IT was the war to end all wars – an incredible 16 million people lost their lives over the four years of the conflict.
And yesterday, the nation stopped to remember. People across the Portsmouth area joined the rest of the country in marking the moment the First World War began on August 4, 1914.
At exactly 10pm, the lights went out. Households, shops, pub and people everywhere made an effort to mark the moment that saw Britain join the conflict 100 years ago.
The event was inspired by Sir Edward Grey, foreign secretary when war broke out, who famously at the time uttered the words: ‘The lamps are going out all over Europe; we shall not see them lit again in our lifetime.’
In a poignant show of unity with those who gave their lives, the darkness was a fitting commemoration.
To mark the end of the Lights Out event, foghorns sounded from the Royal Navy ships of Portsmouth.
Events took place throughout the day yesterday, from a plaque being unveiled at Fratton Park to the Pompey Pals battalions, to white doves being released in Fareham, to a moving service at Gosport War Memorial Hospital.
Meanwhile, a flashmob memorial took place in Havant, which will form an exhibition later this year.
Rob Thrush is from the 10th Battalion Essex Regiment Living History Group, a re-enactment group, who marched through Guildhall Square dressed as soldiers from the First World War.
He said: ‘We believe the 100th anniversary is a key milestone in the history of our country and it’s vitally important that the volunteers who went off to serve their country between 1914 and 1918 are properly commemorated and represented.
‘These kind of events are absolutely critical to our country’s history.’