Shortly after midnight: The Foreign Office gets a message from Brussels saying the Belgium government has asked for military help.
Posts Tagged “Britain”
Shortly after 11.00 P.M.: Midnight Berlin time. There is still no news from Berlin and Asquith and the cabinet ministers with him decide to send a declaration of war to Lichnowsky. [More]
Shortly after 9.00 P.M.: A small group of cabinet members, Asquith, Grey, Haldane, later joined by Lloyd George and McKenna, meet in the cabinet room.There is no news from Berlin. Goschen’s messages never get to London but the government learns from an intercepted message from Berlin to the German embassy he has asked for his […]
Evening: Paul Cambon now knows Britain will support France. He asks Grey “How will you fight the war?”. “Will you send your Expeditionary Force?” Grey replies “No”. “We shall blockade the German ports. We have not yet considered sending a military force to the Continent”.Cambon says public opinion will force Britain to intervene on the […]
Afternoon: Grey sees Mensdorff. He says there is no cause for Britain and Austria to quarrel as long as Austria does not go to war with France.
2.00 P.M.: Asquith and Grey telegram Goschen asking for a reply to the message sent to him at 9.30 A.M. If Germany does not reply by midnight he is instructed to “ask for your passports and to say that His Majesty’s Government feel bound to take all steps in their power to uphold the neutrality […]
Midday: Lichnowsky passes the Foreign Office a message from Jagow. It repeats the German assurance that in the case of armed conflict with Belgium, Germany will not annex any Belgian territory. It claims that Germany is compelled to invade Belgium to forestall a French attack on Germany through Belgium.
11.30 A.M.: Cabinet Meeting Grey gives the latest news from Belgium and reads out the draft of another telegram he is going to send to Goschen in Berlin requiring an answer by midnight.
11.00 A.M.: The Belgian legation gets news that Germany has warned Belgium she will use armed force. Confirmation of this from the British Minister in Brussels follows shortly after.
9.30 A.M.: Grey wires Goschen instructing him to tell the German government Britain is “bound to protest against this violation of a treaty to which Germany is a party in common with themselves, and must request an assurance that the demand made upon Belgium will not be proceeded with, and that her neutrality will be […]
Foreign Secretary sends instructions to the British ambassador in Berlin on what to say to the German government about Belgium. A reply is required by midnight. The deadline has passed and there is no response from Germany BRITAIN DECLARES WAR ON GERMANY.
Brief: The cabinet resignations
Evening: While looking out of his office window watching the lamps being lit in St James Park, Grey makes the remark “The lamps are going out all over Europe; we shall not see them lit again in our lifetime”.
7.00 P.M.: Grey returns to the Commons and reads a note he has just received from the Belgian legation. It summarises the German ultimatum and declares that Belgium has rejected the ultimatum and is resolved to repel aggression by all possible means. He and Asquith leave the House.Even though Grey had the support of most […]
6.00 P.M.: Cabinet Meeting The cabinet meets again and agrees that a message is sent the next day to Berlin asking the German government to withdraw its ultimatum to Belgium. [More]
After the last speeches: A meeting of the Liberal Foreign Affairs Group attracts 27 MPs. The majority of them disagree with Grey and they issue a press release calling for the government to continue negotiations with Germany with a view to Britain remaining neutral.
About 4.30 P.M.: Following Grey the leader of each main political party makes a brief statement. Bonar Law for the Conservatives again gives the government “unhesitating support”.Redmond, the leader of the Irish Parliamentary Party, to great surprise, is wholeheartedly behind the government’s policy.MacDonald, the leader of the Labour Party, says he believes the government is […]
3.00 P.M.: Grey makes a statement to a packed House of Commons. He explains that Britain has no alliance or binding military agreements with France.As a result of the strong friendship France has with Britain her fleet has concentrated in the Mediterranean and Britain has now promised France the Royal Navy will protect the Channel […]
Early afternoon: King George receives a personal telegram from King Albert of Belgium referring to the King’s friendship and Britain’s support of Belgium in 1870. King Albert makes a supreme appeal for “the Diplomatic intervention of your Majesty’s government to safeguard the integrity of Belgium”.
10.00 A.M.: Cabinet Meeting Grey reports the latest information. He tells the cabinet about the unconfirmed German demand for passage of its troops through Belgium. He mentions Lichnowsky’s promise that Germany will not attack the French coast if Britain is neutral but he doubts that Lichnowsky is authorised to say this.Asquith announces he has overnight […]
9.30 A.M.: Bonar Law and Lord Lansdowne call on Asquith. They fear he is trying to find a reason for Britain not to intervene. On talking to him they conclude he supports Grey and Churchill but is trying to find a way to keep the cabinet together.
Morning: Shortly after Grey sees Lichnowsky, the British Foreign Office learns Germany has sent an ultimatum to Belgium.
Morning: Lichnowsky gives Grey an assurance from Berlin that “a threat to the French north coast on our part will not take place as long as England remains neutral”. He also assures Grey that Germany will maintain the “integrity” of Belgium after the war.
