A Berlin crowd listens as a German officer reads the Kaiser's order for mobilisation on 1st August 1914 ©IWM (Q81755)

Centenary Countdown: key dates coming up to mark 100th anniversary of the First World War

Posted on centenarynews.com on 27 June 2014
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The Centenary of Archduke Franz Ferdinand's assassination in Sarajevo is the starting point for events worldwide marking the outbreak of the First World War 100 years ago.

Austria-Hungary declared war on Serbia on 28th July 1914. Within a week, Russia, Germany, France and Britain had entered the conflict, drawing in their imperial possessions.

Centenary News lists the major national and international commemorations and events planned for July and August 2014. 

July 1

France: 98th anniversary of the Battle of the Somme. The annual remembrance service takes place at the Thiepval Memorial. The British Army suffered 60,000 casualties, including 20,000 killed, on the opening day of the Somme offensive on 1st July 1916.

July 2

France: UNESCO ambassadors and representatives from more than 80 countries attend the official opening of the Garden of the 6th Continent in the Somme. There will also be a programme of events for the public from 4pm.

Dedicated to peace and meetings between the world's youth, the garden is situated in Péronne, next to the Museum of the Great War. 

It's been commissioned by the Conseil général de la Somme, and designed by the landscape artist Gilles Clément, as part of a series of commemorative projects for the Centenary.

July 7

UK: Tickets for the UK and Commonwealth Centenary commemorations in Glasgow on August 4 will be released to the general public on a first come, first served basis.

The ticket line - 0141 287 7999 - opens at 9am. Some 4,000 places will be available.

The event is the first of three UK national commemorations taking place on August 4 to mark the declaration of war in 1914 (details below).

July 14

France: All the countries involved in the First World War have been invited to take part in France's annual Bastille Day parade on the Champs Elysées in Paris. The traditional military display will be accompanied by a mass demonstration for peace. More than 70 nations are participating. 

July 18

France: A museum commemorating the Battle of Fromelles in 1916 will be officially opened at a ceremony attended by Australia's Minister for Veterans' Affairs, Michael Ronaldson, and senior French officials.

Fromelles was the first major attack involving Australian troops on the Western Front. There were more than 8,500 casualties, the majority of them Australian.

July 19

UK:  The Imperial War Museum in London reopens after major renovations, including the construction of new First World War Galleries for the Centenary.

Visual of a section within the IWM's First World War Galleries © Casson Mann

August 1-4

UK: An international conference, Perspectives on the 'Great' War, takes place at Queen Mary, Unversity of London. The speakers include Professor Christopher Clark, of Cambridge University; Professor Jay Winter, of Yale University; and the German military historian, Professor Michael Epkenhans.

August 3

​France: Germany's President, Joachim Gauck, will join President Hollande in Alsace to mark the 100th anniversary of the declaration of war. The ceremony takes place at the Hartmannswillerkopf memorial in the Vosges Mountains. Almost 30,000 soldiers from both sides died in a series of battles for control of high ground overlooking the Rhine Valley.

 August 4 

Belgium: The city of Liège will host an international commemoration service at the Mémorial Interalliés. More than 50 leaders have been invited to join King Philippe and the Belgian federal government in marking the 100th anniversary of the German invasion of Belgium on 4th August 1914. Germany will be represented by President Joachim Gauck; Prince William and Catherine Duchess of Cambridge will represent the UK. 

Throughout the day, activities will be organised for the general public in St Lambert’s Square and Espace Tivoli.

Prince William and Catherine will travel on to St. Symphorien Military Cemetery near Mons, where both British and German soldiers are buried, for a UK commemorative event at which Germany will also be represented. Prince Harry will join them there. The event will be screened live in the main square of Mons, the Grand Place.

St.Symphorien Cemetery (Photo: Centenary News)

UK:  Queen Elizabeth will be present at a service of commemoration at Crathie Parish Church, near Balmoral Castle in Scotland.

Prince Charles will take part in a national service of commemoration for the Commonwealth in Glasgow, followed by a wreath laying in George Square. The city is hosting the Commonwealth Games, which close on the eve of the Centenary. The cathedral service will be screened live in George Square.

