Where Were You When
the War Broke Out?Henry Norris in
updated: Febuary 2008
TO START WITH, SOME
CLEAR INDICATIONS THAT IN ENGLAND THEY WEREN’T EXPECTING WAR:
Summer 1914: Henry Norris and several of his friends organised
a 10-day holiday tour of the Rhineland.
Date unknown, but
shortly before war broke out between Britain and Germany: Spurs signed a German player called
Streckfuss.When Germany’s armed forces were all called up he had to
return to Germany.
August 1914 Pre-season training and preparations carried
on as normal, at Arsenal and all other football clubs.
LAST STAGES ON THE
ROUTE TO WAR:
Fri 31 July orSat 1 August 1914: Germany declared war on Russia and invaded Luxembourg, whose neutrality was guaranteed by the Treaty
of London 1867.Probably Sat 1
August 1914 German
troops moved into France, although war between the two nations had not yet been officially
declared.At 5.15 that day,
Kaiser Wilhelm formally ordered the mobilisation of all Germany’s armed forces.
BUT on the morning
of Sat 1 August 1914 Henry Norris, Edith Norris and their friends
George Peachey and Mr and Mrs Middleton, with the Middletons’ son, still set
out by car for the Continent.By the night
of Sat 1 August 1914the party had reached Dunkirk.After
some problems at the border, they all crossed into Belgium.Clearly, certain news of what was going on was hard to come by - or they
didn’t believe it - because during Sun 2 August 1914 they travelled on to Ostend.They
stayed the night of Sun 2-Mon 3 August 1914 in a hotel at Ostend but realised that the political/military
situation was very serious indeed and decided to return immediately to England.
On Mon 3
institutions in Britain began preparing for war: the Bank of England raised interest rates, the
Navy began to call up its reserves.And
on Mon 3 August 1914 so many people were trying to get to England that Henry Norris and his friends weren’t able
to get onto the boat leaving Boulogne at .During
the evening of Mon 3 August 1914 the German ambassador to France and the French ambassdor to Germany were recalled.
During Tue 4
August 1914German troops crossed the border into Belgium.And on
Tue 4 August 1914 the Norrises, George Peachey and Mr and Mrs Middleton were able to get
onto the 11.00 local time ferry to Folkestone.There was no room on the ferry for the car,
however, so the Middleton’s son drove it into France in search of a cross-channel berth for
it.Arrived back in England, during the evening of Tue 4
August 1914 Henry
and Edith Norris, and George Peachey took the train back to London.The
Middletons waited in Folkestone until their son and the car arrived on a ferry
at 03.00 Wed 5 August 1914; they reached Fulham later that day.
As of Tue 4 Aug 1914Great Britain was at war with Germany after Germany rejected a British request to guarantee Belgium’s neutrality.The ambassadors of each country were sent home.France and Russia were also at war with Germany from this time.
The outbreak of war was described by Henry Norris as a financial
disaster for Arsenal FC, burdened as it was by the large costs of laying out
the football ground at Highbury and building the grandstand.However, he was saying this in 1927 - when he
knew that the war had lasted four hideous years.In August 1914, the general expectation was
that the fighting would have ended by Christmas so the full extent of Arsenal’s
problems wouldn’t have been clear.Why
do people always believe this about wars?It’s never true!In 1927 Norris
said that he had made arrangements with the club’s major creditors - St John’s
College for payment of the rent, and Humphreys Ltd for money owed on the
grandstand - but it’s not clear exactly when these negotiations took place; possibly
not until after May 1915.
Immediately on the
outbreak of World War 1 a
great many people throughout Britain were laid off as factories shut down in
anticipation of falling demand.And the
Government introduced both censorship of the press, and rationing of
paper.The local newspapers I used for
my researches into Henry Norris’ life all went immediately from 8 or 10 pages
per issue to 4 and football coverage was amongst the news that was curtailed as
a result, though the number of adverts (on which they depended for income)
didn’t drop, at least in the first few months of the war.
Also as soon as the
war broke out: Henry Norris
and William Allen had discussions about how the partnership should deal with
the consequences of war.They made two
main decisions: firstly that they would allow any of their employees who wanted
to, to volunteer for the armed forces; and secondly that Allen would take sole
charge of the daily running of the firm, leaving Norris free to concentrate (as
mayor and as concerned, loyal citizen) on war work.
On Wed 5
August 1914George V issued a proclamation mobilising the
British armed forces.
August 1914 Henry
Norris had organised an office within FulhamTown Hall where local reservists could go through the enlistment procedure.An office for new volunteers (that is, men
not on the reserve list) had also been set up, initially at the Everingham
Street LCC schools although within a few days it had moved to Munster Road girls’ secondary school. On Fri 7
August 1914 Lord Kitchener,
at the War Office, began a drive to recruit 100,000 volunteers to fight.The iconic ‘your country needs you’ poster
first appeared on this day, in the Times and other newspapers.
