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acarrick

How quickly did news travel in 1914?

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acarrick

I'm wondering how quickly people say up in Yorkshire here would have got to know about the declaration of war, since there was no radio and TV of course. I'm guessing the telephone network wasn't wide either, so newspapers were the medium of choice which presumably meant maybe a day's time lag?

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Ian Riley

Andrew,

I would doubt that the lag was much more than a couple of hours at most. I haven't checked 'Instructions for Mobilisation' (or whatever they are called (I have lent my copy to somebody at the moment) but orders would have already been passed by telegram to Territorial units and regular units in the days preceding the actual declaration of war, recall notices to reservists would have been issued by telegram and, through notices posted in public places, mobilisation would have been public knowledge. I would be very surprised if the Yorkshire Evening Post, the Huddersfield Examiner, the Bradford Argus or their possible antecedents did not have special editions on the streets within hours of the official time of the declaration of war. I realise that this is not based on evidence but the speed of the telegraph and telegram was quite impressive. I have seen the terminals of the telegraph apparatus in a private house in Liverpool that was reputedly used to keep Gladstone (a regular house guest) in touch with London in the 1890s (or so the latter-day owners claimed in the 1950s).

I doubt whether the various provincial exchanges (Stock, cotton, corn, wool etc) would have allowed themselves to be very much behind London (and I mean no more than a couple of minutes) and news would have spread quickly from there.

My Ward Lock travel guides (quick click) for the 1910s and 1900s list the opening times for local telegraph offices and they frequently included Sundays. If Lloyd George could occasionally run the country from Criccieth deep into North Wales where urgent telegrams, I am told, were displayed in the telegraph office window ("LLG, proceed Londonwards soonest, abandonmost wife, lovemost, Popsy" ... I made that up but it would doubtless have caused some gossip on Criccieth High Street had it been in the Post office window if they had been unable to delivever at Bryn Awel), the speed of communication cannot have been too bad.

Ian

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jon_armstrong

"...my elders sat in the billiard-room, tense and doing nothing, just waiting for midnight when the ultimatum to Germany was due to expire. There was, naturally, no radio to turn on for the news and as the time approached someone rose and went down to [Alderley Edge] post office to read the telegram stuck up in the window and announcing the German decision."

Katharine Chorley, "Manchester Made Them", 1950.

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dycer

From a Scots TF Soldier's memoirs.

"About mid-July the Company went to camp at Stobs,where there were rumours of war but we came home.

On the 4th of August war was declared and my call up papers came through the post.It read=Embodiment Notice to Join.4585 Boy J.M.Marchbank,8th Royal Scots.The Army Council,in pursuance of His Majesty's Proclamation,has directed you to attend for enlistment immediately.Bring rations and fuel light to last 24 hours."

George

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jhill

Although there was no television or radio, the advent of the telegraphic wire services meant that news was available almost instantaineously. This is a snippet of the Edmonton Bulletin of August 5th describing the situation the previous evening at 8 o'clock, when news of the declaration of war between Britain and Germany became known. Note that although Britain did not actually declare war until midnight, the delay was not great given the seven time zone distance. However, the previous days provided a continuous coverage of all the diplomatic to-ings and fro-ings and the result was expected.

In those days crowds gathered around the newspaper offices since these were the places which had the latest wires. Often, the newspapers would post the latest wires outside for the the crowd to see.

post-75-1272334408.jpg

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acarrick

Thanks everyone for the info. Very interesting.

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per ardua per mare per terram

... so newspapers were the medium of choice which presumably meant maybe a day's time lag?

I think you are under estimating both the newsgathering ability of local newspapers (and there were several in Hull at this time all competing against each other) and the speed with which they could produce a special edition or at the very least insert a stop press. War was declared at 11pm so they had time to "hold the front page."

It would not have come as a great surprise in Hull anyeay as the Navy had already mobilised, which would have affected men in Hull.

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Tyrim

Newspapers had their own telegraphers to copy information from the wire services. Once the information was in the newspaper office it got out on the street pretty quickly. There were multiple editions of a paper during the day, with morning, afternoon and evening editons common. Big news would result in an extra edition being printed and distributed. Remember from the old films, "Extry, extry, read all about it!!!"

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