WWI commemorated with 10,000 poppies
Susan Potter helps to prepare the a poppy display. Picture: Laurie Benson.

Hundreds of poppies hand-made in WA will line St George's Cathedral for a commemorative service on Sunday on the eve of the centenary of World War I.

The initiative was outlined this afternoon by the WA branch of the Returned and Services League as a tribute to the 32,231 West Australians who served in the war.

It is part of moves to "knit, crochet and sew" 10,000 poppies which will be used for commemorative events including in Albany later this year.

State RSL president Graham Edwards was accompanied for the announcement by Brendan Nelson, the director of the Australian War Memorial.

A Vietnam War veteran, Mr Edwards said the number of WA World War I servicemen and servicewomen represented about 10 per cent of the State's population at the time.

Mr Edwards said the poppies would be a way of acknowledging that contribution and the sacrifices it entailed - a gesture he said many people wanted to make.

"We are supporting and responding to an incredible interest and commitment from the people of Australia to properly involve themselves in the commemoration of that horrific event which started just 100 years ago," Mr Edwards said.

Dr Nelson also unveiled several initiatives that will commemorate the "Anzac centenary" over the next four years.

One will see 100,000 small wooden crosses adorned with personal messages from schoolchildren taken overseas to be laid on the graves of fallen Diggers.

Another will involve the 62,000 names from the First World War Roll of Honour being individually projected on to the War Memorial in Canberra each night until 2018.

Under a third project, children's voice recordings of the names and ages of Australia's First World War dead will be played in the cloisters of the Memorial.

Both Mr Edwards and Dr Nelson said the aim of the initiatives was to connect the past with contemporary events and humanise the soldiers behind the Anzac legend.

"It's about connecting our past with our present and our future to make sure everyone of us knows that there wasn't just a cataclysm that was the First World War with 62,000 Australians killed," Dr Nelson said.

"But behind every one of them was a real person - a person who was loved, a person who grew up in our country and that that person is remembered."

The West Australian

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