World War I casualties

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British and German wounded, Bernafay Wood, 19-July 1916. Photo by Ernest Brooks
Douaumont French military cemetery seen from Douaumont ossuary, which contains remains of French and German soldiers who died during the Battle of Verdun in 1916

The total number of military and civilian casualties in World War I was over 37 million. There were over 16 million deaths and 20 million wounded ranking it among the deadliest conflicts in human history.

The total number of deaths includes about 10 million military personnel and about 7 million civilians. The Entente Powers (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 Spanish flu and deaths while held as prisoners of war, still caused about one third of total military deaths for all belligerents.

Classification of casualty statistics[edit]

Estimates of casualty numbers for World War I vary to a great extent; estimates of total deaths range from 9 million to over 15 million.[1] The figures listed here are from official secondary sources, whenever available. Military casualty statistics reported in official sources list deaths due to all causes, including an estimated 6.8 million[2] combat related deaths as well as 3 million military deaths caused by disease and deaths while prisoners of war. 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."[3] 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 a disruption of trade resulting in shortages of food; the mobilization for the war took away millions of men from the agricultural labor force cutting food production. 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. Furthermore, the figures do not include deaths during the Turkish War of Independence and the Russian Civil War.

Casualties by 1914 borders[edit]

NationPopulation
(millions)
Military deaths
(from all causes)
Civilian deaths
(military action and
crimes against humanity)
Civilian deaths
(malnutrition, disease)
Total deathsDeaths as
% of population
Military wounded
Allies of World War I
 Australia b4.559,330[4]
to 62,081[5]
59,330
to 62,081
1.32%
to 1.38%
152,171 [4]
 Canada d7.256,639[4]
to 64,990[5]
2,000[6]58,639
to 66,990
0.81%
to 0.93%
149,732[4]
 India g315.164,449[4]
to 74,191[5]
64,449
to 74,191
0.02%
to 0.02%
69,214 [4]
 New Zealand l1.116,711[4]
to 18,166 [7]
16,711
to 18,166
1.52%
to 1.65%
41,317[4]
 Newfoundland m0.21,204[4]
to 1,570[8]
1,204
1,570
0.6%
to 0.79%
2,314[4]
 South Africa r6.07,121[4]
to 9,516[5]
7,121
to 9,516
0.12%
to 0.16%
12,029[4]
 United Kingdom s45.4702,917[4]
to 888,246[5]
16,829[9][10]

[11]

107,000[12]826,746
to 1,012,075
1.79%
to 2.2%
1,663,435 [4]
Sub-total for British Empire379.5908,371
to 1,118,760
18,829109,0001,034,200
to 1,244,589
0.27%
to 0.32%
2,090,212
East AfricaaSee footnote
 Belgium c7.413,716[13]
to 58,637[14]
23,700[14]62,000[15]99,416
to 144,337
1.34%
to 1.95%
44,686[16]
France France e39.61,357,000[13]
to 1,397,800[17]
40,000.[3][18][19]300,000[15]1,697,000
to 1,737,800
4.29%
to 4.39%
4,266,000[16]
 Greece f4.85,000[20]
to 26,000[21]
150,000[22]155,000
to 176,000
3.23%
to 3.67%
21,000[16]
 Italy h35.6460,000[13]
to 651,000[23]
3,400[24]589,000[25]1,052,400
to 1,243,400
2.96%
to 3.49%
947,000[16]
 Empire of Japan i53.6300[16]
to 4,661[26]
300
to 4,661
0%
to 0.01%
907[16]
 Montenegro k0.53,000[16]
to 13,325 [26]
3,000
to 13,325
0.6%
to 2.67%
10,000[16]
 Portugal n6.07,222[13][16]82,000[27]89,2221.49%13,751[13]
 Romania o7.5250,000[26]
to 335,706[20]
130,000[28]200,000[28]580,000
to 665,706
7.73%
to 8.88%
120,000 [16]
 Russian Empire p175.11,700,000[16] to
2,254,369[29]
410,000[30]730,000[30]2,840,000 to
3,394,369
1.62% to 1.94%3,749,000[29] to
4,950,000[16]
 Serbia q4.545,000[16][20]
to 365,164[26]
150,000[31][32]300,000[31][32]495,000
to 815,164
11%
to 18.11%
133,148[16]
 United States t92.0116,708[33][34]757[35]117,4650.13%204,002[33]
Total (Entente Powers)806.14,866,317
to 6,349,352
776,6862,520,0008,163,003
to 9,646,038
1.01%
to 1.15%
11,599,706
to 12,800,706
Central Powers
 Austria-Hungary u51.41,200,000.[16][36]
to 1,494,200 [37][38]
120,000.[31]467,000.[39]1,787,000
to 2,081,200
3.48%
to 4.05%
3,620,000 [40]
 Bulgaria v5.587,500[16][41]100,000[42]187,5003.41%152,390 [16][43]
 German Empire w64.91,773,700[16]
to 2,037,000[44][45]
720[46]424,000.[47]
to 763,000 [48][49]
2,198,420
to 2,800,720
3.39% to
4.32%
4,216,058 [16]
to 4,247,143.[50]
 Ottoman Empire x21.3325,000[16]
to 771,844[51]
1,500,000.[52]1,000,000[53]2,825,000
to 3,271,844
13.26%
to 15.36%
400,000[16]
to 763,753[51]
Total (Central Powers)143.13,386,200
to 4,390,544
1,620,7201,991,000
to 2,330,000
6,997,920
to 8,341,264
4.89%
to 5.82%
8,419,533
Neutral nations
 Denmark y2.7700[54]7000.03%
 Luxembourg j0.3See footnote
 Norway z2.41,180.[26]1,1800.08%
 Sweden az5.6800.[26]8000.02%
Grand total960.28,252,517
to 10,739,896
2,400,0864,511,000
to 4,850,000
15,163,603
to 17,989,982
1.58%
to 1.87%
22,078,366
to 23,674,204

