A week’s rations for the German army, or as near as could be calculated by the editors of Scientific American in 1914. Credit: Scientific American, August 22, 1914

The Vast Scale of War

When the Great War broke out the scale of it was unprecedented. Citizens, soldiers and governments alike tried to grasp the sheer immense numbers of combatants and materièl involved. One article that we published shortly after the war started presented an “infographic”: the volume of the amount of food eaten by the German army in one week compared with the Cologne cathedral.

From the issue of 100 years ago: August 22, 1914

Subsistence in the Present War

The question of subsistence is a vital one to an army, and many battles have been lost from the failure of food supplies. The commissary department of armies in all civilized countries is in the hands of men who are in reality dietetic specialists on a large scale. The present war is the supreme test of the quartermaster's department.

"Rations," as the daily food supply of the soldier is known, vary in each country according to racial tastes or climatic conditions, thus, the meat ration of France is quite different from that of Germany.

To see a full archive of our coverage of World War I—military, economic, social, technological—view our archive package, Scientific American Chronicles: World War I, at www.ScientificAmerican.com/wwi.