Remembrance Day 2014: £50m To Mark Milestone

Remembrance Day 2014: £50m To Mark Milestone

Prime Minister David Cameron has pledged more than £50m will be spent on commemorating the centenary of the First World War.

Funding will be spent on transforming the Imperial War Museum in London and also on establishing a programme to allow children to visit battlefields.

Events will be held to mark 100 years since the outbreak of war in 2014, Armistice Day in 2018, and the dates of major battles in between.

A task force involving luminaries including former chief of the defence staff Sir Jock Stirrup and novelist Sebastian Faulks will help finalise the commemoration plans.

They will join former naval doctor Andrew Murrison, who was appointed by Mr Cameron as a special representative to consider the options last year.

The Treasury will add another £5m to the £35m refurbishment of the galleries at the Imperial War Museum, taking money from fines imposed on financial services companies for misconduct.

The improved museum will be reopened in 2014 as a centrepiece for the commemorations.

In a speech, the Prime Minister said: "There is something about the First World War that makes it a fundamental part of our national consciousness.

"Put simply, this matters: not just in our heads, but in our hearts. It has an emotional connection.

"For us to fail to recognise the huge national and international significance of all these developments during the First World War would be a monumental mistake."

Mr Cameron added that it seemed inexplicable now that countries with many factors in common came to "indulge in such a never-ending slaughter".

"Our ambition is a truly national commemoration worthy of this historic centenary.  A commemoration that captures our national spirit in every corner of the country," he said.

"Our duty with these commemorations is clear. To honour those who served. To remember those who died and to ensure that the lessons learnt live with us for ever."

His pledge came after some public figures called for shops to be closed and major sporting fixtures postponed on the anniversary in 2014.

In a letter to The Times, they said flags should be flown at half-mast from every town hall to mark Remembrance Day that year, with an extended silence at the Cenotaph.

Signatories include MPs David Lammy, Andrew Rosindell, and Kwasi Kwarteng, journalist Mihir Bose, Colonel Charles Garraway, and public policy expert Philip Blond.

"As the generation who fought in that war passes on, remembrance should become more valued, as long as we all know this shared history," it said.

"In our view Britain should mark Remembrance Sunday in 2014 as a very special Sunday. The shops should close, and no professional football matches or major sports fixtures should be played.

"We should also think about how else this special Sunday could be marked. Flying flags at half-mast from every town hall and extending the traditional silence at the Cenotaph should be considered."

A poll conducted by the think tank British Future found that 83% think bells should ring across the country and 54% think major sports games should be moved to other days.

There is an even split on whether shops should shut for the day.