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‘The Germans Have Landed!’: Invasion Fears In The South-East Of England, August To December 1914

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Chapter Summary

The British coastal town of Southend-on-Sea, Essex is situated less than one hundred miles away from Ostend. The primary reaction of the Essex population between August and December 1914 was a fear of invasion by a German army. This chapter examines this singular reaction in its multiple manifestations in order to argue that for the people of Essex invasion was more than simply an abstract fear. It also examines how invasion was imagined in Essex during the first five months of the conflict and how preparations to counter it were made. The chapter concludes with some reflections on how we can understand this phenomenon, and, more importantly, how this evidence goes some way towards challenging the long-held belief that the British population reacted to the outbreak of the First World War with unabated enthusiasm.

Keywords: Essex population; First World War; German army; invasion; Southend-on-Sea



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