Forget Never

Forget Never

Monday, 18 August 2014

Young Peoples Youth Planning Conference in Heiligenhaus

Young Peoples Youth Planning Conference  16th August 2014

This weekend we took a group of young people to the Exhibition '1914 - In the Middle of Europe' at the Ruhr museum in Essen, Germany as part of our World War 1 commemorative project sponsored by The National Lottery. Escorted by our colleagues from our twinning town, Heiligenhaus we explored the exhibition as a starting point for the planning of our Young Peoples Conference, linking youths from the 3 twinning towns - Basildon, Meaux and Heiligenhaus. The conference aims to :
  • Create sustainable cultural links and relationships between residents of Basildon and it’s twinning towns Meaux and Heiligenahaus
  • Reflect and review conflict resolution and reconciliation since The Great War
  • Provide the opportunity for young people to explore and experiment with different perceptions of what life was like at the start of The Great War.
  • Develop young people’s social and communication skills through project-collaboration with their peers in France and Germany.
  • Provide an opportunity for young people and staff to discuss and exhibit their findings and research as part of the mobile exhibition. Students attending will visit local primary schools after the visit to share their findings.

Due to the 100th anniversary of the outbreak of the First World War, the LVR-Industriemuseum and the Ruhr Museum show the exhibition “1914 – In the middle of Europe” from April 30th  to October 26th at the mixing plant of the coking plant Zollverein in Essen. The First World War shaped the history of Europe, Germany and especially the Rhine-Ruhr-area until today. The exhibition is the highlight of the unique combined project called “1914 – In the Middle of Europe. Rhineland and the First World War” of the Rhineland Regional Council (LVR). With its 2,500 square metres of exhibition area, it is the biggest exhibition of the council in the year of remembrance of the First World War in Germany.

Young people from Basildon Visit Ruhr Museum

Pivotal year 1914
The First World War was the first industrialised war in history. The exhibition “1914 – In the Middle of Europe” searches for the preconditions and consequences of this “primal catastrophe of the 20th century” in the Rhineland and Ruhr-area. To do so, it connects the time of the late 19th century up to the end of the Weimar republic. The visitors can experience an age of awakening, in which the war is the central issue. Furthermore, the exhibition shows a panorama of this time as well as the sweeping social transformations which mark the dawn of the Modern era.

Rurh Museum

Banners that reflected signs of the times and the local community
The three floors of the mixing plant of the coking plant Zollverein provide the structure of the exhibition: German Empire, war and Weimar republic. Visitors enter the exhibition from the southern weighing tower by taking a 150 meter ride with the funicular. Arriving in the mixing plant, the visitors are welcomed with visions of a better future which characterise the unbroken optimism of the people at the beginning of the 20th century. The first part of the exhibition tour starts with the economic, social and cultural accomplishments in the industrial area on the Rhine and Ruhr during the eve of the First World War. The 19th century brought unimagined progress and technology because the industrialization went on in a rapid tempo. The fast change of work and living conditions left the future even more open than ever – especially in the industrial metropolises, where the change was sensed the most. This so called “distribution level” features a turning frame of the Wuppertal suspension railway, which went into operation in 1901, an electric car called “Runabout” from 1903, as well as advertising posters and product packaging, which revealed new possibilities of consumption. In addition, typical dresses of the different classes, like the outfit of a female worker or tightly laced silk dresses, portray the class society of the German Empire.

Video footage projected showing German soldiers making their advances
The next level, which is called “the bunker level”, is dedicated to the war itself. The Rhine-Ruhr-area had an important role in the war as the “armoury of the German Empire”, which also meant enormous sacrifices and austerity. A field howitzer, the model of a warship, an enormous painting of a poison gas experiment, photographs of soldiers, field postcards and plaster- and wax-moulages from serious war injuries show the cruel side of the industrialized war. Life at the home front, where not only all men fit for military service, but also women and adolescent were mobilized for the “all-out war”, is shown, as well. The up to 3.5 meter tall nail figures are an example of the propaganda campaigns, which should justify the enormous losses, the famine and hardships.

