News article

World War 1 centenary commemoration

This world location news article was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

The UK plans to mark the centenary of the First World War (WW1) both in the UK and abroad.

In the UK, activity includes a programme of ceremonial events over 4 years; a programme organised by the Imperial War Museum and funding for students & teachers to visit battlefields of the Western front.

The UK recognises that it could not have prevailed in WW1 without the huge contribution and sacrifice made by many countries. It is important we do not forget that shared endeavour and that we continue to pass the lessons of that terrible war on to younger generations. Commemorations will follow the themes of Remembrance, Youth and Education.

The Indian contribution to the WW1 war effort was one of the largest from the Commonwealth. The UK is working closely with the USI (United Service Institution of India), who are leading for the Government of India.

  • WW1 started 28 July 1914 and finished on 11 November 1918
  • involved all of world’s great powers, 70 million combatants, with more that 9 million killed
  • British Empire entered the war on 4 August 1914
  • over 1.1 million Indian servicemen fought in WW1 and there were around 70 thousand fatalities
  • the Indian Army dominated, but the Indian Navy also contributed and Indians served in the Army Flying Corps. There were also labour battalions recruited from Bengal
  • the Indian Army has the distinction of having fought in almost all theatres of the war – France and Flanders, alongside the ANZACs at Gallipoli, Mesopotamia, Palestine and North Africa

World War 1 centenary commemoration in Delhi

UK commemoration:

  • commenced on 4 August 2014 with a memorial service at the Glasgow Cathedral for Commonwealth Leaders which coincided with the closing ceremony of the 2014 Commonwealth Games. The same day an event was held at the Symphorien Military Cemetery in Mons Belgium and a candle-lit vigil was organised at the Westminster Abbey

  • thereafter rolling a 4 year programme with a significant WW1 milestone marking each year:

    • April 2015 – Gallipoli
    • 2016 – Battle of Jutland and first Battle of the Somme
    • 2017 – Passchendale
    • 2018 – Armistice Day

India commemoration:

  • the UK is working very closely with the United Service Institution of India (USI) who have the lead for the Government of India. Their Centre for Armed Forces Historical Research (CAFHR) is working on the commemoration
  • we have funded a battlefield guide book which will be available through USI for those families wishing to visit the France and Flanders battlefields
  • we have funded in conjunction with the USI a coffee table book giving a pictorial overview of India and the Great War
  • we have digitised the War Diaries of the India Corps that fought in France and Flanders and these will be presented to the Government of India
  • the key Regimental War Diaries will be printed and bound for presentation the colonels of the regiments
  • 6 VC’s were won by Indian soldiers and memorials are being prepared for presentation to the Government of India
  • all these will be presented at a WW1 themed joint British High Commission and USI reception at the British High Commissioner’s Residence (New Delhi) Thursday 30 October 2014
  • a WW1 commemoration football match, in Delhi, 9 December is also being proposed

First World War centenary commemoration: Resources for media (MS Word Document, 62.9KB)