Britain and the Outbreak of War 15.05.14

First World War lecture 2nd May 2014

Professor John Young

On Friday 2nd May Professor John Young (Nottingham University), the father of Deputy Head Boy, David Young, delivered an insightful and enjoyable lecture to 150 boys, parents and members of staff in the Grammar School Drama Studio.

Professor Young focussed his lecture on the reasons why the British government in 1914 had no choice but to enter the First World War. This was based upon a general assumption in government that the war would be ‘over by Christmas’ and as a result, British interests would have suffered from either a Franco-Russian, or a German victory . On the one hand, the French and Russians would have felt let down by their Entente partner and this could have harmed British interests in Africa and India. On the other hand, German domination of Europe provoked the fear of an invasion across the English Channel. Professor Young also explained that the government’s appeal for volunteers based on the violation of Belgian neutrality was not necessarily the main reason for going to war, illustrating this point by referring to other treaties that had been ignored over the course of time and pointing out that the 1839 treaty with Belgium did not legally commit Britain to war.
All in attendance thoroughly enjoyed the talk and Professor Young’s engaging style of lecturing meant that all attendees from Year 7 boys to grandparents of OLAs were able to access the material delivered.

Please click here  for a copy of Professor Young’s lecture notes.