Cabinet discuss what the Foreign Secretary is going to say to the House of Commons. Four cabinet members have announced their resignations. Foreign Secretary tells the House of Commons Britain cannot stand aside and see Belgium lose her neutrality and France defeated. It would mean the whole of the continent falling under the control of […]
Evening: A small number of cabinet neutralists including Lloyd George meet at dinner. Lloyd George speaks strongly about the importance of maintaining Belgium’s neutrality. He also talks about the danger of Russian expansion. Many are not willing to support a country like Russia. Lloyd George thinks the cabinet is on the point of breaking up.
9.30 P.M.: Conservative leaders meet. They know about the promise to France of naval protection but are disappointed with Asquith’s formal reply to their letter which repeats the line Britain is under no obligation to France or Russia to give them naval or military support. They suspect the government is wavering and decide they should […]
6.30 P.M.: Cabinet Meeting The cabinet have an easier meeting and they agree to a statement regarding Belgium.The report to the King of the day’s meetings says “… protection of the French coasts … is not only a recognition of our friendship with France, but is also imperatively required to preserve British interests” and “As […]
Afternoon: Grey gives a formal assurance to Paul Cambon that if German warships enter the Channel to operate against the French coast or shipping, the British navy will give all the protection possible.Cambon asks what the cabinet would say about an invasion of Belgium. Grey tells him they are still considering what to say to […]
During lunch: The cabinet neutralists meet. Some feel they are being drawn step-by-step into a war for the benefit of France and Russia. They are being “jockeyed” over the German fleet. But Harcourt says he thinks an attack on the French Channel coast is a British interest. They discuss what to say about Belgium at […]
Just after midday: Based on earlier diplomatic conversations the German Military Attaché reports to Berlin “… it would be desirable if our Navy refrained from actions which might lead to incidents … regarded as a challenge. This would … include naval attacks on French north coast, left unprotected by France in reliance on England”.
During the cabinet meeting: Asquith reads out the letter from Bonar Law and Lord Lansdowne offering “unhesitating support” for the government in any measures it considers necessary to support France and Russia. The cabinet know if the government collapses its successor will either be a coalition or a Conservative minority government in favour of war.Asquith […]
11.00 A.M. to about 2.00 P.M.: Cabinet Meeting There is a long and difficult meeting. There is a danger the cabinet will split and the government have to resign.Grey says he is outraged by the way Germany and Austria have pushed aside all attempts at mediation.Grey reminds the meeting of the 1912 naval agreement with […]
Morning: The Conservative leaders, Bonar Law and Lord Lansdowne, send a letter to Asquith. It says “… it would be fatal to the honour and security of the United Kingdom to hesitate in supporting France and Russia at this juncture; and we offer our unconditional support to the Government in any measures they may consider […]
Morning: A small group of ministers meets in Lloyd George’s office. They are not willing to go to war to support France in all circumstances or for a mere violation of Belgian territory but would go to war if there was a wholesale German invasion of Belgium.Lloyd George and Harcourt go to Asquith and tell […]
Morning: Lichnowsky calls on Asquith. Asquith tells him war between Britain and Germany is unthinkable but it rests largely with Germany to make British intervention impossible if she would (i) not invade Belgium and (ii) not send her fleet into the Channel to attack the unprotected north coast of France.
Early morning: The German invasion and occupation of Luxembourg breaks the 1867 treaty signed by Britain, France and Prussia. Paul Cambon calls on Grey to ask what the British will do. Grey says the treaty is a collective guarantee, unlike the treaty with Belgium, and Britain individually is not obliged to act.
Conservative Party leaders write to the Prime Minister saying “… it would be fatal to the honour and security of the United Kingdom to hesitate in supporting France and Russia”. Foreign Secretary reminds the cabinet of the 1912 agreement with France whereby the French fleet is concentrated in the Mediterranean and the British in the […]
Brief: The British and French naval deployments [More]
Brief: The Military Conversations [More]
Brief: Grey and Lichnowsky – the proposal that never was [More]
Very late evening and early morning: Conservative leaders meet including those who have returned to London. They hear from General Wilson and there is great concern that the British Expeditionary Force is not being mobilised to support France. They try to contact Asquith but he is not available until the morning.
Late evening: Churchill has heard of Germany’s declaration of war on Russia and he too comes to Downing Street. He says he intends without waiting for the cabinet to immediately fully mobilise the Fleet by calling up reserves. Asquith offers no objections.
Late evening: News of Germany’s declaration of war on Russia reaches London.
Evening: Grey, Haldane and Lord Crewe go to see Asquith at Downing Street. They all agree a pledge of Naval support to the French must be obtained from the cabinet the next day.
