Ex-servicemen and historians mark outbreak of war with a million candles

FORMER servicemen and historians are supporting a campaign to light candles in a quiet moment of reflection a century after the outbreak of war.

The Royal British Legion is hoping a million candles will be lit and as many lights turned off at 10pm on August 4 during a nationwide Lights Out initiative.

Supporting the idea, Professor Alison Fell, of Leeds University’s Legacies of War centenary project, said: “The outbreak of the First World War on August 4 1914 can be seen as the start of a cycle of conflicts that would dominate British and world history for the rest of the century.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

“But it’s important to remember that in August 1914 there was no sense of what the war would become. My fellow historian Catriona Pennell has shown that the attitudes of the general population were diverse – there were enthusiastic pro-war crowds on August 4, but there had also a large peace rally in Trafalgar Square on August 2. Jingoistic patriotic enthusiasm was not as widespread as some depictions of the outbreak might lead us to believe. All across Europe, many of its population were anxious about what a war might bring for them.

“None, though, could have imagined the scale and length of the First World War. It was only really in hindsight that the 4 August was understood as the start of one of the darkest periods in our history.”

Yorkshire Post Newspapers is supporting the Lights Out campaign.

Tell us why you are marking the occasion - and where - and let us know what happened to your family in the 1914-18 war. Commemorative £4 candles are available from Marks & Spencer stores.

Email: [email protected] or send photos/comments via Twitter @yorkshirepost using the hashtag #LightsOut

Events at: www.1418NOW.org.uk/lightsout