Header Copy

Covering the villages of Wilsden and Harecroft
8th September - 14th September 1914

This Week in 1914

With German patrols only 8 miles from Paris, with the government fled to Bordeaux, and Belgian refugees flooding the city, General Gallieni, the military governor of Paris, issues the following proclamation;

“I have received the order to defend Paris against the invader. This order I shall fulfil to the end”


Battle of the Marne, 5th September – 12th September

On the 2nd of September, the retreating British army reached the River Marne, which they crossed, blowing up the bridges behind them, and then dug in. French intelligence had intercepted and killed a German staff officer, and the information they obtained allowed a counter-attack to be planned. It came on the 5th of September, where the British and French armies managed to turn their long retreat into an attack. On September 9th the German army was forced back across the Marne. It ended the German hopes of a swift decisive victory over France, allowing them to concentrate on defeating Russia to the east, had been dashed completely.

3rd September – In Rome, Cardinal Giacomo della Chiesa is elected as Pope Benedict XV

3rd September – HMS Pathfinder is sunk by U-21 in the North Sea, becoming the first ship to succumb to torpedoes. 259 Sailors were killed

In the opening weeks of the war, the 10,000 strong French Foreign Legion, based in North Africa, is overwhelmed by applications to join and fight in Europe. In the seven months from the outbreak of war, 32,000 non-Frenchmen enlisted, including over one thousand Germans, who would go on to fight against Germany. The recruits also included more than one-hundred Americans, “including a Columbia Professor … a preacher from Georgia, a pro gambler from Missouri, a former light-weight prize fighter, two dusky gentlemen, one from Louisiana and one from Ceylon, [and] a couple of hard guys from the Gopher Gang of Lower New York”

8th September - 14th September 1914

- The first appearance of this iconic image was on this cover of London Opinion magazine, 5th September 1914


Sources

Gilbert, M First World War

Keighley News Archives (accessed via Bradford libraries website)

Askwith, R (ed.) A History of the Great War in 100 Moments

25th August - 31st August 1914

This Week in 1914

28th August – During a naval battle at Heligoland Bight, in the mouth of the River Elbe, three German Cruisers were sunk and another three destroyed by the Royal Navy, with the loss of seven hundred German sailors. The danger of a German invasion of Britain had been dramatically reduced, and British Naval superiority had been confirmed.

29th August – New Zealand troops occupied the colony of Samoa; the German governor surrendered

31st August – The Russian city of St. Petersburg is renamed Petrograd

The Retreat from Mons, 25th August – 7th September

After the heavy losses incurred after the Battle of Mons across the 23rd-24th August, the depleted British Expeditionary Force, as well as divisions of the French army, spent the next ten days falling back across France, fighting a number of rearguard actions against the advancing German forces, such as an engagement at Le Câteau, just south of Mons, on the 26th of August. Whilst the defensive actions were generally successful, the retreat was at times a rout – Corporal Bernard Denmore of the 1st Battalion Royal Berkshire Regiment wrote in his (illegally kept) diary of men “discarding their equipment in a wholesale fashion, in spite of orders to the contrary”. British soldiers marched for hours without sleep – “the men stumbling along more like ghosts than living soldiers”. Reports of the fragmented and battered state of the BEF reached London on the 30th of August, and “broke like a thunderclap on a blissfully confident nation that had been awaiting news of famous victories, and it created consternation in a Cabinet that was already alarmed by its lack of hard news from the Front”.

25th August - 31st August 1914
- Keighley News, 29th August 1914


Sources

Gilbert, M First World War

Keighley News Archives (accessed via Bradford libraries website)

Askwith, R (ed.) A History of the Great War in 100 Moments



18th August - 24th August 1914

This Week in 1914

20th August – French forces suffer a severe defeat at Morhange, forcing the entire French Second Army to fall back before the advancing German forces. The day after, seven French soldiers, left behind in the retreat, were executed by German soldiers after they had surrendered. It was one of many atrocities committed by German troops as they advanced across Belgium, but one of the few that would lead to a War Crimes trial after the war[1].

20th August – Brussels falls to the German army, the first European Capital to be occupied since the fall of Paris in 1870. Edith Cavell, British head of the Nursing College in Brussels, writes that some of the German soldiers were “very vague as to their whereabouts and imagined they were already in Paris; they were surprised to be speaking to Belgians and could not understand what quarrel they had with them”.

21st August – Private John Parr, a bicycle scout from the 4th Battalion of the Middlesex Regiment, became the first British Empire casualty of the First World War. As the British army moved into Southern Belgium, Parr’s unit ran into a German reconnaissance party. Parr dismounted to cover his unit’s retreat, and was not heard from again. Due to bureaucratic confusion, it was not until 1919 that his death was finally confirmed by members of his unit. He is now buried in Saint Symphorien Cemetery near Mons – where, in a strange twist of fate, he is buried opposite Private George Ellison, killed about 9.30am on the 11th of November 1918. The first and last British combat casualties of the First World War are buried only seven feet from each other – their ‘first and last’ status was unknown when they were buried.

23rd August – Japan declares war on Germany, in part due to tensions resulting from Germany’s aggressive policy of expansion in the Pacific island chains.

18th August - 24th August 1914

- Keighley News, 18th August 1914

The Battle of Mons, 23rd-24th August

The Battle of Mons was the first major engagement for the British Expeditionary Force (BEF) in France. It was a severe defeat for the newly arrived and heavily outnumbered BEF, and they took severe casualties. However, they also inflicted heavy losses on the German 1st Army attacking them. Some German units, advancing towards the BEF’s positions, believed they were opposed by full machine-gun batteries, so fast was the rate of rifle fire from the professional British soldiers[1]. However, highly accurate German artillery fire and relentless pressure from the infantry soon forced the BEF and French forces back from their positions around the Mons-Condé canal and into a retreat back across France.

18th August - 24th August 1914

- 4th Battalion, Royal Fusiliers, resting in the town square at Mons before moving into position along the Mons-Condé canal (Image via Wikimedia commons)

 

[1] Actually, the British Army had 2 machine-guns per company


Sources

Gilbert, M First World War

Keighley News Archives (accessed via Bradford libraries website)

Askwith, R (ed.) A History of the Great War in 100 Moments

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:4th_Bn_Royal_Fusiliers_22_August_1914.jpg

Simkins, P, Jukes, G & Hickey, M The First World War: The War to End All Wars