On 5 August 1914, The Times carried the headline 'War Declared'.
For weeks, political negotiators had tried to avert a war in Europe. Finally, on 4 August, the British Foreign Secretary, Sir Edward Gray, delivered an ultimatum to Germany which demanded its termination of military action against neutral Belgium or face a war with Britain.
On the same day, newspapers were predicting the outcome of the faltering negotiations. Realising that Britain had reached the advent of the inevitable,
The Scotsman predicted that stoicism would prevail:
At any moment Great Britain may be at war with the German Powers. Her people will accept this destiny with quiet and enduring courage.
Appointed to the role of Secretary of State for War, Field-Marshal the Earl Kitchener of Khartoum predicted that it would be a long and costly conflict and that Britain and her allies 'must be prepared to put armies of millions in the field and maintain them for several years'.
The Secretary of State for War made a second prediction and it involved Scotland's response to voluntary enlistment:
I feel certain that Scotsmen have only to know that the country urgently needs their services to offer them with the same splendid patriotism as they have always shown in the past.
Kitchener was right, the response was instant and, barring a few anti-war demonstrations and protests, the country, not just her sons, mobilised in support of the war effort. Scotland's war had begun.
By the end of the war, six Scottish towns were among the ten most affected in terms of percentages of their population killed fighting.
Sources: The Times (5th August 1914), The Scotsman (4th August 1914).