Object in Focus

Object in focus: First World War Centenary

4 August 2014 marked 100 years since Great Britain declared war against Germany and by doing so entered the First World War. On the morning of 4 August 1914 Germany invaded Belgium which led to the United Kingdom declaring war for this act of violation on Belgian neutrality. Germany was asked by the United Kingdom to assure them that Belgium would remain neutral, Germany responded but the reply was deemed unsatisfactory and so His Majestys Government declared war at 11pm that evening.

The following statement was issued from the Foreign Office: ‘Owing to the summary rejection by the German Government of the request made by His Majesty’s Government for assurances that the neutrality of Belgium would be respected, His Majesty’s Ambassador in Berlin has received his passport, and His Majesty’s Government has declared to the German Government that a state of war exists between Great Britain and Germany as from 11pm on August 4, 1914’.

In the beginning many thought the war would not last long and the phrase ‘it will be over by christmas’ was often uttered. Many young men  felt duty bound to protect their country and so enlisted voluntarily, especially with the opinion that they would be home again soon, once the war was won. The below poster was issued in Erith as part of a recruitment drive to gather more soldiers. Posters like this existed all over the United Kingdom to gather men to fight for King and country. It was not until 1916 that conscription was introduced meaning that all single men aged between 18 and 45 were liable to be called up for military service. By June 1916 the law was changed to include married men.


This Christmas certificate was issued in 1916. The war had already continued for two Christmases and was going on longer than anyone had expected. Children had not seen their fathers for a very long time and so made packages of small items to send to all the soldiers and sailors who would not be home for Christmas.

It was not until November 11,1918 that an Armistice was reached with Germany War was finally over and the Allies had won. This embroidered card was made shortly after the war ended. Can you name all the Allied flags shown here?

Please spare a thought for the men and women that died fighting for this country.

The answer for the flags is left to right- Russia, France, Great Britain and Italy.