Alexander Pepys’ War Diary – July 1914

JULY 1914

Although the sun shines strongly over the sea as it has done for evenings past, now her rays strike cold upon our English earth .  Not that we are out of favour with her, perhaps our European empires have upset her.  The Austrian has just declared war on her Balkan neighbour to revenge the murder.

Internal memos have given more urgency to complete our rail plans.  Though I think we should keep out of the quarrels of the quarrelsome European tribes I am not the Foreign Secretary .  So after an intense few days in the Ministry  our Minister was able to report to Cabinet the rail plans are ready for putting into practice.  I suspect the German Empire has had such plans ready for years since Bismarck saw the advantages of moving it troops and horses by train – after occupying Paris in 1871.

My mother has written to me in anguish about her Russian cousins.  Are the threatening hostilities in the Balkans likely to spread like a contagion over eastern Europe and infect Holy Russia ?  She still feels affinity to their country even though they rarely came to summer on the Riviera.  Her Papa Onegin loves living in Surenes with Mere Marie and their ghastly poodles

I wrote back yesterday I could not reassure her, had she contacted Boris – after he might still have contacts in the Russian military ever since he served on the Tsar’s staff until captured in the Crimea when his horse was shot.  Also I could not reveal the extent of decisions being made along our Government’s corridors.

Knowing my Minister’s barracking, the wife pleased me greatly by driving to the station each evening so I did not have to walk wearily up the hill.  So we had time to enjoy a glass of wine before John served us dinner, prepared as usual by Cook Flora.  Sitting afterwards on the verandah before bed I outlined to my family why I felt chilled by the sun.