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War in Europe!
German cavalry moving into France Photo: Irish Life, 7 August 1914. Full collection of Irish Life available from the National Library of Ireland

War in Europe!

Heavy fighting in Belgium as Britain, France, Germany and Russia join war

Paris, 11 August 1914 - The major powers in Europe are now at war, with reports of heavy fighting on several fronts.

Battles between French and German troops around Altkirch have resulted in up to 100 French troops being killed or wounded, with more casualties on the German side.

The position of German and French troops along the border between the two countries. Recent reports have told of fighting in Altkirch near Belfort to the south of this map. Click to enlarge.  (Image: Illustrated London News [London, England], 8 Aug 1914)

From Belgium come reports of intense battles all along a line stretching from Liége to Tongres.

And in Bosnia a major battle between Austrian and Serbian troops is hourly expected, while fighting between both armies has continued in Serbia for more than ten days now.

German troops are also massing close to the Dutch border, with the neutrality of Holland now in question.

In Britain, the Prime Minister Herbert Asquith has announced that a new army of 100,000 men is to be formed under Lord Kitchener. All reservists have now been called up and recruitment to fight in Europe has now reached at least 3,000 men each day across Britain.

Horatio Herbert Kitchener, 1st Earl Kitchener of Khartoum by Charles Mendelssohn Horsfall. Lord Kitchener will lead the British troops. (Image: © National Portrait Gallery, London)

The events of the past ten days have transformed life in Europe with a series of war declarations and invasions bringing one country after the next into war.

The tensions that flared spectacularly after the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand on 28 June, leading Austria-Hungary to declare war on Serbia at the end of July, have proven impossible to contain.

The alliances between various powers - rooted in a complex mesh of power, trade, geography and ethnicity - have demolished all optimism that diplomacy could resolve the dispute.

The rapidity of events has taken most observers by surprise, but what is now clear is that the war is now between all of the major powers in Europe, with the exception of Italy which has declared itself neutral.

On the one side are Germany and Austro-Hungary, and on the other are Russia, Serbia, Britain and France. Other smaller countries are allied to these powers and the scale of the conflict is such that all countries will most likely be drawn into battle.

[Editor's note: This is an article from Century Ireland, a fortnightly online newspaper, written from the perspective of a journalist 100 years ago, based on news reports of the time.]


Century Ireland

The Century Ireland project is an online historical newspaper that tells the story of the events of Irish life a century ago.