Political armistice promised as Britain marks WWI centenary
DAVID Cameron yesterday unveiled plans for a “truly national commemoration” to mark the centenary of the outbreak of the First World War.
The Prime Minister said there would be events in 2014 to mark 100 years since the outbreak of war, and on 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 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.
He said: “Our ambition is a truly national commemoration worthy of this historic centenary. 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 events will take place in the run-up to the Scottish independence referendum in the autumn of 2014, but both sides of the debate said they would put politics aside to commemorate the fallen.
A spokesman for Yes Scotland said: “The horrific sacrifice and bloodshed of the First World War is something for everyone in Scotland, across the UK and indeed the nations of the Commonwealth to remember and honour – and people of all political views and none will come together on that respectful basis, as is always the case.”
A spokesman for Better Together added: “This will be an important occasion for our country – a chance for us to come together to remember the millions of soldiers from across Britain who fought and, in so many cases, died for our freedom.”
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 will be spent on the commemorations in total, Mr Cameron said.
The events will cover the centenary of the first day of conflict on 4 August, 2014, the start of the Battle of the Somme on 1 July 2016 and further events to mark the battles of Jutland, Gallipoli, Passchendaele and Armistice Day in 2018.
The Heritage Lottery Fund is inviting more applications for support to mark First World War events, Mr Cameron 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.”
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 Lord Dannatt, former defence secretaries Tom King and Lord Robertson, and ex-Lib Dem leader Sir Menzies Campbell.
It will also include former naval doctor Andrew Murrison, a defence minister appointed as the Prime Minister’s special representative on the commemorations, historian Hew Strachan and novelist Sebastian Faulks.
The Scottish Government said it too would be holding events and joining in with the commemorations.
Search for a job
Search for a car
Search for a house
Weather for Edinburgh
Wednesday 19 June 2013
Temperature: 9 C to 18 C
Wind Speed: 16 mph
Wind direction: West
Temperature: 12 C to 20 C
Wind Speed: 8 mph
Wind direction: East