A daily excerpt from a a historical edition of Punch – the greatest satirical magazine in history

Category: World War I

August 1st 1914: Germany declares war on Russia


[Lines composed on what looks like the eve of a European war; and designed lo represent the views of an average British patriot.]

To Servia.

You have won whatever of fame it- brings

To have murdered a King and the hoir of Kings;

And it well may be that your sovereign pride

Chafes at a touch of its tender hide;

But why should I follow your fighting-line

For a matter that’s no concern of mine?

To Austria.

You may. if you like, elect to curb

The dark designs of the dubious Serb,

And to close your Emperor’s days in strife –

A tragic end to a tragic life;

But why in the world should I stand to lose

By your bellicose taste for Balkan coups?

To Russia.

No doubt the natural course for you

Is to bid the Austrian bird ” Go to! ”

He can’t be suffered to spoil your dream

Of a beautiful Pan-Slavonic scheme;

But Britons can never be Slavs, you see,

So what has your case to do with me?

But since Another, if you insist,

Will be cutting in with his mailed fist,

I shall be asked to a general scrap

All over the European map,

Dragged into somebody else’s war,

For that’s what a double entente is for.

Well, if I must, I shall have to fight

For the love of a bounding Balkanite;

But O what a tactless choice of time,

When the bathing season is at its prime!

And how I should hate to miss my chance

Of wallowing off the coast of France!


28th June 1914: Franz Ferdinand shot dead

With it being the two hundredth anniversary of the outbreak of the first world war, I thought that I would mark the occasion by going real time through the events that happened through the war, as chronicled by Punch.

It would of course be prudent for me to start at the assassination of the Archduke Franz Ferdinand, the heir to the throne whose death precipitated a series of events that lead to war the world over.

Yet, in Punch, the event scarcely makes a mention. In fact, by scarcely, I mean not at all.

With the benefit if hindsight, this seems like a glaring omission from the pages of Punch. In fact, regardless of the political backdrop, surely the assassination of any member of a European royal family should make major news?

This may well normally have been the case. There is, however, another enveloping crisis at the moment that is occupying much more interest in Punch. It is, of course, Irish home rule.

The situation here has rapidly been deteriorating of late. Later on, as we will see, civil war in the united kingdom seems to be the logical conclusion of the unfolding events.

As we know now, something rather large happened that distracted the country at large from the Ulster problem.

At the moment, however, the idea of a war in Europe is not being entertained. Certainly, diplomacy between the European nations is not at its best, but war in Europe – indeed, a world war – is utterly unthinkable.

So, unfortunately I don’t have an extract or cartoon for you pertaining to the second world war from Punch at all. Instead, I will provide you with this one, from around the time that the Archduke was murdered.

Long Live November 5th!

Every so often, somebody suggests that November 5th is becoming obsolete. This, I am glad to report, is not a recent trend.

H. C. writes to The Times to suggest that in future November llth, the day on which the armistice began, shall be an additional Bank Holiday, to be called Thanksgiving Day. Mr. Punch thinks this a very gocd idea; but he goes farther and proposes that the llth shall not only be celebrated as a national holiday, but shall absorb (without any ecclesiastical bearing) its neighbour, the 5th- now rapidly becoming obsolete and that fireworks shall be associated with it and, if need be, guys.

Remember, remember
The eleventh of November !

Let that be the new refrain. No prize is offered for the best suggestion as to whose efligy should be burned.

(November 20th, 1918)

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