18% of Brits think the First World War was a fight against Nazis

A German trench converted into a French trench after recapture of Fort Douaumont at the Battle of Verdun.
A German trench converted into a French trench after recapture of Fort Douaumont at the Battle of Verdun. Credit: Tophams/Topham Picturepoint/Press Association Images

Nearly one in five British adults think the country became involved in the First World War to stop the rise of Nazi Germany, a survey suggests.

Of the 2,493 people questioned:

  • 18% thought the UK entered the conflict to stop Adolf Hitler's Nazi movement
  • 17% believed the dictator led Germany during the First World War
  • 1% said British and German soldiers gave each other tours of their trenches
  • Eight people believe troops gathered to watch the film The Great Escape

Knowledge of who the British Prime Minister was at the start of the conflict was somewhat sketchy, with one in 10 believing Winston Churchill led the country into war.

Only 36% correctly answered that Herbert Henry Asquith was Prime Minister, while 34% guessed it was David Lloyd George, whose premiership started during the war.

However, there were some key facts that many of The Times WWI Centenary Facsimile survey's participants knew:

Franz Ferdinand pictured in Baden und Bavaria in 1909 before the First World War.
Franz Ferdinand pictured in Baden und Bavaria in 1909 before the First World War. Credit: Berliner Verlag/DPA/Press Association Images

Franz Ferdinand

Nearly seven in 10 people - or 69% - knew that Franz Ferdinand was the Archduke of Austria-Hungary.

His assassination is widely seen as having started the chain of events that led to the war.

The ruined cathedral of Ypres in Belgium pictured in 1914.
The ruined cathedral of Ypres in Belgium pictured in 1914. Credit: PA/PA Archive/Press Association Images

Belgium

More than half - or 57% - were aware that Britain became involved in the First World War because of a treaty with Belgium to help defend the country in the event of an invasion.

Areas in which respondents were most knowledgeable were when the First World War took place (90%) and what the term The Allies refers to (92%).

People in the East Midlands were the most knowledgeable about the war, with an 70% of correct answers overall.

Londoners were found to know the least, with only 63% of right responses.