Prince Harry will attend the "Step Short" commemorative event in Folkestone. The Channel port was a major departure point for British troops leaving for the Western Front. The Prince will then join his brother, Prince William, in Belgium for the ceremony at St. Symphorien.

The Duke of Edinburgh is to attend a service of commemoration at Sandringham Church on the royal estate in Norfolk.

Camilla Duchess of Cornwall will attend a prayer vigil  at Westminster Abbey in London. The last candle will be extinguished at 11pm, marking the moment when war was declared on Germany.

Anglican churches around the UK, together with other faith groups, will participate in remembrance with their own events. 

People are being invited to join the "collective moment of reflection" by turning off their lights from 10pm.

New Zealand: Commemorations will be held in the capital, Wellington, and other main centres to mark the outbreak of war.

August 5

UK: The moat of the Tower of London will be filled with 800,000 ceramic poppies for a commemorative art installation called 'Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red'. The poppies are going to be displayed until Armistice Day 2014, and will be available to buy in aid of service charities.

August 10-13

UK/France:  The Western Front Association commemorates the deployment of the British Expeditionary Force in August 1914.

A series of events, involving motorbikes, a horse-drawn wagon, vehicles and aircraft, will take place over three days to remember the first units transported to France. 

The commemorative journeys start from the Poppy Factory in Richmond, Surrey, and Netheravon airfield in Wiltshire. They culminate on August 13 with a service of remembrance at the Faubourg d'Amiens Cemetery in Arras, France.

August 15  

Belgium: A statue of the former French leader, Charles de Gaulle, will be unveiled in the fortress town of Dinant. As a young officer in the French army, de Gaulle was wounded while fighting the Germans in Dinant on 15th August 1914. There will also be an exhibition dedicated to him.

August 16-September 6

Belgian 'Martyr Cities': Commemorations will take place in Aarschot (August 16), Dinant (August 23), Leuven (August 24/25) and Dendermonde (September 5/6) to remember civilians massacred by the invading German Army in August 1914. The events in Leuven include a performance of Mozart's Requiem in Monseigneur Ladeuze Square. A light show on the facade of the historic University library, rebuilt after the Germans burnt it down in 1914, will send a message of peace.

Mur des Fusillés in Dinant, courtesy of Belgian Tourist Office - Brussels & Wallonia @Dany Noé

August 23

Belgium: The town of Mons will mark the Centenary of the Battle of Mons, the first clash between the British and German armies in 1914.

The centrepiece of a day of events will be the planting of a Centenary tree in the Place du Parc at 2pm, featuring music, poetry and remembrance of the First World War. 

Educational events include a reconstruction of a British military camp in 1914 in the Parc du Beffroi (opens on 20th August 2014). 

The Commonwealth War Graves Commission will be hosting an open day at St Symphorien Military Cemetery from 10am to 4pm. The first and last British and Commonwealth soldiers killed in action during the war are buried here.

At 9pm, a military music concert takes place in the Grand Place of Mons.

The evening culminates at 10.30pm with a 3D show in the square, projecting the legendary intervention of the 'Angels of Monsto protect British troops as they began their retreat to France.

August 29

New Zealand: The 100th anniversary of New Zealand's capture of German-controlled Samoa in the Pacific will be marked with ceremonies in Auckland and Samoa.

Australia: In August 2014, the Australian War Memorial in Canberra will launch its Roll of Honour soundscape.  

Children between the ages of 10 and 12, from schools across Australia, have been recording the names and ages of each of the 62,000 Australians who died during the First World War.

The recordings will be played from 2014 to 2018 in the cloister where the names are commemorated on the Roll of Honour. 

September 12

France: Commemorations take place in Reims to honour the dead of the Battle of the Marne 100 years ago. The attack by French and British forces in September 1914 halted the German advance towards Paris.

Britain and Germany will participate in the commemorations, together with Algeria, Morocco and Tunisia whose soldiers fought in the French colonial army.

Sources: Australian War Memorial, Canberra; Buckingham Palace, Belgian Tourist Office -Brussels & Wallonia, Commonwealth War Graves Commission, Conseil général de la Somme, Elysée Palace,  Glasgow City Council, Imperial War Museum, New Zealand Government, Province de Liège, Travel France, UK Government, Western Front Association

Posted by: Peter Alhadeff, Centenary News