Document Numbers 426-445

1 August 1914
Return to Index
Go to Document Numbers 446-475

(35370) No. 426.
Sir Edward Grey to Sir E. Bertie.
Foreign Office, August 1, 1914.
Tel (No. 299.)
D. 8:20 P.M.

After the Cabinet to-day, I told M. Cambon that the present position differed entirely from that created by the Morocco incidents. In the latter, Germany made upon France demands that France could not grant, and in connection with which we had undertaken special obligations towards France. In these, public opinion would have justified the British Government in supporting France to the utmost of their ability. Now, the position was that Germany would agree not to attack France if France remained neutral in the event of war between Russia and Germany. If France could not take advantage of this position it was because she was bound by an alliance to which we were not parties, and of which we did not know the terms. This did not mean that under no circumstances would we assist France, but it did mean that France must take her own decision at this moment without reckoning on an assistance that we were not now in a position to promise.

M. Cambon said that he could not transmit this reply to his Government, and he asked me to authorise him to say that the British Cabinet had not yet taken any decision.

I said that we had come to a decision: that we could not propose to Parliament at this moment to send an expeditionary military force to the continent. Such a step had always been regarded here as very dangerous and doubtful. It was one that we could not propose, and Parliament would not authorise unless our interests and obligations were deeply and desperately involved.

M. Cambon said that the French coasts were undefended. The German fleet might come through the Straits any day and attack them.

I said that that might alter public feeling here, and so might a violation of the neutrality of Belgium. He could tell his Government that we were already considering the Belgian point, and that I would ask the Cabinet to consider the point about the French coasts. He could say that the Cabinet had not yet taken any decision on these points.

Cf. No. 447.

No. 427.
Sir M. de Bunsen to Sir Edward Grey.
Vienna, August 1, 1914.
D. 3:50 P.M.
Tel. (139.)
R. 9 P.M.

Following for Director of Naval Intelligence from Naval Attaché:

"General mobilisation of army and fleet."

Part published in BB No. 127.
Cf. No. 887.

(35314) No. 428.
Sir F. Bertie to Sir Edward Grey.
Paris, August 1, 1914.
D. 7:10 P.M.
Tel. (No. 111.)
R. 9:20 P.M.

Political Director tells me that German Ambassador called at Ministry for Foreign Affairs this morning. He was informed that French Government do not comprehend for what reason his communication yesterday evening was made. It seemed to them strange that, at a moment when Russia and Austria were ready to converse, German Government presents an ultimatum at St. Petersburg requiring immediate demobilisation by Russia, general mobilisation in that country not having been ordered until after decree of Austrian general mobilisation, and Russian Government having expressed its readiness to demobilise if all Powers did likewise. There not being any differences at issue between Germany and France, it appeared an extraordinary proceeding for Ambassador to make a menacing communication requesting for an answer the next day, and intimating that if answer were not satisfactory he would have to break off diplomatic relations and leave Paris.

German Ambassador stated that he had packed up, but he said nothing about passports. He is to see Minister for Foreign Affairs this evening.

Published in BB To, 126 (paraphrased).
See F Nos. 120, 125.

(35325) No. 429.
Sir R. Rodd to Sir Edward Grey.
Rome, August 1, 1914.
D. 1:30 P.M.
Tel. (No. 140.)
R. 9:30 P.M.

French Ambassador informs me that he has heard that German merchant vessels in Mediterranean have been instructed in case of necessity to make for Sicilian ports.

(35326) No. 430.
Sir R. Rodd to Sir Edward Grey.
Rome, August 1, 1914.
D. 7:26 P.M.
Tel. (No. 141.)
R. 9:30 P.M.

My telegram No. 189.(1)

Minister for Foreign Affairs says that this morning either he misunderstood German Ambassador or that latter was misled with regard to German demands to Russia and France imposing time limit for answer as they had not been communicating up to an early hour this morning at Paris.

