On Wednesday, September 16, just over five weeks since Britain's declaration of war on Germany had caused emotional scenes at Bradford's Midland railway station, an estimated 40,000 people gathered in various city centre locations.

The city hadn't seen anything like it since the Wednesday night of April 26, 1911, when thousands turned out to greet Bradford City's players on their return from Manchester with the FA Cup.

Three years on in 1914 the public mood was once again euphoric. The reason was that Bradford was raising its own citizens' army. There was a depot at 23 Bridge Street and the Mechanics' Institute building, which was located roughly where Nandos is now on the edge of City Park, was used as a recruitment centre.

The Bradford Daily Telegraph declared: "Young men shall be enrolled to serve shoulder to shoulder with their friends and colleagues in civil life." Their officers would be 'dug-outs', older men who had seen action in the Boer War in South Africa.

Evidently there was a feeling of all for one and one for all in the air that September night in 1914. The Bradford Weekly Telegraph on September 18 estimated that 4,000 people attended a rally at St George's Hall while another 2,300 packed Eastbrook Hall at the bottom of Leeds Road.

"On a rough estimate there must have been 40,000 people in the centre of Bradford attending the different meetings or watching the parade," the paper said.

Young volunteer recruits to the Bradford Citizens' Army League had been demonstrating their patriotic pride. Sir William Edward Briggs Priestley MP (1906-19) and former Bradford Lord Mayor, the man behind the BCAL, addressed the packed and no doubt sweating audience in St George's:-

"I have done my duty," he said to loud cheers. Already more than 1,100 "fine young fellows had offered to join the City Battalion, and were going to carry the name of Bradford into the foremost of the fighting," he added to further cheers.

Within eight days every penny of the money required for the battalion had been received. "The commercial men of the city gave these young fellows their word of honour that none of their dependents should suffer while they were away fighting the battles of those who remained at home," Sir William said, at which the audience cheered even louder.

The Independent Labour Party, founded in Bradford 20 years before, Norman Angell's Neutrality League (Angell became MP for Bradford North from 1929 to 1931) and the Manchester Guardian didn't support the public's 'up and at 'em' mood.

On Wednesday, August 5, the day after Britain's declaration of war, the neutrality League published a full page advertisement in the Yorkshire Observer calling on people to resist what it described as a "wicked and stupid war".

What many gullibly believe would be a glorious adventure out of the pages of John Buchan was the result of persuasion by small powerful cliques. Norman Angell maintained that Britain's national interest was not best served by military conquest and war. Prosperity among civilised nations depended upon commercial co-operation.

Although that was not a popular belief, Angell's convictuions set out in Europe's Optical Illusion was to win him the 1933 Nobel Prize for Peace. By this time, of course, with Adolf Hitler in power in Germany, the likely consequence of the Great War was only too clear.