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Commemorations in 2018 mark final year of First World War

By Emily Beament

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 which 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, 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 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.

There will also be 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 in Belfast, along with others at Westminster Abbey, London, and in Glasgow and Cardiff, to give thanks for peace and those who returned.

During the year, a series of exhibitions at London's Imperial War Museum will reflect on the impact the killing fields of the First World War had in shaping the modern world.

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