World War One centenary plans

Ministers are due to announce how the World War One centenary anniversary will be marked over including a candlelit vigil at Westminster Abbey.

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Grave of first casualty of Great War

The grave of Private George Ellison. Credit: ITV News/Darren Burn

The grave of Private George Ellison is thought to be the last British soldier to have died in the Great War sits opposite that of Private John Parr who is believed to be the first soldier to have died in the conflict.

They are both buried at the St Symphorien Cemetery near Mons in Belgium. Private Ellison was killed just hours after a ceasefire was announced.

The St Symphorien Cemetery near Mons in Belgium. Credit: ITV News/Darren Burn


Young people are 'custodians of the legacy of Great War'

Dr Andrew Murrison MP, the Prime Minister's special representative for the centenary commemoration, said it would remember the lives of combatants and civilians.

It will be about young people, the object and custodians of the legacy.

To see youngsters gazing out over row upon row of headstones in places like Passchendaele is to recalibrate our prejudices of our much-maligned British youth.

If you want to know why all of this matters, ask them. Centenaries are an open invitation to plumb the historical record, to challenge mythology and to seek new insights and fresh perspectives.

Great War commemoration events to be held across UK

Streets could be renamed as part of commemorative events to mark one hundred years since the outbreak of the First World War.

The Government said it hoped that a vigil to be held in Westminster Abbey would also be marked across the country by churches, faiths and other organisations.

At least £15m from the Heritage Lottery Fund, including a new £6m community projects fund will enable young people working in their communities to conserve, explore and share local heritage of the First World War as the government hopes to see the centenary marked across the UK.

A British tank at the western front in France. Credit: SCANPIX HISTORICAL/Scanpix/Press Association Images

The commemoration events will also include the start of the Battle of the Somme on 1st July 2016, and further events to mark the battles of Jutland, Gallipoli, Passchendaele and Armistice Day in 2018.

Legacy of the Great War 'at the heart of events'

Maria Miller has said that marking the Great War is way of making sure people understand the affect the war had both at home and abroad.

The Culture Secretary said: "the war itself had an enormous impact not just on the Western Front but also here on the Home Front. I think it's all of those things that had a profound effect on our nation and are at the heart of our commemorative events."

World War One centenary events to last four years

Details of how the centenary of the Great War will be marked have been announced, including candlelit vigils, commemoration services and trips for school children.

The celebrations are expected to run for four years marking the duration of the conflict.

The opening day of the centenary on 4th August 2014 will focus on:

  • a wreath laying service at Glasgow’s Cenotaph, following the special service for Commonwealth leaders at Glasgow Cathedral
  • an event at the Commonwealth War Graves Commission St Symphorien Military Cemetery in Mons, Belgium - which has an equal number of British and German soldiers
  • a candlelit vigil of prayer at Westminster Abbey finishing at 11pm – the moment war was declared
  • the reopening of Imperial War Museum London (IWM) following the £35m refurbishment of the First World War galleries. The IWM London was founded in 1917 to record the then still-continuing conflict.

Other activities in the four-year programme include:

  • national acts of remembrance to mark the first day of the Battle of the Somme (2016) and Armistice Day (2018)
  • two students and a teacher from each state school in England to visit the Western Front
  • projects enabling young people to conserve and share local heritage of the war.


Candlelit vigil to mark centenary of outbreak of WW1

On 4th August 2014 it will be 100 years since war was declared, pitching the nation into one of its hardest and darkest chapters.

Ministers are due to announce how the centenary will be marked over including a candlelit vigil at Westminster Abbey finishing, with the last candle being extinguished at 11pm - the moment war was declared.

Undated file photo of British infantrymen occupying a shallow trench during the Battle of the Somme. Credit: PA/PA Wire

It is understood the Government is in talks with various churches, faiths and other organisations to see if the vigil could be replicated around the country.

The idea to commemorate the start of the war with the vigil came from a remark attributed to former foreign secretary Viscount Edward Grey.

He is supposed to have said on the eve of the Great War: "The lamps are going out all over Europe, we shall not see them lit again in our time."

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