British and German leaders will gather in remembrance at St Symphorien Cemetery, Belgium, on August 4 (©WBT M. Vander Linden)

First World War Centenary: key events coming up in August 2014

Posted on on 27 July 2014
Share |

July 31-August 3

Canada: The Canadian War Museum in Ottawa marks the 100th anniversary of the First World War with an international conference devoted to Canadian literature of the period.

Speakers include Professor Margaret MacMillan, Professor of International History, at Oxford University.

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 2

Luxembourg: sirens sound across the country for two minutes from 2.58pm to remember the Centenary of Germany's invasion  of the neutral Grand Duchy on 2nd August 1914.

Luxembourg's Head of State, Grand Duke Henri, will lay a wreath at the Monument of Remembrance in Constitution Square, Luxembourg City.

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.

Hartmannswillerkopf (Image: Wikipedia)

 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. This event will also be attended by the Irish President, Michael Higgins. The event will be screened live in the main square of Mons, the Grand Place.

UK:  Queen Elizabeth will attend 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. The event is being organised as part of 14-18 NOW, the UK's Centenary cultural programme .

LIGHTS OUT: Foreign & Commonwealth Office, London (image courtesy of 14-18 NOW)

You can show your support for 'Lights Out' by signing up to Thunderclap.

Australia: In Canberra, the Australian War Memorial's Last Post Ceremony will commemorate the 100th anniversary of the start of the First World War and the launch of two Centenary projects.

For the Roll of Honour Soundscape, children aged 10-12 from schools across Australia have recorded the names and ages of each of the 62,000 Australians killed during the Great War.

Their voices will be heard in the Western Cloister of the Australian War Memorial's commemorative area.

The names of the dead will also be projected onto the parapet of the Memorial's Hall of Memory every evening for a second initiative called the Roll of Honour Name Projections.

New Zealand: Commemorations will be held at Parliament in 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.

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,  Elysée Palace, Imperial War Museum, Luxembourg Government, New Zealand Government, Province de Liège, RTE Dublin,Travel France, UK Government, Western Front Association

Posted by: Peter Alhadeff, Centenary News