The Guards Memorial, St James's Park, London

Centenary Events: the latest on what's happening today, August 4th 2014

Posted on on 04 August 2014
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Monday August 4th 2014 marks 100 years since Britain’s declaration of war, and the official start of the First World War Centenary programme.

Vigils and commemorative services will be held in churches, cathedrals and places of worship across the UK, including the National Memorial Arboretum in Staffordshire.

The BBC will broadcast this morning's Commonwealth Service at Glasgow Cathedral, and the commemorations tonight at St.Symphorien Military Cemetery in Belgium, and at Westminster Abbey. Tickets have already been allocated. More information about the BBC's coverage can be found here

Museums, artists, performers, academics and many others around the world will also hold acts of remembrance, exhibitions and talks. A flavour of today's events from the First World War Centenary Partnership, led by IWM, appears below.

Since 2010, the Imperial War Museum in London has led a network of not-for-profit organisations in 50 countries planning to commemorate the First World War.

Full details can be found by visiting

Diane Lees, Director-General of IWM, says: "One hundred years ago today, Britain and its empire entered into a war that would rage for four long years, cost over 16 million lives across the world, and affect generations to come. 

"The First World War Centenary Partnership are commemorating this day, in a way that is fitting and relevant to their communities. We are pleased to know that these organisations share the same desire to remember, record and reflect upon the events and outcomes of the First World War."

Taking place today:

To commemorate the soldiers who passed through the English Channel port of Folkestone on their way to battle, Step Short have created a dramatic new arch over the Leas which will be unveiled by Prince Harry. (10.45am, Free)

The BBC World War One at Home tour will be in Folkestone for the day, helping people discover more about the First World War. There will also be an opportunity to remember those who fought in uniform at home and abroad through IWM’s permanent digital memorial Lives of the First World War. (9am – 5pm, Free)


The Great War Centenary Parade will see over 40 Edwardian motor cars depart from the Royal Hospital in Chelsea, along a route to The Mall via Chelsea Embankment, the Houses of Parliament, Whitehall and The Cenotaph. The parade concludes at the Imperial War Museum in Lambeth Road. (10am, Free)

The Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF UK) will be re-enacting the women’s anti-war rally that was held at Kingsway Hall, near Holborn in London a hundred years ago (11am – 12noon, Free).

A public talk at the Royal Albert Hall will be looking at the role of the building during the First World War and the impact it had at the time, from recruiting rallies and concerts for soldiers on leave, to charity concerts for the wounded and victory balls.  The Hall was struck by an anti-aircraft shell and had to black out its enormous 300 tonne glass dome. (2.15pm)

The Duke of Kent will open 'Fields of Battle:Lands of Peace,' a major outdoor exhibition in St. James's Park. Michael St Maur Sheil's photography presents a unique reflection on the transformation of the battlefields of the Great War into the landscape of modern Europe. (3pm, Free)

The National Army Museum has partnered with The Fusilier Museum, to co-curate a temporary exhibition – Royal Fusiliers Go to War – exploring the early months of the War. (9am – 5pm, Free with entry to Tower of London)

The No Glory in War campaign will be holding an event in Parliament Square to commemorate those who lost their lives in the war, and explore the role of protest and conscientious objection at the time. Speakers include a veteran from the Second World War, and German historian Juliene Haubold Stolle. (6.30pm, Free)


The Scottish National Portrait Gallery opens an exhibition exploring the lives of Scottish people during the First World War. Among those featured are the British Commander-in-Chief, Field Marshal Sir Douglas Haig; Labour politician Keir Hardie, who opposed Britain's involvement in the war, and Dr Elsie Ingles who took a team of Scottish nurses to Serbia. (4 August 2014 – 5 July 2015)


York Castle Museum will remain open after hours (5 – 8pm) for the public to explore the major new exhibition 1914: When the World Changed Forever. There will also be a talk (2 – 3pm) with the great nephew of Captain Lawrence Oakley, the York man who designed some of the most iconic posters of the First World War.


South Africa:

Talana Museum in Dundee, Kwa Zulu Natal, opens a new permanent exhibit telling the stories of the 393 Dundee men and one woman who went to war. It will also put the South African involvement in the war into perspective with exhibits on forces in German South West Africa, East Africa, Egypt and in Europe.

Ditsong National Museum of Military History in Johannesburg will host a an evening of music and poetry from the First World War, read by theatre director Alan Swerdlow. 

Trinidad and Tobago:

Chaguaramas Military History and Aerospace Museum hosts a two-day symposium themed 'The Great War and its effect on Trinidad and the Caribbean.'  (4 – 5 August)


In Strathroy, near Toronto, a five year project to erect a statue of Canada's greatest General, Sir Arthur Currie will come to a conclusion when it's unveiled by the Lieutenant Governor of Ontario at 12.30pm on 4 August.

The Canadian War Museum in Ottawa will mark the Centenary with a programme of period songs and music called 'Till the Boys Come Home.'


The Australian War Memorial's Last Post Ceremony will commemorate the 100th anniversary of the start of the conflict. The Roll of Honour Soundscape Centenary project will be officially launched at the event in Canberra. It can be watched live at 4.55pm AEST (7.55am BST, 8.55 CET) here

New Zealand:

Commemorations will be held at Parliament in Wellington, and other main centres, to mark the Centenary of the outbreak of war in 1914.

Sources: Imperial War Museum, BBC, Canadian War Museum, Australian War Memorial, New Zealand Government

Image: Peter Alhadeff, Centenary News

Posted by: Peter Alhadeff, Centenary News