Feature: The week we went to war

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Soldiers on the march before embarking in ships berthed in Wellington Harbour, bound for World War 1.
Soldiers on the march before embarking in ships berthed in Wellington Harbour, bound for World War 1.

As New Zealanders went about their daily lives in the winter of 1914, the European great powers were going to war...

1914, JUNE 28 (SATURDAY)

9.15pm, NZ time: Archduke Franz Ferdinand, the heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne, and his wife Sophie are assassinated by Serbian nationalists in Sarajevo, the capital of Bosnia and Herzegovina (territory that was formally incorporated into the Austro-Hungarian empire in 1908).

1914, JULY 24 (FRIDAY)

4.30am: Austria-Hungary delivers ultimatum to Serbia.

1914, JULY 28 (TUESDAY)

9.30pm: Austria-Hungary declares war on Serbia.

1914, JULY 31 (FRIDAY)

3.30am: Tsar Nicholas II orders general Russian mobilisation. Austria-Hungary proclaims general mobilisation. Wellington city wants to borrow £365,585 ($55 million in 2014) on the London market for projects including a tunnel under Mt Victoria; Mayor JP Luke says that if war breaks out this will be hard to raise in the next five years. There are no transactions on the Wellington stock exchange because of the war scare.

Around 8pm: Prime Minister William Massey tells the House of Representatives that he knows of 'no occasion for serious alarm', but proposes to offer Britain a volunteer expeditionary force 'if the occasion arises'. Massey's offer is seconded by the Leader of the Opposition, Sir Joseph Ward.

9.30pm, New Zealand time: The London stock exchange closes amid European financial panic.

11.30pm: Germany announces 'imminent threat of war' with Russia.

1914, AUGUST 1 (SATURDAY)

Around 8am: French socialist leader Jean Jaurès is assassinated in Paris.

9.30am: German ultimatum to Russia delivered in St Petersburg.

11.30am: Belgian army begins mobilising.

7pm: The Church of God Tabernacle, Tasman St, Wellington, announces that the apocalyptic Battle of 'Har-magedon' (Armageddon) is at hand.

1914, AUGUST 2 (SUNDAY)

4.30am NZT: Germany declares war on Russia.

5.30am: German troops enter Luxembourg.

Around 8am: First Lord of the Admiralty Winston Churchill unilaterally orders British naval mobilisation.

Around 5pm: New Zealand learns of German declaration of war on Russia; there is excitement at Parliament, and prayers for peace in some churches.

7.30pm-8.55pm: Extraordinary meeting of New Zealand's Executive (Cabinet, presided over by the Governor).

Preparing for war: Soldiers in camp at Oringi, south of Dannevirke, before they headed to the battlefields during World War 1. The camp housed over 4000 men.
Preparing for war: Soldiers in camp at Oringi, south of Dannevirke, before they headed to the battlefields during World War 1. The camp housed over 4000 men.

1914, AUGUST 3 (MONDAY)

6.30am: Germany demands passage through Belgium for its troops (necessary to implement the 'Schlieffen Plan' to encircle the French army).

Around 9am: British government decides on general mobilisation.

6.30pm: Belgium rejects German ultimatum.

Around 9pm: New Zealand naval forces placed under direct British control. New Zealand begins censoring international cables. The third member of the Triple Alliance, Italy, declares itself neutral on the grounds that Austria-Hungary's invasion of Serbia was an act of aggression.

1914, AUGUST 4 (TUESDAY)

Around 3am: Foreign Secretary Sir Edward Grey confirms British guarantee (under 1839 Treaty of London) of Belgian neutrality.

5.30am: Germany declares war on France. Secret alliance between Germany and the Ottoman Empire signed in Berlin.

Around 3pm: Massey tells the House that naval reservists have been called to their ships and the Garrison Artillery to their forts, which 'will be fully manned day and night'; international cables are being censored; all ships entering the four main ports are being examined; the training ship HMS Philomel has been handed back to direct British control. Postmaster-General Robert Heaton Rhodes announces that, since Sunday, war news has been posted outside post offices.

Around 7.30pm: German troops enter Belgium.

Around 8pm: Telegram: 'Auckland Flying Club unanimously place their homing pigeons at Government's disposal'.

11.30pm: King Albert of Belgium appeals to France and Britain for military support.

1914, AUGUST 5 (WEDNESDAY)

5.30am: Britain demands German withdrawal from Belgium.

10.30am: Britain declares war on Germany.

10.40am: Crowds in London's Whitehall link arms and sing patriotic songs.

10.50am: Telegram sent to British Army and Royal Navy: 'War, Germany, act'.

Around 12.55pm: Telegraphed news of the outbreak of war is received in Wellington by the Governor, Lord Liverpool.

2.35pm: Eastern Maori MP Āpirana Ngata complains that telegrams can no longer be sent in Māori - yet French is acceptable.

3pm: The outbreak of war is announced by the Governor, Lord Liverpool, from the steps of Parliament.

4.10pm, 4.55pm: The two houses of Parliament adjourn after resolving to take the 'necessary steps' to 'have in readiness an Expeditionary Force'.

Evening: Defence Minister James Allen announces that 8000 men are wanted for the expeditionary force.

During World War I, Wairarapa housed the largest permanent military training camp established in New Zealand. It could house over 7000 soldiers at a time, and was used for training over 60,000 men.
During World War I, Wairarapa housed the largest permanent military training camp established in New Zealand. It could house over 7000 soldiers at a time, and was used for training over 60,000 men.

1914, AUGUST 6 (THURSDAY)

Austria-Hungary belatedly declares war on Russia, France and Britain

3.30am: The Committee of Imperial Defence meets in London; it decides to send six (reduced to four) divisions to northern France as a British Expeditionary Force.

2.40pm: Massey promises to post official war news at Parliament and the Government Buildings.

1914, AUGUST 7 (FRIDAY)

4pm: Massey tells the House of Representatives that "it is now certain that the Expeditionary Force will be required". Whether Māori will be accepted for service overseas is up to the imperial authorities.

- All times are New Zealand time - NZ History.net.nz

By the numbers:

* 120,000: New Zealanders enlisted, and around 100,000 served overseas.

* 1 million: The total population of NZ in 1914 was just over 1 million.

* 273: conscientious objectors were imprisoned for refusing military service.

* 11: Victoria Crosses were won by soldiers serving with New Zealand forces.

- Rotorua Daily Post

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