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First World War Centenary

We are now 100 years on from the end of the First World War.
We are all connected to the First World War, either through our own family history, the heritage of our local communities or because of its long-term impact on society and the world we live in today.

During the First World War, Southampton Docks became the number one military embarkation port. Troops marched through the town on their way to the trenches, many never to return. The war had a profound effect on the Home Front of the country, including Southampton.
The Council for British Archaeology is coordinating a national project to record the remains of surviving sites, structures and buildings of the First World War. This Home Front Legacy Project runs throughout the First World War centenary period, 2014 to 2018. The records will eventually be included in local Historic Environment Records (HERs), including the Southampton HER.
Southampton Docks
During the First World War Southampton Docks were requisitioned as No.1 Military Embarkation Port for troops leaving for the war in France. Troops marched through the Bargate on their way to the trenches, many never to return. The war had a profound effect on the Home Front of the Country, including Southampton. 
Southampton Common
The Common served as an army camp for soldiers waiting to embark. Local halls were used in army 
recruitment drives, perhaps including the former drill hall in St Mary’s Road, now a sports centre.
Factories were turned over to war production. A large steel rolling mill was built at Weston Shore. This was demolished in about 1990, although part of the boundary wall survives. 
In 1917 a large jetty was built for military use to the west of Royal Pier. This was later demolished and any remains now lie partly under Mayflower Park. 
Southampton University
As the wounded started to arrive from France, some large houses were converted into hospitals. The newly opened University College in Highfield, the forerunner of Southampton University, became a military hospital for the duration of the war. Buildings such as Bevois Mount House were used to house prisoners of war.
After the war, the Cenotaph and other war memorials were built to commemorate the fallen. The Cenotaph was designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens, the first version of a template later used for the Whitehall cenotaph and other war memorials. A memorial was built at Southampton Golf Course to commemorate a war horse called Warrior. 
    • War Horse

    War Horse - Photo Credit: Mayflower Theatre

    • Armed Forces Day

    Armed Forces Day

    • Birdsong

    Birdsong - Photo Credit: Nuffield Southampton Theatres

Events in Southampton

Finding a Way Back Home from War: English Literature after 1918
26 April / University of Southampton / 6pm - 7.30pm / Free
As part of the 'Great War: Unknown War' lecture series and given by Professor Dan Brown, this event will explore how World War I was seen by many writers working from 1914 to 1930 as a cultural as well as a political crisis - as the culmination and damnation of traditional Western culture. Find out more > 

Bully Beef and Whizzbangs
7 May / Empire Room, Royal Victoria Country Park / 2pm & 6pm / Adults £6, Concessions £4.50
Royal Victoria Country Park, in partnership with SUP Theatre Company, presents Bully Beef and Whizzbangs, a new award-winning production written and directed by Chris Hawley.
Written to mark the centenary of the 1918 Armistice, Bully Beef and Whizzbangs takes a wry and often humorous look at life in a WW1 trench through the eyes of its two reluctant heroes. Smudger, a new arrival at the Front, is keen to shoot his first German, while old-timer Harry is more interested in keeping his head down, thinking of home and enjoying a brew. Stuck in a hole, surrounded by mud and death, how will our boys cope with the ever-present danger of being shot or blown to smithereens?
This darkly comic WW1 tale features authentic WW1 costumes, props and a 12-foot section of trench!
Find out more >

War Horse
16 May - 9 June / Mayflower Theatre
Following 8 record-breaking years in London’s West End and having played in 11 countries around the world to over 7 million people, the National Theatre’s acclaimed play War Horse will return to Southampton in Spring 2018.
Based on the beloved novel by Michael Morpurgo, this powerfully moving and imaginative drama, filled with stirring music and songs, is a show of phenomenal inventiveness. At its heart are astonishing life-sized horses by South Africa’s Handspring Puppet Company, who bring breathing, galloping, charging horses to thrilling life on stage.
War Horse is an unforgettable theatrical event which takes audiences on an extraordinary journey from the fields of rural Devon to the trenches of First World War France.
Ticket Prices: £18.00 - £59.50 Find out more >

