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The start of World War I as seen from the Yukon Territory

Arctic & Northern military history and issues

Highlights of History from The Whitehorse Star

Dateline: August 4, 2023.

    What we now know as World War I officially began on July 28, 1914, but in The Weekly Star of July 31st there is only a single brief paragraph on Page 4 that ends with "On the whole it looks as though the longing for war in European countries is about to be satistied."

    The next issue, however (August 7, 1914), had a great deal of war news on its four pages, and we have reproduced all of those articles on this page.

The Weekly Star - Friday, August 7, 1914

Headline: All Europe Struggles In Bloody Conflict - Greatest General War in World's History - August 7, 1914

    Brussels, Aug, 6 - Two forts lying outside the main fortifications at Liege were evacuated by the Belgians as the battle with the Germans grew hotter. Terrific fighting is now in progress. The German loss is 10,000 and that of the Belgians much less. Both sides are rushing reinforcements. Aviators on both sides are directing the fighting. A huge German Zeppelin dirigible warship was destroyed by a Belgian high-angle gun. There was a terrific gas explosion and the entire crew of 26 men were killed.

    Paris, Aug. 6 - Advices have reached here that the Germans are shooting persons suspected of giving out information. The French warships have destroyed five German cruisers operating in Indian waters. A battle between French and German ships in the Medeteranean is said to be on.

    Harwich, Aug. 6 - British warships are surrounding the German fleet in the vicinity of Kiel.

    London, Aug. 6 - It is estimated that when England declared war there were 2000 German steamers and 3000 German sailing vessels on the high seas.

    The German cruiser Emden and the Russian Cruiser Askold sank each other in a fight off the coast of Northern China.

    The German fleet lying off Wilhelm Shaven is protected by land forts and a squadron of dirigibles.

    Rome, Aug. 6 - It is understood that the Italian government will wage war on Austria, defying Germany.


    (A general European war is threatened - in fact, might be said to be now on. The original cause was a trifling "flurry" between Austria-Hungary and Servia. The former accused the latter of permitting plots against the former to be concocted within her borders, for example, the assassination of Arch Duke Ferdinand and the Duchess on June 26. Servia practically plead guilty to the charge and promised to punish further plotters. Austria-Hungary was not satisfied with Servia's promise and declared war against her little neighbor. Russia admonished Austria-Hungary to not assail Servia. Germany told Austria-Hungary to go ahead. In what has followed the original cause of the trouble has been practically lost sight of and nearly every European power has been drawn into the squabble. The four large powers now involved in preparing to contest for supremacy are England, France and Russia on one side and Germany on the other.)

    Beginning on Sunday Telegrams have been received by the Weekly Star in the following order:


    Ottawa, Aug. 2 - (To editors throughout Canada.) Please post the following today:

    The admiralty has issued a call for Royal Naval Reservists to report for duty at once. The Canadian Government has been asked to make the announcement. Men of the Royal Naval Reserve are asked to accept this as notification and report at once."


    The dispatches of neat were indefinite aside from the following:


    London, Aug. 3 - The Times says Europe is about to see the most terrible war since the fall of the Roman Empire. Germany could have stayed the plague had she chosen. The German fleet has passed through Keil steaming westward.

    Paris, Aug. 3 - French and German airships are battling in the air. The French have destroyed several of the German air fleet without damage to their own.

    Albon, Belgium, Aug. 3 - Ten thousand troops are crossing Lumemberg, concentrating near Liege.

    Liege, Belgium, Aug. 3 - 20,000 German troops crossed the French frontier near Nancy and were repulsed with heavy losses.


    Washington, Aug, 4 - President Wilson has asked Congress for two hundred and fifty thousand dollars to bring Americans home from abroad. The President says American finances were never in better condition.


    Berlin, Aug. 4 - The declaration of war made against France gives Belgium twelve hours ultimatum to allow German troops to pass through Belgium territory to France. Already the Germans are advancing into Holland.

