“I shall not easily forget those long winter nights in the front line,” wrote F. Noakes in his memoir about the First World War, The Distant Drum. “Darkness fell about four in the afternoon and dawn was not until eight next morning. These sixteen hours of blackness were broken by gun flashes, the gleam of star shells and punctuated by the scream of a shell or the sudden heart-stopping rattle of a machine-gun. The long hours crept by with leaden feet and sometimes it seemed as if time itself was dead.”
But it was still moving forwards — and at 11am on November 11, 1918, the guns finally fell silent.
This Sunday marks 100 years since the armistice. In the end, 16 million lives were taken by the First World War. And although at the time it was called “the war to end all wars”, many more have followed.
Remembrance Sunday is a time to pay homage to all those who have been killed in conflict. This year, to mark the centenary, there will be special events up and down the country.
Our special report on the First World War has eight more themes to explore — from the Commonwealth to women in the war. The Royal British Legion has also created free downloadable assemblies and lesson plans with the National Literacy Trust. There are six sets of five lesson plans, two each for Key Stages 2, 3 and 4, accompanied by an assembly plan each for primary and secondary schools.
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Bring the First World War to life with this slideshow of 20 rare colour photographs from the Western Front.
- As a class, take it in turns to list words that you associate with the word “war”, and write them on the board. When you are finished, discuss any common themes, images or feelings which emerged.
- Create a timeline of the First World War, including any key battles, treaties or political events.
- In groups, write a script for a play which is set on Armistice Day in 1918, the day the war ended.