Casualties by 1924 Post War Borders[edit]

Europe 1914 and 1924

The war involved multi-ethnic empires such as Great Britain, France, Germany, Russia, Austro-Hungary and Turkey. The 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 following estimates of Austrian deaths, within contemporary borders, were made by a Russian journalist in a 2004 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.[55]

The Belgian Congo) was part of the Kingdom of Belgium during the war. A Russian journalist 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.[56]

Czechoslovakia was part of Austro-Hungary during the war. The estimates of Czechoslovak deaths within 1991 borders were made by a Russian journalist 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.[57] The Czechoslovak Legions fought with the armies of the Allies during the war.

Austrian memorial commemorating soldiers from the village of Obermillstatt who died in World War I.

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.[58]

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.[26]

The following estimates of deaths, within contemporary borders, during World War I were made by a Russian journalist 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.[56]

 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

The following estimates of deaths, within contemporary borders, during World War I were made by a Russian journalist 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.[59]

 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
 Togo (1914 known as German Togoland): 2,000
 Rwanda (1914 part of German East Africa) 15,000

The following estimates of Hungarian deaths, within contemporary borders, during World War I were made by a Russian journalist 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.[60]

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.[61] The number of Irish deaths in the British Army recorded by the registrar general was 27,405.[62] 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),[63] not all of the men serving in these divisions were natives of Ireland: for example, 29% of the casualties in the 16th Division were not natives of Ireland.[62]

The losses of Portuguese Mozambique were estimated by a Russian journalist 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.[56] 52,000

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.[64] According to Michael Clodfelter Polish war dead were 1,080,000; 200,000 Polish civilians were killed in the fighting on the Eastern Front and 870,000 men serving in the German, Austrian and Russian armies.[3] Another estimate made by a Russian journalist 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 and civilian losses of 120,000 due to military operations and 250,000 caused by famine and disease.[65] 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.

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 journalist in a 2004 handbook of human losses in the 20th century. Total dead 748,000: including military losses 220,000 with the Romanian forces and 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. [28]

Britain recruited Indian, Chinese, native South African, Egyptian and other overseas labour to provide logistical support in the combat theatres.[66] Included with British casualties in East Africa are the deaths of 44,911 recruited labourers.[67] The CWGC reports that nearly 2,000 workers from the Chinese Labour Corps are buried with British war dead in France.[68]

The following estimates of British Empire colonial military deaths, within contemporary borders, during World War I were made by a Russian journalist 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.[69]

 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, 700 were killed, died of wounds or other causes. In Rhodesian units,127 were killed, 24 died of wounds, 101 died of disease or other causes and 294 were wounded. 31 Africans were killed in action, 142 died of other causes and 116 were wounded.[70]

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 were independent nations. The Yugoslav historian Vladimir Dedijer put the total losses of the Yugoslav lands at 1.9 million of which 43% were from Serbia.[71] The following estimates of Yugoslav deaths, within 1991 borders, during World War I were made by a Russian journalist 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 Montenegro 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.[72]

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 both 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 noncombat 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.[73]

Footnotes[edit]

Deaths by alliance and military/civilian. Most of the civilian deaths were due to war-related famine
Deaths of the Allied powers
Deaths of the Central powers

^a East Africa

Fallen British and Australian soldiers in a mass grave, dug by German soldiers, 1916 or 1917

^b Australia

^c Belgium:

^d Canada

^e France

^f Greece

^g India (British)

^h Italy

^i Japan

German trench destroyed by a mine explosion, 1917

^k Montenegro:

^l New Zealand:

^m Newfoundland

^n Portugal:

Re-educating wounded. Blind French soldiers learning to make baskets, World War I.

^o Romania:

^p Russian Empire

^q Serbia

^r South Africa

British pilot killed in action, 1917

^s United Kingdom

^t United States

Fallen German soldier in France, 1917

^u Austria-Hungary

^v Bulgaria:

German dead scattered in the wreck of a machine gun post near Guillemont, 1916

^w German Empire

The remains of Armenians massacred at Erzinjan.[124]

^x Ottoman Empire:

^y Denmark

^j Luxembourg

^z Norway

^az Sweden

Sources[edit]

Graves of French soldiers who died on the Ypres Salient, Ypres Necropole National, Ypres, Belgium.
The India Gate in Delhi commemorates the Indian soldiers who died during World War I.

The source of population data is:

See also[edit]

References[edit]

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  10. ^ Statistics of the Military Effort of the British Empire During the Great War 1914–1920, The War Office, P.339(14,661 killed in Merchant Navy
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External links[edit]