10 Facts About World War I
World War I was an international historical event. Many battles were fought around the world with volunteers and enlisted soldiers. The causes of the war, devastating statistics and interesting facts are still studied today in classrooms, history books and museums.
The beginning of the war started with the assassination of the Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria. He was heir to the throne, but was murdered by a Serbian nationalist. The war broke out a month later when Austria-Hungary declared war on Serbia. The war began on July 28, 1914 lasting four years, three months and fourteen days. The fighting ended on Nov. 11, 1918. It would take another six months before the war would officially end with a negotiated peace treaty five years after the assassination of the archduke.
The war has been called several different names. World War I is often abbreviated as WWI in writing. In conversation and writing, it is referenced with several other names. It can be referred to as The Great War, The World War, The War of Nationals and The War to End All Wars.
Casualties and Injuries
During the four years of combat, 65 million soldiers fought in the battles. Eight million of the soldiers were killed worldwide. Another 21 million were injured and seven million were maimed with missing limbs. The United States only participating in the war for seven months, but had daunting statistics for casualties and injuries. During that seven-month period, 117,000 soldiers died and 204,000 were injured.
Noteworthy Weaponry Facts
Chemical weaponry was used for the first time in World War I. Airplanes were used to fight in the war with 70 different types used by all nations. The planes allowed explosives to be dropped to the ground. A machine gun could fire 600 rounds a minute which was considered the equivalent firing of range of more than 150 rifles.
Medical Strides and Advancements
Medical strides and advancements were a benefit of the war. Blood banks were first used during the war for necessary transfusions. The blood was stored on ice for up to 28 days. Plastic surgery was invented following World War I. A surgeon started the surgeries to help shrapnel victims with extreme facial injuries. Many techniques spearheaded the way for facial reconstructive surgery.
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Welcome to the LitCharts study guide on Michael Morpurgo's War Horse . Created by the original team behind SparkNotes, LitCharts are the world's best literature guides.
War Horse: Introduction
War horse: plot summary, war horse: detailed summary & analysis, war horse: themes, war horse: quotes, war horse: characters, war horse: symbols, war horse: theme wheel, brief biography of michael morpurgo.
Historical Context of War Horse
Other books related to war horse.
- Full Title: War Horse
- When Written: 1980s
- Where Written: England
- When Published: 1982
- Literary Period: Contemporary
- Genre: Children’s Novel, Historical Fiction
- Setting: Rural Devonshire, England and Northern France
- Climax: Albert and David successfully nurse Joey through tetanus.
- Point of View: First Person
Extra Credit for War Horse
Life Imitating Art. The book starts by describing a painting of Joey that Captain Nicholls made, which is hanging in the Iddesleigh town hall. Many readers if the book have believed that this painting, which Morpurgo made up, was real and went in search of it. Finally, following the stage play and film adaptations, Morpurgo commissioned an old-fashioned painting of a horse matching Joey’s description to hang in the town hall for the benefit of his fans.
The Best Things Come in Small Packages. Morpurgo wanted to write a book about the horrors of World War I but didn’t know how he would do it until he watched one of the urban schoolchildren visiting his farm charity bonding with one of the farm horses. Seeing the instantaneous bond between boy and animal gave Morpurgo the inspiration he needed for War Horse .
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War Horse Novel Study
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This novel study for War Horse by Michael Morpurgo will save you hours of planning for your next class novel study. The engaging comprehension activities help students dig deeper into the plot while targeting high-impact comprehension skills that they can transfer to other texts.
This War Horse novel study is purposefully designed to engage students with an approachable format . It doesn't overwhelm your readers with countless chapter questions that just require them to regurgitate the text, instead engaging them in deep thinking and rigorous comprehension practice.
Standards-aligned & perfect for novel studies, small group book clubs or lit circles, independent reading, or as a way to monitor and teach during a classroom read aloud.
Skills addressed in the War Horse novel study:
✔Point of view
✔Problem & Solution
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✔Analyzing and Comparing Characters
✔Main Idea & Summary
✔Cause & Effect
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52 pages • 1 hour read
A modern alternative to SparkNotes and CliffsNotes, SuperSummary offers high-quality Study Guides with detailed chapter summaries and analysis of major themes, characters, and more.
- Chapters 1-4
- Chapters 5-8
- Chapters 9-12
- Chapters 13-16
- Chapters 17-21
- Character Analysis
- Symbols & Motifs
- Important Quotes
- Essay Topics
Summary and Study Guide
War Horse is a children’s historical fiction novel by Michael Morpurgo. The book was first published in Great Britain in 1982 by Kaye & Ward and was a runner-up for the Whitbread Book Award in the same year. The book is told from the point of view of a young horse named Joey and chronicles his journey and the relationships he builds with his various owners during World War I. The beloved novel is a tale of enduring friendship and courage against all odds. Playwright Nick Stafford adapted War Horse into an award-winning play in 2007, and the play was received with critical acclaim, winning an Olivier Award, Evening Standard Theatre Award, and London Critic’s Circle Theatre Award for design. In 2011, director Steven Spielberg adapted the novel into a film starring Jeremy Irvine, Tom Hiddleston, Emily Watson, and Benedict Cumberbatch. The version of the book used for this guide is the 2018 Scholastic Gold Edition.
