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Remembered Today:

Public reaction to declaration of war


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Mike Donoghue

Could someone help me out by painting a picture of what it would have been like on the streets in London on Wednesday morning of Aug. 5. I read in a previous post about patriotic marching and singing in my own country of Canada as early as the previous evening. Did most people learn of the declaration by reading it in the papers? Was 'The Times a morning paper then? I've seen the articles in the Times and imagine my grandfather reading the 'Notice to Regualr Reservists' calling him back to regualar duty.

I've tried using the search feature to find past posts but haven't had much luck with it. Any redirection would also be welcomed.

Thank you very much for your help, it's greatly appreciated.

Mike

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The crisis developed over a Bank Holiday Weekend with Monday the 3rd being the actual holiday, so there was much excitement in the streets. People would have known of the crisis through Sunday papers. The bank holiday was extended for several days which stopped any panic runs. People who had hoped to take a cheap train excursion found a shortage of trains. They were being requisitioned for mobilisation. Telegrams to recall reserves were sent on the Monday. The Times was a daily paper then as now. Not the paper of choice for the majority. There were several more popular papers. Express, Manchester Guardian, Telegraph etc. Quite a few books describe the scene. The one I picked up was Barbara Tuchman's " Guns of August".

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Mike Donoghue
The crisis developed over a Bank Holiday Weekend with Monday the 3rd being the actual holiday, so there was much excitement in the streets. People would have known of the crisis through Sunday papers. The bank holiday was extended for several days which stopped any panic runs. People who had hoped to take a cheap train excursion found a shortage of trains. They were being requisitioned for mobilisation. Telegrams to recall reserves were sent on the Monday. The Times was a daily paper then as now. Not the paper of choice for the majority. There were several more popular papers. Express, Manchester Guardian, Telegraph etc. Quite a few books describe the scene. The one I picked up was Barbara Tuchman's " Guns of August".

Thanks Tom. Then most reservists would have received telegrams before the 4th, or a recall in the papers? I'll try to track down your reading suggestion.

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At Speakers Corner - "The most prolific speakers of this era were Bob Ambridge, the idiosyncratic Sammy Cash, Solomon Goldstein (remembered by those in the Party as a particularly able exponent of Marxian economics), Clifford Groves, Sid Rubin and the grizzled old Canadian orator Charlie Lestor – all of them hugely capable outdoor speakers, though Tony Turner, with his deep rasping voice and thunderous delivery, was the most remarkable of all. Turner’s greatest moment was on the day war broke out, when in Hyde Park he took and held a crowd of ten thousand or more as he railed against the impending imperialist slaughter."

I'd take ten thousand or more with a drum of salt - the extract comes from Global Socialism a somewhat left wing publication - but there probably was a crowd

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Mike Donoghue
At Speakers Corner - "The most prolific speakers of this era were Bob Ambridge, the idiosyncratic Sammy Cash, Solomon Goldstein (remembered by those in the Party as a particularly able exponent of Marxian economics), Clifford Groves, Sid Rubin and the grizzled old Canadian orator Charlie Lestor – all of them hugely capable outdoor speakers, though Tony Turner, with his deep rasping voice and thunderous delivery, was the most remarkable of all. Turner’s greatest moment was on the day war broke out, when in Hyde Park he took and held a crowd of ten thousand or more as he railed against the impending imperialist slaughter."

I'd take ten thousand or more with a drum of salt - the extract comes from Global Socialism a somewhat left wing publication - but there probably was a crowd

Thank you Centurion for your comments. Though I cannot attest to your own vocal prowess, I do appreciate your descriptive command of the written word.

Mike

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In Coventry, the news of the declaration of war was received around 1 am, having reached the town via the railway. It came as no suprise however, with several hundreds of people already gathered in the city centre, apparently in anticipation of the announcement. The local newspaper noted that the town centre was normally deserted at that hour. As the news filtered through, the crowds outside the Opera House, started to cheer and the national anthem was sung.

I would add a note of caution here though . Just a couple of days before, an estimated 100,00 Socialists demonstrated in Trafalgar Square against a war with Germany, on the grounds that the war was not started by the working classes of either country, but was going to be fought by them. Why should they fight with fellow socialists with with whom the had no quarrel, they argued. At the same time, some 60 Oxbridge academics sent a letter to the Times also arguing against the impending war. They argued that Germany was a cultured and civilised country who led the way in the Arts and Sciences. How quickly views changed, or at least were subdued, in the following days.

TR

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In Coventry, the news of the declaration of war was received around 1 am, having reached the town via the railway. It came as no suprise however, with several hundreds of people already gathered in the city centre, apparently in anticipation of the announcement. The local newspaper noted that the town centre was normally deserted at that hour. As the news filtered through, the crowds outside the Opera House, started to cheer and the national anthem was sung.

I would add a note of caution here though . Just a couple of days before, an estimated 100,00 Socialists demonstrated in Trafalgar Square against a war with Germany, on the grounds that the war was not started by the working classes of either country, but was going to be fought by them. Why should they fight with fellow socialists with with whom the had no quarrel, they argued. At the same time, some 60 Oxbridge academics sent a letter to the Times also arguing against the impending war. They argued that Germany was a cultured and civilised country who led the way in the Arts and Sciences. How quickly views changed, or at least were subdued, in the following days.

TR

See my post no 4

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Mike Donoghue

Thanks Terry, for the information. One quick question for anyone ... Tom mentioned, 'The bank holiday was extended for several days which stopped any panic runs.' Does that mean only the banks were closed or did everyone stay home from work for those days? Sorry I'm not familiar with who benifits from a 'Bank Holiday'.

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Thanks Terry, for the information. One quick question for anyone ... Tom mentioned, 'The bank holiday was extended for several days which stopped any panic runs.' Does that mean only the banks were closed or did everyone stay home from work for those days? Sorry I'm not familiar with who benifits from a 'Bank Holiday'.

Normally a bank holiday everybody but essential workers are off but in this case after the first day everybody but the bankers had to go to work (and I imagine the bankers did too but the banks stayed shut for normal business)

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Wonder what the reactions were in Germany where they went to war in stages, one day Russia, the Belgium, then France and lastly Britain.

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Mike Donoghue
Wonder what the reactions were in Germany where they went to war in stages, one day Russia, the Belgium, then France and lastly Britain.

Sadly ... War, to a degree, is great for all levels of buisness!

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  • 3 weeks later...
MichaelBully

Hi Mike

What I have read so far suggests that there were misgivings about going to war at the London Stock Exchange .

It could also be said that 'war is good for Trade Unionism ' in the sense that organised workers get more rights when labour is in demand due to men leaving for the 'Front !

A previous thread about MPs opposed to the War did veer towards how people responded to the outbreak of war.

 

Niall Ferguson 'The Pity of War' -chapter 'The August Days- The Myth of War Enthusiasm' might be worth consulting.

Regards

Michael Bully

Mike Donoghue said:
Sadly ... War, to a degree, is great for all levels of buisness!
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