Field Marshal John French Viscount of Ypres
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For years past I had regarded a general war in Europe as an eventual certainty. The experience which I gained during the seven or eight years spent as a member of the Committee of Imperial Defence, and my three years tenure of the Office of Chief of the General Staff, greatly strengthened this conviction.
For reasons which it is unnecessary to enter upon, I resigned my position as Chief of the Staff in April, 1914, and from that time I temporarily lost touch with the European situation as it was officially represented and appreciated.
I remember spending a week in June of that year in Paris, and when passing through Dover on my return, my old friend, Jimmie Watson (Colonel Watson, late of the 60th Rifles, A.D.C. to the Khedive of Egypt), looked into my carriage window and told me of the murder of the Archduke Francis Ferdinand and his Consort. I cannot say that I actually regarded this tragedy as being the prelude which should lead ultimately to a great European convulsion, but in my own mind, and in view of my past experience, it created a feeling of unrest within me and an instinctive foreboding of evil. Then came a few weeks of the calm which heralded the storm?a calm under cover of which Germany was vigorously preparing for "the day."