The third floor of the exhibition so called “funnel level” focuses on the consequences of the war. Here its epochal effect is getting obvious. This refers especially to the Rhine-Ruhr-area, where the war did not end in 1918. The experience of violence, hunger and poverty left a mark on everyday’s life for a long time. With the general strike of the miners in 1919 and the “Ruhr-struggle” in 1920 the region evolved into a centre of the revolutionary movement. The “rote Ruhrarmee” was bloodily suppressed by troops of the government. Consequences of the war were the separatist efforts in the Rhineland and the Belgian-French occupation of the Ruhr-area in 1923. The emergence of technology, science, society, architecture, cinema, sports and politics is also a theme of the beginning modernity of the 1920s. But the society has changed: Charleston dresses embroidered with pearls and sequins in the Art Deco style, a car drivers coat for women, children’ s clothes as well as frock coat and “Stresemann” for the men make the visitors experience the transformed lifestyle of the Weimar republic.
The end of the exhibition refers to the next major catastrophe of the century: the Second World War, which can be seen as an extension of the first one, making it a period of war that began in 1914 and lasted about 30 years.

After visiting the exhibition we asked our young people to note the impact that the exhibition had on them or a part of the exhibition that spoke to them.

Reece - "In the museum we visited today we experienced the horrors of World War One from the perspective of German soldiers. The part of the museum that surprised me was the prosthetic works for amputated soldiers. Learning the events of the war through statistics so experiencing the horrors experienced by individuals was a surreal moment. This also created a breakthrough in medical science which further showed to me the implications of the war. We then learnt about the experience of those with amputations and how it impacted their individual lives".

Discussing the impact of the exhibition

Nick- "While looking at the museum in Essen one thing that stood out the most for me was the propaganda which the Germans used to promote the war and get people to join up, the most noticeable point which I found was the similarity between the British and Germans as they both used similar techniques for it. These main features would be the flag to symbolise patriotism for the nations and either a unified regiment working together or a singular soldier standing out compared to the rest. With the German propaganda it could easily be changed around a small amount and could be taken as English, this shows that things are he same for the most part on either side of the fight and that there is a lot of similarities between the two."

Tom: "The museum we visited today in Essen was very mind grabbing it gave us an insight in to German side of the world wars. It wasn't much different from the English museums the things that court my attention were the cloths and the propaganda posters,the clothes aren't any different to what you would have seen before the WW1. The propaganda posters were strong and bold posters they were direct they showed us how the German army was portrayed to be brave and willing to fight for anything,the poster that caught my eye was a snake rapped around the forearm of a German soldier this showed us the braveness of the soldiers and how they wouldn't back down from anything. The whole day and experience was a great opportunity for any one."

Propaganda poster
Matthew: "Today's trip to the Essen museum changed my view of the Great War completely. While I had originally believed that the English and German reasons for going to war were completely different, the museum showed me that, in fact the reasons were exactly the same. We both believed that it was a case of fighting for survival, maybe even more so for the German people, as they had only existed as a nation for around forty years.
I also felt more strongly about seeing old German news reals from the war, while watching this I began to feel more strongly about what I was viewing, I began to see how the Germans may have been firing at one of my relatives, this made finally feel a connection to the families of the solders during the Great War."          

At the end of the project the young people of Basildon, Meaux and Heiligenhaus will put together resources that will demonstrate their findings and what life was like in the towns during the War.

To find out more about Basildon Borough Heritage Groups World War 1 Commemorative project please contact Project Manger Lisa Smith at 

