First World War centenary: Britain remembers that fateful day in August 100 years ago when the conflict began

Lights will go out around the country on Monday as a centrepiece of centenary commemorations

Jayna Rana
Sunday 03 August 2014 11:43 BST
In Birmingham yesterday, 5,000 ice figures were left to melt in the sun, a memorial to those who died. The Brazilian artist Nele Azevedo created the sculptures
In Birmingham yesterday, 5,000 ice figures were left to melt in the sun, a memorial to those who died. The Brazilian artist Nele Azevedo created the sculptures

It is a date that marks the start of events that would go on to change the course of millions of lives – tomorrow is the 100th anniversary of the day Britain declared war on Germany and the First World War began.

While tomorrow will see the bulk of commemorative events, including the centrepiece of remembrance with the dimming of lights all over Britain, events also are ongoing throughout the weekend.

Yesterday, Birmingham's Chamberlain Square saw 5,000 ice sculptures left to melt in the sun, in memory of those who lost their lives.

Devised by Brazilian artist Nele Azevedo, the Minimum Monument exhibition was visiting the UK for the first time at the invitation of the city's Hippodrome arts venue.

Today, Germany's President Joachim Gauck will join his French counterpart, François Hollande, at a ceremony at Hartmannswillerkopf, a peak in the southern Vosges mountains on the edge of the Rhine Valley, to mark the anniversary of Germany's declaration of war on France.

The two presidents will lay the foundation stone for a new Franco-German Great War memorial and exhibition centre.

In Britain, services of remembrance will be held in churches across the country today.

The centrepiece of tomorrow's events will see tens of thousands of Britons taking part in the government-backed Lights Out campaign which will see homes, offices and public buildings dim their lights between 10pm and 11pm in memory of the start of the conflict – leaving a single candle or other light source lit. It was 11pm on 4 August 1914 when the declaration of war was made.

Among the buildings taking part in the campaign will be the Houses of Parliament, the Eden Project, the headquarters of the Football Association, the Imperial War Museums in London and Salford, and British embassies around the world.

Among hundreds of local events, Westminster Abbey will be hosting a candlelit vigil at 10pm, including the gradual extinguishing of candles, with the final light, on the tomb of the unknown warrior, being put out at 11pm. Similar events will be held in Northern Ireland and Wales.

In the morning, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge will travel to Liege, Belgium, to attend a ceremony of commemoration at the Mémorial Interallié de Cointe hosted by the Government of Belgium.

Guests will travel to the St Symphorien Military Cemetery in Mons for a UK commemorative event in the evening. It is believed that an equal number of British and German soldiers, and the first and last Commonwealth casualties of the war, are buried at this site.

The Prince of Wales will attend a service of commemoration at Glasgow Cathedral tomorrow, along with Commonwealth heads of state, Alex Salmond and David Cameron.

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