First World War Centenary

On 4th August 1914 we entered a war – a war like no other the world has ever seen and next year will mark 100 years since the First World War.

The First World War has a more personal meaning for me than for many of my generation. My father was born in 1894 and fought with the Berkshire Yeomanry at Gallipoli in 1915 and with the Imperial Camel Corps and then the Worcestershire Yeomanry in Palestine and in modern day Israel and Syria. He was not “demobbed” from the Worcestershire Yeomanry until December 1919.

This was a war which touched the lives of men, women and children in a way that no previous conflict had. It changed the way in which we view the very nature of conflict. So, it is important that we commemorate the centenary in an appropriate and fitting way.

I know that Worcestershire’s plans are already well underway. The Worcestershire World War 100 project has secured funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund to develop a multi-venue gallery experience. These galleries will tell the story of local people experiences during the war and each gallery will tell a difference aspect of the history of the First World War. It will give local people a vivid impression of the impact the Great War had on people in Worcestershire’s lives.

The Government also has planned a programme of events which include commemorative services at Glasgow Cathedral and Westminster Abbey. All secondary school children are also being given the chance to visit battlefield like the Somme and Passchendaele.

Remembering the sacrifices that people made across the Commonwealth during the First World War is something that will unite the whole country next year. I know that, particularly in Worcestershire, we will put on a fitting tribute.

If you have any particular suggestions for what we should do, it is not too late – after all the commemorations will go on to 2018 as we remember the sacrifices made in successive conflicts during the so-called Great War. The hope it would be “the war to end all wars” was tragically short-lived, but its lessons still need to be learnt even today – not the least of which is the full horror of chemical weapons.


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