WW1 Centenary – Lights Out

“The lamps are going out all over Europe, we shall not see them lit again in our lifetime.”

(Sir Edward Grey, 3 August 1914)

WW1 Centenary - Lights Out - Little Hearts, Big Love


As we drove through sleepy Flanders villages on our holiday around France and Belgium back in June, we passed a military cemetery. I was suddenly struck by the thought that one hundred years previously, the people who lived in these villages would have been going about their daily lives in the sunshine, in much the same way as they were doing on the day we visited them, with no thought of the horror that would be unleashed upon them.


I have been interested in World War I and gripped by the personal stories from the war for many years – I suspect it may have been reading “Rilla of Ingleside” as a young girl that initially sparked my interest for this period of history. My husband and I got engaged in Belgium, on Armistice Day 2008, the 90th anniversary of the end of the war, having spent a few days in France and Belgium visiting areas of the Somme and around Ieper, attending the remembrance service at the Thiepval memorial and visiting the grave of a family member of mine, killed in action in 1915. More recently, I have been following the Daily Telegraph news archive and the newspaper reports from the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand, leading up to the outbreak of the war. One thing that has struck me from reading the reports is how suddenly it must have seemed to have struck up – even just a few days before the first declaration of war by Austria-Hungary on Serbia, there was very little reporting on the events which led to the outbreak of the First World War.




I wrote the following poem back in 2008 as I reflected on the battlegrounds of the Somme and Flanders and the words still reflect how I feel today when reflecting on the centenary of the outbreak of the war:


Lest We Forget

They were so young, so full of life,
those young men who went off to fight
in France.
They thought initially
That a few months would bring victory,
but the months would stretch to years before
the end at last came to that war.
So many who went never came
back – a generation slain,
leaving families torn apart by grief;
their world had changed beyond belief.

This was the war to end them all,
but as I watch the poppies fall
at the Remembrance Festival each November,
in the silence, I stop – and remember
their sacrifice.
Time’s pages turn:
the world has changed yet does not learn
to live in peace: so on we fight
and watch as lives are sacrificed
and war goes on. But still we pray
that peace on earth will come someday.

© Louise George – 28th October 2008




One hundred years on from the start of the “war to end all wars” and it seems that humankind still has not learned many of the lessons from back then. Reading the news reports of the killings of children in Gaza, the conflict in the Ukraine and the downing of a passenger plane, war in Syria and other hostilities around the world, I am saddened by how much hate there is in the world despite so many efforts towards peace.


Today, August 4th, marks the centenary of Britain entering the First World War and the British Legion is encouraging everyone to turn off the lights between 10pm and 11pm and leave a single light or candle burning as a symbolic act of reflection and hope. I will be taking time to think of all those on both sides of the war, the young men who went off to fight and the mothers, wives and families left behind, and to pray for those affected by conflict today.


4 thoughts on “WW1 Centenary – Lights Out

  1. Such a powerful post..
    The lights will be going out in our house tonight.
    We must NEVER forget.

  2. I went onto your page to read about day 5 August challenge blog but carried on reading and came to this post. I was moved to think that people as young as yourself remembered to light the candle tonight and share a little of the hardships of WW1. We don’t all have easy lives now but in comparison we are the lucky ones so far! Great piece of writing. xx

    1. Thank you – I think it is so important to remember those who laid down their lives because they were fighting for freedom. I found going to the Somme and Flanders an intensely moving experience – most of those who were named were so much younger than I was at the time and there were just so many unknowns.

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