The Great War Bookshop’s diary of the Great War. July – August 2014 – 1914.

2014 Monday, July 28th

Austria declares war on Serbia. In Britain, the Royal Navy sails to its war stations.

 Tuesday, July 29th

Austria bombards the Serb capital, Belgrade. Germany mobilises its navy. The Belgian army starts digging trenches around its forts on the frontier.

Wednesday, July 30th

Russia mobilises in support of Serbia. Sir John French is told he will command the British Expeditionary Force in the event of war.

Thursday, July 31st

Germany starts mobilising its army and issues ultimatums to France and Russia. The London stock exchange closes for business as investors panic.

Friday, August 1st

Germany declares war on Russia. France mobilises. In London the bank rate soars to 10%, the highest rate since the Bank of England was founded.

 Saturday, August 2nd

Germany demands free passage for its troops to invade France through Belgium. Russian patrols cross into Prussia.

Sunday, August 3rd

Germany declares war on France. Britain mobilises its Expeditionary Force. Australia offers the mother country full military and naval support.

Monday, August 4th

Germany declares war on Belgium and attacks the forts at Liege. Britain declares war on Germany. The United States, Switzerland and Brazil declare neutrality.

Tuesday, August 5th

The Prime Minister, Herbert Asquith brings, Lord Kitchener into his cabinet as War Minister. Sir John Jellicoe is given command of the Royal Navy’s Home Fleet.

Wednesday, August 6th

The Belgian army resists the Germans at Liege. In France, women are mobilised to bring in the harvest. The Prince of Wales launches a National Relief Fund.

Thursday, August 7th

The German Army occupies Liege but its forts hold out. British banks re-open for business and the first ten shilling notes become legal tender.

 Friday, August 8th

Lord Kitchener issues an appeal for recruits. Fishing trawlers are requisitioned for mine-sweeping duties. The French army invades German-held Alsace.

Saturday, August 9th.

The advance units of the Expeditionary Force arrive in France for Britain’s first war on European soil since the battle of Waterloo, 1815.

Sunday, August 10th

Kaiser Wilhelm II vows that Germany will not sheath the sword until it can dictate peace terms.

Monday, August 11th

The Royal Flying Corps crosses to France by sea with most of its aircraft in crates. A Press Bureau is formed to control war news appearing in British newspapers.

Tuesday, August 12th

With the forts at Liege holding up the Germans’ invasion they bring up heavy siege guns. Guatemala declares its neutrality.

Wednesday, August 13th

British suffragettes suspend their militant campaign for voting rights in order to support the war effort.

Thursday, August 14th

The first air raid of the war: a French attack on German zeppelin sheds at Metz. The British writer, H.G.Wells, mints the phrase ‘War to end War’.

Friday, August 15 th

Belgian troops surrender at Liege. New Zealand sends a force to occupy the German-held Samoan islands in the Pacific.

Saturday, August 16th.

Sir John French meets the French Commander-in-Chief, General Joffre, for the first time to coordinate their plans. Adolf Hitler enrols in the Bavarian Infantry.

Sunday, August 17th

As the Germans swarm through Belgium, the government leaves Brussels for Antwerp. The price of food soars in British shops because of hoarding.

Monday, August 18th

The American President, Woodrow Wilson, proclaims neutrality. A Swiss cyclist, Oscar Egg, sets a new speed record covering 44.247 km in one hour.

Tuesday, August 19th

The Kaiser orders his First Army, commanded by General Von Kluck, to exterminate Sir John French’s ‘contemptible little army’.

Wednesday, August 20th

The Germans reach Brussels. The British army concentrates near the French city of Maubeuge in line with General Joffre’s requirements.

Thursday, August 21st

The French army suffers its bloodiest single encounter of the whole war at Charleroi : 67, 000 casualties, with 27,000 killed.

Friday, August 22nd

British cavalry scouts encounter the German army north of the Belgian town of Mons.

Saturday, August 23rd

Von Kluck’s troops attack at Mons. The British are outnumbered 3:1 but inflict disproportionate casualties because of their accurate rifle fire.

Sunday, August 24th

French forces begin to retreat compelling the British at Mons to fall into line. As the Empire rallies to the cause, the first Indian regiments embark for France.

Monday, August 25th

The French and British retreat towards Paris. The Germans set fire to the Belgian city of Louvain to deter reprisal attacks by civilians.

Tuesday, August 26th

The British fight a battle at Le Cateau to fend off the German pursuit from Mons. On their Eastern Front, the Germans defeat two Russian armies at Tannenberg.

Wednesday, August 27th

The British retreat continues. Censorship of the British postal service gets into gear. Japan blockades the German colonial outpost at Tsingtao in China.

Thursday, August 28th

The Kaiser urges a mass German advance on Paris. The Royal Navy sinks several German warships at Heligoland Bight in the North Sea.

Friday, August 29th

The retreat from Mons continues. The German Governor of Samoa surrenders to New Zealand.

Saturday, August 30th

Paris is bombed by a single German aircraft. British press reports raise an alarm about the seemingly endless retreat in France.

Sunday, August 31st

The German army occupies the French city of Amiens. Restrictions are introduced in Britain to limit the opening hours of pubs.

(To be continued)


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