George Malcolm Thomson was MP for Dunedin North from 1908-1914. At the time war was declared Thomson was in Wellington as Parliament was sitting. He was in the habit of writing a diary entry most days, recording a mix of parliamentary activity, letter writing and family news.
What follows are extracts from his 1914 diary, along with snaps of the original text.
Monday – Augt. 3rd
The declaration of war by Germany on France and Russia was the engrossing topic of conversation today. I spent the day in the library at the Education Bill. Prof. Prince came to tea with me, & and later we went together to the Town Hall & heard a delightful recitation by Mr. Watson on “Nicolas Nickleby”. Letter from Grandma
Tuesday – Augt. 4th
Education Committee met this morning, and Bishop Cleary was cross-examined by Canon Garland and Prof. Hunter. In the afternoon the House sat till 5 o’clock, & after getting through some work adjourned till 2.30pm tomorrow.
The atmosphere was electrical, party distinctions seemed to completely disappear, and the expected news came through at night that the Germans had violated Belgium territory & the British Army was mobilising, which amounted to a declaration of War. It is the beginning of the most appalling struggle known in the history of the world. Wrote John.
Wednesday – Augt. 5th
Letters from Stuart & John. Education sat again in the forenoon. In the afternoon we adjourned the House for an hour, & at 3 p.m. from the library entrance the Governor announced to a crowd of 3-4000 that the Empire had declared war against Germany. The House then adjourned till tomorrow. I went out to tea with Gertie and then wrote to Malcolm & Stuart. Earthquake shock at 9.30 p.m.
All images are from George Malcolm Thomson’s diary 23 May 1914-30 October 1916 (AG-926/004). The Hocken holds Thomson’s papers
For further information on George Malcolm Thomson see the Dictionary of NZ Biography entry on him from this link>http://www.teara.govt.nz/en/biographies/2t40/thomson-george-malcolm