Sunday, 10 August 2014

Commemorative Cricket Match

On the 4th August 1914, members of the Wickford Cricket Club played what was unknown to them the last match they would ever play together. With war declared that evening, 10 of their players would sacrifice their lives between 1914-1918 on the battlefields of Europe.
The Basildon Borough Heritage Group organised a charity 20/20 cricket match between Wickford Cricket Club and a team of Basildon All Stars including Former Leader of Basildon Council – Tony Ball, Pole Vaulting Olympian Kevin Hughes and 2013 Junior International Sports Super Star Charlie Gerada to name but a few. 
The match took place on 4th August 2014 at 6pm at Wickford Cricket Club and aimed to raise funds to replace a commemorative plaque that was once located in the Cricket Club pavilion.
Former England selector Doug Insole was present to lend his support to the event.
Commenting on the cricket match, Project Manager Lisa Smith said: “100 years on it is vitally important that as a community we remember the sacrifice that men and women made during The Great War. The charity cricket match provides us with an opportunity to remember the bravery of the 1914 Wickford Cricket Club and we are delighted that so many local dignitaries have given up their time to commemorate this event”
The final score 199 Wickford Cricket Club, 101 Basildon All Stars.
Wickford Cricket Club Warming up
Basildon All Stars Warming up
Umpires -Graham Jellie – Ex Wanstead and Hutton Cricketer currently Sheppard and Neame umpire, also qualified cricket coach and Graham Smith – Local Cricketer and Sheppard and Neame Umpire
The Basildon All Stars - Tony Ball, Ken Porter, Kevin Blake, Kevin Hughes, Charlie Gerada, Alex Spooner, Chris Spooner, Rob Newson, Russell Dennis, Dean Smith, Trevor  Linahan and Steve Newman
John Potton -  Captain, Jack McCarthy, Liam Rouse, Greg Jerome, Lee Stace, Anthony McKenna, Sam Spooner, Ryan Carey, Jason Curnick, Josh Sloane and Dave Harrison
Doug Insole reads out the names of the fallen Wickford Cricket club team from 1914
And we are off!
Photographers at the ready
The Final score board
Doug Insole presented a commemorative medal to all the cricketers that took part, the umpires and the scorers
Twinning Chair person, Bob Sheridan presents Doug Insole with a commemorative medal as an appreciation for his support for The Great War Project.
The Basildon Borough Heritage Group recently received £50,600 from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) for an exciting project, Forget Never, Oublier Jamias, Vergessen Niemals, initiated by local MP Stephen Metcalfe and co-ordinated by The Basildon Borough Heritage Group in conjunction with Basildon Twinning. Linking with Basildon's Twin Towns, Meaux in France and Heiligenhaus in Germany, BBHG plans to deliver a series of commemorative projects discussing what life was like in the 3 towns between 1914 and 1918.
Through the planned events the BBHG aim to broaden people’s understanding of the war, to
commemorate and remember those that were caught up in it, to tell well known stories from fresh perspectives and to inspire and encourage learning in the years ahead.

If you would like to find out more information about our project please email Project Manager, Lisa Smith at :

Monday, 4 August 2014

Britain goes to War

August 4th 1914
On August 4th 1914 Great Britain declared war on Germany. It was a decision that is seen as the start of World War 1. Britain, led by Prime Minister Herbert Asquith, had given Germany an ultimatum to get out of Belgium by midnight of August 3rd. In fear of being surrounded by the might of Russia and France, Germany had put into being the Schlieffen Plan in response to the events that had occurred in Sarajevo in June 1914. By doing this, the German military hierarchy had doomed Belgium to an invasion. Belgium’s neutrality had been guaranteed by Great Britain as far back as 1839. The invasion of France is on.Great Britain protests in Berlin against German violation of Belgian treaty.
Germany says French meant to invade Belgian territory, and she must take measures of defence.  Violates Belgium at Gemmenich, early morning; burns Vise and attacks Liege.
Germany declares war on Belgium.
The British issue an ultimatum to Germany: withdraw all troops from Belgian soil by midnight or a state of war will exist between the two countries.
15.00 (CET) Chancellor Bethmann-Hollweg has not received the British ultimatum from Britain's man in Berlin when he rises to address the Reichstag. He begins with a step-by-step account of how he believes Germany has been forced into war against her will:
‘For 44 years, since the time we fought for and won the German empire and our position in the world, we have lived in peace and protected the peace of Europe. During this time of peace, we have become strong and powerful, arousing the envy of others.’

German chancellor Theobald von Bethmann-Hollweg
Crowds are beginning to gather outside the House of Commons waiting for news of the declaration
15.50 Asquith is telling the House about the Belgian King's request for assistance and the ultimatum received from the Germans.

