Marking the start of World War One

Page 7 from a 1914 paper is the way the Hampshire Telegraph reported the start of the First World War
Page 7 from a 1914 paper is the way the Hampshire Telegraph reported the start of the First World War
Happy days: South Parade Pier, Southsea.

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In three years we will be commemorating the centenary of the start of the First World War.

It will be 100 years since the outbreak of the so-called War to End All Wars in which a staggering nine million people died between August 1914 and November 1918.

Ninety-seven years ago on August 7, The News’ sister paper was called The Hampshire Telegraph and Post and Naval Chronicle incorporating The Sussex Chronicle and Sussex Observer.

It appeared weekly and even the beginning of the war failed to knock advertisements and public notices off the front page.

Readers had to turn to page seven to read all about it. At least it was given a large headline.

‘European Blaze,’ it read. ‘Seven Nations At War. Eight mobilised for protection. England declares against Germany. Belgian neutrality violated. Great British Army increase. First Naval Fighting.’

A series of bullet-point paragraphs brought everybody up to date. Austria had declared war on Serbia. Germany declared war on Russia. German patrols had invaded France and occupied Luxembourg.

Russian troops had entered Germany. Switzerland, Belgium, Holland and Denmark had mobilised their forces.

British naval reservists were called up and the army and Royal Navy were mobilised.

Belgium declared war on Germany along with France after German troops invaded Belgium.

At this point Britain declared war on Germany and the Admiralty announced shortly after that a German mine-layer had been sunk in the North Sea.

At the bottom of the page was an at-a-glance guide to who was fighting whom – almost like the draw for a World Cup.

It said: The combatants are: Germany and Austria-Hungary against Great Britain, France, Russia, Belgium, Serbia (in those days that country was referred to as Servia). In addition eight nations are mobilising to defend their neutrality: Italy, Turkey, Greece, Roumania, Bulgaria, Denmark, Holland, Sweden.’

We reported that the German Emperor (Kaiser) addressed a 50,000-strong crowd from a window in Berlin and said: ‘This is a dark hour for Germany. The sword is being forced into her hands. I hope with God’s help we shall so wield that sword that when all is over we can sheath it with honour.’

The Austrian emperor said: ‘I thought in my old age to enjoy only years of peace. My decision was certainly a difficult one, but from the demonstrations of all sides I gain conviction that it was all right.’