World War I Quiz


By: Kelly Scott

7 Min Quiz

Image: Fototeca Storica Nazionale / Contributor

About This Quiz

The assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand was the event that launched the world into a war that would span more than four years and occupy every ocean and nearly every continent of the world. But do you know which terrorist group was responsible for the assassination of Ferdinand?

This was the war that pitted the Central Powers (Germany. Austria-Hungary, Bulgaria and the Ottoman Empire) against the eventual winners, the Allied forces. But with advancements in warfare strategy and military technology, more than 16 million people, soldier and civilian alike, died by the end of the war, leaving many to wonder if there ever was a winner. 

This was the war to end all wars, yet would sadly be repeated with even worse carnage 20 years later. How much do you know about the first world war? Well, you're about to test your limits. Do you know which weapon discovered by the Greeks was never implemented in warfare until World War I? Or, can you recall the nickname for the famous German fighter ace later parodied by a comical dog?

The history of World War I is a horrific time in history, but thanks to buffs like you, we'll be cautioned against repeating the past. Are you ready to arm the trenches and take up this quiz? It's time to lead the attack!

While World War I was fought from 1914-1918 on every ocean and on almost every continent, where did most of the fighting take place?

The major fronts of WWI were the Eastern, Western and Italian fronts. The largest was the Western Front. including France, Belgium and England.


What weapon, patented in the US in 1884, was introduced to widespread use in WWI?

Patented some forty years earlier by Hiram Maxim, the Maxim machine gun weighed about 100 pounds and was water cooled. It could fire about 450-600 rounds per minute.


What was the nickname of Mafred von Richthofen, World War I's leading fighter ace?

Before he was shot down and killed near Amiens on April 21, 1918, Richthofen was officially credited with 80 air combat victories. He remains perhaps the most widely known fighter pilot of all time.


Which of the following was NOT a nickname for World War I?

Until the approach of World War II, World War I was usually called the World War or the Great War. The term "First World War" was first used in September 1914 by the German biologist and philosopher Ernst Haeckel, who claimed that "there is no doubt that the course and character of the feared 'European War' ... will become the first world war in the full sense of the word."


What was the original name for "tanks?"

While tanks were initially called “landships,” they were assigned the code name "tanks" in an attempt to disguise them as water storage tanks rather than as weapons.


What was the term coined to describe the reaction of some soldiers in WWI to the trauma of battle?

Shell shock was a reaction to the intensity of the bombardment and fighting. Cases could be interpreted as either a physical or psychological injury, or simply as a lack of moral fiber. While the term shell shock is no longer used in medical or military discourse, it has entered into popular imagination and memory.


What was the name of the terrorist group responsible for the assassination of Franz Ferdinand?

The Black Hand Sarajevo was formed with the aim of uniting all of the territories with a South Slavic majority not ruled by either Serbia or Montenegro. Its inspiration was primarily the unification of Italy in 1859–70, but also that of Germany in 1871.


What is the name for the land warfare that uses occupied fighting lines and a no-man's-line between two enemies?

In trench warfare, troops are significantly protected from the enemy's small arms fire and sheltered from artillery. The most famous use of trench warfare was the Western Front in World War I. Attacks, even if successful, often sustained severe casualties. The efficacy of trench warfare was effectively ended with the invention and adoption of the tank.


What does the German word "Schrecklichkeit" refer to in the context of WWI?

Schrecklichkeit was most prominently displayed by German army actions in Belguim. When Belgium refused to accept the German leaders' suggestion to line up alongside roads to watch the Germans march through, the Germans responded to these perceived acts of resistance with harsh measures. In several villages and towns, hundreds of civilians were executed.


Which of the following war terms originated in WWI?

In WWI, pilots had to turn off their plane’s engine from time to time so it would not stall when the plane turned quickly in the air. When a pilot restarted his engine midair, it sounded like dogs barking.


When did World War I start?

When Austria-Hungary formally declared war on Serbia on July 28, 1914, WWI officially began. Tensions had been rising across Europe for many years prior, but it was the Serbian assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria-Hungary on June 28, 1914 that sparked the declaration.


When did World War I end?

The final Allied push towards the German border began on October 17, 1918. On November 9, the Kaiser abdicated. At 5 AM on the morning of November 11, an armistice was signed in a railroad car parked in a French forest near the front line. The terms of the agreement called for the cessation of fighting along the entire Western Front at precisely 11 AM that morning.


Britain entered the war in response to Germany's invasion of which neutral country?

