How Much Did Armies Grow 1914-18?

The number of combatants in World War One was unprecedented. Not only did the world have more people in it than ever before, but nations were willing to place ever greater demands on that population to gain the upper hand. Throughout the war recruitment campaigns and conscription were used to keep these colossal armies supplied with men. These graphs reveal just how successfully powers on all sides were in mobilising huge numbers of men compared to the numbers prepared at the outset.

Allied Divisions 1914-18

By 1917 the Russian Empire had come to an end as a result of the Revolution and the country’s new communist government had withdrawn it from the war. The Imperial Army had divided between the various factions of the Revolution and its former soldiers would go on fighting one another in the Russian Civil War until 1922.

British Empire Divisions 1914-18

Until 1914 Britain had maintained a policy of keeping a very small but wholly voluntary professional army. The high casualty rates of World War One, however, made such an approach unfeasible and the British began to recruit new men in far greater quantities, eventually turning to conscription.

Central Powers Divisions 1914-18

Despite the large growth in German divisions, the Central Powers remained numerically inferior to the Allies throughout. This is especially notable given how poorly equipped and led the Austro-Hungarian Army was and that the Ottoman Empire had no real presence other than on its own frontiers.

Alex is a history student at King's College London focusing on Europe and the Near East in the Middle Ages. He currently works writing and editing content for madefromhistory.