UK’s Armistice Day memorial services: nation falls silent to honour war dead

The nation fell silent at 11am today as the passing of the First World War generation was marked at a moving Westminster Abbey memorial service for Armistice Day.

Telegraph [UK]
11 November 2009


Crowds gathered in Trafalgar Square for a Remembrance Day concert and poetry reading. (Photo Fiona Hanson/PA/Times of London)

The Queen, the Duke of Edinburgh, senior politicians and the heads of the Armed Forces gathered for the ceremony in central London.

Former and serving military personnel joined members of the public in standing for the traditional two-minute silence to remember the sacrifice of those who have died for their country.

The service was held following the deaths this year of the final three British veterans of the Great War.

William Stone died in January, aged 108, followed in July by Henry Allingham, 113, and Harry Patch, 111.

The Very Rev Dr John Hall, Dean of Westminster, opened the service by recalling the moment exactly 91 years ago when the guns fell silent in Europe.

He said in his bidding: “The Great War was over. Lives, friendships, families, societies, nations had been shattered. Everything had changed.

“On this day two years later and at this hour, an unknown warrior, chosen at random to represent all those of these islands who had fought and died, accorded the highest honour of a state funeral, was buried here.

“His grave was to become the focus of our national remembrance and to have international significance.

“Now that the last of his comrades in arms has gone to his eternal rest, we are here once more to remember.

“We remember, with grief, the gas and the mud, the barbed wire, the bombardment, the terror, the telegram; and, with gratitude, the courage and sacrifice.

“Never again, they said; the war to end all wars. With resolution we remember.” …

…[The head of the armed forces, Air Chief Marshal Sir Jock Stirrup said] “During the First World War the British military lost some two-thirds of a million dead – nearly 20,000 of those on just one day at the Battle of the Somme.

“These are numbers that are all but incomprehensible to us today. The total amounted to almost one in every 50 people in the land – hardly a community was untouched.

“Such sacrifice must never be forgotten, and today is an important part of that ongoing remembrance”.

Also attending the service were former prime ministers Baroness Thatcher and Sir John Major. Tony Blair was unable to attend because he was visiting the Middle East in his role as Quartet envoy.

The entire article can be read at the Telegraph.

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