Evening: Grey is called to Buckingham Palace. The King has received a telegram from the Kaiser saying Germany agrees with the British proposal that Britain and France remain neutral in a war between Germany and Russia.Grey says there is no such proposal and drafts a message for the King to send to the Kaiser saying […]
Afternoon: Grey tells Paul Cambon the cabinet has agreed “we could not propose to Parliament at this moment to send an expeditionary force to the continent”. This did not mean under no circumstances would Britain assist France, but it did mean France must take her own decision without reckoning on assistance from Britain.Cambon reminds Grey […]
Afternoon: As agreed in cabinet Grey tells Lichnowsky that the German position on Belgian neutrality is a matter of “very great regret”. The neutrality of Belgium affects public opinion in Britain.In response to a question from Lichnowsky he also says if Germany did pledge not to violate the neutrality of Belgium, Britain could not promise […]
11.00 A.M. – 1.30 P.M.: Cabinet Meeting Grey reports the replies from France and Germany on Belgian neutrality to the cabinet. They agree the words of the warning that Grey wants to give to Lichnowsky.“The reply of the German Government with regard to the neutrality of Belgium is a matter of very great regret …. […]
Morning: Grey sends Tyrrell to talk to Lichnowsky and make an unexpected and extraordinary proposal. If France is neutral in a war between Russia and Germany, would Germany pledge not to attack France. The ambassador takes it upon himself to offer such a pledge.Grey himself phones Lichnowsky and repeats the question. Grey proposes to use […]
Morning: King George uses a draft provided by Grey to reply to a letter from Poincaré. It maintains Britain’s non-committal attitude regarding support for France but the King is as friendly as possible, expressing admiration for the care France is taking not to make provocative military moves and promising Britain will continue discussions on all […]
Morning: Belgian government replies to inquiry from Grey made the day before that Belgium “will to the utmost of her power maintain neutrality …. that the relations between Belgium and the neighbouring Powers were excellent …. no reason to suspect their intentions, but that Belgian Government believed that in case of violation they were in […]
Early morning: Telegrams arrive from Paris and Berlin with the responses to the British enquiry about attitudes to Belgian neutrality. The French say they will respect Belgian neutrality.Jagow refuses to reply, saying that if he did so it “could not fail, in the event of war, to have the undesirable effect of disclosing to a […]
French reply they will respect the neutrality of Belgium. Germans refuse to reply saying it would disclose their intentions. Cabinet discuss the responses but is still divided and uncertain what to do. The neutralists in the cabinet get the cabinet to agree even if Germany invades Belgium Britain will not send an Expeditionary force to […]
Early hours next day: Tyrrell takes it to Asquith and they prepare a message for King George to send to the Tsar appealing to him to stop Russian mobilisation. They drive to Buckingham Palace and get the King out of bed. He agrees to the message addressing it personally to “My Dear Nicky”. It is […]
Very late evening: Lichnowsky receives wire from Bethmann informing him of the German ultimatum to Russia to stop mobilising and if Germany has to mobilise it means war.It mentions the enquiry in Paris asking what the French will do if Germany and Russia are at war.Grey is unavailable and Lichnowsky gives a copy to Tyrrell.
Evening: Churchill privately on his own initiative has asked a conservative friend, F. E. Smith, if Bonar Law, can suggest conservatives who might replace Liberal cabinet ministers who resign. Smith tells Bonar Law. He is not ready to suggest names but agrees Smith should write to Churchill expressing Conservative Party support for the government in […]
Evening: General Wilson, the Director of Military Operations, has seen the news of Russian mobilisation and phones his contacts in the Conservative Party.They should urgently recruit sympathetic Conservative leaders and newspaper editors to shock the government into action in support of France and Russia. Those Conservative leaders who have left London for the holiday weekend […]
7.30 P.M.: Grey telegrams Bertie rebutting Poincaré’s view that Germany believes Britain will be neutral and this is a decisive factor. He says he has made it clear that Britain might not be neutral and Germany is not counting on British neutrality.
5.30 P.M.: Grey wires Goschen in Berlin and Bertie in Paris saying in view of the existing treaties on Belgian neutrality, he wants pledges from France and Germany “to respect the neutrality of Belgium so long as no other Power violates it”. He wants an early reply.
Shortly before 5.00 P.M.: A German embassy official delivers message that as Russia has declared general mobilisation Germany has declared “State of Imminent Danger of War” and that if Russia does not withdraw her mobilisation proclamation Germany will mobilise in her own defence. The message does not say for Germany mobilisation means war.
4.30 P.M.: News of the Russian general mobilisation reaches London.
Afternoon: Grey tells Paul Cambon the cabinet is unable to guarantee Britain will intervene in support of France at the present time. It could not pledge Parliament in advance. Further issues such as the preservation of the neutrality of Belgium might change attitudes.Cambon says Britain has pledged its support and asks Grey to again put […]
11.00 A.M.: Cabinet Meeting Grey tells the cabinet about Bethmann’s proposal for British neutrality and his rejection of it. They agree Grey was right to reject the proposal but it does not change the minds of the cabinet members who think Britain should be neutral. Lloyd George warns that business is strongly against war.They discuss […]
Morning: Lichnowsky calls on Grey with the news that Berchtold has authorised resumption of talks between Vienna and St Petersburg. Grey assumes Berchtold is sincere.Grey is delighted and adds if Germany can get Austria to agree to a reasonable proposal then Britain would support it in Paris and St Petersburg and “if Russia and France […]
Early morning: Report from Bertie says Poincaré believes the preservation of peace is in the hands of Britain. If Britain announces it would come to the aid of France in a conflict between France and Germany, Germany would modify her attitude, and there would be no war.Crowe minutes the report saying though Britain is refusing […]
British ambassador in Paris says French President believes if Britain announced it would come to the aid of France, Germany would modify her attitude and there would be no war. The Foreign Secretary says he has made it clear that Britain might not be neutral. Cabinet discuss what to say to the French ambassador. The […]
8.45 P.M.: King George replies to a message from the Prince Henry. He says he is glad to hear that William is working for peace.He puts forward Grey’s “halt in Belgrade” formula. “My Government is doing its utmost suggesting to Russia and France to suspend further military preparations, if Austria will consent to be satisfied […]
Later: Grey talks to Mensdorff saying he cannot intervene in Russia unless Vienna gives him something to offer.
