First World War Centenary Celebrations plans


French Unknown Soldier’s Grave in Thiepval

F. Hollande launched the First World War Centenary Celebrations on November 7, 2013.

The First World War Centenary Celebrations will run from November 11, 2014 to November 11, 2018.

A series of major events has been set up throughout the year 2014 to commemorate one of the key events in the history of the 20th century.

The First World War Centenary Celebrations are preceded by the Grande Collecte (collection) which will take place from November 9, 2013 to November 16, 2013.

The French people are invited to search their archives and leave personal items and letters or any memorabilia of the Great War in one of the 70 collection points distributed throughout the French territory.

These memorabilia will be scanned by the online library Europeana.

This is a fantastic opportunity to preserve the memory of all the men who fought for France during the Great War.

It also constitute an important historical heritage to future generations.

Here are the official links for the WWI Centenary Commemorations:

Centenary of the Battle of the Somme, starting on July 1st 2016

Mission Centenaire 14-18 in French

Mission Centenaire 14-18 in English

WWI Centenary Events in English

Meuse-Verdun – Le Centennaire en Meuse Programme 2014

Pas de Calais – Centennaire de la Grande Guerre Pas de Calais en Première Ligne

Representation at the Comédie Française on 10 November, 2013

The First World War Centenary Celebrations started on November 10, 2013 evening at the Comédie Française.


Thiepval Memorial to the Missing

The prestigious theater produced an exceptional representation entitled “The Grand Récit” (the Big Story).

This artistic event was led by comedians who read the texts of great French writers and poets who fought during the War of 14-18.

There were powerful texts of Maurice Genevoix, Louis-Ferdinand Céline, Ernst Jünger and Guillaume Apollinaire.

This representation was open to the public but was also broadcast live on the radio channel France Culture as seating was limited.

Sarajevo au coeur de l’Europe

The First World War Centenary Celebrations then continued with the Festival “Sarajevo – Heart of Europe” which was held from June 22 to June 28, 2014.

Various cultural events offered during the festival focused on the start of the Great War which was triggered by the assassination of Francis Ferdinand in Sarajevo on June 28, 1914.

Bastille Day on July 14, 2014

The First World War Centenary Celebrations were also be the key highlight of Bastille Day celebration on July 14, 2014.


Trenches left in their war state

Seventy-two countries participated in the traditional grand parade on the Champs-Elysées.

This parade was the prelude to the official launch of the First World War Centenary Celebrations as the war was declared on August 3, 1914.

The First World War Centenary Celebrations were the focus of summer 2014.

The theme of the poster campaign, which commenced on July 14, was the mobilization of summer 1914.

Dozens of pictures of men and women responding to the announcement of the war were exhibited.

Commemoration of the Centenary of the declaration of War on August 3, 2014


Field of poppies

Sunday August 3, 2014, François Hollande and Joachim Gauck commemorated the centenary of the declaration of war by Germany to France.

This event took place in Alsace, at the National Monument Hartmannswillerkopf.

This rocky spur overlooking the Plain of Alsace was renamed “Vieil-Armand” or “La Montagne Mangeuse d’Hommes -Man-Eater Mountain” by the Poilus.

Nearly 30,000 French and Germans soldiers were killed in the fighting of unprecedented violence in 1915.

Battle of the Marne celebrations


Bleuet de France

Great Britain and Germany participated to the tribute paid to the Dead of the Battle of the Marne on September 12, 2014.

This important First World War Centenary Celebrations ceremony took place in the city of Reims.

Russia participated to the ceremony to commemorate the offensive led late August on the Eastern Front.

Morocco, Tunisia and Algeria were also present to pay their tribute to the Zouaves of the Moroccan Division.


96th Anniversay of the Armistice on 11 November, 2014


Grave of the Unknown Soldier under the Arc de Triomphe in Paris

The 96th anniversary of the Armistice was another key event of the First World War Centenary Celebrations.

A ceremony of international scale was held on November 11, 2014  in the Nord – Pas de Calais region.

It honoured the memory of all the Soldiers of the Great War.

It took place in the military cemetery of Notre Dame de Lorette.

A new memorial was unveiled, L’Anneau de la Mémoire- Remembrance Ring

It bears the names of the 600,000 Soldiers who Fell on the battlefields of the Nord Pas de Calais.


First World War Centenary Celebrations list of events


French Poilus

The events above are the highlights of the First World War Centenary Celebrations, but a multitude of events will take place across all the French municipalities until 2018.

A list of these events can be found on the site of the Misson Centennaire.

You can also visit exhibition  “de boue et de larmes” which presents pictures taken on the battlefield .

The 3D images were provided by the photographic department of the French Armies.

These moving images take us in the hell of the trenches and makes us share the space of a fleeting moment the daily horror our Poilus, the French soldiers of the Great War, and all the other soldiers regardless of their allegiance has to deal with.

A lot to reflect on…

Honouring the memory of the Canadian Unknown Soldier whose ashes were repatriated to Ottawa on May 25, 2000 from Cabaret Rouge CWGC Cemetery near Souchez in Northern France.

Photos of London Tower’s moats filled with Poppies, a Beautiful and Moving sight!

N.B. These photos and the video were taken early September 2014, the moats have since been entirely filled…and the 888, 246 ceramic poppies will remain until the end of November 2014

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