NOTHING NEW UNDER THE SUN (ALMOST)
4th August, 1914 : Britain’s declaration of war against Germany sent cheering crowds surging through London, to gather in Downing Street and outside Buckingham Palace, singing the national anthem. In the House of Commons, Herbert Asquith, the Prime Minister, was loudly cheered as he gave MPs details of the ultimatum calling on Germany to respect the neutrality of Belgium, guaranteed by Britain, Germany and France in the treaty of 1839. But the Kaiser has already dismissed this treaty as a mere “scrap of paper”.
Three of Mr Asquith’s Ministers have resigned, including John Burns, the only Labour man in the Liberal Government.
Field Marshal Sir John French, who will command the British Expeditionary Force, has a high regard for the French Army with its tradition of offensive elan and he has been heard to express the opinion that the war will be over by Christmas. It is a view shared by many, though fiercely opposed by Lord Kitchener, the newly appointed Secretary for War, who believes the struggle will be a long one; he intends to mount a campaign for at least 100,000 volunteers for a new army.