16.05 The Prime Minister now tells MPs about Grey's communications with Belgium and Germany earlier in the day, which have culminated in the handing over of an ultimatum, expiring at midnight tonight

Bona and Philippeville (Algeria) bombarded by German cruisers "Goeben" and "Breslau".
Trieux, near Briey (France). taken by Germans.  Speech by M. Viviani.
 Sir Edward Grey wires to Sir E. Goschen telling him that unless satisfactory German assurances re: Belgian neutrality are forthcoming, he is to ask for his passports.
British mobilisation orders issued.
Sir John Jellicoe takes command of British Fleet.
Germany never responds to the the British ultimatum. Sir E. Goschen's interview with Chancellor in evening: The British Ambassador, Sir Edward Goschen, calls on Bethmann-Hollweg for the final time. The Chancellor tells the ambassador: "just for a scrap of paper 

“It was eleven o’clock at night – twelve by German time – when the ultimatum expired. Along the Mall from the direction of the Palace the sound of an immense concourse singing ‘God save the King’ flouted in. On this deep wave there broke the chimes of Big Ben; and, as the first stroke of the hour boomed out, a rustle of movement swept across the room. The war telegram, which meant, “Commence hostilities against Germany”, was flashed to the ships and establishments under the White Ensign all over the world. I walked across the Horse Guards Parade to the Cabinet room and reported to the Prime Minister and the Ministers who were assembled there that the deed was done.” Sir Winston Churchill.

While Churchill seemed to indicate that there was a general expectation for war in Britain, records show that this may not have been reciprocated in Germany. Kaiser Wilhelm II said as it became clear that Germany planned to invade France:

“With heavy heart I have been compelled to mobilise my army against a neighbour at whose side it has fought on many a battlefield. With genuine sorrow do I witness the end of a friendship, which Germany loyally cherished. We draw the sword with a clean conscience and clean hands.”

His views seemed to be supported by the Chancellor Bethmann Hollweg when he addressed the Reichstag on the day war was declared:

“Gentlemen, we are now in a state of necessity, and necessity knows no law! Our troops have occupied Luxemburg and perhaps are already on Belgium soil. Gentlemen, this is contrary to the dictates of international law. The wrong – I speak openly – that we are committing we will endeavour to make good as soon as our military goal has been reached. Anybody who is threatened, as we are threatened, and is fighting for his highest possessions can have only one thought – how he is to hack his way through.”

However, the concerns about international law as expressed by the Chancellor, were not shared by the German public. They seemed, as with their counterparts in London and Paris, to be actively enthusiastic about war. It is said that Bethmann Hollweg referred the treaty between Britain and Belgium as a “scrap of paper”. However, some question whether this was a literal translation as no one knows whether he referred to the Anglo-Belgium Treaty in German or in English and whether what he actually said was lost in translation. On the surface what Bethmann Hollweg said seemed to be at odds with his declaration to the Reichstag that Germany was breaking international law.   

In Britain, when Asquith addressed a packed House of Commons, he said:

“We have made a request to the German Government that we shall have a satisfactory assurance as to the Belgium neutrality before midnight tonight. The German reply to our request was unsatisfactory.”

Asquith explained that he had received a telegram from the German Ambassador in London who, in turn, had received one from the German Foreign Secretary. Officials in Berlin wanted the point pressed home that German forces went through Belgium to avoid the French doing so in an attack on Germany. Berlin had “absolutely unimpeachable information” that the French planned to attack the German Army via Belgium.

Asquith stated that the government could not “regard this in any sense a satisfactory communication.”

He continued:

“We have, in reply to it (the telegram), repeated the request we made last week to the German Government that they should give us the same assurance with regard to Belgium neutrality as was given to us and to Belgium by France last week. We have asked that a reply to that request and a satisfactory answer to the telegram of this morning, should be given before midnight.”

Nothing of the sort was received and the Foreign Office released this statement:

“Owing to the summary rejection by the German Government of the request made by His Majesty’s Government for assurances that the neutrality of Belgium would be respected, His Majesty’s Ambassador in Berlin has received his passport, and His Majesty’s Government has declared to the German Government that a state of war exists between Great Britain and Germany as from 11pm on August 4th.”

Information resourced from the following websites:

Sunday, 3 August 2014

Basildon’s Great War Project wins Heritage Lottery Fund support

The Basildon Borough Heritage Group has received £50,600 from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) for an exciting project, Forget Never, Oublier Jamias, Vergessen Niemals.