Germany declared war against France on August 3, 1914. One day later, Belgium refused to allow German troops to march through its borders to attack France, and Germany responded by declaring war on Belgium as well. Britain issued an ultimatum to enforce Belgian neutrality, and entered the war when this ultimatum was ignored.


What was the name given to the combined military forces of Russia, Britain, and France?

The Triple Entente was intended as a counter to the Triple Alliance (Germany, Austria-Hungary, and Italy) and the Central Powers (Germany, Austria-Hungary, the Ottoman Empire, and Bulgaria). The Allied Powers were a similar but larger group of nations in World War II.


Which of the following is NOT an empire that collapsed after WWI?

The Ottoman Empire participated in World War I as one of the Central Powers, alongside Germany and Austria-Hungary. In the end, military losses destroyed these empires.


Which country did Germany offer an alliance in the infamous Zimmerman Telegram?

Germany offered to help Mexico retake Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona in exchange for military support. When the telegram was intercepted by British intelligence and revealed to the United States, Americans were outraged and increased their support for the war.


Approximately how many men fought in World War I?

More than 65 million men from 30 countries fought in WWI, with the largest armed forces contingents coming from Russia (12M), Germany (11M), Great Britain (9M), and France (8.4M).


Which battle was notable for over a million soldiers killed, and for the first use of the tank?

The Battle of the Somme lasted from July 1-November 18 1916 on the banks of the Somme River, in France. The intent of the British was to attack and take control of a 24 km stretch of the River Somme. Most historians today agree that the plan was not well thought-out. When the battle had ended, the British and French soldiers had only advanced about 8km.


In what year did the unofficial Christmas truce take place?

The Christmas truce was a series of widespread but unofficial ceasefires along the Western Front around Christmas 1914. In the week leading up to the holiday, German and British soldiers crossed trenches to exchange seasonal greetings and talk. Men from both sides ventured into no man's land to mingle and exchange food and souvenirs.


What was the real name of the woman best known as Mata Hari, the Dutch exotic dancer accused of being a double agent?

Though she always denied being a spy, the French executed her in 1917.


As part of the Treaty of Versailles, which country infamously accepted responsibility for "all the loss and damage" of the war?

The treaty blamed Germany for the war, requiring the country to disarm, pay billions in reparations, and give up territory. The fallout from this treaty caused economic collapse and immense resentment among the German population, and is often blamed in part for the rise of Adolf Hitler and World War II.


Despite first being used by the Greeks in the 1st century AD, which weapon didn't come into use in modern times until World War I?

Modern flamethrowers were first used during the trench warfare conditions of World War I by the Germans; they can be vehicle mounted, as on a tank, or man-portable, and can fire jets of flame as far as 130 feet (40m).


What was the total cost of World War I for the US?

The total dollars spent by the Allied Powers in World War I was more than $125 billion. The Central Powers spent more than $60 billion.


What was the first country to use tear gas grenades against enemy troops in WWI?

France, not Germany, was the first country to use gas against enemy troops in WWI. In August 1914, they fired the first tear gas grenades (xylyl bromide) against the Germans. In January 1915, Germany first used tear gas against Russian armies, but the gas turned to liquid in the cold air. In April 1915, the Germans were the first to use poisonous chlorine gas.


What was the most widely used chemical weapon leveraged in WWI, and often cited as the most effective?

Delivered in artillery shells, mustard gas was heavier than air, and it settled to the ground as an oily liquid. Once in the soil, mustard gas remained active for several days, weeks, or even months. Mustard gas caused internal and external bleeding and attacked the bronchial tubes, stripping off the mucous membrane. Fatally injured victims sometimes took four or five weeks to die of mustard gas exposure.


Approximately how many total civilian and military casualties, including deaths and serious injuries, are attributed to World War I?

More than 15 million soldiers and civilians died and 20 million were wounded during WWI. The Spanish flu caused about 1/3 of total military deaths, and the remaining 2/3 of military deaths in WWI were in battle. In previous conflicts, most deaths were due to disease.


When did US troops fight their first battle of WWI, near the vIillage of Cantigny, France?

Woodrow Wilson’s campaign slogan for his second term was “He kept us out of war.“ About a month after he took office, the United States declared war on Germany, on April 6th 1917.


Which type of animal was prominently used in World War I?

During WWI, dogs were used as messengers and carried orders to the front lines in capsules attached to their bodies. Dogs were also used to lay down telegraph wires. More than 500,000 pigeons carried messages between headquarters and the front lines.


