Australia's Prime Minister Tony Abbott (C) lays a wreath during a ceremony to mark the 100th anniversary of the start of WW1 at the Australian War Memorial in Canberra on August 4, 2014. Australia and New Zealand marked the 100th anniversary of the outbreak of World War I on August 4, with Prime Ministers Tony Abbott and John Key calling it a conflict that shaped their nations.
Australia's Prime Minister Tony Abbott (C) lays a wreath during a ceremony to mark the 100th anniversary of the start of WW1 at the Australian War Memorial in Canberra on August 4, 2014. Australia and New Zealand marked the 100th anniversary of the outbreak of World War I on August 4, with Prime Ministers Tony Abbott and John Key calling it a conflict that shaped their nations. AFP PHOTO - Sean Davey

Today marks 100 years since Britain declared war on Germany

A SENSE of duty drew Australia into the First World War 100 years ago, when the fledgling nation joined Britain after it declared war on Germany.

It was with a similar, yet much less demanding, sense, that Prime Minister Tony Abbott and European leaders alike today commemorated the fatal declaration.

The "war to end all wars" as it was known, would take the lives of 60,000 Australians, leave more than 150,000 wound and lead to the rise of the Second World War.

At 11pm on August 4, 1914, Britain officially declared war on Germany after its forces invaded Belgium, driving the rest of the world into what was previously a Balkans conflict.

As Mr Abbott laid a wreath at the Australian War Memorial in Canberra, so too did leaders in Germany, France, England and New Zealand commemorate the memory of those lost.

Calling the First World War both a "tragic waste" but for "a good cause", Mr Abbott said those who died fell "during what they honestly believed was the right thing".

"So, we should, over the course of the next four years, reflect on the tragedy and the magnificence of the human condition. We should remember the good, the bad, what was achieved, what wasn't achieved." he said.

We should always, as we reflect, dedicate ourselves to being better people, creating as best we can a better world."

Commemorating the war, schoolchildren, working with the memorial with ABC and Google have created an audio installation, reading through the names of those on the honour roll.

The audio project, Soundscape, aims to help bring the stories of the First World War to schoolchildren unfamiliar with the conflict, to help understand Australia's history.

Mr Abbott said the project was important because it would help "to remember what it was like for them - what went through their minds as they enlisted".

"It's important, too, to remember what went through their minds when the guns fired; fear, excitement, love of their mates," he said.

The Australian ceremony in Canberra was similar replicated across Europe, and will continue to be over the next 12 hours.

It comes as thousands of Australians prepare for the Anzac Day memorial next year, marking 100 years since the failed campaign on Turkish shores and the shared global history of the war.



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