Millions fall silent on Armistice Day to remember war dead

The Western Front Association's annual service of remembrance at the Cenotaph, Whitehall (Rick Findler/PA)
The Western Front Association's annual service of remembrance at the Cenotaph, Whitehall (Rick Findler/PA)

Millions of people have fallen silent on Armistice Day to remember those who died in the nation’s wars and conflicts.

Events have been held across the country to mark the 99th anniversary of the end of the First World War.

In London, Big Ben, which has not tolled since vital repairs began in August, chimed at the stroke of 11am marking the start of a two-minute silence on Saturday.

There has also been a service at the Cenotaph in Whitehall, while mourners and dignitaries gathered at the National Memorial Arboretum in Staffordshire.

Later, the Queen will be joined by members of the Royal Family at the Royal Festival of Remembrance at the Royal Albert Hall.

At the going down of the sun and in the morning. We will remember them. #TwoMinuteSilence #Armisticeday pic.twitter.com/ih4bUlZNHz

— Royal British Legion (@PoppyLegion) November 11, 2017

Our Flanders poem installation has reached its final destination at the Menin Gate in Ypres. Read more https://t.co/7HkbVcirWq pic.twitter.com/tPPrNrSYQx

— Royal British Legion (@PoppyLegion) November 11, 2017

The event will mark the centenaries of women’s service in the regular armed forces, the Battle of Passchendaele, the creation of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission and the 100th birthday of forces’ sweetheart Dame Vera Lynn.

It will also commemorate the 75th anniversary of the Battle of El Alamein and the creation of the RAF Regiment.

Other royals attending the service on Saturday include the Duke of Edinburgh, the Prince of Wales, the Duchess of Cornwall and the Duchess of Cambridge, who is pregnant with her third child.

Earlier, services took place elsewhere, in places like Brighton, East Sussex, where tributes were paid to those who had defused beach landmines during the Second World War.

Veterans marked the silence 452ft (138 metres) in the air, from the top of the world’s tallest moving observation tower – the British Airways i360.

At the National Memorial Arboretum, veterans of all ages gathered in a visual reminder of the UK’s near-constant involvement in conflicts beyond the end of the Second World War, including Iraq and Afghanistan.

99 years ago on the 'eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month' an armistice was signed ending #WW1 #ArmisticeDay pic.twitter.com/VJaLWitMd3

— The Royal Family (@RoyalFamily) November 11, 2017

11am today is an opportunity to remember the heroes of distant wars and those who fell in recent conflicts.

— The Royal Family (@RoyalFamily) November 11, 2017

Among those recalling lost friends was 99-year-old Les Cherrington, of the Staffordshire Yeomanry Queen’s Own Royal Regiment.

He was the sole survivor from his tank crew following a battle in the North African desert in 1943.

Mr Cherrington’s Sherman tank was left a flaming wreck by a German field gun, but he managed to clamber free despite being badly burned and shrapnel nearly severing his left arm.

After almost bleeding to death overnight in a slit trench, he was believed to be among the dead by Allied soldiers who only realised he was alive when he shouted “water!”

Mr Cherrington, originally from Albrighton, Staffordshire, said of his lost pals: “I think more today of the mates I lost, and their families, than I do myself.”

Another group, who served in the Malayan Emergency in the 1950s, were among those paying a personal tribute, laying a wreath at one of the many memorials dotted about the arboretum’s 150-acre site, to the 21 friends they lost in the jungles of Sarawak.

This weekend, we remember those from all over the world that gave their lives during WWI and later conflicts #ArmisticeDay #LestWeForget pic.twitter.com/x8DgPzibMf

— Foreign Office ???????? (@foreignoffice) November 11, 2017

Overlooking the Brighton beach front, mourners gathered in front of the West Pier in memory of the fallen and those men and women like Captain Ken Revis, of the Royal Engineers, who lost his sight during the Second World War while defusing mines.

While he survived, thousands of others did not.

On the 11th hour, of the 11th day, of the 11th month, we will remember them #Remembrance #LestWeForget pic.twitter.com/CXNJ9HUpaB

— Ministry of Defence (@DefenceHQ) November 11, 2017

In September 1943, Mr Revis was asked to “delouse” the two piers in Brighton, but having defused six mines, he was blown up when 13 went off – and claimed his sight.

He went on to live a full life with the support of wife Jo, becoming a representative for St Dunstan’s charity for the blind in India, and qualifying as a solicitor. He died in 2002, aged 84.

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