    Brussels, Aug.4 - The ultimatum of Germany has been rejected and the king has ordered the soldiers to enter Holland. At Limburg the people have opened the dikes, flooding the country and driving out the Germans.

    Paris, Aug. 4 - All diplomatic relations between France and Germany have been broken. Aeroplanes sent up at the border report the German army approaching.

    New York, Aug. 4 - All stock exchanges throughout the country have been closed.

    Tokio, Aug. 4 - Both German and English war fleets in the Far East are concentrating.


    London, Aug. 4 - No reports of any real land or sea engagements have passed the censors at any point. The British cabinet is divided on the war sentiment. John Burns and Lord Morley have resigned from the cabinet, not wanting war. The people however, are clamoring at Asquith to fight. Kitchener has been recalled from Egypt and will probably be made minister of war.



    London, Aug. 5 - King George has issued a proclamation mobilizing the British Army. The people are cheering and singing the Anthem. Britain has sent an ultimatum to Germany demanding a reply by midnight on the subject of the neutrality of Belgium. It is understood here Germany has declared war on Belgium.

    Berlin, Aug. 5 - The Kaiser has addressed a speech to the world in which he says France and Russia started the war. He is willing to send Americans home if America will supply the steamers.


    Washington, Aug. 5 - President Wilson signed a proclamation declaring America's neutrality so far as European nations are concerned. The American cruiser Tennessee leaves for Europe tomorrow carrying from six to eight million dollars for the relief of Americans abroad. The German embassy here has served notice that a state of war exists between Germany and France.

    Rome, Aug. 5 - Mobilization of the Italian army is complete.

    Athens, Aug. 5 - Turkey has ordered the mobilization of the army and navy.

    St. Petersburg, Aug. 5 - The Czar blames the Kaiser for the war.


    London, Aug. 5 - Britain declared war against Germany at 11 o'clock last night. Admiral Jellico assumes complete command of the home fleet. English ships laying mines in the North sea were seized by German warships. Thousand: of people cheered the declaration of war.

    Vancouver, Aug. 5 - This port has been closed to all but purely coastwise lines, only Americans and Japanese being permitted to operate. Canadians everywhere are ready to help the mother country in her fight.


    Berlin, Aug. 5 - The German army has invaded France at Cirey. Two German Cruisers reported captured by French on Medeteranean sea.

    Brussels, Aug. 5 - The Germans have been repulsed at both at Liege and Namur.

    Paris, Aug. 5 - It is reported the Germans have violated their neutrality with Switzerland.

    Vienna, Aug. 5 - The Austrians have been repulsed at Nich. The Servians have cut all wires and have begun their march to enter Bosnia.

    St. Petersburg, Aug. 5 - A German fleet of nineteen ships is located near Labau. Russian torpedo boats are establishing themselves in close contact with the enemy. The enemy on land is located along the greater part of the Russo-German frontier in Northwestern Prussia.


    Vancouver, B. C., Aug. 5 - England is at war with Germany. The British fleet has been ordered to wipe out the German navy.

    The King's message to the Colonies orders officers and men to join the fleet.

    A naval battle is reported in the North sea. Part of the wounded land at Cromarty, county of Aberdeen.

    The position of the German fleet in the North sea was made known by a destroyer which was chased by a German cruiser. Shots were exchanged. No damage.

    Anti-German rioting at Antwerp in the cafes and restaurants. Escrutcheon torn from the door of the German consulate.

    Japan is ready to live up to her alliance with Britain.

    The Germans demand the surrender of Liege. In the engagement the Belgians repulsed them.

    Squadron of German cavalry annihilated north of Nancy, fifty killed seventy five prisoners taken.

    The Germans crossed the border at Vellicott and were repulsed.


    Six trains of ammunition and supplies are being rushed from Quebec to Esquimalt.

