Armistice Day has been marked today by millions of people at ceremonies across the UK and by Armed Forces personnel currently serving in Afghanistan and in other areas across the world.
The ceremonies involved a two-minute silence at 1100hrs when those who have fallen serving their country since World War One, including those servicemen killed in Afghanistan, were remembered.
Armistice Day was when peace returned to Europe at the end of the First World War. The agreement between Germany and the Allies after four years of fighting took effect from the ‘eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month’ in 1918.
In London, a service was held for the 91st time at the Cenotaph memorial, organised by the Western Front Association.
The event was attended by members of the Victoria and George Cross Association, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Defence Secretary Dr Liam Fox, Minister for Defence Personnel, Welfare and Veterans Andrew Robathan, and all the Chiefs of Staff.
Numerous members of veterans associations and current serving personnel also attended the event in London including Lance Corporal Matt Croucher, of the Royal Marines Reserve, who was awarded the George Cross for bravery after he threw himself onto a bomb to smother the explosion while serving in Afghanistan in February 2008. The 26-year-old, from Birmingham, survived the blast unhurt.
After today’s service he said:
Even without the medals it’s great there is so much support. People in the military don’t really ask for much but, just to have the support of the crowds here, it means a lot more than anything else. As long as that public support is there, people will continue to serve their country.
He said although the focus of remembrance tended to be on the First and Second World Wars, it was important to think about troops currently on operations.
LCpl Croucher was joined for the ceremony by other members of the Victoria Cross and George Cross Association including 92-year-old Gurkha Lachhiman Gurung and Lance Corporal Johnson Beharry.
The Cenotaph service in London was led by Brother Nigel Cave, the Western Front Association’s padre. A bugler from the Scots Guards heralded the start of the two-minute silence at exactly 1100hrs GMT by playing the Last Post. Its completion was marked with the Reveille.
Prime Minister David Cameron, currently in Asia, laid a wreath at the site of the Army’s bloodiest battle since the end of the Second World War, the Imjin River in South Korea.
Other events today included an Armistice Day service of remembrance at the National Memorial Arboretum, Staffordshire, attended by Minister for the Armed Forces Nick Harvey, a remembrance service in Portsmouth attended by Minister for Defence Equipment, Support and Technology Peter Luff, and a remembrance service in Aldershot attended by Minister for International Security Strategy Gerald Howarth.
The Royal British Legion hosted ‘Silence in the Square’, in London’s Trafalgar Square, giving people the chance to take part in the two-minute silence to remember troops past and present, and share in music, readings and entertainment.
Also today, the Field of Remembrance at Westminster Abbey was officially opened by His Royal Highness The Duke of Edinburgh. The Field of Remembrance pays tribute to all the brave servicemen and women who have served in our Armed Forces since World War One.
Earlier this week, Prince Harry opened the first Field of Remembrance for troops killed in Afghanistan. See Related News to read more on this.