How a community saw the war unfold

WAR DECLARATION: The Shuttle reported

WAR DECLARATION: The Shuttle reported "the terrible calamity of war is upon us".

First published in Local
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Kidderminster Shuttle: Photograph of the Author by , Reporter

TODAY it is 100 years since Britain declared war on Germany.

Archive copies of The Shuttle highlight the impact the announcement had on life in Wyre Forest and provide an insight into the public mood during the early stages of the First World War.

The newspaper of August 8, 1914, stated “the terrible calamity of war is upon us” and encouraged people to “keep calm, whatever happens there must be no war feverishness”.

It continued with a patriotic message, explaining: “No-one believes Germany can carry her impetuous crusade to a successful issue.

“We have confidence in the efficiency of our Navy and Army to uphold the prestige and honour of this country.”

The week was described as “exciting”, with “stirring scenes” of men enrolling to fight and the “unusual sight of Territorials with rifles and fixed bayonets” stationed at Kidderminster Town Hall, the Corn Exchange and The Shrubbery.

There was a heavy run at local grocery shops, with some stores cleared out of provisions, while a panic ensued when members of the public wrongly thought the Co-Operative Society was closing down.

Red Cross branches in Kidderminster, Bewdley, Stourport and Hartlebury also began preparations to set up temporary hospitals for soldiers and sailors.

One week later The Shuttle’s edition of August 15, 1914 summarised the area’s first experiences of war as “novel”.

It stated: “For a week Kidderminster has had, for her, the entirely novel experience of being a military centre.

“With our streets full of horse, foot and artillery and the signs of busy preparations for war on every hand, the inhabitants have had an exciting time.

“With the departure of our Territorials the town resumes its normal aspect of peaceful industry.

“We feel every confidence in our gallant boys. Wherever they may find themselves they will do their duty for home and country.

“It remains for us who are left to do our part.”

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