Government reveals detailed plans to mark 100 years since beginning of First World War in 2014

By Richard Moss | 10 June 2013

The Government has revealed more about its plans to mark the historic centenary of the First World War with national acts of remembrance, UK-wide cultural initiatives and battlefield visits for schoolchildren.


a photograph of two British soldiers peering out across the top of a trench
British troops observing from a trench; near Thiepval, September 1916© IWM (Q 1069)
A series of national events on August 2014 will begin with a service of commemoration for Commonwealth leaders in Glasgow Cathedral followed by a wreath laying service at Glasgow’s Cenotaph.

On the same day there will 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, and is where the first and last Commonwealth casualties of the war are believed to be buried.

The day’s events will close with a series of candle-lit vigils across the country, including a service at Westminster Abbey finishing at 11pm – the moment war was declared.

The centrepiece of the four year commemorations, which have been in planning for some time, will be the reopening of Imperial War Museum London following the £35m refurbishment of its First World War galleries.

Now based in Lambeth, the IWM was founded in 1917 to record the then still-continuing conflict and it is also leading the First World War Centenary Partnership, a network of local, regional, national and international organisations planning events to mark the centenary.

Other key elements of the national acts of remembrance will mark the first day of the Battle of the Somme (2016) and Armistice Day (2018).

The enduring educational legacy of the conflict will be explored with £5.3 million from the Department for Education and the Department for Communities and Local Government, which will allow two student ambassadors and a teacher from each maintained school in England to visit First World War battlefields and undertake research on people local to their school who fought in the war.

At least £15 million from the Heritage Lottery Fund, including a new £6 million community projects fund, will also enable young people working in their communities to conserve, explore and share local heritage of the First World War

The government also confirmed a grant of up to £1 million from the National Heritage Memorial Fund to support HMS Caroline, the last surviving warship from the First World War fleet. The ship will have a secure future in Belfast, where thousands of people will be able to visit her and learn about her unique role in the First World War.

The new events are part of a £10 million cultural programme over four years overseen by Jenny Waldman, the Creative Producer for London 2012. 

An expert panel chaired by Culture Secretary Maria Miller, including novelists Pat Barker and Sebastian Faulks and former Chiefs of Defence Staff Admiral Lord Boyce, General Lord Dannatt, Field Marshal Lord Guthrie and Air Chief Marshall ‘Jock’ Stirrup, will also support and advise on the programme of events.

  • Find out more about the UK's approach to marking the centenary at the government’s new First World War centenary website, www.gov.uk/ww1centenary
  • Find out about the network of local, regional, national and international non-for-profit groups and organisations with plans to commemorate the centenary in the First World War Centenary Partnership, led by IWM at www.1914.or
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