This Day in History diary entry from the Western Front Association about the outbreak of WWI

First published in Penarth news

FOLLOWING the formation of a Penarth Town Council World War I Commemorative Group the Penarth Times will be looking at how the town was affected by the conflict both on the homefront and on the front line.

Each week the paper will feature a “This Day in History” diary entry submitted by a different local group.

This week’s entry is from David Hughes, the chairman of the Western Front Association, and is about the build up to the war.

“There were many changes both politically and nationally throughout the countries of Europe during the 19th century which would affect their relationships with one another and which would eventually result in the Great War of 1914-1919.

“Following the assassination of Arch Duke Franz Ferdinand, who was the heir apparent to the Austrian Hungarian throne, and his wife the Duchess Sophie Chotek, by the Bosnian Serb Gavrillo Principe on Sunday, June 28, 1914, the South Wales local media carried a report of the incident which said ‘The assassination of the Arch Duke and his wife was a terrible calamity not only in itself but in its consequences.’

“As the clouds of war gathered over Europe so did the build up of troops in Austria, the Balklans, Russia and Germany. It was reported that there were 80,000 Russian troops along Germany’s border.

“A number of European countries including Great Britain continued in their efforts trying diplomatically to avoid a war.

“On August 1 and 3 Germany declared war on Russia and France respectively. By August 3 German troops had ebtered Belgium, violating their neutrality, Great Britain declared war on them on August 4.

The Great War, the ‘War to end all Wars’, had begun.”

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