One hundred years ago this evening Britain declared war on Germany following their invasion of Belguim, embroiling the nation in a conflict that would last over four long, bloody years that would result in the loss of 900,000 lives fighting for the British Army.
In a special event in Liege, world leaders will gather this morning to commemorate the beginning of the conflict, and a national service of commemoration will be taking place in Glasgow Cathedral this afternoon. This evening in Westminster Cathedral an hour-long candle-lit vigil will be taking place, and people at home are invited to join in between 10-11pm by turning off all their lights and leaving only a single candle burning.
This event has been inspired by the words of wartime Foreign Secretary Sir Edward Grey, who remarked as war was declared: “The lamps are going out all over Europe; we shall not see them lit again in our life-time.”
Last week Cambridge University announced that they had digitised a 4,000 page archive of the work of soldier-poet Siegfried Sassoon and made them freely available to the public for the first time. This joins the Imperial War Museum’s Lives of the First World War archive and the Europeana 1914-1918 digital archive, a pan-European project involving the British Library. Not forgetting, of course, our own extensive range of material among our history collection, searchable via Library Catalogue Plus.
Image by Archives New Zealand, reproduced under CC License from Flickr.