A brass band, poetry and storytelling re-imagining the atmosphere in Merton on the eve of the First World War marked the start of centenary events in the borough.
Actors Christopher Fairbank and Claire Walshe performed a specially-commissioned piece imagining events at the home front in Merton and on the front line as war broke out in France.
Councillor Maxi Martin, armed forces champion for Merton, said: "There wasn't a dry eye in the house. It really was well-executed in every way.
"The narrator went through where we would be 100 years ago today, what Merton would be like and it was completely silent while people were listening to the story of how this terrible thing happened."
The award-winning Regent Brass band and Colliers Wood choir evoked the sounds of war in between narrations.
Young men from St Helier schools who would likely have been enlisted to fight 100 years ago then moved members of the audience to tears with readings of war poems 'Anthem for Doomed Youth and 'In Flanders Field'.
Council leader Councillor Stephen Alambritis, the Mayor of Merton, Councillor Agatha Akyigyina and Wimbledon MP Stephen Hammond were among those at the ceremony.
The commemorative event was part of 'Merton Remembers', a series of events planned by the council over the next four years to mark the centenary of WWI.
People around the country are being encouraged to switch off lights between 10pm and 11pm today in memory of the fallen.
Dedicate a tree for £20 to someone lived or served in the First World War. Call 0800 915 1914 or go to www.woodlandtrust.org.uk/mylocalpaper.