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David Cameron announces £5m war memorial funding

David Cameron has announced a £5 million funding package to help preserve First World War memorials and burial sites across the UK and overseas ahead of next year's centenary.

The announcement coincided with the Prime Minister's visit to First World War graves and memorials in Flanders fields today alongside the Irish Taoiseach Enda Kenny.

David Cameron pictured with Enda Kenny in Flanders after he made the funding announcement. Credit: Twitter / @David_Cameron

The money will also help fund new educational materials to explain the importance of the sites and to honour the British and Commonwealth servicemen and women buried there.

Mr Cameron said next year's centenary of the start of the First World War will be a time for national reflection and the funding would ensure "local war memorials are a fitting tribute" to those who had died.

"We simply should not tolerate damaged war graves in our country. Our memorials and cemeteries must be places of respect and education. This funding will help make it happen, and I am proud to be able to announce it today," the Prime Minister said.

Read: World War One centenary plans unveiled

Anguish of WWI families revealed in newspaper poems

Heartfelt poems written by the grieving families of World War One victims have been highlighted by ancestry website Genes Reunited.

Heartfelt prose was a way for wives, parents, brothers, sisters and orphaned children to express their grief.
Heartfelt prose was a way for wives, parents, brothers, sisters and orphaned children to express their grief. Credit: PA

Around 16 million people died in the First World War and many relatives published original prose in their local newspapers as a way of grieving for their loved ones who died in battle, often when there was no body to mourn over.

Read: Archivists painstakingly scanned WWI soldiers' wills

A poem published in a 1916 edition of the Dover Express was penned by the family of deceased 29-year-old Alfred Priest, from the 1st Battalion Rifle Brigade.

"Oh! how our hearts do ache," the poem read. "When we think of how you died. To think we could not say good-bye, when you closed your eyes."

Photos and poems of heartfelt prose, published in local newspapers during World War I.
Photos and poems of heartfelt prose, published in local newspapers during World War I. Credit: PA

Private Harry Randall's family wrote in the Grantham Journal in 1917:

"His work is done, his toil is passed and he is fully blessed.

"He fought the fight, the victory won and entered into rest.

"But the hardest part is yet to come, when our heroes all return.

"And we miss, among the cheering crowds, the face of our own dear one."

Read: Ceremony to mark the arrival of WW1 sacred soil

Myko Clelland of Genes Reunited said: "Too often we read of the 16 million who tragically lost their lives during the Great War without really understanding the grief that families went through.

"These 'In Memoriam' poems bring home the pain and sorrow they experienced."

Read: Survey finds First World War knowledge lacking

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Soil from WWI battlefields to be carried to memorial

Members of the British and Belgian miltiary stand in salute in front of the sacred soil aboard the Belgian Frigate Louise Marie. The soil is for the new Flanders Fields Memorial Garden, and as a special gesture to its arrival in the UK the Tower Bridge was raised fully in compliment.

Seventy sandbags of soil from battlefields in World War One will be carried through London today as part on their way to a new memorial garden which will mark next year's 100th anniversary of the start of the war.

Members of the UK and Belgium military salute in front of the sacred soil aboard the Belgian Frigate Louise Marie.
Members of the UK and Belgium military salute in front of the sacred soil aboard the Belgian Frigate Louise Marie. Credit: Laura Lean/PA Wire/Press Association Images

Read: 'Sacred soil' to be taken to London memorial

The soil arrived in London yesterday and will be taken by gun carriage from HMS Belfast to Wellington Barracks, where the Flanders Field Memorial Garden is being created.

Belgian Frigate Louise Marie arrives into London carrying the sacred soil from cemeteries of First World War battlefields in Flanders. Credit: PA Wire

The bags were delivered by the Belgian Navy frigate Louise-Marie, which sailed through Tower Bridge, opened fully in recognition of the event.

Belgian Frigate Louise Marie sailing up the Thames. Credit: PA Wire
Belgian Navy frigate Louise-Marie, sailing past the Tower of London. Credit: Laura Lean/PA Wire

'Sacred soil' to be taken to London memorial

Seventy sandbags of "sacred soil" from the First World War battlefields of Flanders will be carried through the capital today on their way to a memorial garden which will mark next year's 100th anniversary of the start of the war.

The bags arrived in London yesterday and will be taken by gun carriage from HMS Belfast to Wellington Barracks, where the Flanders Field Memorial Garden is being created.

On the way the carriage will pass national landmarks such as St Paul's Cathedral and Buckingham Palace.

The bags were delivered by the Belgian Navy frigate Louise-Marie, which sailed through Tower Bridge, opened fully in recognition of the event.

Visit ITV London for more on this story.

10,000 sign petition to keep town hall's WWI memorial

Campaigners fear Fenton Town Hall will be demolished if it goes into private hands. Credit: Philip Toscano/PA Wire

Campaigners have delivered a 10,000 signature petition to Downing Street in a bid to stop the Government from selling off a Staffordshire town hall that contains a unique First World War memorial.

Fenton Town Hall, whose memorial pays tribute to 500 soldiers, is being marketed by the Ministry of Justice to private buyers for around £500,000.

Save Fenton Town Hall campaigners want the hall to be preserved as a community building.

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