David Cameron promises 'truly national commemoration' to mark First World War centenary

The Prime Minister said there would be events to mark 100 years since the outbreak of war in 2014, Armistice Day in 2018, and the dates of major battles in between.

David Cameron today promised a “truly national commemoration” to mark the centenary of the First World War.

The Prime Minister said there would be events to mark 100 years since the outbreak of war in 2014, Armistice Day in 2018, and the dates of major battles in between.

There will also be a £5 million educational programme for school pupils, including trips to the battlefields, and support for an overhaul of the Imperial War Museum.

Speaking at the museum in south London, Mr Cameron said an advisory board of former defence secretaries, chiefs of staff and military specialists would bring together ideas for the commemorations.

“Our ambition is a truly national commemoration worthy of this historic centenary,” he said.

“A commemoration that captures our national spirit in every corner of the country, from our schools and workplaces, to our town halls and local communities.

“A commemoration that, like the Diamond Jubilee celebrations this year, says something about who are as a people. Remembrance must be the hallmark of our commemorations.”

The Heritage Lottery Fund is also supporting work by young people to “conserve, explore and share local heritage of the First World War”.

Some £50 million was being spent on the commemorations in total, Mr Cameron said.

The commemorations will include the centenary of the first day of conflict on August 4, 2014, the start of the Battle of the Somme on July 1 2016, and further events to mark Jutland, Gallipoli, Passchendaele and Armistice Day in 2018.

Mr Cameron said: "The Centenary will also provide the foundations upon which to build an enduring 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 100 years time."

The Heritage Lottery Fund was inviting more applications for support to mark First World War events, he said.

"Whether it's a series of friendly football matches to mark the 1914 Christmas Day Truce, or the campaign by the Greenhithe branch of the Royal British Legion to sow the Western Front's iconic poppies here in the UK, let's get out there and make this centenary a truly national moment in every community in our land," Mr Cameron said.

An advisory board on the commemorations, chaired by Culture Secretary Maria Miller, will include former head of the Armed Forces Sir Jock Stirrup, former head of the Army Sir Richard Dannatt and former defence secretaries Tom King and George Robertson.

It will also include former naval doctor Andrew Murrison, a defence minister appointed as the Prime Minister's special representative on the commemorations last year, historian Hew Strachan and novelist Sebastian Faulks.

The Prime Minister said it was important to mark the First World War because of the "sheer scale of sacrifice", with more than 16 million dead.

"This was the extraordinary sacrifice of a generation. It was a sacrifice they made for us, and it is right that we should remember them," he said.

The war had also helped "make us who we are today", he said, pointing to subsequent advances in the emancipation of women, recognition for ethnic minorities and improvements in medicine.

He went on: "There is something about the First World War that makes it a fundamental part of our national consciousness.

"Put simply, this matters - not just in our heads, but in our hearts. It has an emotional connection. I feel it very deeply."

Mr Cameron said there was "something captivating" about the stories from the First World War.

PA

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Service Engineer

£25000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A successful national service f...

Ashdown Group: Junior Application Support Analyst - Fluent German Speaker

£25000 - £30000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: A global leader operating...

Ashdown Group: Training Coordinator - Financial Services

£32000 - £38000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: A highly successful, inte...

Recruitment Genius: Supply Chain Administrator

£8000 - £10800 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Supply Chain Administrator is ...

Day In a Page

No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

From farm to fork in Cornwall

One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

Robert Parker interview

The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor