31st August 1914 (Monday)

BORN TODAY: in Zanesville, Ohio – Richard Basehart, American actor whose film career started with a repeat performance and ended in ancient Rome.



Western Front:

~ In Paris, where the government are feverishly debating whether to abandon the city to the Germans (ie move the French government elsewhere) – German planes return for a second evening of light, but frightening (and for an unlucky few, fatal), bombing.

~ In London, the Government meets (“in cabinet”) after Kitchener realises that Sir John French, the commander of the British Expeditionary Force (BEF) has effectively withdrawn the British forces from the defences in France against the German advance. The cabinet is described as “perturbed” by the news, and its apparent desertion of its ally. Kitchener waits until after midnight for clarification by telegram from Sir John, before leaving for France at 2.30AM. [Tuchman – the Guns of August].

~ From Berlin, “In preparation for the greatest moment in Teutonic history, the Germans with admirable efficiency [have] already struck off, and distributed to staff officers for ultimate presentation to the troops, a bronze medal confidently inscribed ‘Einzug d. Deutschen Truppen in Paris’ (arrival of German troops in Paris)”. [Tuchman].


At the Royal Infirmary in Edinburgh, Scotland – William Purvis, a foreman at the Seafiled Oil Works in Linlithgowshire, dies from injuries sustained in an industrial accident in June.


30th August 1914 (Sunday)

BORN TODAY: in Vallauris, France – Jean Bottero, Assyriologist.



Western Front: In Paris two people die when German pilot Lt. von Ruville drops three bombs (and also leaflets) on the city, where the French government is rapidly realising that the capital cannot be effectively defended if German forces reach it.


Eastern Front: Russian forces enjoy success at the Battle of Gnila Lipa, taking 20,000 Austro-Hungarian prisoners and driving the Austrian army west.



29th August 1914 (Saturday)

BORN TODAY: in Glasgow, Scotland – William “Billy” McEwan, Scottish footballer.



Western Front: In the ongoing “Battle of the Frontiers” French casualties (killed, wounded and missing) exceed a quarter of a million men after just a little more than one week of fighting.

Source: “Mapping the First World War” (Peter Chassaud)

At the Battle of Guise the French Fifth Army, commanded by General Lanrezac, makes a successful counter-attack against the German Second Army, slowing the advance of German forces towards Paris.


In the Pacific: New Zealand soldiers land at Apia and successfully occupy German Samoa.




28th August 1914 (Friday)

BORN TODAY: At Waterloo, South Australia – Esmond Gerald ‘Tom’ Kruse, MBE for his services to the Royal Mail, and star of the award winning 1954 film: “Back of Beyond”.



In Louvain in Belgium, American, Swedish and Mexican diplomats visit the city  “after three days of barbarous havoc inflicted by German soldiers. They find smouldering buildings and streets strewn with dead horses, executed Belgians, and wreckage. The visitors are appalled.” [Burg and Purcell: “Almanac of World War 1”]

 At sea: In the first full naval battle of the war, British and German war ships engage at the Battle of Heliogoland Bight (off the German and Danish coasts). Around 750 – mainly German – sailors die, and the Germans lose six vessels, including a destroyer.



In New Zealand, farmer and diarist George Adkin spends his evening reading the novel “Old St Paul’s” by William Harrison Ainsworth, set in the city of London at the time of the plague and the great fire.



27th August 1914 (Thursday)

BORN TODAY: in Hamburg, Germany – Heidi Kabel, “Low German” musician and actress.



Western Front: At Amiens, in France, “Boy Soldier” William Hayman records in his diary the misery of the retreating British Expeditionary Force:

“Up before dawn. The horses are wet through including the saddles. It is still raining but it cannot make us any wetter. miserable – and we wait for 3-hours – leaving in pouring rain at 8am. on the march all day going South West. We go down into a valley and pass through POIX and arrive at the village of EPLESSIER at dusk and pull into a large orchard. (we had covered 31 KM = 19 miles)”


26th August 1914 (Wednesday)

BORN TODAY: in Transvaal, South Africa – The National Party (Transvaal), representing the interests of Afrikaners.


Eastern Front: In East Prussia, near  a town called Allenstein, the Russian Second Army under General Samsonov  – a force of around 230,000 – men engages with German Eighth Army (150,000). The Battle will last for five days and result in a crushing defeat for the Russians, with 92,000 taken prisoner and 78,000 killed or wounded. General Samsonov takes his own life, and the Germans decide to call the Battle “Tannenberg” (actually 30 miles away) to avenge a defeat of the Teutonic Knights at the hands of Lithuanian and Polish forces in the year 1410.


Western Front: At least 700 allied soldiers die as British and French forces fight a rearguard action at the Battle of Le Cateau, which buys them sufficient time to continue an orderly retreat ahead of the advancing Germans. The German loss of life is not recorded.


 Africa: The German colony of Togoland surrenders to British and French forces.





25th August 1914 (Tuesday)


~ in Jyväskylä, Finland – Ilmari Vartia, olympic fencer who died of a fencing wound in 1951.


~ In Okawa District, Kagawa, Japan – “The Queen of Boogie-Woogie, Shizuko Kasagi


“Tokyo Boogie-Wookie” 1947 – C’est La Chanson du Siecle!