The Forget Never, Oublier Jamais, Vergessen Niemals is a project initiated by local MP Stephen Metcalfe and co-ordinated by The Basildon Borough Heritage Group in conjunction with Basildon Twinning. Linking with Basildon's Twin Towns, Meaux in France and Heiligenhaus in Germany, BBHG plans to deliver a series of commemorative projects discussing what life was like in the 3 towns between 1914 and 1918.
Bob Sheridan, Twinning Town Coordinator and Jo Cullen from Basildon Borough Heritage Group showing Simon Hobley, Development Manager of HLF East of England, our Roll of Honour folders.

Front row - Romane Lecroix - visiting from Meaux, Richard llewelyn - Basildon Twinning, Simon Hobley - HLF, Stephen Metcalfe,MP, Lisa Smith - Project Manager
Back row - Jo Cullen - BBHG, Denise Rowling- BBHG, Tony Ball - ex Basildon Council Leader and Ken Porter Chair of BBHG
The project will enable the local community to engage in a range of projects including a re-enactment of the 1914 Wickford Cricket Match on the eve of war, a young persons conference in Germany, exhibition of locally produced World War 1 displays, a Christmas Concert and re-enactment of the famous Boxing Day football match in France.
The main thrust of our work, however, will be an exhibition that will be mobile. We are asking residents of the three towns to explore what their town was like in 1914. It is important that we all value that populations from England, Germany and France were affected by the conflict and that as a result of the War our societies changed forever. The exhibition will involve photographs, letters, artefacts, historical research based on many different subjects, art and writings reflecting opinions and thoughts as well as factual information.
Volunteers, the local community and staff will have the opportunity to research the history of local residents who lived, fought and died during the war, learning exciting new tales of bravery, comradeship and sacrifice.
Throughout the project there will be the opportunity to engage with a range of interactive presentations and projects. Findings from the projects will be documented through film, photography, art and documented research and be presented to local community groups and schools by volunteers and young people involved in the project.
Basildon Borough Heritage Group believes that our culture and heritage is central to a sustainable community. Through exploring, researching and archiving the history of the Borough, we preserve our past for the enjoyment, interest and future of the local community.
Through the planned events the BBHG aim to broaden peoples understanding of the war, to commemorate and remember those that were caught up in it, to tell well known stories from fresh perspectives and to inspire and encourage learning in the years ahead.
Toasting the project
Commenting on the award, Stephen Metcalfe MP said: I am delighted that the Heritage Lottery Fund has recognized the unique nature of this project and I am confident that we will create something to provide a lasting legacy to commemorate the historic events of a hundred years ago."
Stuart Hobley, Development Manager for HLF East of England said:
“The impact of the First World War was far reaching, touching and shaping every corner of the UK and beyond. The Heritage Lottery Fund has already invested more than £57million in projects – large and small - that are marking this Centenary. This project is exemplary in the activities it has planned to involve local communities on both sides of the channel in exploring what the conflict meant to them. By recreating key events and documenting research through exciting, interactive film and photography projects there will be many opportunities for people of all ages to look back to the past while creating a legacy for the future. 

About Basildon Borough Heritage Group

Basildon Borough Heritage Group is a group of like minded volunteers who believe that our culture and heritage is central to a sustainable community. we aim to preserve our past for the enjoyment, interest and benefit of future generations of Basildonians. We do this by: collecting memories from people who have lived in the area for a long time, collect photographs and other keep sakes to be used at the various, exhibitions we hold in libraries and other venues around Basildon and giving talks to joins interested in local history.

About the Heritage Lottery Fund

Using money raised through the National Lottery, the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) aims to make a lasting difference for heritage, people and communities across the UK and help build a resilient heritage economy. From museums, parks and historic places to archaeology, natural environment and cultural traditions, we invest in every part of our diverse heritage. HLF has supported over 36,000 projects with more than £5.9bn across the UK.

The lights start to go out

August 3rd 1914
On August 3, Germany declared war on France, and on Belgium on August 4. This act violated Belgian neutrality, the status to which Germany, France, and Britain were all committed by treaty. It was inconceivable that Great Britain would remain neutral if Germany declared war on France; German violation of Belgian neutrality provided the casus belli.