7.35 P.M.: Grey makes another effort to solve the crisis. He telegrams Buchanan saying as Berlin is trying to persuade Vienna to halt military action after taking Belgrade, and wait as the Powers arrange for Serbia to satisfy Austrian demands, it is hoped Russia will agree to discussions and suspend further military preparations. He does […]
6.00 P.M.: Liberal Foreign Affairs Group sends letter to Asquith saying they will withdraw their support from the government if Britain goes to war.The letter claims nine tenths of the Liberal Party supports the group’s stand.
Afternoon: Cambon calls on Grey. He reminds Grey of their exchange of letters in 1912 which formalised the agreement that Britain and France would immediately discuss whether they should act together if either country or the general peace was threatened.He draws Grey’s attention to the French decision to pull its covering forces 10km back from […]
Afternoon: Lichnowsky calls on Grey. Following a telegram from Bethmann he is also trying to get Grey to put pressure on Russia to stop its mobilisation against Austria-Hungary and to persuade France to stop its military preparations at once.Grey tells Lichnowsky he believes the French are not making real war preparations such as calling up […]
Afternoon: Telegram from Goschen says Jagow is asking Britain to do something to restrain St Petersburg while Germany tries to put pressure on Vienna for a “halt in Belgrade”. Jagow has also remarked Bethmann would not have made his neutrality proposal if Grey’s warning to Lichnowsky had arrived in Berlin earlier.
Afternoon: Grey tells Harcourt, a leading neutralist in the cabinet, about his rejection of Bethmann’s “shameful” neutrality proposal.Harcourt says Grey has done the right thing but Harcourt again meets with other cabinet neutralists to discuss what they might do. As many as seven or eight might resign.
3.30 P.M.: Grey instructs Goschen to give Britain’s formal response to Bethmann’s neutrality proposal. He says “You must inform the German Chancellor that his proposal that we should bind ourselves to neutrality on such terms cannot for a moment be entertained”. [More]
Afternoon: The Conservative Party leaders have suggested to Asquith that legislation on Ireland is put-off in view of the international situation. The Liberal leaders are pleased to agree with this.Accordingly Asquith announces to the Commons the postponement of the second reading of the Bill on Irish Home Rule in light of the “almost unparalleled” gravity […]
London: Labour Party adopt resolution if there is a European war Britain should remain neutral in all circumstances.
Labour Party adopts resolution if there is a European war Britain should remain neutral in all circumstances. British turn down German proposal for British neutrality. Foreign Office official comments “these astounding proposals … reflect discredit on the statesman who makes them”. French ambassador reminds the Foreign Secretary of the 1912 agreement that Britain and France […]
Afternoon: Grey sends for Lichnowsky. He tells him even though it is too late to stop Austro-Hungarian military action it might be possible to have mediation after they occupy Belgrade. This resembles the Kaiser’s “halt in Belgrade” idea even more than Grey’s earlier suggestion to Lichnowsky that Austria-Hungary limit its military operations. This comparison is […]
Afternoon: Following what the cabinet agreed Grey tells Paul Cambon the dispute between Austria and Serbia, even if it brings in Russia, is not one in which Britain feels involved. British policy has always been not to be drawn into a war over a Balkan question.If Germany and France become involved Britain has not decided […]
Afternoon: Mensdorff finally gives the British Foreign Office the Austro-Hungarian dossier on Serbian involvement in the Sarajevo assassination. It is too late to have any influence.Grey points out to Mensdorff if the other powers are to ask Russia to refrain from action it is equivalent to giving Austria-Hungary a free hand. Russia will not accept […]
Afternoon: The chairman of the Liberal Foreign Affairs Group, an unofficial committee of backbench Liberal MPs, writes to Grey saying Britain should tell Russia and France “Great Britain in no conceivable circumstances will depart from a position of strict neutrality”. [More]
11.30 A.M. – 2.30 P.M.: Cabinet Meeting Reflecting the military view that if Germany attacks France it will be through Belgium the cabinet discuss the Belgium treaties of 1839 and 1870.Each signatory of the 1839 Treaty is obliged to act to maintain the neutrality of Belgium even if the others do not but what the […]
Morning: Grey asks Lichnowsky if Germany itself can make a mediation proposal as the British ambassadors’ conference proposal has been rejected and direct talks between Russia and Austria-Hungary seem unlikely.Lichnowsky repeats the German view that Russia should not interfere in a fight between Austria-Hungary and Serbia. Austria-Hungary does not intend to annex Serbia. Grey points […]
British cabinet discuss what to do if Germany attacks France through neutral Belgium. Britain signed the 1839 Treaty that created neutral Belgium. They decide British action will be based on policy rather than treaty obligations. Cabinet decides the Foreign Secretary continues his ambiguous stance with France and Germany. Tell the French not to count on […]
Late in the day: Crowe thinks the situation is grave. “Austria at the very moment of using soft words at St Petersburg, has declared war on Serbia. Unless the Russians now decide to run away – which is always possible – we shall have the general war upon us very soon.”