Eastern Front: Austrian troops take 6000 prisoners in their victory over the Russians at the Battle of  Krasnik (in Galicia, in present day Poland).


Southern (Balkan) Front: The Serbians are mopping up after the complete defeat of the Austro-Hungarians, who have retreated behind their own borders, leaving Serbia bloodied, but not bowed.

Western Front: German troops take Namur, Louvain and Sedan.

A French soldier writes to his mother (in anticipation of an imminent move to the front line):

“…Know that it would be shameful to think for one instant of holding back when the race demands the sacrifice. My only part is to carry an undefiled conscience as my feet may lead”

[Letters of a Soldier, 1914-1915]



24th August 1914 (Monday)

BORN TODAY: Ivar Iversen, Norwegian sprint canoer.



Southern (Balkan) Front: Austrian forces in Serbia are forced to withdraw back across their own border.

[Burg & Purcell]

The Western Front: Mildred Aldrich, American retiree in France, visits Paris, and reports on the panic among foreigners wishing to leave:

“But all the foreigners, caught here by the unexpectedness of the war, seem to be fighting to get off by the same train and the same day to catch the first ship…”   She continues ” there are almost no men in the streets. There are no busses or tramways, and cabs and automobiles are rare… Paris is no longer our Paris, lovely as it still is”.  [from “A Hilltop on the Marne”]

The widening war: In Bombay (now Mumbai) in India,  7th (Indian) Division embarks for Europe as part of the Indian Expeditionary Force “A” which is being sent to reinforce the British Expeditionary Force (BEF) in France.




23rd August 1914 (Sunday)

BORN TODAY: in New York City – Anthony Francis “Tony” Matisi, all-American football player.



! Japan declares war on Germany!

Western Front: At the Battle of Mons in Western Belgium the British Expeditionary Force (BEF) delays, but does not halt the German advance into French territory. The British withdrawal marks the start of what will become a two week retreat almost as far as Paris.


In Dinant, in Belgium, German troops under General von Hausen execute 612 men, women and (some) children by firing squad in the town square.

[Burg & Purcell: Almanac of World War 1]

Eastern Front: In the Austrian province of Galicia (now in Poland) just across the border from the Russian Empire,  Austro-Hungarian and Russian forces clash on the first day of the Battle of Krasnik.



In New Zealand, farmer George Adkin enjoys a sunday of country hikes, picnics, photography and evening prayers. “A glorious day“.


At Woking, in England – in the “the stately Mosque, a view of which is obtainable from passing trains”, Eid Al-Fitr prayers are led by Moulvie Sadr-ud-Din, and “from the early morning Muslims [had] begun to pour into Woking by trains” [from the “Surrey Herald” newspaper, as quoted on http://www.wokingmuslim.org ]



22nd August 1914 (Saturday)

BORN TODAY: in London – Trevor Pryce Leggett, judo teacher, author, translator, diplomat, war time internee, spy, Buddhist, 6th dan, Head of the BBC’s Japanese service for 24 years, Order of the Sacred Treasure and much, much more. [Wikipedia].



! Austria-Hungary declares was on Belgium!

In St Petersburg, the imperial Russian government prohibits the sale of alcohol for the duration of the war!

In Le Havre, an anonymous British nursing sister, waiting with her colleagues to be moved nearer to the front, describes the day in Le Havre with almost school-girl excitement:

“There is any amount to see – miles of our [ie British forces] transport going through the town with burly old shaggy english farm-horses, taken straight from the harvest, pulling the carts; French Artillery Reservists being taught to work the guns; French soldiers passing through; and our R.E. [Royal Engineers] motor-cyclists scudding about. And one can practise talking, understanding and reading French.” [Anon: “Diary of a Nursing sister on the Western Front, 1914-1915”].

On this one day, 22nd August 1914, around 27,000 French soldiers die during the confusion of the Battles of Ardennes and Charleroi, both battles being just parts of the larger “Battle of the Frontiers”.


The view of the war from (Nationalist) Ireland: Meanwhile, writing under the headline “On German Militarism” the “Irish worker” newspaper shares its views:

Finally, as a word of warning. Do not let anyone play upon your sympathies by denunciation of the German military bullies. German military bullies, like all tyrannies among civilised people need fear nothing so much as native (German) democracy. Attacks from outside only strengthen tyrants within a nation. If we had to choose between strengthening the German bully or the Russian autocrat the wise choice would be on the side of the German. For the German people are a highly civilised people, responsive to every progressive influence, and rapidly forging weapons for their own emancipation from native tyranny, whereas the Russian Empire stretches away into the depths of Asia, and relies on an army largely recruited from amongst many millions of barbarians who have not yet felt the first softening influence of civilisation. German thought is abreast of the best in the world; German influences have shaped for good the hopes of the world, but the thought and the hopes of the best in Russia was but the other day drowned in blood by Russia’s worst.

To help Britain is to help Russia to the dominance of Europe, to help the barbarian to crush the scientist. That is the reflection of the wise revolutionist of today.

Meanwhile the Orange enemy of Irish freedom wisely stays at home and conserves his forces, and the Irish Nationalist is encouraged by his leaders to rush abroad and shed his blood in a quarrel not his own, the simplest elements of which he does not understand.”