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World War One Centenary 1918 - 2018

9 November 2018

This coming Remembrance Sunday is especially significant as it marks the 100th anniversary of the end of the First World War, and provides us with an opportunity to reflect on those killed and injured in service of their country.

Over the past four years, since the anniversary of the beginning of World War One, there have been numerous cultural events marking the different stages of the war, and the major battles that took a huge toll in terms of human life. There have been exhibitions - local and national, plays, television documentaries, concerts, church services and poetry readings.

One of the most striking, and widespread, tributes has been the placing of silhouettes of personnel involved in the First World War in villages and towns across the UK. The ‘Silent Silhouettes’ movement, through the Royal British Legion, has allowed communities to say thank you to “the First World War generation who served, sacrificed, rebuilt and changed the nation” by displaying a silhouette of a Tommy or a range of other representative figures.

During Armistice Day itself church and other bells will ring out, just as they did at the end of the First World War. The wide range of cultural events and activities taking part across the country are brought together on the First World War Centenary website. You can search for what’s going on in your region by following the link 1914.org/events-calendar/

You can find out more about the individual experiences of those who lived through that time in this selection of moving tales:

Letters from the Trenches: A Soldier of the Great War by Bill Lamin (8514)

As a chronicle of life for an ordinary foot soldier this is an excellent, easy read which gives a human face to the incomprehensible scale of the slaughter in what was thought to be the war to end all wars.

Military Voice Past and Present: Volume 1, The Great War (12565)

The words of the servicemen and women, who served their country in the wars of the 20th century have been forever preserved thanks to a team of volunteers and the West Sussex County Library Service. This volume contains edited interviews with local Sussex veterans who served in the Great War.

On a Wing and a Prayer: The Untold Stories of the First Heroes of the Air by Joshua Levine (9855)

The men who joined the Royal Flying Corps in 1914 were the original heroes of flying, treading into unknown territory, and paving the way for later aerial combat. The adventures of these men are almost totally unknown, and this book tells their story, in their own words, for the first time.

The Seven Pillars of Wisdom by T E Lawrence (12296)

Known to most as Lawrence of Arabia, T.E. Lawrence was a passionate chronicler of Middle East military events during WWI, in which he was embedded. This is his autobiographical account of his time as a British liaison officer during the Arab Revolt against the Turks of the Ottoman Empire from 1916 to 1918.

Some Desperate Glory: The First World War the Poets Knew by Max Egremont (10276)

While the First World War devastated Europe, it inspired profound poetry, words in which the atmosphere and landscape of battle are evoked perhaps more vividly than anywhere else. The poets, many of whom were killed, show not only the war’s tragedy but the hopes and disappointments of a generation of men.

Testament of Youth by Vera Britten (1400)

A portrait of a young girl's life in pre-1914 England which aims to give a vivid and passionate personal record of the years 1900-1925 and convey the essence of the common experience of war. It is also intended as a memorial to a lost generation.

War Girls (Miscellaneous authors) (12772)

1914: war has broken out across Europe and beyond. Nothing will ever be the same again for those caught up in the conflict. This moving collection of untold stories from nine much-loved authors, explores how the First World War changed and shaped the lives of women forever.

World War One: History in an Hour by Ruper Colley (9841)

World War One brought with it the world’s first experience of Total War, involving all of the world’s great powers. Around 9 million men lost their lives in a conflict that introduced the horrors of trench warfare, machine guns and toxic gas attacks. This is a clear overview of the road to war, the major turning points and battles, and the key leaders involved.