Powerful picture from 1919 resonates around the world

The crowds in London for the first anniversary of Armistice Day.
The crowds in London for the first anniversary of Armistice Day.

On Remembrance Sunday, Tynemouth World War One Commemoration Project posted on its Twitter account a scene in a London street on the first anniversary of Armistice Day in 1919.

The powerful image of national remembrance was re-circulated by more than 300 others with more than 200,000 people receiving it – possibly the same number as those gathered on that London street 94 years ago.

The picture captures the overwhelming solidarity engendered by the terrible toll of the previous four years.

Now, as we prepare to enter the centenary of the outbreak of the war on August 4, 1914, there is a palpable sense that the nation will seek to recognise and re-evaluate the loss and the changes wrought by that tragic episode in the history.

Over the centenary we will be reminded of the names of battles fought by the British, Dominion and colonial troops – many of which require little mention to reawaken sad memory amongst older generations.

And the war involved major ally France as well as Belgium and Russia.

However, it has come as a surprise just how little recognition there is today of the major episodes that involved the French troops who suffered in equal measure with their British ally.

The response of other governments to the centenary is different and it is fair to say it will not be marked in such definite terms as within the British and Commonwealth nations.

The most potent place name in modern French culture is Verdun – the fortification on the north east border of France – the scene of fighting which was unparalleled in its ferocity, and a place which has the same resonance for the French as the Somme and Passchendaele.

The story of Verdun will be told at our next talk at the Low Lights Tavern, Brewhouse Bank, North Shields on Tuesday, November 26, at 730pm.

Tickets are available from Keel Row Bookshop, Preston Road, North Shields, and the Low Lights Tavern.

Ian McArdle will examine the myths and the reality of this struggle; said to be one reason for the ill-fated Somme campaign.

Anyone with information on anyone killed or died as a result of the war is asked to contact the project.

The project workroom at Room , Linskill Community Centre, Trevor Terrace, North Shields, is open from 10am to 4pm each weekday for anyone interested to learn more about the project or how to get involved.

•The lecture by Professor Gary Sheffield in March 2014 will be on March 4, not March 8 as stated in last week’s column.