Based on the data on the nameplates on the gravestones I photographed, supplemented where insufficient with data obtained from the Belgian Institute of Veterans - the IV NIOOO, Flanders Fields and some municipalities, the tables below show the statistics of Belgian war casualties in my database.
The data relates to a total of 20,710 tombstones photographed. Note that it is estimated by the Belgian Institute of Veterans that some 43,000 Belgian soldiers died in the war. Our database is therefore 48,2% of total casualties.
Those who wish to use our database in extrapolating the figures towards the rest of the casualties, of which we have no data, do that at their own risk.
Number of casualties per regiment
Number of monthly casualties during the First World War
This statistic is based on a total of 20,710 casualties of which we have a picture of their grave, headstone or French cross. Only the date of death is decisive here.
We have found 71 dead of which we donít have any data on the year wherein they died. Along with 44 other casualties for which we do not know the month of death, this group of 115 represents just about 0,6% of the total.
Furthermore, there are 39 soldiers who died in 1920 or later. This group we consider negligible, since it is less than 2 per thousand of the total.
In the retreat at the outset of war, we counted 27% of our total losses and in the final offensive another 34%. That means that almost two thirds of our losses occur in less than 6 months of war and only 39% in the nearly four years of war in the trenches. Many people will surely have thought otherwise.
Number of casualties per Belgian region
Number of casualties per year of birth
Number of casualties by age
Number of casualties by military rank
For the graph above, we merged 19 different functions. These were occupations such as doctor, chaplain, pharmacist, military auditors, veterinarian, nurse, yes even a substitute and an excavations supervisor. Together with a very general group of 65 militarized citizens and thus for a total of 114 killed or 0.55% of the total.
The largest group, then again, and that's no surprise, is the group of the ordinary combat soldiers. The cannon fodder, as they are sometimes called. 16,727 young men or 81% of the total.
The second largest group are the NCOís, from sergeant to brigadier and adjutant. Here I note 1,813 dead or 8.76% of the total.
Then come the corporals which are proportionately not as high in number as the NCOís. There are also fewer killed.
1,282 never returned from that war, that is 6.14%.
The next group are the lower officers, from lieutenant to captain-commander. In this group, I am reporting 579 dead or 2.81% of the total.
The senior officers, from major to general and admiral, of course they remained furthest from the danger zone.
Nevertheless, I still have 31 of them in my statistics. They represent 0.15 per thousand of the total.
Of the 20,710 casualties of war in total, about 127 of them, which is 0.62%, I never found out what their military rank was in the army.
Conclusion: As a soldier you have to seize every opportunity for promotion with both hands. The higher you are on the hierarchical pyramid, the greater your chances of survival are in case of conflict.