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A few years before the start of World War I, a spirited Red Bay colt named Joey is born in Devon, England, and is quickly bought by a drunken farmer. Joey doesn’t go without a fight, however, and by the time they arrive at the farm, he is “soaked with sweat, and the halter [has] rubbed [his] face raw” (3). The farmer’s wife and his young son, Albert , visit Joey, and Albert and the horse are immediately drawn to one another. Albert begins to clean the sweat-soaked horse tenderly, talking to him as he does so. Mother insists that Joey can’t understand Albert, but the boy believes there is an “immediate and instinctive bond of trust between [them]” (7).
When he isn’t at school or working, Albert takes Joey on long walks, and Joey learns “to come at his whistle, not out of obedience, but because [he] always want[s] to be with [Albert]” (8). Father’s drinking continues, and he returns home drunk every Tuesday. Two years after Joey’s arrival, Father staggers into Joey’s stall with a whip. He tells Joey that he has made a bet that he can tame the horse to plow a field within a week and will do whatever it takes to win. When Father raises the whip, Joey kicks him. Infuriated, Father threatens to shoot the horse but instead says that Albert must train the horse in one week or Joey will be sold. Determined to keep Joey, Albert does what he must: His “gentle words and kindnesses of the past” (14) are replaced with shouts and flashes of a whip “whenever [Albert] felt [Joey isn’t] giving it [his] best” (14). At week’s end, the bet is won, and Joey stays.
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Britain enters World War I, and Albert wants to join the army with Joey at his side. At home, there are long debates, mostly between Albert and his mother, over Father’s drunkenness and irresponsible behavior. Mother says that Father’s worries about the mortgage—secured so Albert could have the farm one day—drive him to drink. She asks Albert to “try to see the good in him” (19), but Albert wishes that Father would stop complaining about Joey all the time.
One night, Father sends Albert on an errand so he can lure Joey out of the stall. He sells him for 40 pounds to Captain Nicholls of the British Army. Albert arrives at the camp too late to stop the sale, so he offers to join the cavalry to stay with Joey, but he is too young. The Captain promises to take care of Joey and gives Albert time to say goodbye. Albert promises Joey that one day they will be reunited.
Joey is soon training to be a war horse, working with Corporal Samuel Perkins, an ex-jockey who is “universally feared by all troopers and horses alike” (32). Nicholls visits Joey, talks to him like Albert did, and sketches him. Joey also enjoys the company of Nicholl's best friend, Captain Jamie Stewart, and his horse, Topthorn . Topthorn is an impressive black horse that match’s Joey strength and loyalty. As Joey adjusts to his new life, he dwells on his old life less often. However, “Albert, his face and his voice [stay] clear in [Joey’s] mind” (37).
During one visit, Captain Nicholls tells Joey that he doesn’t want to be at war and fears his soldiers underestimate the gravity of what they face. His fears are borne out, as the cavalry is no match for the machine guns and artillery awaiting them. The troops arriving in France are greeted by long stretches of wounded and dead soldiers. Joey learns the finality of death for himself when, in the first battle, Captain Nicholls is shot off his back and never seen again.
Joey’s next owner is a young apprentice blacksmith, Trooper Warren , who is gentle and kind. The last horse Trooper Warren rode was shot out from under him, but Joey helps him find the strength and courage to ride again. Joey, Trooper Warren, Captain Stewart, and Topthorn are the sole survivors of the battle. They land in enemy territory, surrounded by German soldiers. The soldiers are taken prisoner, and the horses are put to work in the German army.
The Germans treat Joey and Topthorn with the utmost respect, even providing them with “the luxury of a stable” (69). They haul ambulances to and from the front lines and save the lives of many soldiers (German and British alike). The stable the Germans are using belongs to an elderly French man and his granddaughter, young Emilie . Emilie cares for the horses as if they are hers and spends all her time talking with them. One night, Emilie falls ill and nearly perishes. She miraculously pulls through, but her body is never quite as strong as before.
The Germans leave but allow Joey and Topthorn to stay behind with Grandfather and Emilie. Soon, the horses’ peaceful life on the farm is interrupted again by the arrival of more German soldiers. They demand that Grandfather hand over the horses to the army. Emilie says a tearful goodbye but vows that she will get them back one day. Once again, Joey and Topthorn are off to war.
The war grows much more difficult for the men and the horses. They spend their days trudging through the mud with sores on their legs, and they go for days without food and rest. Even the strong and dutiful Topthorn eventually succumbs to the terrible conditions and dies from heart failure. Joey stays at his friend’s side as long as he possibly can but must abandon Topthorn’s corpse when “the first tank [he] ever [sees]” comes lumbering toward him. Desperate to escape, he runs into a coil of barbed wire and injures his leg. When he finally pulls himself free, he “stumble[s] on into the night, guided only by the belief that where the night was at its blackest, there alone [he] might find some safety from the shelling” (108). Eventually, Joey realizes he is in a vast, battered terrain between two enemy camps: no-man’s-land.
