News story

We will remember them

UK military joins the nation as it marks the centenary of the First World War.

This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

Armed forces personnel on parade at George Square in Glasgow [Picture: Mark Owens, Crown copyright]
Armed forces personnel on parade at George Square in Glasgow

Members of the armed forces have taken part in a series of events across the UK and overseas to mark the centenary of the outbreak of the First World War.

Earlier today, service personnel attended a national service of commemoration for the Commonwealth at Glasgow Cathedral. His Royal Highness The Duke of Rothesay, as the Prince of Wales is known in Scotland, laid a wreath, and a march-past took place in George Square in the presence of the Prime Minister and the First Minister of Scotland.

Among those marching were 2 army reservists from 6th Battalion The Royal Regiment of Scotland, Captain Edward Howell and Private Dillon Rae. During the service they read diary entries of a captain and private from the Cameronians (Scottish Rifles) of which their regiment is a descendant.

Speaking at the service, Private Rae said:

It has been a great honour to do this reading, especially as our unit is linked so closely to the Cameronians. It is just something you don’t turn down. It was very moving.

The Duke of Rothesay and the Prime Minister at the commemorative event in Glasgow
The Duke of Rothesay and the Prime Minister at the commemorative event in Glasgow [Picture: Mark Owens, Crown copyright]

In Folkestone, Prince Harry dedicated a new memorial arch and took the salute as 97 servicemen and women, supported by the Band of the Brigade of Gurkhas, marched through it and down the hill to the harbour.

Organised by the charity Step Short, the event paid tribute to the millions of men who ‘stepped short’ as they marched down the steep hill, before embarking on ships to France and the front line.

The Defence Secretary Michael Fallon said:

Today is an opportunity to commemorate the spirit of the British people, our determination to fight for what is just, and our willingness to lay down our lives in the name of our country.

In every corner of the country, remembrance ceremonies are taking place and I am honoured to have today followed in the steps of those who fought for king and country in 1914.

Our armed forces today, like those of a hundred years ago, embody the best of British, and it is right we honour all that they do for our country.

Later today, the commemorations continue in Mons, Belgium, as a special event at the Commonwealth War Graves Commission’s St Symphorien Military Cemetery takes place. A Royal Marine and 3 soldiers will give readings in the presence of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, Prince Harry and the Prime Minister.

Prince Harry laying a wreath at the war memorial in Folkestone
Prince Harry laying a wreath at the war memorial in Folkestone [Picture: Leading Airman (Photographer) Keith Morgan, Crown copyright]

It is in this Belgian cemetery that the first and last British soldier to die on the Western Front are buried, alongside the first recipient of the Victoria Cross. The readings will have particular resonance for the servicemen, as they are linked to the units and regiments from which they are descended, and who are buried, uniquely alongside Allied and German soldiers, at the cemetery.

Bringing the day’s events to a close will be a service of commemoration at Westminster Abbey. Towards the end of the service, 4 guardsmen will move to stand, unarmed, at the corners of the Grave of the Unknown Warrior.

Drawn from the Grenadier, Scots, Welsh and Irish Guards, they will represent the 4 nations that make up the United Kingdom, and will be present as the Duchess of Cornwall extinguishes the final light in the Abbey, a lantern positioned above the Grave of the Unknown Warrior.

The event at Westminster Abbey is part of the national Lights Out campaign where everyone in the UK is invited to take part by turning off their lights from 10pm to 11pm.

The lights in the headquarters of the Ministry of Defence and at the Old War Office will be extinguished and a single light will be left burning in each building to join in this moment of shared reflection. At 11pm, the time when the declaration of war was signed, all the remaining lights will be turned out.

Published 4 August 2014