The start of WW1: Austria-Hungary declares war

Posted on July 28th, 2014 by The British Newspaper Archive

World War One officially started on 28 July 1914 when Austria-Hungary declared war on Serbia.

There are currently 25 newspapers from 28 July 1914 available to view online at The British Newspaper Archive. You’ll find clippings from some of these newspapers below, showing how the start of the war was reported.
 

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Austria-Hungary’s declaration of war starts WW1

The Serbian Prime Minister received a telegram at 12.30pm on 28 July 1914. It stated that ‘Austria-Hungary… considers herself henceforward in state of war with Serbia’.

While many British newspapers were printed early in the morning and did not include news of the declaration of war, it was featured in some of the later editions. These included the Manchester Evening News, Evening Telegraph and Yorkshire Evening Post.

Austria-Hungary's declaration of war, reported in the Manchester Evening News

Manchester Evening News – Tuesday 28 July 1914
Image © Trinity Mirror. Image created courtesy of THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD.

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The start of World War One as reported in the Evening Telegraph

Evening Telegraph – Tuesday 28 July 1914
Image © D.C.Thomson & Co. Ltd. Image created courtesy of THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD.

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The Yorkshire Evening Post reports the start of the First World War

Yorkshire Evening Post – Tuesday 28 July 1914
Image © Johnston Press plc. Image created courtesy of THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD.

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Peace or war? Before the news reached Britain

It’s fascinating to read the newspapers that were printed earlier on 28 July 1914, before news of Austria-Hungary’s declaration of war had reached Britain.

Some newspapers took the line that war had already begun, even though it had not been officially declared. This approach was taken by the Exeter and Plymouth Gazette.

The Exeter and Plymouth Gazette reports the start of WW1

Exeter and Plymouth Gazette – Tuesday 28 July 1914
Image © Local World Limited. Image created courtesy of THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD.

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The Manchester Courier and Lancashire General Advertiser took a different view. The newspaper reported that the situation was ‘in the balance’ and that a peaceful solution was still possible.

The Manchester Courier and Lancashire General Advertiser reported that peace was still possible on the day WW1 started

Manchester Courier and Lancashire General Advertiser – Tuesday 28 July 1914
Image © Local World Limited. Image created courtesy of THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD.

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News filtered through: WW1 has started

You’ll find full reports about the start of World War One in the newspapers published on 29 July 1914, the day after Austria-Hungary declared war.

Some even included images, such as these examples from the Daily Record.

Photos of the day World War One started, published in the Daily Record

Daily Record – Wednesday 29 July 1914
Image © Trinity Mirror. Image created courtesy of THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD.

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Read the news from 1914