ON AUGUST 4, 1914, the United Kingdom declared war on Germany, after Germany invaded Belgium.
It was the start of one of the most deadly conflicts in human history, claiming millions of lives.
Many hundreds of young men left the Observer area to fight for their country and did not return.
Their names are remembered on war memorials in every village.
And as the country prepares to commemorate the centenary of the start of the first world war, week by week the Observer will be visiting the war memorials and telling the stories of some of the young men who fought and died.
Many villages are also planning their own commemoration events, including exhibitions and displays and the unveiling of plaques.
The Observer will be also be recording these as they take place.
For much of this series, we will be working in partnership with the Midhurst U3A and visiting the villages where these young men lived and capturing the scenes back home as communities struggled to survive as they waited for news of their husbands, sons and brothers.