Harold Bing

Born in Croydon in 1897, Harold was brought up under Tolstoyan pacifist influence at home following the philosophical and religious views of Russian novelist Leo Tolstoy. He was still at school, and just 16 years-old on the outbreak of war in 1914.

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There was a tense atmosphere in the air at the start of August 1914. The war had already begun on mainland Europe when, on 2 August, Germany demanded that Belgium open her frontiers to allow it to attack France. Yet anti-war sentiment remained strong in Britain, as Harold witnessed first-hand.

"I heard that a big anti-war demonstration was to be held in Trafalgar Square on 2 August, and that [former Labour leader] Keir Hardie was one of the speakers. So I walked up from my home to Trafalgar Square – about 11 miles – took part in that demonstration, listened to Hardie and walked home again afterwards, which perhaps showed a certain amount of boyish enthusiasm for the anti-war cause.

It was quite a thrilling meeting with about 10,000 people there. But at the same time while we were demonstrating in Trafalgar Square the cabinet was sitting at Downing Street deciding on the ultimatum that brought the country into the war two days later."

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There was a tense atmosphere in the air at the start of August 1914. The war had already begun on mainland Europe when, on 2 August, Germany demanded that Belgium open her frontiers to allow it to attack France. Yet anti-war sentiment remained strong in Britain, as Harold witnessed first-hand.

"I heard that a big anti-war demonstration was to be held in Trafalgar Square on 2 August, and that [former Labour leader] Keir Hardie was one of the speakers. So I walked up from my home to Trafalgar Square – about 11 miles – took part in that demonstration, listened to Hardie and walked home again afterwards, which perhaps showed a certain amount of boyish enthusiasm for the anti-war cause.

It was quite a thrilling meeting with about 10,000 people there. But at the same time while we were demonstrating in Trafalgar Square the cabinet was sitting at Downing Street deciding on the ultimatum that brought the country into the war two days later."

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