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Wednesday, 30 July 2014

A Tragic Centenary

Today marks the hundredth anniversary of the bombardment of Belgrade by the Ausrto-Hungarian army. Whether this news finally decided the Tsar to mobilise his army, is debatable, but the fact remains he gave the order, and that triggered the rest. The Kaiser, who had, the the annoyance of his Chancellor and his Chiefs of Staff, had been vacillating, now had, as he saw it, no choice, and the German mobilisation was the final straw.

Interestingly, it has just recently emerged that King George V, in a private meeting with the British Foreign Secretary a week or so before this, told him that 'a war is essential if we are to avoid having the continent under Prussian control'. Winston Churchill, then First Lord of the Admiralty had already cancelled the dispursal of the Reserve Fleet following the annual Fleet exercises - and ordered them to their 'War Stations' instead - pre-empting Parliament. Germany, under the epithet, Prussia, has always been blamed for starting the war, but it appears there were people on all sides simply spoiling for a war in Europe for all manner of nationalistic reasons.

I very much doubt any of those seeking an excuse to 'have a little war' in order to check German expansion on the continent, or to stave off politzical unrest at home, secure trade advantages, or any of the miriad reasons not paraded, had the slightest inkling of what they were about to unleash.  

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