Crowds in the streets of Berlin following the declaration of war against Russia
7am: The Belgian Council of State had broken from its deliberations at 4am. Viscomte Julien Davignon, the Foreign Minister, gave his political secretary, Baron de Gaiffier, Belgium's reply to Germany's ultimatum of the evening before, which he handed to Walter von Below-Saleske at the German Legation. Germany's proposed attack on Belgium's independence, it said, 'constitutes a flagrant violation of international law'.
The Belgian government, if it were to accept the proposals submitted, would sacrifice the honour of the nation and betray at the same time their duties towards Europe.
11am: In London, Asquith's Cabinet met. Despite the progress of the day before, there were now four ministers on the verge of resigning over Britain's possible intervention - John Burns, John Simon, Lord Beauchamp and John Morley. Discussion continued for three hours over the statement that Sir Edward Grey, Foreign Secretary, would make when he addressed the House of Commons that afternoon.
The Cabinet was very moving. Most of us could hardly speak at all for emotion.
- Herbert Samuel, President of the Local Government Board
Sir Edward Grey
2pm: Grey found Prince Lichnowsky, the German ambassador, waiting for him at the Foreign Office, anxious to know if the Cabinet had decided on a declaration of war. Grey told him they had a 'statement of conditions'.
In the House, the Speaker took his chair at 2.45pm. The bank rate had soared in previous days and there had been queues of people wanting to exchange paper notes for gold. Lloyd George, Chancellor of the Exchequer, began the business of the day by introducing a Bill to suspend temporarily 'the payment of bills of exchange and payments in pursuance of other obligations’. He then said the City had asked for the bank holiday to be extended by three days. He agreed and said an Order in Council to that effect would be issued that afternoon.
Shortly after, Asquith entered the chamber to cheers and explained that the bank holiday applied only to banks and not to other industries.
Then it was then Grey’s moment. He began by explaining the background to the crisis, a dispute between Austria and Serbia in which France had become involved because of its alliance with Russia. Britain had a friendship with France - the Entente Cordiale conceived in 1904.
A crowd gathers outside Downing Street during the escalating international crisis
Grey had told the French ambassador, he explained to the House, that if there were an attack on France's coast, she would have the support of the Royal Navy. He explained, too, that Britain had asked both France and Germany whether they would respect Belgian neutrality, in accordance with the Treaty of London of 1839; France had said yes, Germany had declined to answer. And now Belgium was threatened with an ultimatum by Germany, and Britain had 'great and vital interests in the independence... of Belgium'.
4.30pm: Grey had spoken for almost an hour, and was nearing his conclusion:
We are going to suffer, I am afraid, terribly in this war, whether we are in it or whether we stand aside.... It may be said, I suppose, that we might stand aside, husband our strength, and, whatever happened in the course of this war, at the end of it intervene with effect to put things right and to adjust them to our point of view. If, in a crisis like this, we run away from those obligations of honour and interest as regards the Belgian treaty, I doubt whether, whatever material force, we might have at the end, it would be of very much value in face of the respect that we should have lost – [cheers] – and I do not believe, whether a Great Power stands outside this war or not, it is going to be in a position at the end of this war to exert its material strength [Hear, hear].
Sir Edward Grey, addressing the House of Commons
4.40pm: Other members rose to speak after Grey. Predictably, some Liberal and Labour MPs spoke against intervention, Conservatives were mostly in favour. But the previously anti-interventionist Liberal Christopher Addison noted that Grey's speech 'satisfied, I think, all the House, with perhaps three or four exceptions, that we were compelled to participate'.

