Troops in Afghanistan lead Remembrance Sunday ceremonies

This news article was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

Hundreds of British Service personnel in Afghanistan marked Remembrance Sunday this morning while Her Majesty The Queen led veterans, serving personnel and members of the public in marking the day in London.

Men and women from across the Army, Navy and Royal Air Force serving at Lashkar Gah in Helmand province fell silent to mark Remembrance Sunday at 1100hrs.

Those gathered took part in a service of remembrance conducted by padre Father Ian Stevenson before officers saluted during the Last Post while soldiers stood to attention.

The camp marked the traditional two-minute silence at 1100hrs, before a bugler sounded the Reveille and a piper played the Lament.

Task Force Helmand Commander Brigadier Patrick Sanders and the Helmand Provincial Reconstruction Team head of mission Michael O’Neill led the laying of the wreaths.

They were followed by national representatives from the US, Denmark and Estonia, before Brigadier Sanders read a passage from the Bible.

Brigadier Sanders said the parade held a special significance, adding:

Today is marked by two feelings here: one of sadness and one of pride. There is sadness at the men and women we have lost here in Afghanistan, but there is also immense pride at their courage and commitment, without which we would not have achieved all that we have done here.

Across the UK and in other parts of the world, veterans, serving personnel and members of the public also marked Remembrance Sunday today with the main event in London seeing over 7,500 veterans and 1,500 civilians march past the Cenotaph on Whitehall.

The official wreath-laying ceremony at the Cenotaph was led by Her Majesty The Queen and members of the Royal Family along with members of the Government and opposition parties including Prime Minister David Cameron and Defence Secretary Philip Hammond.

The Queen laid the first wreath, and also in attendance were the Duke of Edinburgh, the Prince of Wales, the Duke of Cambridge, the Duke of York, the Earl of Wessex, the Princess Royal and the Duke of Kent.

Defence Secretary Philip Hammond said the day was important for millions of people:

We know that public opinion of the Armed Services is at a record high,” he said. “The Armed Services have acquitted themselves incredibly well, of course in Afghanistan on an ongoing basis, and also in the operation in Libya over the course of this year.

The public hugely respects and admires what our Service people do and the professionalism with which they do it and we’re here to remember those who sadly have paid the ultimate price.

British Service personnel take part in a silent parade to mark Remembrance Sunday at the British base in Lashkar Gah, Helmand province
British Service personnel take part in a silent parade to mark Remembrance Sunday at the British base in Lashkar Gah, Helmand province [Picture: Sergeant Wes Calder RLC, Crown Copyright/MOD 2011]

The start and end of the official two-minute silence was marked by the firing of a gun from Horse Guards Parade by the King’s Troop Royal Horse Artillery. At the end of the silence, buglers of the Royal Marines sounded the Last Post.

The Royal British Legion’s National President, Lieutenant General Sir John Kiszely, said:

Remembrance Sunday is a time for the nation to unite in its reverence for the British Armed Forces past and present. When we bow our heads in reflection, we remember those who fought for our freedom during the two world wars, but we also mourn and honour those who have lost their lives in more recent conflicts.

Today, with troops on duty in Afghanistan and other trouble spots around the world, remembrance and the two-minute silence are as important as ever.

It’s a personal time for a lot of people, as we each remember loved ones, friends, comrades who have given their lives in service to the nation.

Also attending this year’s Cenotaph service were 30 civil servants from the Minsitry of Defence who for the first time joined the Civilian Column in the march-past.

Remembrance ceremonies were also held in places including:

  • Cardiff, where First Minister Carwyn Jones laid a wreath at the National War Memorial
  • Edinburgh, where First Minister Alex Salmond laid a wreath at the Stone of Remembrance on the Royal Mile
  • Belfast, where Deputy Lord Mayor Alderman Ruth Patterson and Dame Mary Peters led the tributes at City Hall
  • Hampshire, where about 1,000 people gathered outside Winchester Cathedral.