At 11.00 on Sat 8
August 1914 as the Mayor of Fulham, Henry Norris chaired a first meeting of
the National Relief Fund (NRF), set up to pay money to the families of war
volunteers.The NRF’s money was to be
administered through the local authorities - the first of many additions to
their remit, which put a severe strain on those few workers left working in
town halls as more and more men went to war.Norris made a speech at this first NRF meeting in which he criticised
and threatened to prosecute some local shop-owners who had increased their food
On Wed 12
Aug 1914 Henry
Norris chaired another meeting of the London Borough of Fulham at which it was
agreed to allow reservists working for the Borough to join their units; and to
issue an assurance to council employees wishing to volunteer that they would be
paid in full during their absence at war.
On the evening of
Thur 13 August 1914 Henry Norris was back at the FulhamTown Hall - his grand-children told me that during the war he had so much to do
there that he often slept the night there.On this occasion he was chairing the first administrative meeting of the
NRF, at which the committees were set up which would do the daily work of
collecting and handing out money.Any
money the Fund would have was NOT going to be coming from government.Henry Norris and Edith had made a donation to
the Fund which was meant to set an example and was the largest so far -
£100.Their daughters Joy, Peggy and
Nanette, Henry’s sister Ada
(who lived with them) and even their cook had also been required to make donations.The meeting organised a survey of the needs
of local residents; Norris’ friend Councillor Flèche took charge of it.
beginning of the football season was looming.On Fri 14 August 1914 in West London and Fulham Times, the
new football writer Gee Whiz was amongst those voicing the concern football
people in general were feeling, wondering whether the season should go
ahead.Gee Whiz reported that four London football grounds were already being used by
the military; I think they didn’t include either Craven Cottage or Highbury.
The meeting of the
London Borough of Fulham on the evening of Wed 19 August 1914 was mainly concerned with how to carry out the
Borough’s legal duties in the likely absence of all those employees who were
likely to volunteer.
In the evening of
Thur 20 August 1914 Henry Norris chaired another meeting of the
NRF, at which sub-committees were set up to distribute its money, based on the
local election ward boundaries.
On Thur 20
August 1914 the FA
sanctioned the first professional football match since the declaration of
war.It kicked off at on Sat 22 August 1914 and though I have no direct evidence, I’m sure
Henry Norris helped organise it.The
proceeds of Spurs 1 Arsenal 5all went to the newly-created Prince of
Wales Relief Fund; a crowd of 13564 was present at White Hart Lane for it.Another charity match was played on the evening of Thur 27
August 1914, the
proceeds of Chelsea v Fulham going to the Fulham branch of the
NRF.The score was 2-1, but the match
report isn’t clear who won!I think it
Norris may have been at the match; but on the other hand he may have been too
On Fri 28
Aug 1914 a report
in the Fulham Chronicle (which thought itself a social cut above the West
London and Fulham Times ) criticised those people who’d gone to Chelsea’s practice match, played on Thur 27
August.This was the first local shot in
a debate which (as season 1914/15 progressed) became very strident and
vitriolic, with the Times leading those who furiously criticised the FA, the
clubs, the players and the crowds for carrying on with professional football in
time of war.Henry Norris played a vocal
part in the debate, firmly on the side of professional football continuing, and
for using matches as an occasion to go out after recruits to the armed
forces.Nearly all the football
reporters in the local newspapers I looked in took part in it too, and most
came out in favour of professional football continuing, at least in the first
few months of the war, but it was clear that they found it a difficult issue,
both in themselves and in attempting to justify it to its critics.
On the afternoon of
Sat 29 August 1914 there was an incident at Craven Cottage with a man called Charrington
who was a leader of the noisy campaign against the continuation of professional
football now Britain was at war.I’m not sure what
fixture was being played; it was probably a pre-season practice match.The crowd of 12000 included Fred Wall,
secretary of the FA.He was almost
certainly there officially on the FA’s behalf, because Norris - presumably in
an attempt to calm the debate - had invited Charrington to be the guest of the
Fulham FC directors provided he didn’t use the occasion to make one of his
fiery, condemnatory speeches.Charrington turned up at the match but refused to obey Norris’ request,
so officials of Fulham FC escorted him from the ground.The mileage Charrington made of the incident
in the days that followed - he accused the Fulham employees of beating him up
as they threw him out - ruined a gesture Henry Norris had made with the very
best of intentions.
On Mon 31
August 1914 Henry
Norris managed to find the time to attend the funeral of his acquaintance at
the London Borough of Fulham, Councillor Winfield.
week-commencing Mon 31 August 1914 a second recruiting office opened in Fulham,
this time in the town hall.Lord
Kitchener had got his 100,000 recruits but had decided he needed at least
100,000 more.By this time there were
also tables outside the town hall at which local men could volunteer for the
Territorial Force (a precursor of the modern Territorial Army).
[ROGER THE NEXT FILE
IN THE SEQUENCE FOR 1914 IS SL14SD]
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