chapter  1
12 Pages

Birth of an “Easterner”

IT was growing late on the evening of August 4, 1914. David Lloyd George, the chancellor of the exchequer, sat with a few other anxious ministers around the green table in the historic cabinet room. Prime Minister Herbert W.Asquith sat “with darkened face and dropped jowl.” Sir Edward Grey, the foreign secretary, held his head in his hands. All were silent. They were waiting for Germany’s response to the British ultimatum. Would Great Britain soon be at war over the German violation of Belgian neutrality? The deadline for Germany’s response was midnight in Berlin, eleven o’clock by British time. The silence was broken by the loud chime of Big Ben. To Lloyd George, as he later noted in his memoirs, the clock seemed to strike “‘Doom!’ ‘Doom!’ ‘Doom!’” eleven times.1