5pm: Grey returned to the Foreign Office and was cheered by his staff. But in his office, Sir Arthur Nicolson, Permanent Under-Secretary of State, found Grey morose. 'I hate war, I hate war,' he said, banging his fists on his desk.
Prince Lichnowsky, German ambassador in London, took Grey's speech to be an indication that Britain still hoped to remain neutral.
6pm: After alleging that the French had crossed into German territory and had also violated Belgian neutrality, Germany sent its ambassador in Paris, Baron Schoen, to deliver a declaration of war to the French premier Rene Viviani
It is a hundred times better that we were not led to declare war ourselves... It was imperative that Germany, fully responsible for the aggression, should be forced to admit her interests publicly. If France had declared war, the alliance with Russia would have become controversial and French unity and spirit [would have been] broken, and Italy might have been obliged by the Triple Alliance to come in against France.
President Raymond Poincaré, in his diary
A declaration and a mobilisation: how The Daily Telegraph reported the latest developments

7.30pm: The Cabinet met again in London and agreed that Germany must withdraw its ultimatum to Belgium. Afterwards, Grey told Paul Cambon, the French ambassador, that if the Germans did not back down, 'it will be war'.
Later that evening, Grey looked out of his window on to St James's Park, where the gas lamps were being lit. Though he could not recall saying the words later, he made his famous remark:
The lamps are going out all over Europe; we shall not see them lit again in our lifetime.
Sir Edward Grey, Foreign Secretary 

Information resourced from the following sites:

Saturday, 2 August 2014

37 Day Count Down to War - Day 37

August 2nd 1914
On August 2, Germany occupied Luxembourg as a preliminary step to the invasion of Belgium and implementation of the Schlieffen Plan. 
With troops invading Luxenbourg, France has also been entered at four points. A patrol kill French soldiers 10 km over the frontier near Belfort.
Poland invaded by Germans, who occupy Kalish, Chenstokhov and Bendzin.
East Prussia entered by Russian raiders near Schwidden.
Libau bombarded by German light cruiser "Augsburg".
German Note to Belgium, 7 p.m. alleging that Germany must violate her soil in order to "anticipate" the French attack in Belgium; demands that latter should remain passive; answer required in 12 hours.
Austria-Hungary was at war with Serbia. Germany had declared war on Russia the day before and had entered Luxembourg as a preliminary to a likely invasion of Belgium and France. Although France and Belgium had mobilised, neither they nor Britain were yet involved in the conflict

On August 2nd, the British government promised that the Royal Navy would protect France’s coast from German attack. The British Foreign Secretary Edward Grey gave Britain's firm assurance of protecting France with its navy to French Ambassador Paul Cambon. Cambon's account stated: "I felt the battle was won. Everything was settled. In truth a great country does not wage war by halves. Once it decided to fight the war at sea it would necessarily be led into fighting it on land as well."Within the British Cabinet, the widespread feeling that Germany would soon violate Belgium’s neutrality and destroy France as a power led to the increasing acceptance that Britain would be forced to intervene.
Paul Cambon
1.45pm: After the meeting Grey took a walk around London Zoo. Asquith and his wife Margot saw the German ambassador Prince Lichnowsky and his wife Mechtilde. The Anglophile prince, who had been awarded an honorary degree at Oxford earlier in the summer, was clearly distressed at the way events were unfolding, as was his wife.
 To think that we should bring such sorrows to an innocent, happy people! I have always hated and loathed our Kaiser – have I not said so a thousand times, dear little Margot. He and his friends are all brutes!
Princess Mechtilde Lichnowsky, wife of the German ambassador in London, to Margot Asquith, Margot Asquith’s Great War Diary 1914-1916

Despite the gravity of the crisis, Asquith's thoughts still flitted to young Venetia Stanley, on whom he was fixated. He had hoped to spend the weekend with her but events had determined otherwise.
 I got no letter from you this morning, which is the saddest blank in my day.
Asquith, in a letter to Venetia Stanley, August 2

The women in Asquith's life: his wife Margot (left) and Venetia Stanley (right) 

A German ultimatum was delivered, this time to Belgium on August 2, requesting free passage for the German army on the way to France. King Albert of Belgium refused the German request to violate his country’s neutrality. 

Moratorium proclaimed in England - Germany and Turkey sign a secret treaty of alliance and Italy declares neutrality. 