    Stevens M. P., urging that steps be taken to protect Vancouver. May result in large guns being mounted at Point Atkinson and Point Grey.


    London, Aug. 6 - Germany declared war at about the same hour as did Britain. British and French squadrons have captured the German cruisers Grosben and Bresedau and the English cruiser Panther was sank off the coast of Algeria. The German embassy here is in charge of the American embassador.

    Constantinople, Aug. 6 - The Dardanelles and Bosphorous have been close in order to preserve neutrality.

    Stockholm, Aug. 6 - A steamer flying American flag is on her way to Berlin with the German embassador to Russia on board.

    Washington, Aug. 6 - President Wilson has sent a message to all the contesting powers offering his services as mediator.

    Berlin, Aug. 6 - Mobs have wrecked Russian embassy.

    Vancouver, Aug. 6 - The German consulate here has been wrecked by a Canadian mob. Immigration officers here are attempting to stop Germans and Austrians from fleeing to the United States.


    Berlin, Aug. 6 - After twelve hours of hard fighting one hundred thousand German soldiers have secured a foothold on French soil between Doucletimel and Nancy. The losses were heavy on both sides.

    Brussels, Aug. 6 - German invaders were effectually checked in their attempts to enter by Belgians fighting behind fortifications,.

    Portland, Maine. Aug. 6 - Heavy firing off the Maine coast was heard at about 7 o'clock last night by the keeper of the Portland observatory. Eight shots were heard within two minutes.

    Glasgow, Aug. 6 - Food famine threatens here. Many stores are closed. Sugar has jumped from five to twelve cents per pound.

    Washington, Aug. 6 - The cruiser Milwaukee, now on the Pacific, has been ordered to Vancouver to protect American interests in case Germans attack that city.

    Quebec, August 6 - Mines will be planted in the entire St. Lawrence river and all traffic will be suspended.

    Washington, Aug. 6 - President Wilson's wife is at the point of death from a complication of nervous ailments incident to Brights disease.

    All political parties are pleased with the President's offer to mediate the European trouble.

    Berlin, August 6 - The Russian frontier patrol has penetrated ten miles into Germany. An ultimatum has been sent to Italy that, unless she supports the allies, war will be declared on her.

    Mexico City, Aug. 6 - An agreement has been reached whereby the government will unconditionally surrender to the Constitutionalists.

    Paris, Aug. 6 - French troops have joined the Belgians in repulsing the Germans, the latter losing several thousand in a fight near Leige.

    London, Aug. 6 - Kitchener has been appointed secretary of state for the British cabinet with full direction of the military campaign against Germany.

    A wireless received here says fighting is now in progress in the North sea; that a British torpedo boat coming here with 200 prisoners says the Germans are being defeated everywhere.

    The Hague, Aug. 6 - Martial law has been declared in all parts of Holland.

Headline: All Europe Struggles In Bloody Conflict - August 7, 1914

    Since England has become. involved in the European war, many loyal subjects have come voluntarily to the front and offered their services to aid in maintaining the honor and integrity of the British Empire. Among those in Whitehorse who have offered their services are nine of the twelve members of the local Royal N. W. M. P. detachment, Captain Acland being the first to volunteer.

    Elsewhere in this paper is a call for a meeting of the Legion of Frontiersmen to be held Sunday at 2 p. m. at the bank. In order that its readers may understand the nature of the Legion of Frontiersmen, and in order that any and all citizens who wish to offer their services to their country in the present emergency, this paper presents the following from Sergeant L. McLauchlan:

    "At this time the Legion of Frontiersmen offers an opportunity to those having certain useful qualifications who do not belong to regular organizations, of offering their services in time of war. There are a great many such men in the Yukon Territory.

    "The Legion, it is safe to say, has a full regiment of one thousand such men with veteran officers under Lt. Col. Driscoll, D. S. O., now under arms in Great Britain.