7.45 P.M.: Message from Bunsen informs Grey that Berchtold says Austria-Hungary cannot delay its proceedings against Serbia and therefore cannot negotiate on the basis of the Serbian reply. This means direct conversations between Austria-Hungary and Russia are unlikely to happen.
Afternoon: News of the Austro-Hungarian declaration of war reaches London. Formal confirmation from Crackanthorpe in Nish arrives at 6.45 P.M.
About 6.30 P.M.: Grey again telegrams Goschen saying he is ready to ask Jagow to make his own suggestions on how to proceed with mediation but he will keep the idea in reserve till they know how the conversations between Austria-Hungary and Russia are progressing.
5.00 P.M.: The Admiralty orders the ships of the First Fleet to proceed, during the night without lights, through the Channel and the North Sea to their war stations at Scapa Flow.
Rome: San Giuliano tells Rodd the Austro-Hungarian ultimatum is a deliberate provocation to war or “le triomphe de l’imbecilite”.Italy supports Britain’s mediation proposals. San Giuliano says the Serbian representative in Rome has said Belgrade might accept all the demands with some further explanations. San Giuliano thinks Serbia should do this, the Austro-Hungarians suspend hostilities, and […]
Early afternoon: A telegram arrives from Goschen saying a “conference” sounds too much like a “tribunal”. Britain should ask Germany to put the proposal in another form or suggest a way to work with Britain on mediation.However, this crosses a message already sent by Grey saying he believes the best way forward is a direct […]
10.00 A.M.: Churchill, Battenberg, the First Sea Lord, and the Chief of Staff decide that the First Fleet should move to its war stations and the Second Fleet assemble at Portland. Churchill obtains Asquith’s approval for these moves.
The Admiralty orders the Royal Navy First Fleet to move to its war stations. Explanation received from British ambassador in Berlin of Germany’s rejection of Britain’s ambassadors’ conference proposal. “Conference” sounds too much like a “tribunal”. British Foreign Secretary has already sent wire to the ambassador saying he believes best way forward now is direct […]
Brief: Grey’s policy [More]
Brief: The divided cabinet [More]
After cabinet meeting: Churchill sends a secret telegram to all navy commanders. It says it is not the warning telegram but “the European political situation makes war between the Triple Entente and Triple Alliance powers by no means impossible”. Purely as a precautionary measure commanders should consider positioning their ships so they can shadow hostile […]
After cabinet meeting: Several cabinet members meet in Harcourt’s room. They are worried by what is happening and talk about forming a “peace party” that Harcourt thinks could be of some 11 cabinet members, to break up the cabinet if necessary in the interests of abstention.
5.30 P.M. Cabinet Meeting Grey explains his policy to the cabinet. He wants to keep Britain’s position as a mediator as strong as possible. He is doing this by keeping opposing groups of powers in the dispute uncertain as to what Britain will do if mediation fails and there is a war.Germany wants Britain to […]
Afternoon: In answer to a parliamentary question from the leader of the opposition, Grey tells parliament about his four-power mediation proposal, and the latest proposal for an ambassadors’ conference in London.He explains that as matters are so grave and urgent he has to take the risk of making proposals that might not be accepted. He […]
Afternoon: Grey tells Benckendorff about his conversation with Lichnowsky. Benckendorff says he hopes Grey’s warnings will open the eyes of the German government, who appear to believe Britain will in all circumstances remain neutral. Grey thinks he has been sufficiently frank with Lichnowsky to dispel German confidence in British neutrality.
