Thursday, 3 July 2014

Countdown to War. Day 6, 3 July: Peace in Mexico? Freight by air? And the Sarajevo business rumbles on

One hundred years ago today, on Friday 3 July 1914, Martin could breathe a sigh of relief: the insufferably hot weather was going to turn cooler. The Manchester Guardian announced: “Heat Wave Breaking. Further Storms. Cooler Weather forecasted for today.” 

A welcome change. But it didn’t mean that elsewhere in the world temperatures, or tempers were, cooling.

The Anglo-Russian convention was creating a dangerous situation in Persia, with Russia unscrupulously taking advantage of it to extend its influence in the country. Competition between the two nations over India, Kipling
’s great game, meant Russia would dearly love to extend its territory right up to the Indian border. That was something the British Foreign Secretary seemed not to have seized:

The mistake that Sir Edward Grey has made in Persia is to credit Russia with the same loyalty to the professed objects of the Convention that he has himself. It is not that Russian policy and Russian agents are consciously unscrupulous and cynical men. But their whole point of view is diametrically opposed to our own. Our interest is in an independent and strong Persia to act as a buffer between Russia and India. But the disappearance of Persia has no terrors for Russia, and so far from avoiding a military frontier with us, there is nothing that she would like better, if only as a means of keeping us in order or, as she would express it, of retaining our friendship.

Elsewhere, however, trouble seemed to be dying down. Having predicted trouble in Mexico only three days earlier, now the paper was proclaiming the arrival of peace.

Negotiations between the warring Mexican factions, which it is hoped will eventually lead to peace, were begun to-day, when the delegates of General Huerta formally gave the South American envoys a note to be transmitted to the Rebel representatives at Washington declaring willingness to discuss peace terms.

General Victoriano Huerta, President of Mexico
In negotiations with the rebels against his rule

A separate article informed Martin that, despite the worries expressed before and the insistence of the British Minister that they should go, British residents planned to remain in Mexico City. So peace might be in the air. That had to be a good thing, surely? Even if Huerta was one of those military fellows with lots of medals who really ought to be kept well away from power, most things had to be preferable to war. 

The last word had clearly not been said about the assassination in Sarajevo at the weekend. As previously suspected, a thread leading back to Belgrade, the Serbian capital, seemed increasingly likely. Talking about the first, failed attempt on Franz Ferdinand’s life, the Guardian reported:

Gabrinovic, who threw the bomb which the Archduke escaped, has admitted his connection with an organisation agitating for a Greater Servia. The editors of the Greater Servian journals at Sarayevo have been arrested, and one of them has been expelled from Bosnia.

Marconi radio
You could talk to New York without so much as a cable?
But then Martin's eye was caught by a completely different piece on “Future Uses of Wireless.” It quoted a spokesman for the Marconi company who made claims for this bright new technology that seemed a little too good to be true: “... if Marconi does not talk to New York before the year is out I shall be very disappointed.” Conversation between London and NewYork without using a cable? That would be remarkable.

Just as outlandish was another item on “Aerial Transport” which referred to workers who apparently believed “that aeroplanes will become more and more means of carrying cargo.” It seems they felt that “there will be imperative need for a special union as part of the Transport Workers’ Federation.”

Flying cargo? Well, more extraordinary things had happened. And he wouldn’t mind getting involved. Flying around for work instead of grafting on the Earth’s surface to lay railway track sounded like a big improvement. Some interesting things could be happening in the next few years.


Anonymous said...

The Janka interlude was reminiscent of the TrĂªve de Noel at the Western Fornt.


David Beeson said...

Nice parallel, San - well spotted