The lamps are going out all over Europe…

The Times, 5th August 1914

The Times, 5th August 1914

The Times newspaper of the 5th August 1914 gives a sense of the emotion that gripped the country after Britain declared war on Germany on the 4th August.

Crowds pack out Central London waiting for the announcement, and the atmosphere is electric: cheering, demonstrations, patriotic singing, and the royal family appears on the balcony of Buckingham Palace three times, in response to the hysterical crowds below. Ties with Britain are strengthened across the world, with voices from America, France, and Canada confirming the sense of solidarity and unity:

“All reserve has now gone, and a wave of passionate loyalty is now sweeping the country”. (From The Times’ own correspondent, in Ottawa)

“Let us remember that the future of free government in the modern world is now being safeguarded by the blood and treasure of Great Britain as it was safeguarded by her in the era of Napoleon.” (From an American, escaped from Germany to London)

But side by side with excitement sit practicality and caution : messages to the public to reduce their food consumption, recruitment drives and the sad news that racing meets could be abandoned as the government has commissioned all horse boxes. Burberry makes the most of things:



Excitement seems to be the main ingredient, with little sense of the horrors to come…

The Times newspaper was vital for those at home following the progress of the war, in an age without internet or TV. Key moments of WW1 are brought to life through the words of Times journalists, correspondents and advertisements, and you can access the full archive online through our website, for free.

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