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First World War Timeline
August to September 1914

Places > Bedford > First World War > First World War Timeline

Based on local newspaper research in the Bedfordshire Times and Independent.
[Notes in square brackets have been added by the compiler to clarify, where needed, and to set the local event in a national context.]
Compiled by local historian Stuart Antrobus.

Britain declares war on Germany: 4 August 1914.

7 August 1914

P4 (Cols 3-4)
The Palace cinema advertisement: 'Special War news will be shown on the Screen during the performance as Telegrams arrive'  [Similarly, each subsequent week].
P4 (Col.6)
'Advice for The Times from The Times: First and foremost, Keep your heads. Be calm... Explain to the young and the ignorant what war is, and why we have been forced to wage it.'
P5 (Col.1)
'Events on Tuesday': The town was cheerful during the day and the riverside illuminations at night added a tone of gaiety, when the band played the English, French and Russian national anthems... A large crowd wait for hours outside the office of the Beds Times in an anxious expectation... At the approach of midnight the message that war was declared at 7pm was announced and greeted with loud cheers... cheers for the King, the Government and the Navy, " Rule Britannia" and " God Save the King" sung... among the crowd were three Union Jacks waving aloft.

14 August 1914

P2 (Col 1)
'The Week in Parliament:...Europe has entered upon a great war'.
P5 (Col 1)
'Bedford War News: Mr Greenshields, The Borough Engineer, has issued a warning that the ground surrounding the town's water works are closed, and only authorised persons are allowed. "Persons trespassing will do so at the risk of being shot".'
P5 (Col 1) 'Britannia Works And The War: About a hundred men from the Britannia Works [the town' s major engineering works] have been called out for service in the Army and Navy and have already left Bedford…wives will be paid one shilling a day until further notice.'
P5 (Col 4)
Statement regarding St Paul's Church Bedford: 'During the war there will be a special service of Intercession and the Litany each day, at 12 noon, in addition to the daily celebration of the Holy Eucharist and the daily offices.'
P5 (Col 4)
'The Purchase of Horses for the Army: No little commotion has been caused in agricultural and commercial circles by the so-called commandeering of horses and vehicles by the military authorities.'
 [Tens of thousands of horses were requisitioned during just the first few months of the war. By 1917, Britain had one million horses and mules in service. Britain lost over 484,000 horses in the war, one horse for every two men.]
(Col 5)
'County War News': Appeal to men of Bedfordshire, Hertfordshire and Huntingdonshire, aged 19 to 39 years to enlist in the Bedfordshire Regiment at The Barracks, Kempston. "Owing to the great boom in recruiting during the past ten days or so, it is understood that a new 3rd Battalion may be added to the Bedfordshire Regiment."
Between Sunday 16 August and Tuesday 18 August, Scottish Highland Territorial Force regiments arrive in Bedford by train, around 17,000 soldiers and 4,000 horses, for training before leaving to fight in France (May 1915).

21 August 1914

P2 (Col 1)
'The Great War' [Weekly column from then onwards, summarising developments and providing comment on the conduct of the war.]
P4 (Cols 1-2)
The Palace cinema advertisement: 'Special War Matinee in aid of the Mayor's Fund at 3. Special programme.'
P5 (Col 5)
'The County War Committee': as a result of a public meeting on 15 August, a committee was set up under the Chairmanship of Mr S.H. Whitbread with " the object of collecting information throughout the county respecting distress, unemployment, supply and demand of labour, scarcity of horses, distribution of local and national funds, and other kindred matters." An office was opened at 15a St Paul' s Square, Bedford, open each day from 2.30 to 4.30pm.

28 August 1914

P1 (Col 7)
The Empire cinema advertisement: ' Just arrived, Latest Films from The Battlefield of Europe.'
P2 (Col 2)
'Beds County Council: A War Committee: County Distress Committee Constituted [21 August].'
P4 (Col 6)
'Local Occurrences: ...The first Bedford contingent of Kitchener's Second Army left the depot, Kempston, on Sunday morning [Filed Marshall Lord Kitchener became Secretary of State for War in 1914. His recruiting poster image, pointing out at the viewer, has become iconic]…Stories have been current in the town this week respecting gentlemen who happen to be either of German birth (and naturalised) or bearing a German name, but they are without foundation, and we trust that perfectly inoffensive and loyal citizens will not be annoyed in this manner.'
P5 (Col 1)
'Church Parades: Russell Park: A drumhead service for the four battalions of the Argyllshire and Sutherland Highlanders was held in Russell Park at 11 o'clock on Sunday morning... No more impressive sight has ever been witnessed in the town of Bedford. The singing was accompanied by the regimental band and there was a choir...'

4 September 1914

P1 Cols 6-7)
The Palace cinema advertisement: 'The Battle of Louvain (Great War Topical)'.
P5 (Col 3)
'Bedford Casualties in British Expeditionary Force'.
P5 (Col 3)
'Scottish Soldiers and Sunday Drinking: Letter to the Editor from "Disgusted Scottie": ... In our own dear land [Scotland] no drink can be had on Sunday…It is high time soldiers were prevented from entering drinking houses on Sunday. No more drunkenness…'
P5 (Col 6)
'Why Are We Fighting?: The First Recruiting Meeting in Bedford:…The German policy for the last 20 years was World Domination – a dream of a world empire, and the conquest of Western Europe...'

11 September 1914

P5 (Col 3)
'The Wounded at Wrest Park: The first batch of convalescents from the seat of war arrived at Wrest House on Monday afternoon…converted into hospital wards at the expense of Lord Lucas under the personal supervision of his sister...'
P5 (Col 4)
'Casualties in the War' [Weekly list of local men or old boys of the Harpur Trust Schools killed and wounded].
P5 (Cols 4-5)
'For King and Country: Scenes at the Bedford Barracks – The Rush to Attest: The patriotic spirit of Englishmen has been aroused. Since the issue of an appeal by Lord Kitchener the authorities at the Barracks have been working day and night to cope with the crowds who, as shown above [photo], are anxious to " shoulder the gun".'

18 September 1914

P5 (Col 5)
'Mr Kaye on the teaching of German': a letter to the Editor responding to a previous letter stating that "It is to be hoped that 'German' will not be included amongst the subject to be taught at the Continuation Classes [adult education] and also that it will be excluded from the curriculum of our schools". On the contrary, argues Mr Kaye, it is more important than ever for the English to learn German and understand the enemy.

25 September 1914

P6 (Col 5)
'Hospital Train Through Bedford: On Sunday afternoon a hospital train with 160 wounded soldiers from the battle of Mons arrived at the Midland Station, Bedford, en route for Leicester Military Hospital... the first stop since leaving Southampton… Several members of the Red Cross Society had prepared tea on the platform for about 20 minutes, during which time the station was closed to the general public. The carriages were specially constructed and the beds were similar to the berths on board ship.'

Page last updated: 1st May 2014