NEWS

First World War Centenary Spectacularly Remembered In London As A Single Beam Of Light Pierces The Night Sky

05/08/2014 10:06 | Updated 05 August 2014

Britain was plunged into darkness as lights were switched off for an hour across the country Monday night - all except one.

To mark the centenary of the First World War a single light was left burning in London as a powerful symbol of hope amid darkness.

Royalty, political leaders and relatives of the fallen united yesterday to remember the sacrifices and losses exactly a century on from Britain's entry into the First World War.

At 11pm on August 4 1914, Britain declared war on Germany, ushering in four years of darkness and despair. Until the armistice was signed on November 11 1918, soldiers engaged in the bloodiest conflict the world had known.

A spectacular sound and light installation at Victoria Tower Gardens called Spectra by Ryoji Ikeda pierced the London night sky above the Houses Of Parliament.

In a sign of respect of all that was lost, millions also took part in a powerful tribute to the fallen, switching off lights at their homes and offices to mark an era of appalling tragedy.

The nationwide event was designed to echo the words of then-foreign secretary Sir Edward Grey on the eve of the conflict: "The lamps are going out all over Europe; we shall not see them lit again in our lifetime."

A moving twilight ceremony at St Symphorien military cemetery near Mons was the highlight of Monday's events in the UK and Belgium, with the service featuring the gradual extinguishing of candles, with an oil lamp snuffed out at the grave of the unknown warrior at 11pm - the exact hour war was declared.

  • The beam of light as seen from The View From The Shard
  • Here’s what the installation looks like from ground level.
    Oli Scarff via Getty Images
  • A symbol of hope amid darkness
    JUSTIN TALLIS via Getty Images
  • 'Spectra' by Ryoji Ikeda
  • Simply stunning...
    Oli Scarff via Getty Images
  • The Lights go out on Nelson column in Trafalgar square
  • The spectacular beam will be visible every night 4 - 11 August
  • A powerful mark of respect from London
    Oli Scarff via Getty Images
  • The beam could be seen all across the city
    Oli Scarff via Getty Images
  • Birds appeared to sparkle in the beam of light
  • The lights are turned off at London's Houses of Parliament
    JUSTIN TALLIS via Getty Images
  • Big Ben strikes 2300 hours as the lights are turned off
    Rob Stothard via Getty Images
  • A single window is illuminated in Buckingham Palace
    Matthew Lloyd via Getty Images
  • People gather beside the Cenotaph
    JUSTIN TALLIS via Getty Images
  • A single illuminated lantern is left outside the door of 10 Downing Street
    JUSTIN TALLIS via Getty Images
  • A 'roll of honour' commemorating more than two thousand residents from London's Westminister borough
    JUSTIN TALLIS via Getty Images
  • The Houses of parliament in London before the lights have been turned off...
    Ian West/PA Wire
  • .... and after
    Ian West/PA Wire
  • The Houses of Parliament are seen in darkness
    Tristan Fewings via Getty Images
  • The London Eye is seen from Westminster Bridge as the lights are turned off
    Tristan Fewings via Getty Images
  • People sit in candle light during a Vigil of Prayer and Penitence at Bath Abbey
    Ben Birchall/PA Wire
  • Members of the Jewish community attend a ceremony at the Bevis Marks Synagogue
    Dan Dennison via Getty Images
  • David Parry/PA Wire
    The London Eye on has its lights switched off as part of the national Lights Out campaign of remembrance, marking 100 years since Britain entered the First World War.
  • Lights Go Out To Mark World War One Centenary
    Oli Scarff via Getty Images
    An art installation entitled 'spectra' by Japanese artist Ryoji Ikeda lights up the night sky as part of 'Lights Out', to commemorate the centenary of Britain's involvement in the First World War, on August 4, 2014 in London, England. Monday 4th August marks the 100th anniversary of Great Britain declaring war on Germany. In 1914 British Prime Minister Herbert Asquith announced at 11pm that Britain was to enter the war after Germany had violated Belgium neutrality. The First World War or the Great War lasted until 11 November 1918 and is recognised as one of the deadliest historical conflicts with millions of causalities. A series of events commemorating the 100th anniversary are taking place throughout the day. (Photo by Oli Scarff/Getty Images)
  • Chelsea pensioners light their candles during a candlelight vigil at Westminster Abbey
    WPA Pool via Getty Images
  • World War I centenary - London
    David Parry/PA Wire
    The London Eye on Londonâs South Bank with its lights on after its lights switched off as part of the national âLights Outâ campaign of remembrance, marking 100 years since Britain entered the First World War.
  • Lights Go Out To Mark World War One Centenary
    Oli Scarff via Getty Images
    Members of the public admire an art installation entitled 'spectra' by Japanese artist Ryoji Ikeda which lights up the night sky as part of 'Lights Out', to commemorate the centenary of Britain's involvement in the First World War, on August 4, 2014 in London, England. Monday 4th August marks the 100th anniversary of Great Britain declaring war on Germany. In 1914 British Prime Minister Herbert Asquith announced at 11pm that Britain was to enter the war after Germany had violated Belgium neutrality. The First World War or the Great War lasted until 11 November 1918 and is recognised as one of the deadliest historical conflicts with millions of causalities. A series of events commemorating the 100th anniversary are taking place throughout the day. (Photo by Oli Scarff/Getty Images)
  • Candles placed in specially made glass poppies are displayed on the war memorial during an evening 'Light's Out' ceremony
  • A woman sings a hymn during an evening 'Light's Out' ceremony on August 4, 2014 in Yarm, United Kingdom.
  • Hundreds of people attend an evening 'Light's Out' vigil on August 4, 2014 in Yarm, United Kingdom.

The royals stood alongside Prime Minister David Cameron and counterparts from countries including France and German at commemorative events yesterday.

Mr Cameron said the Great War, which claimed millions of lives, including 750,000 from the British and Commonwealth, was "unlike any other".

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge will join Prince Harry at the Tower of London today to each plant a ceramic poppy in an art installation symbolising the thousands of lives lost during the First World War.

Today William, Kate and Harry will visit the dry moat at the Tower - the site where more than 1,600 men swore an oath to the crown in August 1914 after enlisting for war.

The first ceramic poppy installed as part of the Historic Royal Palaces artwork was planted last month, and the final will be laid on Armistice Day, November 11.

In total 888,246 ceramic poppies, one for each British and Colonial death during the war, will be installed by a team of 8,000 volunteers.

Profits from the artwork will be divided between six service charities including Help for Heroes and the Royal British Legion.

World War One Wills

Suggest a correction
Comments

CONVERSATIONS