Skip to main content

Table 1 Reported cold injuries in a variety of conflicts throughout history

From: Lessons from history: morbidity of cold injury in the Royal Marines during the Falklands Conflict of 1982

Circa 400 BC Armenia (Xenophon) ‘Cold’ cause of approximately 6,000 (60%) casualties
218 BC Hannibal crossing the Alps 19,000 (50%) survived from 38,000
1719 Swedish/Norwegian 3,700 Swedish dead from a force of 5,000; 600 permanently crippled from frostbite
1778 American War of Independence Up to 10% of casualties in some battles
1812 Napoleonic/Russian campaign 100,000 KIA; 200,000 DNBI (majority from cold injury and hypothermia); 12,000 men from the 12th Division all perished except for 350
1854–1856 Crimean War 2,000 cold injured out of 50,000
1861–1865 American Civil War 15,000 cold injury casualties
1870–1871 Franco/Prussian 1,450 CI
1899–1902 Boer War ‘Many with cold injuries’
1904–1905 Russo/Japanese ‘Staggering numbers’
1912 Balkans ‘Many cold casualties’
1914–1918 World War I British 115,361; French 79,000; Italians 38,000; Germans (number unknown) but had special hospitals dedicated to treating cold injuries (distinction between freezing and non-freezing injury, ‘Trench Foot’, was first made)
1939–1945 World War II Western Europe: British 500; Americans 91,000
Italian campaign, winter 1943–1944: British 102 cold injury casualties (ratio 1:45);
Americans 4,560 (ratio 1:4)
At sea, ‘Immersion Foot’ was first described
Russian Front: Germans massive casualties (special cold injury hospitals)
   Attu (Aleutians): US Marines 1,200 in a 15-day period of conflict with a ratio of 1:1 with battle casualties