When and where did the Battle of Verdun take place?

The German siege of Verdun and its ring of forts comprised the longest battle of World War I. German forces advanced quickly in February 1916,but eventually the French retook their forts and pushed back the line. By the time their forces ground to a halt in December, both sides had suffered more than 600,000 casualties.


Which country exited the war in March 1918 by signing the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk?

The disastrous handling of the war contributed to civil unrest in Russia. After the Russian Revolution, the new Bolsheviks government exited the war and agreed to give up territory and pay reparations.


What was "Little Willie?"

Little Willie was a prototype in the development of the British Mark I tank. Constructed in the autumn of 1915 at the behest of the Landships Committee, it was the first completed tank prototype in history. It carried a crew of three and could travel as fast as 3 mph (4.8 km/h).


Which of the following WWI battles came first chronologically?

Perhaps the most spectacular and complete German victory of the First World War, the Battle of Tannenberg resulted in the almost complete destruction of the Russian Second Army. The battle is particularly notable for fast rail movements by the Germans, enabling them to concentrate against each of the two Russian armies in turn, and also for the failure of the Russians to encode their radio messages.


How many ships were sunk by German U-boats between 1914 and 1918?

The five most successful U-boats were U-35 (sank 224 ships), U-39 (154 ships), U-38 (137 ships), U-34 (121 ships), and U-33 (84 ships). Most of these were sunk near the coast, particularly in the English Channel.


What was the name of the British nurse who saved soldiers from all sides and become a popular propaganda figure?

When Cavell helped 200 Allied soldiers escape from German-occupied Belgium, the Germans arrested her and she was executed by a German firing squad. Her death helped turn global opinion against Germany.


What was Big Bertha, a nickname for a short gun for firing shells on high trajectories at low velocities, named after?

Big Bertha was a 48-ton howitzer used by the Germans in WWI. It was named after the wife of its designer Gustav Krupp. It could fire a 2,050-lb (930-kg) shell a distance of 9.3 miles (15 km). However, it took a crew of 200 men six hours or more to assemble. Germany had 13 of these huge guns or “wonder weapons."


How many African Americans served in World War I?

While more than 200,000 African Americans served in WWI, only about 11% were in combat forces. The rest were put in labor units, loading cargo, building roads, and digging ditches. They served in segregated divisions (the 92nd and 93rd) and trained separately. The Harlem Hell Fighters were one of the few African American units that saw the front lines. For their extraordinary acts of heroism, the soldiers received the French Croix de Guerre, a medal awarded to soldiers from Allied countries for bravery in combat.


What happened in World War I to create what's known today as The Pool of Peace in Belgium?

The Pool of Peace is a 40-ft (12-m) deep lake near Messines, Belgium. It fills a crater made in the early hours of the morning of June 7, 1917 when the British detonated a mine containing 45 tons of explosives. This signaled the launch of the Battle of Messines.


Which battle is renowned as one of the greatest Ottoman victories during the war and a defining moment in the nation's history?

This battle was a final surge in the "defense of the motherland" as the Ottoman Empire crumbled. The struggle formed the basis for the later Turkish War of Independence and the declaration of the Republic of Turkey eight years later under Mustafa Kemal, who rose to prominence as a commander at Gallipoli. The campaign is often considered as marking the birth of national consciousness in Australia and New Zealand. The date of the landing, 25 April, is known as "Anzac Day," and is the most significant commemoration of military casualties and veterans in those two countries, surpassing Remembrance Day (Armistice Day).


Which of the following is NOT one of the ways soldiers were instructed to protect themselves against poisonous gas attacks?

Despite the Hague Treaty of 1899 that stated asphyxiating/poisonous gases were not to be used in war, the German chemical industry was mobilized to manufacture chlorine gas for use against the Allied forces in combat. A total of 20 gases were used during WWI, with the Allies using 13 and the Central Powers 14 of those.


Which battle, also known as the Third Battle of Picardy, was the opening phase of the Allied strategy later known as the Hundred Days Offensive?

Allied forces advanced over 11km (7mi) on the first day, one of the greatest advances of the war, during the Battle of Amiens. The battle is also notable for its effects on both sides' morale and the large number of surrendering German forces. This led Erich Ludendorff to describe the first day of the battle as "the black day of the German Army." Amiens was one of the first major battles involving armored warfare, and marked the end of trench warfare on the Western Front; fighting became mobile once again until the armistice was signed, ending the war.


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