Declaration of war

The die is cast. A British ultimatum to Germany demanding that the neutrality of Belgium should be respected was summarily and brusquely rejected and His Majesty’s Government promptly met the refusal by formally declaring a state of war between the two nations. At such a moment it is difficult to write calmly and with due deliberation. The country finds itself in a situation the like of which our history has no record.

The time of testing is with us and the occurrences of the next few days or weeks will reveal the stuff of which we are made. May it be that the sterner, nobler qualities will outweigh the frivolity, the needlesness, the self indulgence the luxury and the devotion to pleasure to which we have been devoting ourselves.

Let us remember that we are face to face with a nation in arms, a people disciplined, forceful and determined, an empire with an army and a navy magnificently equipped.

How relentlessly and how ruthlessly the contemptuous indifference to Holland’s integrity, the barbarous treatment of Belgians by the hosts invading their land is but the latest evidence of the spirit and the manner in which the Germans conduct war.

With us is a period of anxious expectancy. Where we will first exchange blows with the enemy it is impossible to say. It may be that even now a decisive battle is being waged in the North Sea.

In the circumstances that exist it is of supreme importance that whatever be the outcome, whatever course events may take, our people remain calm and that with firm resolve and wholehearted faith in the justice of our cause, there should be no unseemly outburst, no unworthy despondency and no hostile attitude towards those of the enemy nation who may be sojourner a in our midst.

The King to his fleet Message to Admiral Jellicoe The following message has been addressed by His Majesty the King to Admiral Sir John Jellicoe “At this grave moment in our national history, I send to you, and through you, to the officers and men of the fleets of which you have assumed command, the assurance of my confidence that under your direction they will revive and renew the old glories of the Royal Navy and prove once again the sure shield of Britain and if her Empire in this hour of trial.”

GEORGE R The message has been communicated to all senior naval officers on all stations outside of home waters.