Afternoon: Grey sees Mensdorff and summarises what he has said to Lichnowsky.In a stark indication of his opinion of Serbia Grey goes on to say “If they [Austria-Hungary] could make war on Serbia and at the same time satisfy Russia, well and good; but, if not, the consequences would be incalculable”.He tells Mensdorff owing to […]
Afternoon: Crowe writes “If Russia mobilises, we have been warned Germany will do the same, and as German mobilisation is directed almost entirely against France, the latter cannot possibly delay her own mobilisation for even the fraction of a day”. “…. within twenty-four hours His Majesty’s Government will be faced with the question” of whether […]
Afternoon: Lichnowsky reports Grey’s proposal and comments and his interpretation of them in a series of telegrams to Berlin. He notes that it is the first time he has found Grey annoyed.If war comes now Germany can no longer count on British support since the Austrian action would be regarded as showing a lack of […]
Late morning: Grey sees Lichnowsky. He tells him he thinks the Serbian reply agrees with the Austro-Hungarian demands “to an extent such as he would never have believed possible”. It is the result of Russia’s conciliatory influence at Belgrade. Moderation is now needed in Vienna.If Austria-Hungary now invades it proves it intended all along to […]
British Foreign Secretary tells German ambassador the Serbian reply meets Austria’s demands. If Austria now invades it proves she all along intended to provoke a military conflict. He tells the ambassador Germany should use its influence in Vienna to have the Serbian reply regarded either as satisfactory or as a basis for negotiation. This is […]
Evening: Lichnowsky takes his note to the Foreign Office. In Grey’s absence he sees Nicolson and Sir William Tyrrell. The two British diplomats tell Lichnowsky about the proposed conference.They also warn Lichnowsky if Austria-Hungary attacks Serbia European war is inevitable. The localisation of the conflict as hoped for in Berlin is wholly impossible. Lichnowsky is […]
Afternoon: In the absence of Churchill, Prince Louis of Battenberg, the First Sea Lord, decides in the light of the deteriorating European situation, to stop the dispersal of the fleet and maintain its crews at full strength. Churchill confirms the order when he returns to London late in the evening. [More]
Afternoon: London receives a wire from Rodd in Rome. He says Italy will be neutral in the event of a conflict between Austria-Hungary and Russia.It has not been consulted by Austria-Hungary and the move against Serbia amounts to a deliberate provocation of Russia. Italy believes in these circumstances the alliance with Austria-Hungary and Germany, the […]
Afternoon: Asquith writes a letter to his friend Venetia Stanley, part of which is about the developing European crisis. He thinks “Russia is trying to drag us in”. However, on the ultimatum he thinks that “on many, if not most, of the points Austria has a good & Serbia a very bad case”.
Afternoon: Grey telephones his agreement to Nicolson’s suggestion of a conference. Telegrams are sent to the British ambassadors in Paris, Vienna, St Petersburg, Berlin and Rome and the minister in Nish, instructing them to ask their respective foreign ministers if they would agree to a conference of ambassadors in London to prevent complications. While the […]
Morning: Lichnowsky has a message from Bethmann saying Russia might be calling up reserves without declaring a mobilisation. “We therefore request Sir Edward Grey to use his influence at St Petersburg”. Lichnowsky writes a note for Grey saying if Russia calls up reserves Germany will mobilise. “My Government … instructs me to request you to […]
Morning: Nicolson in charge in Grey’s absence studies the latest information including the imminence of a Russian partial mobilisation and Sazonov’s threat about Britain’s position in Asia if it does not cooperate with Russia.Noting Sazonov’s remark that Russia might stand aside and leave the question of how matters are resolved between Austria-Hungary and Serbia in […]
Morning: Prince Henry on his way to see his sister staying in Eastbourne has a brief meeting with his cousin King George. He doesn’t report to the Kaiser what the King said until he gets back to Germany on Tuesday, 28 July, but a naval attaché at the German embassy in London wires Berlin a […]
Prince Henry, the Kaiser’s brother, calls on George V. The King says Britain has no quarrel with anyone and hopes the country will be neutral but could be drawn in. This is misreported to Berlin as Britain will be neutral in a European war. In light of the deepening crisis the British put forward another […]
10.30 P.M.: Telegram arrives from Buchanan reporting Sazonov’s remarks that afternoon. He says Russia will not allow Austria-Hungary to crush Serbia but also says Russia would stand aside and allow four-power mediation.Sazonov has confirmed Russia is taking pre-mobilisation measures. Buchanan has warned him that Germany will not allow Russia to get ahead militarily.Sazonov thinks Germany […]
Late in the day: Grey leaves for his fishing lodge at Itchen Abbas in Hampshire where he normally spends his weekends.
Afternoon: Lichnowsky wires Jagow reporting his meeting with Grey. He says Grey’s proposal is the only means of averting world war. Without German support mediation will fail.Grey makes a strong distinction between an Austro-Serbian dispute and an Austro-Russian crisis. Austria has the right to demand satisfaction from Serbia but a clash with Russia could lead […]
Late morning: Grey telegrams Buchanan. He says British public opinion would not sanction going to war over the Austrian Serbian quarrel.He thinks Russian mobilisation almost inevitable and he will launch his idea for four-power mediation after both Vienna and St Petersburg mobilise.
