Riddell Personal Diaries


Did Britain have to go to war in 1914?

George Allardice Riddell was a solicitor and newspaper proprietor. From 1903 he was the managing director of the News of the World and in summer 1914 kept close links with the government to discover whether Britain would enter the war. He believed that the government was split into the following four parties: 

Those who thought it vital to support France including Herbert Asquith (Prime Minister) and Edward Grey (Foreign Secretary) 

The Peace Party headed by Sir John Simon (Attorney General) 

Those including David Lloyd George (Chancellor of the Exchequer) who were in favour of ‘intervention in certain circumstances’ 

The party headed by Thomas Mckinnon Wood (Scottish Secretary) and Charles Masterman (Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster) who wanted a united government

On 2 August 1914 Riddell held a dinner party with guests including Lloyd George, Simon, Masterman and Ramsay MacDonald (Leader of the Labour party). They debated the rights and wrongs of the situation and most agreed that Britain should not enter the war unless Belgian neutrality was infringed. When the Germans did invade Belgium on 4 August it made the decision quite clear for many politicians.


The Serbian War.

Sunday July 26th 1914.

This evening I telephoned to L.G. informing him of the Dublin Riots and that several people had been killed by the military. He was much distressed and said that the incident would cause fresh and serious complications. He spoke of the poignant situation. He said that Austria had made demands which no self respecting nation could comply with and that such demands when addressed by a great nation to a small one were in the nature of bullying [ ] threats. He said the situation was serious, but that he thought there would be peace – in fact he thought so very strongly.

During the week the situation developed with alarming speed.

Friday July 31st 1914 see Rider – Page 5.
I have nothing to relate which has not appeared publicly until On Saturday
August 1st 1914 when Mr Wedgwood Benn one of the Junior Whips came to me and asked me to assist in connection with a fund which the Prince of Wales proposed to raise to alleviate distress. I had a long talk with Benn and arranged to see him on the following (Sunday) morning, when I went to No 12 Downing Street. I told him that I thought that the mayor in each town should be asked to bring together an emergency committee representative


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George Allardice Riddell
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