I Was the First Military Conflict Where the Airplane Played a Role
At first used for just reconnaissance, airplanes gradually progressed to where they could carry bombs and machine guns. Both sides used more than 70 different types of aircraft, and in 1917, Britain lost 245 plans in a single month of combat. So the average life expectancy of a World War I fighter pilot was about three weeks.