The Great War:On This Day
A daily listing of Great War movements, actions, events and political involvements that took place on this day. This page refreshes every day.
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Great War events on this day, 4 August
Events preceding British Declaration of War[edit source]
- Great Britain protests in Berlin against German violation of Belgian treaty.
- Germany says French meant to invade Belgian territory, and she must take measures of defence. Violates Belgium at Gemmenich, early morning; burns Visé and attacks Liège.
- Germany declares war on Belgium.
- Bona and Philippeville (Algeria) bombarded by German cruisers Goeben and Breslau.
- Trieux, near Briey (France). Taken by Germans. Speech by French PM René Viviani.
- Chancellor von Bethmann-Hollweg's speech in Reichstag, acknowledging they are doing wrong.
- Sir Edward Grey wires to Sir Edward Goschen telling him that unless satisfactory German assurances re Belgian neutrality are forthcoming, he is to ask for his passports.
- John Redmond, Irish Nationalist Leader, addresses the House of Commons with his fervent speech.
- Sir Edward Grey addresses the House of Commons with a rousing speech where he announces the position and intentions of the Government with reference to the War.
- At 7 p.m. the Berliner Tageblatt flaring placards through the city, states: "Great Britain breaks off diplomatic relations."
- British mobilisation orders issued.
- Sir John Jellicoe takes command of British Fleet.
- Sir Edward Goschen's interview ("scrap of paper") with Chancellor in evening: British ultimatum and state of war at 11 p.m.
- (Ef) - Germans threaten Warsaw; civilians evacuate; Blonie-Nadarzyn line (15 miles west of Warsaw) abandoned by Russians. Latter evacuate Ivangorod.
- (Sf) - Castle of Lizzana (Rovereto) destroyed by Austrians. Italians occupy Col di Lana (Cordevole Valley, Ventian Alps).
- (Na) - French battleships bombard Spelia and Scalanova (opposite Samos).
- (Po) - Anniversary service at St. Paul's.
- From the Chancellor's speech: "...A French inroad on our flank on the Lower Rhine would have been fatal to us. So we were forced to set aside the just protests of the Luxemburg and Belgian Governments. The wrong – I speak openly – the wrong that we now do we will try to make good again as soon as our military ends have been reached. When one is threatened as we are, and all is at stake, one can only think of how one can hack one's way out..."
- Various authors. (1915). Great Speeches of the War. Hazell, Watson and Viney, London.
- The shock was admittedly, for one moment, paralyzing. That which the greater part of the population had believed impossible from reasons of British domestic policy, and improbable because of their sublime faith in British selfishness, had happened. The childish chatter about the unity of the Germanic race, which no sane observer of Prussian manners could ever have seriously believed, was probably less responsible for the outrageous treatment of English-speaking people throughout Germany than the sudden angry realization of the fact that the press and the foreign office had alike utterly misled public opinion regarding the actual unpreparedness of England for any war; and the bitter word "Betrayed," which was on thousands of lips in Berlin on the night of 4 August, was directed as much against German diplomacy as against supposed English treachery.
- John Alexander Hammerton (ed.) (1933). A Popular History of The Great War, Volume 1, How Germany Welcomed the War. The Fleetway House, London. p.107
- Sir Edward Goschen's final interview with the German Chancellor, Herr von Bethmann-Hollweg, after the British ultimatum with regard to Belgium had been rejected. Chancellor deprecated going to war for the sake of "neutrality," for "a scrap of paper." Had the British Government considered the price at which compact would have been kept?
- Great Britain presents ultimatum to Germany. Ultimatum required that Germany should give unequivocal assurances that she would respect the neutral territory of Belgium guaranteed by her in 1839 and endorsed by her (in writing) in 1870. Failing this assurance, Great Britain would "take all steps" to uphold the neutrality of Belgium and the observance of the treaty.
- Resolution passed at London Opera House and at all War Anniversary meetings, ran as follows: - "That on the anniversary of the declaration of a righteous war this meeting declares its inflexible determination to continue to a victorious end the struggle in maintenance of those ideals of liberty and justice which are the common and sacred cause of the Allies."
- British losses during the first year:- 76,000 killed; 252,000 wounded; 55,000 missing; Total 383,000.