Morning: Benckendorff sees Grey to reinforce Sazonov’s view that Britain should support Russia in the crisis.He thinks that Grey’s mediation proposals will give Germany the impression France and Britain are detached from Russia. It would be more effective to tell Germany that Britain might not be neutral if there is a European war. Grey replies […]
Morning: Grey sees Lichnowsky. Grey says Austria-Hungary will mobilise if it rejects the Serbian reply but will not immediately start military operations, and Russia can be expected to mobilise in response to the Austro-Hungarian mobilisation.The delay before military operations start and frontiers are crossed provides the opportunity for the four not directly involved powers – […]
Morning: Lichnowsky receives telegram from Berlin, prompted by his and Schoen’s warnings that the feeling in London and Paris is Germany must be behind the Austro-Hungarian ultimatum, declaring Germany had nothing to do with the Austrian ultimatum and Germany cannot ask Vienna to modify its demands because “Austria-Hungary’s prestige, both internal and external, would be […]
British Foreign Secretary tells German ambassador he expects Russia to mobilise in response to an Austro-Hungarian mobilisation but there will be a delay before military operations start. This will provide the opportunity for the four power mediation that he has proposed. Russian ambassador calls on the Foreign Secretary to reinforce the Russian view that Britain […]
8.00 P.M.: Buchanan’s report of the lunch with Sazonov and Paléologue arrives in London.Crowe minutes the report. He believes France and Russia consider the Austrian charges against Serbia are pretexts and it is now a matter of the Triple Alliance versus the Triple Entente.He thinks Britain should not obscure this issue by any representations at […]
Evening: Churchill meets Ballin at dinner. Ballin asks Churchill if Britain would stay out of a war if Germany promised it would not take any French territory except some colonies as indemnification.Churchill says Britain would judge events as they arose. It would be a mistake to assume that Britain would stay out whatever happened.
Evening: Grey wires Crackanthorpe with his response to an appeal from Pašić. Serbia should give Austria-Hungary the fullest satisfaction regarding any Serbian officials that might have been involved in the assassinations.The only chance of avoiding a conflict is in giving “a favourable reply on as many points as possible within the limit of time, and […]
Evening: Foreign Office asks Bunsen in Vienna to seek an extension of the time limit in the ultimatum.
Evening: Mensdorff gives message from Vienna to British Foreign Office. It says the note to Serbia is not an “ultimatum” but a demarche with a time limit. If it is rejected, Austria-Hungary will break off relations and begin military preparations, though not military operations. This seems to give time for diplomacy to work.
Afternoon: Grey sees Lichnowsky. He says Britain does not want to intervene in a purely Austro-Serbian dispute.He is only concerned if the Austrian ultimatum to Serbia leads to trouble between Austria and Russia.He suggests if relations between Austria and Russia become threatening the four not directly involved powers – Germany, Italy, France and Britain – […]
3.15 P.M.: Cabinet Meeting Grey attends a cabinet meeting. At the very end of the meeting he mentions the European situation and tells his colleagues it is “the gravest event for many years past in Europe”. [More]
Early afternoon: Grey sees Paul Cambon and tells him when he sees Lichnowsky he is going to suggest mediation between Vienna and St Petersburg by the four major powers not directly involved – Germany, Italy, Britain and France – if the need arises.
Midday: Mensdorff gives Grey the full text of the ultimatum. Grey comments point five compromises Serbian sovereignty. According to Mensdorff, he calls the note “the most formidable document that was ever addressed from one state to another” but admits what it says on the guilt of Serbia in the crime of Sarajevo and some of […]
British Foreign Secretary says the ultimatum is “the most formidable document that was ever addressed from one state to another” but he says some of the demands in the ultimatum are fully justified. He sees the German ambassador and proposes if there is trouble between Austria and Russia over Serbia, the four powers not directly […]
Evening: Three cabinet members Haldane, Morley, and Grey have dinner with Albert Ballin, a German shipping magnate, who sometimes acts as an informal link with the German government.They talk mainly about naval matters but the Serbian crisis is mentioned. After the meeting Ballin writes to Jagow saying it should be easy to keep Britain and […]
London: Haldane receives a letter from Hoyos setting out the reasons why Austria-Hungary is forced to take strong action against Serbia.There is a proven connection with the assassins. They had been equipped and trained by Serbian officers and smuggled across the frontier by customs officials.Serbia is working to bring about a revolution in the Austro-Hungarian […]
Morning: Mensdorff gives Grey an outline of the Austrian note to Serbia mentioning it would have something in the nature of a time limit. To Grey’s concern it is thus really an ultimatum.Grey remarks everything depends on convincing Russia of the justice of Austria’s demands and on whether the demands can be accepted by Serbia.He […]
British Foreign Secretary tells the Austrian ambassador it would be terrible if the four great powers – Austria-Hungary, Germany, Russia and France – were involved in war. Naming just these four powers implies Britain will remain neutral in a European war.