From either side of no-man’s-land, a German soldier and a British soldier each appear with a white flag and try to coax Joey to them. The two set aside their differences to discuss what is best for the horse. They determine that either camp can sufficiently tend to Joey’s wounded leg, so they flip a coin to decide his fate. The British soldier wins, and the German leaves them peacefully behind. Joey is placed in a wagon and taken to the British veterinary hospital.
There, Joey is greeted with awe as the famous horse who survived no-man’s-land. He is taken away to be cleaned by a young soldier, who turns out to be Albert. Albert joined the cavalry as soon as he was old enough in the hopes of being reunited with Joey. Joey recognizes Albert first, but Albert is uncertain until he stands away from him and summons the horse with his special owl whistle . When Joey hears this, he “trot[s] easily over toward him and burie[s his] head in [Albert’s] shoulder” (130). At long last, Joey and Albert are together again.
Joey’s troubles are far from over, however. The wound in Joey’s leg worsens, and he is diagnosed with tetanus. There is little hope for recovery, so Major Martin, one of the vets, suggests he be put down. Albert won’t hear of it, and with David’s help, he convinces Major Martin to try to save Joey. They agree, and after a long road to recovery, Joey improves and survives the illness.
The war finally ends, but not without even more casualties. David, Albert’s best friend, is among those lost toward the war's end. The soldiers will now be going home, but they learn that the horses will not be coming with them. Instead, they will be sold at auction in France. The soldiers band together to save enough money to buy Joey in the auction. It seems as if the plan will be successful until a cruel-looking man outbids them. The soldiers are out of money and at a loss for what to do when Grandfather stands up in the crowd and places a higher bid. He urges the cruel man not to go higher because he will pay any amount necessary to win back Emilie’s horse. The auction ends, and Grandfather wins the bid.
Albert hurries to find Grandfather after and asks why he wanted to purchase Joey. Grandfather tells him about Emilie and how she died shortly after the horses were taken away. Before she died, Grandfather made her a promise that he would do everything he could to find the horses again and take care of them. Now that he has met Albert, he thinks Emilie would understand that Joey would be better off with his original master. Grandfather sells Joey to Albert for one English penny and the promise that he will care for the horse and tell the story of his Emilie. Albert promises that he will, and the two tearfully part ways.
Albert and Joey are welcomed home as heroes, but they “both [know] that the real heroes had not come home” (164). They remember all the people left behind who forever shaped their own lives. Albert marries his girlfriend, Maisie Brown, and they start a family together. Albert takes over the farm from his father, who is now a much kinder man. After a long and terrible war, Joey and Albert are ready for whatever new beginnings come their way.
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War horse study guide.
War Horse is a children's novel set in Wartime Europe; the narrative concerns events from before the declaration of World War I to shortly after the Germans surrendered to the Allies. The narrator of the novel is a horse called Joey, a cavalry horse who begins his story as a foal growing up on a farm and becomes caught up in the War, going to France with the English Army before being captured by the Germans. The Germans then put Joey to work, first pulling the ambulance cart that transported the wounded and later pulling an artillery gun.
The novel carefully documents the reality of the battles in France, with frightening gun positions dug deep into trenches and open spaces of muddy ground bordered on all sides by barbed wire. This latter is the No Man's Land between the British and German armies where much of the fighting took place. The novel describes the harsh terrain, treacherous weather, and the devastating casualties of war. Our narrator, Joey, has an eye-witness account to share with the reader; his unique perspective provides a thought-provoking observational study of the futility and terror of World War I.
Joey is first introduced to us as a foal who lives in the South West of England, in the county of Dorset. Dorset is the neighboring county to Devon, where War Horse author Michael Morpurgo lives. Much of the area's wartime history and its countryside character are well known to him as a local. Morpurgo is an equine advocate and founded a charity enabling inner-city children to experience living and working on a farm in the heart of the countryside. This passion for the traditions of farming inspired many of the settings in the novel. In terms of his writing career, Morpurgo is a former Children's Laureate, the highest honor a children's author can receive in Great Britain.
War Horse is widely considered to be a modern children's classic and has been made into both a movie and a stage play.
War Horse Questions and Answers
The Question and Answer section for War Horse is a great resource to ask questions, find answers, and discuss the novel.
Joey changes home many times. What chapter are you referring to?
What did the army determine would be the fate of Joey and the other horses?
Joey and the other horses were to be auctioned off to the highest bidder.
Chapter 8 summary
Chapter 8 depicts the regiment's charge into the war zone between the British and German trenches. To his horror, Trooper Warren sees that the horses may find themselves running up against barbed wire as they move forward. The only option is to...
Study Guide for War Horse
War Horse study guide contains a biography of Michael Morpurgo, literature essays, a complete e-text, quiz questions, major themes, characters, and a full summary and analysis.
- About War Horse
- War Horse Summary
- Character List
Wikipedia Entries for War Horse