Information resourced from the following sites:

Friday, 1 August 2014

37 Day Count Down to War - Day 36

August 1st 1914
On August 1st 1914, a British offer to guarantee French neutrality was sent out and promptly accepted by Wilhelm. At 4:23 p.m. a telegram from the German Ambassador to Britain arrived with a planned British proposal to guarantee the neutrality of France and thus limit the war to one fought in the east. Wilhelm then ordered German forces to strike against Russia alone, leading to fierce protests from Moltke that it was not technically possible for Germany to do so as the bulk of the German forces were already advancing into Luxembourg and Belgium. Wilhelm immediately accepted the proposal by telegrams at the ambassadorial and royal levels." In keeping with this decision, Wilhelm II demanded his generals shift the mobilisation to the east. Helmuth von Moltke (the younger) the German Chief of General Staff, told him that this was impossible, to which the Kaiser replied

 "Your uncle would have given me a different answer! Instead, it was decided to mobilize as planned and cancel the planned invasion of Luxembourg. Once mobilisation was complete, the army would redeploy to the east.

In response to Wilhelm’s order, a dejected Moltke complained that “Now, it only remains for Russia to back out, too.” Moltke then proceeded to persuade the Emperor to continue the advance for “technical reasons”.
In Berlin, Bethmann Hollweg announced that Germany had mobilised and delivered an ultimatum to France telling that country to renounce its alliance with Russia or face a German attack. In response to reports of German troops invading Luxembourg and Belgium plus the German ultimatum, French mobilisation was authorised on August 1st. On the afternoon of August 1st, Wilhelm signed the mobilisation order. Bethmann Hollweg was angry with Moltke for having Wilhelm sign the orders without informing him first. By 7:00 pm of August 1st, German troops invaded Luxemburg.
Signed declaration of war by Germany 
Also on 1st August, Germany declared war on Russia. When presenting his declaration of war, the German Ambassador accidentally gave the Russians both copies of the declaration of war, one which claimed that Russia refused to reply to Germany and the other that said Russia’s replies were unacceptable. Grey warned Lichnowsky that if Germany invaded Belgium, Britain would go to war
French mobilisation ordered 3.40 p.m.
Tsar wires to King George V that he had to mobilise on account of Serbia; but that though he had promised Kaiser he would not move troops during negotiations, Germany had suddenly declared war.
Austria at last moment appears accommodating to England.
Italy declines to take part in war, as being an aggressive one.
Sir Edward Grey protests against detention of British ships in Hamburg. At 1pm Asquith’s Cabinet had been in no mood for war, but three days before had ordered preliminary mobilisation of the Royal Navy. Winston Churchill, First Lord of the Admiralty, now argued for full mobilisation. John Morley, president of the Board of Trade, and John Simon, Attorney General, led those opposed, saying Britain should not go to war at all.
Herbert Samuel, President of the Local Government Board, emphasised that their decision depended on whether Germany violated Belgian independence or attacked the northern coast of France. During the meeting, Churchill passed notes to Lloyd George, Chancellor of the Exchequer, attempting to win him round.
4pm In France, the order for mobilisation was issued, though President Poincaré said it was a precaution and that a peaceful outcome might still be attainable. Posters appeared on the streets of Paris: MOBILISATION GENERALE. LE PREMIER JOUR DE LA MOBILISATION EST LE DIMANCHE 2 AOUT
Sir Edward Grey will arrange to see Prince Lichnowsky early tomorrow to ascertain whether there is a misunderstanding on his part.
George V’s telegram to the Kaiser
10.30pm Crowds were pouring on to the streets of St Petersburg. In Paris, the area around the Gare de l’Est was filling with reservists responding to the mobilisation order. In Berlin, the Kaiser – still hoping for peace with Britain – sent a message to his cousin Tsar Nicholas. He said mobilisation had proceeded because Russia had not responded to Germany’s request and that Russian troops should not be allowed to cross the frontier.
11pm George V’s telegram arrived in Berlin. The Kaiser showed the reply to Moltke, with the words: ‘Now you can do what you want’.
In Britain, it was the first day of a bank holiday weekend but holidaymakers were no longer thinking about foreign resorts; the urgent need now was to get home, as the crisis grew. The next morning's Daily Telegraph reported the arrival of the late boat train from Ostend: passengers were telling tales of 'panic' abroad and of their relief at returning to the 'dear old country'
Belgium announces her intention of upholding her neutrality.

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