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Picture of the week: A million poppies honour the fallen

Members of the Great War Society living history group – dressed as 4th Battalion the Middlesex Regiment – stand to attention under a shower of a million poppies representing the dead during a First World War centenary ceremony at the Tank Museum in Bovington, Dorset.

Last Monday marked the 100th anniversary of Britain's declaration of war on Germany. At 11am on August 4, 1914, Prime Minister Herbert Asquith announced that Britain was to enter the war after Germany had violated Belgian neutrality.

The underlying causes of the war were several, including political, territorial and economic conflicts between the great European powers in the four decades leading up to 1914. Additional factors were an early-20th century arms race and a complex web of alliances, imperialism and nationalism.

The immediate origins of the war, however, lay in the decisions taken by statesmen and generals during the July crisis of 1914 caused by the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand by Gavrilo Princip in Sarajevo.

The crisis came after a long and difficult series of diplomatic clashes among the Great Powers (Italy, France, Germany, Britain, Austria-Hungary and Russia) over European and colonial issues in the decade before 1914. These resulted in disputes over territory in the Balkans.

Austria-Hungary competed with Serbia and Russia for territory and influence in the region and they succeeded in pulling the rest of the Great Powers into the conflict.

The war lasted until November 11, 1918 – Armistice Day – and is recognised as one of the deadliest conflicts in history.

The total number of military and civilian casualties was more than 37 million. The centenary was marked by a series of events across Northern Ireland. The head of the Anglican Church in Ireland said that commemorating the outbreak of the war fused sadness, pride and horror.

Richard Clarke, the Archbishop of Armagh, made the comments at a service held at St Anne's Cathedral in Belfast. First Minister Peter Robinson and Secretary of State Theresa Villiers attended.

Prince Andrew represented the Queen.

There was also a gun salute over Belfast Lough. A single cannon shot was fired from Grey Point Fort in Co Down.

Belfast Telegraph


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