News of casualties comes as war takes hold of the world

From the archives week 35
From the archives week 35

The fourth in our series of excerpts from the Alnwick and County Gazette in 1914 sees the reports of the first British troops killed in combat.

Alnwick and County Gazette, Saturday, August 29 1914


The events of the past week, including the arrival of the first report of British casualties, have strikingly illustrated the mingled glory and horror of war. Lightening the gloom of the announcement that two thousand men have been killed or disabled at the front is the simple French tribute that our soldiers faced the fire with their customary coolness. English people are not likely to be discouraged by the inevitable changes in the fortunes of war.

Neither, we are convinced, will a too facile optimism lead them to assume that the grapple with Kaiser Willhelm’s legions is a small affair. The treatment of what has happened at Brussels and Namur as ‘a famous victory’ may be left for the consumption of credulous Berlin, a city which, we may assume, will have a heavy account to settle with the Emperor when the war is over.

England’s attitude has been well stated by Lord Kitchener. His speech in the House of Lords was just what one might have expected it to be. The new War Minister is not generally associated with ‘speechifying’, for it is as a man of deeds rather than words that he has come to be known.


Earl of Leven Wounded

The following casualties are officially reported in the British Expeditionary Force:


Lieutenant the Earl of Level and Melville 2nd Dragoon (Royal Scots Greys). Dangerously wounded August 22nd.

No. 9 Sergeant-Major D.S. Jillings, Royal Flying Corps, wounded, August 22nd progressing favourably.


Captain C.S.A. Akerman, Royal Engineers, slight concussion and injury to arm caused by fall from horse.


With references to the German atrocities at Visé, the Dutch illustrated weekly newspaper Het Leven prints a narrative by the Dutch writer Dr. Lamberts Hurrelbrink, of, Maestricht, on his own knowledge of the facts.

The story begins with the Franco-German War of 1870, and concerns a farmer’s family named Hauff, then living in Alsace. When the Germans invaded Alsace they plundered Hauff’s farm. Hauff shot a couple of the marauders and was shot there and then. His wife found her little boy weeping on the body of his father. “Mamma,” said the boy “when I have grown up I will shoot the Germans who killed father.” MMe. Hauff settled near Visé. Her son married and had two sons. When the Germans came in to Visé the other day Farmer Hauff’s old hatred was rekindled, and when the invaders reached his farm he shot one of them. Germans bundled the farmer and his two sons outside, placed all against the wall and shot them. The sons had not raised a hand against the invaders.


An official communiqué issued earlier on Monday said:

A great battle is raging along a line extending from Mons to the frontier of Luxemburg. The French troops have everywhere taken the offensive, and their action is being carried on methodically in conjunction with the British Forces. The Allied forces have ranged against them nearly the whole of the German army, both active and reserve. The field of operations, especially on the right, is wooded and difficult. The battle will presumable last several days. The huge extent of the front and the number of men engaged render it impossible to follow the movements of each army step by step, and the communiqué warns the public that it will be necessary to await a definite result before a conclusion can be arrived at regarding the first phase of the combat.


Why Britain is at War

An enthusiastic meeting was held in the Central Hall in Amble on Saturday afternoon, when Earl Grey gave an address on the war and strongly appealed to the young men of Amble to give a hearty response to Lord Kitchener’s call for men. Councillor T.L. McAndrews presided and those present included Mr. Scholefield, Col. Lambton, Capt. Sitwell, Lord and Lady Howick, Lady Sybil Grey, Miss Galt (a Canadian lady who went through the Cuban war), Prof. Merivale, Mr. J. Earnshaw, Mr. Alan Morrison and Mr. C. Harmer.

The Chairman said he had the honour and pleasure to introduce to them in the person Earl Grey one of the best Englishmen of to-day. (Applause.) From India and from Canada to Japan this peer of Northumberland was well known. After referring to the great ancestors of the Earl, he went on to speak of another Grey – Sir Edward – (cheers), who had held out the olive branch to Kaiser, who had launched out into a great war. Earl Grey would talk to them on the war generally.