The centenary of World War One begins this year to mark the 100 year anniversary of the beginning of the war that shaped the world as we know it.
Dudley Council is compiling an online collection of local stories and photographs from the war that will be added to as the four years go on and is also running a four year WW1 exhibition at Dudley Museum and Art Gallery complete with a school's education package
:: more on how to send in your own stories and images
In the Dudley borough, a number of activities have been planned and are in discussion to commemorate the centenary. It is of huge local, national and international importance, and it’s only too easy for borough residents to get involved.
There will be a civic service on 1 August at St Thomas and St Luke’s Church in Dudley, with added significance placed on the First World War.
Three men from the borough were awarded the Victoria Cross, the highest military accomplishment. A national campaign to commemorate these men means that there will be paving stones laid in their birthplaces. These paving stones will be laid around the centenary anniversary of each award.
The council will be assisting the relatives of a World War One soldier, Harry Whitwell, to have his name added to the Mary Stevens War Memorial.
:: more on Victoria Cross recipients
On Saturday 2 August the performance poet Jonny Fluffypunk (dressed in WW1 attire) will be at Dudley Library from 10:30am - 4:00pm. He will be collecting ideas from the public and then will create poems 'on the spot' with a WW1 theme.
The Mayor of Dudley Margaret Aston will officially open the World War One exhibition at Dudley Museum and Art Gallery on Monday 4 August and it will be open to the public from 12pm. It is a huge project showing a realistic recreation of the trenches and extensive artefacts including letters, newspapers and war memorabilia will be on display. As part of the recreation, there will be prizes for the best wartime fancy dress. The exhibition will run for four years, marking the outbreak of war on 4 August 1914, until the Armistice in November 2018.
Locals are encouraged to get involved with the ‘Lights Out’ service on 4 August, which involves switching their lights off between 10-11pm to remember the start of the war a hundred years ago.
At St Thomas’ Church in Stourbridge there will be a World War One commemorative service with the Mayor, Royal British Legion and relatives of local people who died in the war all present.
The Black Country Living Museum is planning to host a series of family activities to teach local people about the role they would have played during the war. These will run throughout the duration of the centenary, with particular focus on school holidays.
St Mary’s CE Primary School in Kingswinford will be creating prayers, poems and displays within the school and donating one to St Mary’s Church for Remembrance Day. Years 5 and 6 will be visiting the National Memorial Arboretum to research their centenary projects.
St Peter's Church in Cradley will be holding a church blessing to honour Cradley ex-servicemen. The RAF will lay a wreath, there will be a poppy picnic, fete music and a poetry evening.
Poppies will planted in parks across the borough to commemorate those who fell in the war.
These are just some of the many events already planned for the centenary. The focus is not just on remembering the men who fell but those who lived, and the people they had to leave behind at home. The war did not just affect the men in the trenches, it was of huge significance at home, affecting women’s rights, rationing, the workplace, even the time – British Summer Time was introduced in 1916 so that farmers had an extra hour of daylight in their fields.