Belfast Telegraph

First World War's last year to be marked 100 years on with commemorations

A series of commemorations will mark the course of the final year of the First World War, leading up to the centenary of the Armistice that brought the bloody conflict to an end.

The 2018 events include ceremonies commemorating General Ferdinand Foch's appointment as Supreme Allied Commander on the Western Front and the Battle of Amiens, and bells ringing out across the UK on Armistice Day.

They aim to help people understand how the course of the war changed in 1918, to give thanks for peace and to remember the sacrifice of 800,000 soldiers who went to war and did not come home, the Government said.

Culture Secretary Karen Bradley said: "On this day 100 years ago, soldiers in the trenches welcomed in the new year, unsure of what it would bring.

"Today we enter the final year of our commemorations, remembering the bravery of those who fought, lived and died in the First World War.

"We will continue to honour all those who served, died and were affected by the war both at home and overseas.

"On the centenary of the Armistice we will give thanks for peace and for those that returned, and remember the sacrifice of the 800,000 soldiers who died.

"This is the best tribute we can make."

Events include:

:: A ceremony on March 26 at the equestrian statue of Generalissimo Ferdinand Foch at Lower Grosvenor Gardens, Victoria, London, marking his appointment as Supreme Allied Commander on the Western Front.

The move, which brought about coalition warfare that was a significant factor in the Allied military successes in summer 1918, followed the German "spring offensive" which pushed the British back to their 1914 lines in March 1918.

:: A service on August 8 at Amiens Cathedral, France, to mark the centenary of the Battle of Amiens and the subsequent "hundred days offensive" which was a decisive point in the war.

:: A series of events on November 11, the centenary of the Armistice, including a commemorative service at St Symphorien Cemetery near Mons, Belgium, where the war began in 1914 and where the first and last casualties of the battle lie.

The national service of remembrance at London's Cenotaph will follow traditional lines, as it remembers the fallen of all conflicts, but the march-past which follows will be expanded.

During the day, church and other bells will ring out as they did at the end of the First World War, and Government funding is supporting the Central Council of Church Bell Ringers to recruit 1,400 ringers - the number lost during the war.

The day will end with a service at Westminster Abbey, London, along with others in Glasgow, Cardiff and Belfast, to give thanks for peace and those who returned.

During the year, a series of exhibitions will reflect on the impact the brutal killing fields of the First World War had in shaping the modern world, in the Imperial War Museums' Making A New World season.

It includes Generation Hope: Life After The First World War, examining upheaval of the decade after the war, at the IWM London.

Two parts of the landmark Blood Swept Lands And Seas Of Red display of 888,246 ceramic poppies will be installed at the IWM's sites in London and Manchester, while a rtwork commissioned for a never-built post-war Hall of Remembrance will also be shown together for the first time.

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