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The Great WarAs recorded in The Salisbury and Winchester JournalIn the months leading up to the war, life in Fordingbridge was going on in blissful ignorance of what was shortly to happen.In June the Journal reported that it was fine weather for a Fete that was held in Burgate Park, now the home of the Game Conservancy. This began with a procession through the town led by Hyde Band and a feature of the celebrations were numerous toasts including one to our, “Army, Navy and Auxiliary Forces”In the same month there was a meeting of the Board of Guardians and the Rural District Council that was held in the Workhouse, now the old hospital. The County Medical Officer had written to this body calling for posters to be displayed, “…encouraging the public to destroy flies”, which he saw as a major health hazard. The assembled worthies obviously did not share his concerns and after laughing at a joke about where the posters might be displayed resolved to take no action.At the end of the month there was a Military Review on Salisbury Plain to celebrate the King’s Birthday. The 6000 troops made a “magnificent spectacle” and drew in spectators from far and wide. The paper concluded that, “The parade clearly demonstrated the unquestioning loyalty of the troops….and served once more to emphasise the character and quality of the British soldier.” Little did they know how much that character and unquestioning loyalty would be called on over the next four years.The July 4th edition reported the death of Joseph Chamberlain but also carried a report about the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand which flagged up the potential dangers of the event but also hoped that all would be well. “The House of Hapsburg has long presented one of the most tragic spectacles of Europe”, the paper reported. “A series of tragedies has culminated in the assassination of The Archduke Francis Ferdinand, heir to the uneasy throne around which political intrigues have been woven almost without ceasing.” A note of despondency then creeps into the report. “Unreasoning anarchic folly has broken out again in a manner that makes one almost despair of the human race.” Having worried their readers they then go on to speculate about the consequences of the assassination. “The effect of the assassination of the heir to the Austria-Hungarian Throne is very unsettling to the peace of Europe. More than that cannot be said.” It concludes by saying, “The hope of all those who value peace is that….the Teutonic and Slav antagonisms may be softened in this area containing so much peril to the peace of Europe”After these reports, that must have made many of the readers of the paper anxious, little is reported during the rest of the month and life goes on as normal. In the 18th July edition the paper reports that it was showery for the Fordingbridge Horticultural show which was promoted by the New Forest Oddfellows. Luckily they had three large marquees for people to shelter in.Readers who thought things may have blown over would have been shocked and dismayed to read in the 8th August edition that, “During the past week events have marched with terrible rapidity……. Germany has declared war on Russia, France and Belgium has forced Great Britain to join forces with her allies to preserve the neutrality of Belgium and is now reported to be threatening Italy with war.” With uncanny foresight the article goes on to say, ” Europe has entered into a war in which whatever else may happen cannot fail to inflict fearful misery upon millions of people and to result in overwhelming disaster for one side or the other.”There is currently some debate amongst historians about who was responsible for starting the war. The journal had no doubt about it and said, “The world now knows that from the outset Austria and Germany intended to wage war. Their professions of peace were mere blinds intended to enable them to gain more time and mature their hostile plans. We can only suppose she is so swollen with arrogance as to believe she can defeat, in association with Austria, the combined forces of Russia, France, Great Britain, Italy and Belgium.” The writer then optimistically states, “Whom the gods would destroy they first make mad. The war may possibly be long and terrible but the fate of the German Empire is sealed.”The paper then makes reference to the overseas help from Britain’s colonies. “From overseas splendidly generous and patriotic offers of aid have come to the government”, whilst at home, ”the appeal for recruits is meeting with a magnificent response." From now on normal life was, for many activities, put on hold. Referring to the region covered by the paper the writer states, “In the city and country alike inhabitants are adapting themselves to the altered circumstances. Ordinary events have been relegated to the background with no complaints.”The Bishop of Salisbury asked his clergy to ring the church bells at noon so that people could stop what they were doing to pray, “…for all who suffer in mind, body or estate, whatever their nationality and for the blessing of peace as speedy and bloodless as God in his mercy may vouchsafe us.” The Dean of Salisbury was less conciliatory and more judgemental saying,”… that state which without moral necessity plunges the nation into war….(will) sooner or later receive the doom of divine retribution.”Meanwhile there seemed to be an outbreak of panic buying. Under the heading,” Rush to the Provision Shops”, the paper recorded that, “Many people handed in unusually large orders for goods” and it urges its readers to only, “…buy in quantities sufficient for current needs.” In turn the shopkeepers seemed to be cashing in on the crisis and, “nearly all kinds of provisions have increased in price during the week.”Organisation for the war progressed at a pace with 21 volunteers being enrolled at a muster of the Salisbury National Reserve in front of the market house. The war office meanwhile, anticipating future casualties, asked Salisbury to provide 50 beds “fully equipped” for the sick and wounded. The paper pointed out that the proximity to Southampton made this vitally important. It was agreed that the hospital would provide 50 beds at 3 days’ notice and 100 beds at 6 days’ notice.Local committees were set up to relieve possible distress and distribute relief.A Salisbury motor section was proposed and people were requested to volunteer their motor vehicles and it was suggested that a squad of 20 motorcyclists be set up, “…ready to go anywhere and do anything.”Salisbury Museum’s proposed Jubilee festival was abandoned and a scheme for a Golf Links at Bishopstone was postponed. Aliens were told that they must register.Fordingbridge was not lagging behind and the paper reported that. “A large and enthusiastic meeting was held in the Town hall on Wednesday for the purposes of organising various voluntary bodies in case of emergency.” The initiative for this meeting had been taken by Dr Finigan who was, as well as being a medical doctor, a captain in the Territorial Reserves. He was supported by, “prominent residents from the neighbourhood”. He asked for recruits to come forwards to join the Territorials as well as volunteers for “special police”, for the British Red Cross Society, postmen, cyclist patrols, signallers and for means of transport. The vicar supported the appeal and Dr Rake said that if Dr Finigan was called away on duty that he would undertake Dr Finigan’s medical practice for him, “ … a statement which evoked hearty applause”. Signatures of volunteers were asked for and “upwards of 100 gave in their names” to help with the various organisations. The meeting ended with the National Anthem being sung.