    "There is every chance that such a body of troops will be among the first to be at the front and that from the numerous commands scattered abroad throughout the world a steady stream of men will be available to keep this regiment in the field at its full strength.

    "The membership in July was 9500. The qualifications are residence in a frontier country under frontier conditions: packers, axemen, hunters, guides, prospectors and others capable of undertaking certain useful and necessary duties indispensable to troops on active service. Ex-members of regular army, navy and colonial military police are also eligible. This force has at its disposal the service of some very able officers, as may be seen from the Gazette, a copy of which may be seen at the local bank."

Headline: On To Berlin - August 7, 1914

    The present slogan in France, "On to Berlin," will certainly materialize in the event existing fears in Europe mature. England, France and Russia are not the original "Tripple Alliance" but such they constitute at present and as such they will engage in common cause against Germany. And when they do, the latter with all her formidable war fleets, her well-drilled soldiers, the result of compulsory service, and the bull-dog tenacity characteristic of her peo- ple, will go down in defeat and the German empire will be effaced from the roll of world powers.

    The Germans are a superior class of people - quiet, industrious and peace-loving. They excel in the sciences, in inventive genius and in the excellence of manufactured products. It is their misfortune, however, to have as their ruling sovereign an eratic, hot headed egotist whose personal desire and chief ambition seems to be to go down in history as a second Napoleon. The kaiser is not typical of his country or characteristic of the German people. But, in keeping with the traditions of his fathers, he rules them with an iron hand and brave indeed is he who raises his voice in protest, thereby subjecting himself to the charge of treason and lese majesty.

    But for all the kaiser's resourcefulness and magnetism as a sovereign, there is an under current of dissatisfaction running quietly throughout his domain. The enormous cost of the defensive policy of Germany is beginning to pall on the people. They are taxed to death to build navies and maintain the army and they a peace-loving people. Only a few days ago the Vorwarts, one of the largest and most powerful socialist papers in Europe, flooded the streets of Berlin with extras appealing to socialists to join in holding gigantic mass meetings to protest against German participation in the impending conflict. In each extra, topped with flaming type, the Vorwarts declared:

    "A world war is threatening. The gravest hour is at hand, but not one drop of German blood shall be sacrificed to the conquering lust of Austria. We do not want war. Down with war and mount on high the international brotherhood."

    The above from the Vorwarts defines the sentiment of the under current which is running throughout the German empire today. The masses of Germany do not want war and forcing it upon them will do more to shake and weaken their loyalty than the kaiser, with all his bluff and bellow, his resourcefulness and personal magnetism, will ever be able to overcome once his domain is invaded with a foreign and victorious army.

    The French slogan, "On to Berlin," if carried to execution, means the dissolution of the German empire which is now classed as one of the greatest powers the world has ever known. And if the German empire is wiped out, Germans need not look beyond their own borders for the foe which encompassed their ruin. He is their ruling sovereign, their own vindictive, blustering, misguided kaiser, the greatest international disturber since the overthrow and final self-destruction of Nero.

Headline: May Have Good Effect - August 7, 1914

    If carried to a conclusion the present struggle in Europe may prove a blessing to the world at large as the result of it some means may be devised whereby peace may be insured other than by the expenditure of billions of dollars in war ships, the possession of which unquestionably serves to make the nations owning them more "cocky" than they would otherwise be. We have not the data at hand giving Germany's appropriation for military and naval defense for the present year, but that of England is the enormous total of three hundred and eighty five million dollars, twenty millions more than one million for every day in the year.

    Present indications in Europe are that a formidable array of defense does not protect a nation from war. In the case of England and Germany both would be practically as well off if neither had a navy. In fact, if every battle ship afloat was at the bottom of the deep, blue sea, the entire world would be better off than at present. But after any country has expended enormous amounts for defense, they rely more on such power for protection and are less liable to abide by the conclusions of peace tribunals that are the outgrowth of so-called modern civilization.

