A final British note was presented in Berlin at 9am giving Hitler until 11am to give an undertaking to withdraw his troops from Poland.
At the time of 11.15am (BST), British Prime Minster Neville Chamberlain announces on BBC Radio to the nation that the deadline of the final British ultimatum for the withdrawal of German troops from Poland expired at 11.00am and stated that “no such undertaking had been received and that consequently this nation is at war with Germany”.
The French ultimatum, presented at 12.30pm and expired at 5pm. Australia, India and New Zealand also declared war on Germany within hours of Britain’s declaration. Roosevelt announced that the USA would remain neutral and Mr de Valrea announced that Eire would also remain neutral.
The German reply rejected the stipulations that German troops withdraw from Poland, and accused the British Government of forcing the war on Germany.
A War Cabinet of nine members was erected, to include Mr Churchill as First Lord of the Admiralty.
The King broadcast a message to his peoples.
“In this grave hour, perhaps the most fateful in our history, I send to every
household of my peoples, both at home and overseas, this message, spoken
with the same depth of feeling for each one of you as if I were able to cross
your threshold and speak to you myself.
For the second time in the lives of most of us we are at war. Over and over
again we have tried to find a peaceful way out of the differences between
ourselves and those who are now our enemies. But it has been in vain. We
have been forced into a conflict. For we are called, with our allies, to meet the
challenge of a principle which, if it were to prevail, would be fatal to any
civilised order in the world.
It is the principle which permits a state, in the selfish pursuit of power, to
disregard its treaties and its solemn pledges; which sanctions the use of force,
or threat of force, against the sovereignty and independence of other states.
Such a principle, stripped of all disguise, is surely the mere primitive doctrine
that might is right; and if this principle were established throughout the world,
the freedom of our own country and of the whole British Commonwealth of
Nations would be in danger. But far more than this - the peoples of the world
would be kept in the bondage of fear, and all hopes of settled peace and of
the security of justice and liberty among nations would be ended.
This is the ultimate issue which confronts us. For the sake of all that we
ourselves hold dear, and of the world's order and peace, it is unthinkable that
we should refuse to meet the challenge.
It is to this high purpose that I now call my people at home and my peoples
across the seas, who will make our cause their own. I ask them to stand calm,
firm, and united in this time of trial. The task will be hard. There may be dark
days ahead, and war can no longer be confined to the battlefield. But we can
only do the right as we see the right, and reverently commit our cause to God.
If one and all we keep resolutely faithful to it, ready for whatever service or
sacrifice it may demand, then, with God's help, we shall prevail.
May He bless and keep us all.”
Were any of your relatives involved in WW2? If so, you could log into Forces War Records, www.forces-war-records.co.uk, and search our vast archives to find out more about them. Perhaps there’s a war hero in your family just waiting to be remembered, or even discovered for the first time! Regardless, it’s worth visiting our ‘historic documents’ library to read some of the interesting war diaries that we get sent. There’s nothing quite like reading a personal account of war, as history unfolds itself through the eyes of somebody who was actually there.