Rome press of this morning nevertheless contains announcement but not an official one of Italy's intention to observe neutrality.

(1) No. 365.

(35345) No. 431.
Mr. Grant Duff to Sir Edward Grey.
Berne, August 1, 1914.
D. 5:55 P.M.
Tel. (No. 3.)
R. 9:45 P.M.

Swiss army will mobilise 3rd August.

Financial panic here. All banks refusing cheques on abroad. Change unobtainable. As Switzerland is filled with British tourists, grave position may arise. Would it be possible to send messenger here with £500 in gold? Many provision dealers are sold out, six or seven closed. Government are taking sensible steps to allay excitement. Should be glad if military attaché could be sent here.

Very Secret.

French military attaché ( ? has) just told me that he has certain information that Germany is mobilising. He has informed Paris.

(35844) (b.)
Berne, August 1, 1914.
D. 7:10 P.M.
Tel. (Unnumbered.)
R. 10:15 P.M.

Federal Council have ordered partial mobilisation of the whole of the Swiss army.

(35299) No. 432.
Sir Edward Grey to Sir G. Barclay.
Foreign Office, August 1, 1914.
Tel. (No. 10.)
D. 9:50 P.M

The war. Your telegram No. 28 of 1st August :(1) Roumanian neutrality.

We cannot give advice.

(1) No. 416.

(35112) No. 433.
Sir Edward Grey to Sir R. Rodd.
Foreign Office, August 1, 1914.
Tel. (No. 247.
D. 9:55 P.M.

The war. Your telegram No. 139 of 31st July.(1)

It has been our general practice to issue a proclamation of neutrality after the outbreak of a war in which we have decided to take no part.

(1) No. 365.

(35341) No. 434.
Mr. Findlay to Sir Edward Grey.
Christiania, August 1, 1914.
D. 6:5 P.M.
Tel. (No. 23.)
R. 10 P.M.

Following communication has just been made to press:

"The Norwegian Government has to-day declared itself neutral Power in war between Austria-Hungary and Servia. The Government has taken the necessary steps to safeguard Norwegian neutrality. The coast fortifications have been placed in a position of defence, and greater part of those men-of-war not already in commission are being prepared for defence of the country's neutrality."

Cf. No. 475.

(35331) No. 435.
Mr. Crackanthorpe to Sir Edward Grey.
Nish, August 1, 1914.
D. 4 P.M.
Tel. (No. 79.)
R. 10 P.M.

British Vice-consul telephones that situation is becoming critical in Belgrade. There is a general panic and the inhabitants are hiding in cellars during intermittent bombardment.

It is urgently necessary that immediate pressure be brought to bear upon the Austrian military authorities to allow train to approach Belgrade under white flag to convey away non-combatants, among whom are several British subjects.

Cf. No. 463.

(35371) No. 436.
Sir Edward Grey to Sir C. Greene (Tokyo).
Foreign Office, August 1, 1914.
Tel. (No. 35.)
D. 10 P.M.

I told the Japanese Ambassador to-day that the situation in Europe was very grave.

We had not yet decided what our action should be, but under certain conditions we might find it necessary to intervene. If, however, we did intervene, it would be on the side of France and Russia, and I therefore did not see that we were likely to have to apply to Japan under our alliance, or that the interests dealt with by the alliance would be involved. You should inform Minister for Foreign Affairs.

Cf. No. 571.

(35400) No. 437.
Communication by the Greek Minister.

The Greek Minister called to make the following urgent communication from his Government:

1. Greek Government learn from good source in Constantinople that Austrian Ambassador there asked Orient Railway Company the quantity of coal in the Company' depôts in Salonica: what quantity they had for working trains, and what quantity they could, if necessary, provide for the Austrian squadron which might go to Salonica to intercept munitions of war destined for Servia viâ that port. (Made confidentially and with all reservation.)

