Wales Remembers 1914-1918: First World War centenary commemoration launched in Cardiff

By Adela Ryle | 30 October 2013

The centenary of the First World War will be commemorated in Wales with a four-year event programme.

Several soldiers from the Welsh Guards relax in a reserve trench at the Battle of Guillemont.
Battle of Guillemont 3-6 September 1916. Welsh Guards in a reserve trench at Guillemont.© The Ministry of Information First World War Official Collection. Courtesy IWM Q 4415
Cymru’n Cofio – Wales Remembers 1914-1918 was launched by First Minister Carwyn Jones on Monday at Cardiff Castle’s Museum of the Welsh Soldier(October 28 2013) and will complement a UK-wide commemoration programme, beginning on August 4 2014.

Among the initiatives is a memorial to all Welsh people who served during World War I, which will be unveiled at Langemark in Flanders later in August.

An exhibition commemorating the Christmas Truce of 1914 is also being developed, in a partnership between The Royal Welsh Fusiliers Museum, the Saxony Regimental Museum in Dresden and the French Municipality of Armentieres.

A line of soldiers from the Royal Welch Fusiliers walk through a line of trees in the snow, carrying supplies to their trench
Men of the 15 Royal Welch Fusiliers (London Welsh) taking up stores into their trenches at Fleurbaix, Dec 28th 1917© Ministry of Information First World War Collection
The project will celebrate the famous ceasefire between German, British and French forces, in which gifts and carols were exchanged, joint burials undertaken and troops from both sides played games of football.

“I want these commemorations to reach out to people of all ages,” said First Minister Jones, who recently visited the site of the proposed Flanders memorial.

“Wars are sadly still a part of our world and young people can take a great deal from understanding the causes and impact of the ‘Great War’ into how we should resolve conflict in our own time.”

Several key dates will be commemorated across Wales, including the centenary of the landing of the 53rd Division, comprised of Welsh soldiers, at Gallipoli on August 9th 2015.

The Battle of the Somme, which, with over a million casualties, was one of the bloodiest battles in human history, is to be marked nationwide throughout July 2016. In Wales special notice will be given to the 38th Division, which lost 4,000 soldiers in five days during a brutal engagement at Mametz Wood.

As well as larger events, Wales Remembers 1914-1918 is intended to support community projects, telling the story of the Welsh experience of the First World War.

Each secondary school is to receive £1,000 for resources to teach about the conflict and a total of £850,000 has been pledged for educational programmes overall. The National Eisteddfod 2014, which is to be held in Llanelli, will also feature Centenary events, inviting people from across the country to take part.

“Our ambition is to deliver a truly national commemoration,” said Wales Office Minister Baroness Randerson, who attended the launch.

“In doing so, we can provide the foundations upon which to build a cultural and educational legacy to put young people front and centre in our commemoration and to ensure that the sacrifice and service of 100 years ago is still remembered in a hundred years’ time.”

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A recruitment poster from the First World War with the slogan 'Welsh Guards. Smart men wanted'.
A First World War recruitment poster: 'Welsh Guards. Smart men wanted© Ministry of Information First World War Official Collection
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