ON SATURDAY August 8, 1914, almost 100 years ago to this day, The Hereford Times carried the first reports on what was to become one of the most catastrophic events in 20th century history.

There’s nothing to betray these developments on the front page – simply a brief piece headed ‘Postponement of the annual rally of Boy Scouts in Ross’, which goes on to state: ‘Owing to circumstances arising out of the European situation.’ But inside, the reporting is comprehensive both on the unfolding situation abroad, and on the mobilisation and general preparation for war in the county and across the country.

Of course, no-one could have possibly foreseen the awful events of the next four years and in that first edition, along with those spanning the early weeks of the war, there is an air of gritty optimism.

Community leaders called on food suppliers not to encourage panic buying while the Archdeacon of Hereford, E.H Winnington Ingram, writing on August 6, warns the crisis will “press most hardly upon the poor.”

As those early weeks progressed the calls for men to do their duty gradually increased, while the initial casualties began to be steadily reported – with the first faces of the dead appearing on the news pages.

Almost straight away, the magnitude of the conflict was felt – the depth of coverage, and the opening words of that first war editorial on August 8 convey this: “We are at war for the first time in living memory with a great continental power...”

But by September, despite the increasing scale of the conflict, along with the growing casualty lists, the editorial is daring to hope that a turning point in Britain’s favour is approaching.

In fact the war lasted another four years at the cost of more than a million British and Commonwealth soldiers’ lives, and left a cataclysmic scar in the life of our county and country.