Southampton Armed Forces Day
Sunday 1 July in Guildhall Square / 11am - 4pm / Free
Southampton has a long military history and 2018 is the centenary year of the Royal Air Force, 100 years since the end of WW1 and the 10th anniversary of Armed Forces Day. 
There will be a parade and static displays including a Chieftain tank and entertainment to celebrate, support and thank our Armed Forces personnel.
Southampton has a long and proud military history. Come along to enjoy the day, have your picture taken with some of the exhibits and to celebrate the brave, local men and women of our Armed Forces both past and present. Find out more >

Festival of Remembrance
11 November / 7pm / Mayflower Theatre

The Royal British Legion welcomes you to a special performance to commemorate those who have lost their lives in conflicts. 100 years to the very day since the end of World War One, join us for an evening of music, song, poetry and special memories. Performed by a 300 strong cast of choirs, military drums and the professional Showcase Philharmagic Orchestra, who are all volunteering their time, for an unforgettable evening. The performance will of course embrace the Act of Remembrance with time to reflect and give thanks to our fallen heroes.
Music will include well known favourites by Eric Coates, Vera Lynn, Edward Elgar & Karl Jenkins plus your chance to sing along with memorable tunes such as Keep the Home Fires Burning & Roll Out the Barrel.
In collaboration with the Showcase Performance Company.
All proceeds will go towards the Royal British Legion Poppy Appeal.
Tickets: £22  Find out more > 

Remembrance Service
Sunday 11 November / 11am / The Cenotaph
The City of Southampton Annual Civic Remembrance Service will be held at the Cenotaph, Southampton at 10.55am conducted by John Attenborough, The Mayor's Chaplain / Port Chaplain, Mission to Seafarers - Southampton and assisted by representatives of the Churches and Faith Communities of the City.
All Welcome to Attend.
Remembrance Sunday Ceremony
Sunday 11th November / 2.15pm / Southampton Old Cemetery
Join the Friends of Southampton Old Cemetery at their Remembrance Sunday Ceremony.
Everyone welcome. Find out more >
The Silent Soldier Silhouettes
Sixteen life-size soldier silhouettes to be placed across Southampton to mark 100th anniversary of the end of the First World War.
The cast iron figures will appear in parks, open spaces and on roundabouts across the city and will remain there until December.
Southampton City Council have purchased the statues from the Royal British Legion, who have created the 1.6 metre tall figures as part of their Silent Soldier Campaign.
The Silent Soldier silhouettes commemorate the 1.1 million British and Empire service men and women who died during the war – which ended in November 1918.
The figures also represent those who returned home, but whose lives would never be the same again. Locations of where these will be placed will be available soon..

Events you have missed..

First World War Season: All Quiet on the Western Front (PG)
18 April / NST City

The epic screen adaption of Erich Maria Remarque’s famed novel follows a group of German teenagers who enlist for WW1. They soon discover war is not about heroism but about pain, suffering and death.
Directed by Lewis Milestone and winner of the Best Picture Oscar in 1930.
Tickets: £8, £5 conc. 

First World War Season: Oh! What a Lovely War (PG)
19 April / NST City
Based on the stage show developed by Joan Littlewood at the Theatre Workshop, this musical treatment of WW1 follows the Smith family whose optimism is shattered as they come to realise the reality of warfare.
Directed by Richard Attenborough and winner of five BAFTAs.
Tickets: £8, £5 conc.

17 - 21 April / NST Campus
A mesmerising story of love and courage based on the bestselling novel by Sebastian Faulks, live on stage during the 100th anniversary of the end of the First World War.
Tickets starting at: £30, £24, £17, £10 

First World War Season: A Very Long Engagement (15)
20 April / NST City
Jean-Pierre Juenet’s French war drama follows a young woman’s fight to discover the fate of her lover at the close of WW1. Directed and co-written by Jeunet, the film was nominated for two Academy Awards and won five César Awards. Starring Audrey Tautou, Gaspard Ulliel and Marion Cotillard.
Tickets: £8, £5 conc.

First World War Centenary website > 

Royal Mail Stamps
Royal Mail are issuing a landmark series of Special Stamps to commemorate the centenary of the First World War. There will be 30 stamps in total – six per year from 2014 to 2018. Find out more >