Prime Minister David Cameron has called for 'a truly national commemoration of the First World War'. This article shows this to be problematic, politicised and contested. This is in part due to the elision of English and British histories. Scottish, Welsh and Irish responses are noted, and the role and commemorations of 'our friends in the Commonwealth'. There are tensions around interpretations of empire and race. There has been a failure to appreciate that the debates about the legacies of the First World War are deeply entangled with those of colonialism.