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In 1914, the Henley Standard was known as 'The Henley and South Oxfordshire Standard'. Here we bring you excerpts from our extensive archive of news, views, anecdotes and much-needed humour published during World War One.
Publication date: 7th August 1914

THE declaration was made by Great Britain at seven o'clock on Tuesday night, following the summary rejection by Germany of a British ultimatum to which an answer was demanded by midnight.

Great Britain's action followed promptly upon Germany's declaration of war upon France and Belgium and the receipt of official news that the German troops had invaded Belgium territory.

Germany, in alliance with Austria-Hungary, is now at war with Great Britian, France, Russia and Belgium, while Austria is at war with Servin. Proclamations of war were signed at Buckingham Palace at a meeting of the Privy Council on Tuesday night.


On Tuesday in the House of Commons Mr. Asquith made the announcement thatn an ultimatum with respect to the neutrality of Belgium had been presented to Germany. Mr Asquith, who was received with general cheers, said:

"In conformity with the statement of policy which was made by my right honourable friend the Foreign Secretary yesterday, a telegram was sent early this morning by him to our Ambassador in Berlin. It was to this effect:

The King of the Belgians has made an appeal to his Majesty the King for diplomatic intervention on behalf of Belgium. His Majesty's Government are also informed that the German Government has delivered to the Belgian Government a Note proposing friendly neutrality for maintaining a free passage through Belgian territory, and promising to maintain the independence and integrity of the kingdom and its possessions at the conclusion of peace, but threatening in case of refusal to treat Belgium as an enemy. An answer was requested within twelve hours. We also understand Belgium has categorically refused this as a flagrant violation of the laws of nations. His Majesty's Government are bound to protest against this violation of a treaty to which Germany is a party in common with us, and must request an assurance that the demand made upon Belgium will not be proceeded with and that her neutrality shall be respected by Germany.

We asked form immediate reply.”


“We received this morning from our Minister at Brussels the following telegram: The German Minister has this morning addressed a Note to the Belgian Minister for Foreign Affairs stating that, as the Belgian Government had declined the well intentioned proposals submitted to them by the Imperial Government, the latter, deeply to their regret, is compelled to carry out, if necessary by force of arms, the measures considered indispensable in view of the French menace.” “Simultaneously, or almost immediately afterwards, we received from the Belgian Legation here in London the following telegram from the Belgian Minister for Foreign Affairs: General Staff announce that territory has been violated at Gemmenich, near Aix-la-Chapelle. Subsequent information tends to show that German force has penetrated still further into Belgian Territory.


“We also received this morning from the German Ambassador here a telegram sent to him by the German Foreign Secretary, and communicated by the Ambassador to us, which is in these terms: Please dispel any mistrust that may be subsist on the part of the British Government with regard to out intention by repeating most positively the formal assurance that even in the case of armed conflict with Belgium, Germany will under no pretence whatever annexe Belgian territory. The sincerity of this declaration is borne out by the fact that we have solemnly pledged our word to Holland strictly to respect her neutrality. It is obvious we could not profitably annex Belgian territory without making at the same time territorial acquisitions at the expense of Holland. Please impress upon Sir Edward Grey that the German army could not be exposed to French attack across Belgium, which was the plan, according to absolutely unimpeachable information. Germany has consequently to disregard Belgian neutrality, it being to her a question of life and death to prevent the French advance.” That is the end of the communication. I have to add this on behalf of his Majesty’s Government: “We cannot regard this as in any sense a satisfactory communication. We have in reply to it repeated the request we made last week to the German Government that they should give us the same assurance in regard to Belgian neutrality as was given to us and to Belgium by France last week, and we have asked that the reply to that request – a satisfactory answer to the telegram of this morning which I have read to the House – should be given before midnight.”


Soon after midnight on Tuesday the following statement was issued from the Foreign Office: 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 passports, and his Majesty’s Government has declared to the German Government that a state of war exists between Great Britain and Germany as from 11 p.m. August 4.

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