COMMEMORATIONS to mark the beginning of the war to end all wars have started.

Residents are invited to take part in a series of special events with services and lights out ceremonies including poetry, music and art across Poole, Bournemouth and Christchurch.

Great War activities began in Poole yesterday with the arrival of D Day veteran, former RN coastal defence boat HMS Medusa returning to its home port.

It was escorted into the harbour by Arry Paye, the 30ft long gig rowed by seven crew and will be arriving between 3pm and 4pm to be moored at Poole Quay over the weekend.

Tomorrow residents are welcome to join Poole Mayor, Cllr Peter Adams for a Civic Service at St James Church at 4pm, led by the Bishop of Sherborne, the Rt Rev Dr Graham Kings.

Afterwards servicemen, ex-servicemen and uniform groups will parade down Thames Street to the Guildhall.

On Monday August 4 there will be an open air Civic Service at the Pier Approach in Bournemouth at 10.45am with veterans organisations and others remembering all who lost their lives in WWI.

At 10pm the national Lights Out ceremony will be observed at a candlelight event at Bournemouth’s War Memorial in the gardens, while at Poole Park the war memorial will be lit by poppies in a light and sound display by local artist Martin Coyne.

In Christchurch there will be a ceremony from 8pm to 10pm at Saxon Square with a programme of poetry, music and art.

“The First World War changed the world, so it is absolutely right that 100 years on we put remembrance at the heart of our centenary commemorations,” said Cllr Adams.

“Everyone is invited to take part in Lights Out by turning off their lights from 10pm to 11pm on August 4, leaving a single light or candle. Whether you choose to mark the centenary of the outbreak of WWI individually or join us in Poole Park for our Lights Out event we hope you take a moment to reflect on this historic and world changing event.”