22 July: After meeting Grey, Lichnowsky reports to Berlin that Grey will advise Mensdorff that the British government will use its influence for Serbia to accept Austro-Hungarian demands provided they are moderate and reconcilable with the independence of Serbia.It is vital that the Austro-Hungarian government is in a position to prove beyond doubt the connection […]
22 July: Crowe adds a comment to Rumbold’s report. “It is difficult to understand the attitude of the German government. On the face of it, it does not bear the stamp of straightforwardness. If they really are anxious to see Austria kept reasonably in check, they are in the best position to speak at Vienna”.Crowe […]
22 July: A report from Rumbold says Jagow has admitted he practically drafted an article in a leading German newspaper stating what may arise between Austria-Hungary and Serbia should remain localised.He insists the question at issue should be settled by those two countries alone without interference from outside. That being his view, he has not […]
22 July: A letter arrives from Rodd in Rome who says San Giuliano, the Italian Foreign Minister, who is in constant touch with the Austrian Embassy, fears the communication to be made to Serbia has been drafted in unacceptable terms. He is convinced a party in Austria is determined to take the opportunity of crushing […]
22 July: Benckendorff writes privately to Sazonov reporting a conversation with Lichnowsky.Lichnowsky fears the Austrian demarche will be unacceptable to Serbia. He thinks Berlin is unlikely to restrain Austria-Hungary. He suggests Russia communicates its concern to Vienna but Benckendorff doesn’t think this will help.Benckendorff tells Sazonov that if war breaks out it will be important […]
21 July: Grey sees Benckendorff and presses his idea for direct talks between Russia and Austria-Hungary. Grey thinks direct talks are “the surest means” of avoiding a clash and keeping Vienna’s demands “within reasonable limits”.Grey makes clear to Benckendorff that it is not Britain’s business “to take violent sides in this matter”. Grey says Britain […]
20 July: Bunsen’s information is corroborated when Haldane receives a letter from Hoyos trying to justify the action Austria-Hungary is about to take.Haldane forwards the letter to Grey with the comment: “This is very serious. Berchtold is apparently ready to plunge Europe into war to settle the Serbian question. He would not take this attitude […]
20 July, 7.00 P.M.: Grey wires Buchanan saying it is possible the Serbian government has been negligent and if Austria-Hungary’s demands are reasonable every effort should be made to prevent any breach of the peace.To this end it would be a good idea if Austria-Hungary and Russia had direct talks if things became difficult. He […]
20 July: Grey sees Lichnowsky and asks if he has any news of what Vienna intends to do regarding Serbia. Lichnowsky has no news but he thinks the situation is very uncomfortable.Grey repeats his view that if Austria-Hungary keeps its demands within reasonable limits there is a chance of things being smoothed over. He hates […]
17 July: Lichnowsky sees a leading article in the Westminster Gazette which says strong action by the Austro-Hungarian government can be understood given the negative Serbian influence among Serbian citizens of the Austro-Hungarian Empire.Serbia should be ready to allay the fears of her great neighbour. Lichnowsky suggests to Berlin the article might have been inspired […]
17 July: Bunsen wires again saying his informant is Count Lutzow, a former Austro-Hungarian ambassador in Rome, who has been in conversation with Berchtold and Forgách at the Austro-Hungarian foreign ministry.Lutzow had asked Bunsen if he realised how grave the situation was. If Serbia did not at once cave in, force would be used to […]
Senior British official thinks it is difficult to understand the German position regarding Austria. They are in the best position to influence Austria. He thinks Germany knows what Austria intends and has given its support.
16 July: Lichnowsky writes privately to Bethmann. He repeats his earlier warning that if Vienna resorts to force against Serbia it will turn public opinion in Britain against Austria-Hungary.He also offers his analysis that military measures will not solve the underlying problem of pan-Slav agitation in parts of the Austro-Hungarian Empire.
16 July: Bunsen wires alarming report from Vienna. An informant has told him the Austro-Hungarians will require the Serbian government to adopt measures to stop nationalist and anarchist propaganda, and the Austro-Hungarian government is in no mood to parley and will insist on immediate compliance, failing which force will be used.Germany is said to be […]
15 July: After another meeting with Grey Lichnowsky reports to Berlin that Grey believes everything depends on the form of the Austro-Hungarian intervention might take. In no case should there be a reduction of Serbian territory.Britain is not in a position to influence Russian policy if Austro-Hungarian military measures upset Russia.
Retired Austrian diplomat tells the British ambassador in Vienna Austria plans to make extreme demands on Serbia. If these are not immediately accepted force will be used. Germany is in agreement with this.
9 July: Grey sees Lichnowsky again. Grey admits there have been naval talks between Britain and Russia but everything has been on the basis that the hands of the British government are completely free.He goes on to report the Russian ambassador has said St. Petersburg has no hostility toward Germany.Grey says if Austria-Hungary’s action is […]
8 July: Grey sees Benckendorff and repeats the substance of Lichnowsky’s remarks. Grey says that discoveries made during the inquiry into the assassination might give the Austro-Hungarians cause to act against Serbia.Benckendorff believes that would arouse Russian public opinion and he hopes Germany will restrain Austria-Hungary.He notes Grey’s comment that the Germans feel threatened by […]
6 July: On returning from Germany, Lichnowsky calls on Grey. There is anxiety and pessimism in Berlin about the attitude of Russia and Russia’s growing military strength.He knows the Austrians intend to do something and might take military action against Serbia. In response to Grey, he says there would be no annexation of territory.Grey says […]
German ambassador tells the British Foreign Secretary growing Russian military strength makes Germany inclined not to restrain Austria. Trouble now would be better than trouble later. The Foreign Secretary says he will speak to the Russian ambassador. Foreign Secretary sees the German ambassador again and says if Austria’s actions are reasonable and don’t excite pan-Slav […]
Brief: The British position [More]