    In the event that England and Germany should contest to a finish the matter of supremacy on the water, there is little doubt but that both would be practically denuded of their navies by the time one or either would be conquered. Would that mean that they would then both expend a billion dollars or more in replacing their ships? Could either do it and at the same time develop their commercial industries without pauperizing their respective populaces?

    Modern civilization revolts at such a slaughter as is encompassed by modern battleships and it is high time the taxpaying masses refuse to longer permit of their construction, and as one result of the present turmoil in Europe we believe the world has witnessed the apex of battleship building.

    The telegram from Ottawa describing the unity in which Sir R. L. Borden and Sir Wilfrid Laurier went to work side by side and hand in hand on the receipt of news that England would probably become involved in the present European unpleasantness stamps both as possessed of that nobleness of heart and broad-mindedness of purpose which enables them to lay aside petty politics when an occasion of greater moment arrives. The example set by these two great men could be followed with profit all over the Dominion, including Whitehorse.

    When reports of naval engagements in European waters begin coming regularly we may expect to see something like the following: "Both sides were badly handicapped by the moving picture outfits which persisted in intruding themselves into the arena with such tenacity as to not only endanger their own lives but to greatly flustrate the gunners who, while anxious to well and faithfully discharge their duties, were at the same time anxious to appear to good advantage in the pictures.

    The call which came last Sunday for British naval reservists to report at Ottawa at once signifies that the situation is more grave than it appears at long range. In this immediate locality and employed on upper Yukon river steamers are said to be from a dozen to fifteen naval reserves, but as yet the exodus toward Ottawa has not set in. But it will set in if the men are really needed. Not only will naval reserves report, but Yukon will supply her quota of volunteers.

Headline: Canada Is Loyal to the Empire - August 7, 1914

    Ottawa, Aug. 3. - Canada has given prompt and official assurance to the Imperial government that Canadian people are united in common resolve to put forth every effort and make every sacrifice necessary to insure the integrity and maintain the honor of our Empire.

    The above is the substance of a message sent to the colonial secretary through acting Governor General Sir Louis Davis last night on request of the cabinet in council. The message was gratefully acknowledged in a cable received this afternoon which declared the motherland welcomed the whole-hearted assurance of co-operation of the people of Canada.

    The Canadian Government is taking prompt action to back up the assurance given the motherland. There are no political differences in the present crisis. Sir Wilfrid Laurier arrived last night from his home at Arthabasville and is ready to co-operate with Premier Borden in all necessary measures for the defense of the Empire. Other liberal leaders are arriving today on the same mission.

    At the militia department the usual Sabbath quiet yesterday was replaced by hurried preparations for war. Offers to go on active service have been pouring in for the past forty eight hours. They are from all sections of Canada and from all branches of the military service, the number of offers now being in excess of eleven thousand. The department is ready to act on a moments notice to mobilize a Canadian army division. The number of men to be mobilized at once has not yet been determined, but according to tentative plans will consist of approximately 21,000. If more are needed, they can be readily supplied. A second and third army division can be raised within a month.

    It is believed a session of the Dominion parliament will be called as soon as word is received that Britain is at war.

Headline: Picture Show Tonight - August 7, 1914

    Four long reels will be "cranked" off tonight at the picture show and all of them are specialties never before shown here. Among them will be the following:

    "Drama in the Air." A two reel feature film by the Pathe company.

    "Value Received." A rousing cowboy comedy.

    "How the Play was Advertised." High class comedy by the Pathe company.

    The usual dance will follow the show. The picture show management expects to give reproductions of European naval engagements very soon.

    Leo. Simmons, deputy collector of customs at Carcross, came down for a breath of metropolitan ozone Wednesday, returning next morning. He says when he left Carcross flags were flying from all homes and business houses and that half a dozen phonographs were playing "God save the King." Also, that Carcross is anxious to declare war against somebody and may select Whitehorse as the goat.