David Cameron sets out First World War centenary plans


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Indy Politics

The date 4 August 2014 has been marked down as the beginning of a huge programme of commemorative events to mark the centenary of the great war, David Cameron announced today.

He said that more than £50 million has been allocated for the commemorations, which will include a series of events which, Mr Cameron promised, would be "properly funded and given the proper status they deserve".

The amount allocated to for the expansion of the Imperial War Museum is to be doubled, from £5 million to £10 million, and schools in England will get £5.3 million to pay for thousands of children to visit the battlefields of Belgium and France between 2013 and 2019.

The programme of events will be overseen by what Mr Cameron described as a "world class board", whose members will include the Culture Secretary Maria Miller, the former Defence Secretary George Robertson, the former Liberal Democrat leader Sir Menzies Campbell, the former chief of the defence staff Jock Stirrup, the former chief of the general staff Richard Dannatt, the historian Hew Strachan and Sebastian Faulks, author of the World War I novel Birdsong.

"It is absolutely right that these commemorations should be given such priority," the Prime Minister said. "Our duty with these commemorations is clear - to honour those who served, to remember those who died, and to ensure that the lessons learnt live with us for ever. And that is exactly what we will do."

A YouGov online poll of 1,700 British adults, commissioned by the think tank British Future, found that more than 80 per cent think that on Remembrance Day 2014, bells should be rung across the UK and flags should fly at half-mast, and just over half thought major sports events should be moved to another day.

It was on 4 August 1914 that the British government's ultimatum to Germany expired and the country was drawn into the bloodiest conflict in European history. During the following four years and three months, an estimated 703,000 Britons were killed and more than 1.6 million injured - figures dwarfed by the losses suffered by Germany, Russia, France and the Austro-Hungarian Empire.