2. From a good source Greek Government learn that firm of Karl Burner of Hamburg are negotiating in Turkey for purchase of old rifles, to send them secretly to India to arm Moslems: it is believed that the Young Turks are party to this move

I thanked M. Gennadius.

August 1, 1914.

Cf. No. 438.

(35400) No. 438.
Sir Edward Grey to Mr. Beaumont (Constantinople).
Foreign Office, August 1, 1914.
Tel. (No. 330.) Confidential.
D. 10 P.M.

Greek Government have informed me confidentially that they learn from a good source that the firm of Karl Burner of Hamburg are negotiating in Turkey for purchase of old rifles, intention being to send them secretly to India to arm Moslems. It is believed that Young Turks are party to this action.

Can you obtain any confirmation of report?

Cf. No. 437.

(33815) No. 439.
Sir F. Bertie to Sir Edward Grey.
Paris, August 1, 1914.
D. 8:35 P.M.
Tel. (No. 112.)
R. 10 P.M.

Military attaché reports following information from War Office, 5 P.M.

"Germans continue pushing troops towards frontier. Great activity at Berlin railway stations; troop trains proceeding both towards east and west frontiers. It is believed German mobilisation taking place on Russian frontier, and that six corps will be employed against Russia."

(35322) No. 440.
Sir G. Buchanan to Sir Edward Grey.
St. Petersburg, August 1, 1914.
D. 8 21 P.M.
Tel. (No. 200.)
R. 10 P.M.

His Majesty's Consul at Riga reports that all foreign telegrams refused.

No foreign vessels allowed to leave Baltic and Finland ports.

(35342) No. 441.
Mr. Findlay to Sir Edward Grey.
Christiania, August 1, 1914.
D. 6:5 P.M.
Tel. (No. 24.)
R. 10:10 P.M.

Norwegian Minister for Foreign Affairs has made the following communication to the press:

"Norwegian Consul-General at Hamburg has telegraphed that all ships lying in Hamburg and Cuhaven are forbidden to leave those ports until further notice."

(35329) No. 442.
Mr. Crackanthorpe to Sir Edward Grey.
Nish, July 30, 1914.
D. August 1, 5:20 P.M.
Tel. (No. 72.)
R. August 1, 10:15 P.M.

Prime Minister informs me that news has been received that the Austrians had crossed the river Drina forming Servian frontier opposite Bielina and are also advancing towards Plevlic in the sanjak.

(36826) No. 443.
Swiss Minister to Sir Edward Grey. (Received August 1.)
M. le Secrétaire d'État, Légation de Suisse, Londres, le 1er août, 1914.

Sur l'ordre de mon Gouvernement, j'ai l'honneur d'informer votre Excellence que le Conseil fédéral de la Confédération suisse a décidé la mobilisation de toute l'armée, à partir d'aujourd'hui.

Cette mesure a pour seul but le maintien de l'intégrité et de la neutralité de la Confédération.

J'ajoute qu'une déclaration formelle de neutralité, de la part de la Suisse, sera notifiée ultérieurement au Gouvernement de Sa Majeste britannique.

Veuillez, &c.

Cf. No. 431.

(35346) No. 444.
Sir H. Lowther to Sir Edward Grey.
Copenhagen, August 1, 1914.
D. 6:50 P.M.
Tel. (No. 19.)
R. 10:15 P.M.

Following information confirmed by M.F.A.:

2,700 reserve marine artillery and seamen called out to strengthen defences.

No question of mobilisation.

Proclamation of neutrality issued by Denmark yesterday in terms of Royal ordinance of December 20th, 1912.

Proclamations issued simultaneously by Norway and Sweden.

Danish Bank rate has risen to about 7 per cent. Bourse was closed to-day.

(35323) No. 445.
Sir G. Buchanan to Sir Edward Grey.
St. Petersburg, August 1, 1914.
D. l:20 P.M.
Tel. (No. 201.)
R. 11:15 P.M.

German Ambassador handed to Minister for Foreign Affairs formal declaration of war this evening at 7 o'clock.