It reached into almost every home and for many the legacy was the loss of a loved one and in some cases more than one and that sacrifice is there in the memorials for the fallen across the country.
They range from small plaques in quiet village churches to large brass polished lists of the men who fought in office buildings along with the more public monuments like stone crosses and our own Cenotaph.
There is as they say a certainty in that national sacrifice but what I continue to revisit are the causes of that war and the numerous differing interpretations of whether Britain should have joined a continental conflict in the August of 1914.
Now I belong to that generation whose view of the war was coloured by Joan Littlewoods’s Oh What a Lovely War and the fact that I grew up in the 1960s which to a young mind pretty much challenged all the conventional wisdoms.
That said as I have grown older I realize that every decade does exactly the same thing and the critical analysis of why we fought and the value of the war were being hotly debated soon after it was all over.
Now there is nothing wrong with that. History is not set in stone, fresh discoveries, new scholarship and changing ideas mean that every event is open to reinterpretation which is what makes the study of the past both fun and rewarding.
It sat alongside that even more simple interpretation that in an age when the vast armies of Continental Europe were moved by trains, the train timetable imposed a logic to events.
So that once the decision to move an army up to the border had been made this would have to be matched by others and in the war rooms and Cabinet offices even the suggestion that this might be about to happen called for the issue of mobilization orders.
It was and for me still is an attractive interpretation and took on more validity during the Cold War when the two super powers contemplated a nuclear exchange of weapons even using them as bargaining gambits while at the same time carrying on their conflict using smaller countries to fight proxy wars.
So here and I don’t claim it will always be over original will be few short posts on the mood of Manchester on that August of 1914 and on how that war was seen at various times during the conflict and since.
Tomorrow, Revisiting the Great War nu 1 ............ who spoke in favour?
Pictures; A fag after a fight, 1916, Daily Mail Official War Pictures, and Mother, Why Doesnt Daddy Come Home? date unknown, Bamforth & Co, Holmfirth, the Patriot Series nu 1888, from the collection of David Harrop