Monthly Archives: August 2014

31 August 1914; Monday

Got up about 8 o’clock. Not much to do at work. Mr Aitken in bad temper and said something about clearing us all out. Finished in good time. Troubled a bit with toothache. Mr Scott asked if I would join their singing class. Received money.

Nothing very much from the war.

30 August 1914; Sunday

At church and Sunday School as usual. Spoke to Hector MacDonald about Ranald1. Mr Chadwick preaching. Had long talk with Willie Peake about Chadwicks. Talked to Arthur Marshall about the Debating Society. Wet day. Short walks. Bought special Echoes and heard about the 5 to 6000 English being lost, also that the Germans were withdrawing some men from Belgium to send to Prussia2.

  1. Intermittent correspondence with Ranald MacDonald continues throughout the diaries. 

  2. One might expect “Russia” rather than “Prussia”, but the shorthand is clear; presumably “to defend the Prussian E. frontier.” 

29 August 1914; Saturday

Got to work rather late. Busy all morning. Finished about 2 o’clock. Heard of British Naval Victory. Russians invest Koenigsberg. Our Army doing nothing but recover. 12,000 men being sent to replace the lost 6,000. Decided to send another Army Corps. Indian troops to be used. Read about the Renascence in the afternoon and an interesting article on Russian language. Heard the band of the Coldstream Guards at Roker at night. It was very good. The band master made a speech and asked for recruits.

28 August 1914; Friday

Got up early and went to baths. Managed pretty well. Sleepy and busy at work. Finished pretty early. Naval Battle off Heligoland1  2. 3 German cruisers and 2 destroyers sunk. British losses slight, only 29 killed and 38 wounded. German losses very heavy. We heard this next day. A good deal of interest about the position of the British Army in France. We know it is very much at the * and there are rumours about their being cut off.

Germans destroy Louvain3.

  1. The Battle of Heligoland Bight, the first naval battle of the War: both sides maintained destroyer patrols on the German coast (the Bight), and the RN arranged this ambush; actually 3 German cruisers and 1 destroyer were sunk, and 1 RN cruiser and 3 destroyers. The Heligoland islands, originally Frisian, were acquired by Britain in 1814 from Denmark, and ceded to Germany in 1890 under the Heligoland-­Zanzibar Treaty, whereupon Germany fortified them. 

  2. See also note on 9 August 1914

  3. The burning of the university library is probably the best-known feature of the destruction of Louvain (now usually Leuven), but there was also determined street-fighting, and consequent reprisals, now featuring in a display in the bell-tower of the rebuilt library (as at 2019). A new library was built, 1921-27 (and again reconstructed post-WW2), in the Mgr. Ladeuzeplein, financed mainly but not entirely from the USA; many American donor universities’ and colleges’ names are engraved on the façade, and an uncompromising inscription to the effect that American money had repaired German destruction was averted only at a late stage by the university authorities. The bell-tower contains a peal of 48 bells, cast in London: one for each pre-1940 USA state.

    See also The Destruction of Louvain, 1914 at 

27 August 1914; Thursday

Busy at work. Finished early. Grand day. News of one Danish & one Norwegian ship being blown up in the North Sea. The British navy has landed marines at Ostend for its protection. The Cruiser “Highflyer” has sunk the German cruiser “Kaiser Wilhelm the Great”1 off the West Coast of Africa. Joe showed me some of Willie Wanless’s writings and we talked a bit about it. Had walk out last thing. The German cruiser Magdeburg2 sunk by Russians.

  1. Kaiser Wilhelm der Grosse was a commerce raider; Highflyer, an elderly (1898) 6” gun cruiser, found her coaling off the Spanish/Saharan Rio del Oro and demanded her surrender. She refused, saying she was in neutral territorial waters; which neutrality she had however herself been violating, so Highflyer sank her, her crew escaping to the shore. 

  2. Magdeburg: actually ran aground on 26 August off Odensholm (Estonia), and was captured by Russian cruisers. They seized code books, giving one copy to the RN, which was useful eg. before Jutland. 

26 August 1914; Wednesday

Busy all day. Finished in good time. Nothing very much from the front. Russian Army marching on Posen & Koenigsberg. Some very strong appeals being made for recruits. Prospect of the War lasting at least 6 months. Received photographs from “Everyman”1. One of Asquith, Carlyle and Carson. After 4 days fighting against overwhelming odds the British retire in good order. British lost 5/6000, Germans lost very much more.

  1. Everyman: see Everyman and Arthur Linfoot’s Library

25 August 1914; Tuesday

Busy at work. Finished shortly after 5 o’clock. News to hand of the fighting. The Allies have retired to the French frontier. The British losses are estimated at 2000. Mr Asquith stated this in the House in reply to a question. Lord Kitchener held midnight Conference. Newspapers try to keep up appearances, but German success cannot be denied. Went to practice. Got on very well. Walked round with Dora’s Charlie, Willie Whittaker and Blaikie and got home late. Japan declares War on Austria1.

  1. Japan declared war on Austria-Hungary on 25 August 1914. 

24 August 1914; Monday

George back to work. Alf and Robert off on holiday. 302 tons sent out1 last month. Busy all day.

News to hand of Russia’s big victory in East Prussia & Servia’s2 big victory over Austria. News also of British Force having been in action on Saturday & Sunday. The great battle commenced on Sunday. Namur fell & the French lost & retook Charleroi3. The British held their position.

  1. “302 tons sent out”: 302 tons of paper dispatched from the paper mill. 

  2. See note on 23 July about the spelling of Serbia. 

  3. Namur and Charleroi: in Belgium, which the British Expeditionary Force (BEF) was originally sent to defend. 

23 August 1914; Sunday

At chapel and School as usual. Mr Blott preaching and preached very well. I had Arthur Mullens’ class. Grand day. Newspapers out telling of the loss of Danish and Dutch vessels on mines. Sam† Chadwick spoke to me about the Debating Society. Collections at chapel for the Prince of Wales Fund and £4.11.0 collected.

Japan declared war on Germany 1.

  1. Japan sent Germany an ultimatum on 14 August 1914, which went unanswered; Japan then formally declared war on Germany on 23 August 1914. 

22 August 1914; Saturday

Busy at work. Finished about 2.15. An aeroplane passed over the town in the afternoon. Trial football match played. Took Histories1 up to Hills’ to be bound. Went to Roker at night with Willie Whittaker and Charlie. Discussed war news. Belgians retire to Antwerp & Germans occupy Brussels. They demand 8 million indemnity for the town. Various rumours from Austria & Russia. Charlie heard of the movement of the German fleet to Ostend.

  1. “Histories”: presumably History of the Nations; see note on 11 April