A Silence for Armistice Day

Westminster Abbey is holding a special service for three servicemen who were the last to lose their lives in World War I.

Britain fell silent today at 11am for 2 minutes to remember those who died in the first World War. Armistice Day occurs on this date each year, and many people wear a red poppy in the weeks leading up to it as a mark of respect. Schools and work places take time out for the scheduled silence, and many call today ‘Remembrance Day’.

Today was even more poignant due to the special service, as we lost our last UK based surviving men who had served in the war this year. The only British survivor who is still alive, Claude Choules, is currently living in Australia and is now aged 108.

Many prestigious people were present at Westminster Abbey to commemorate the brave souls who fought for our country; the Queen stood at the tomb of the Unknown Warrior to lay a wreath, which was carried by Lance Corporal Johnson Beharry VC. Due to two acts of heroism carried out by him in Iraq in 2004, he won the highest decoration given by Britain and the Commonwealth. He was assisted by Trooper Mark Donaldson who served in the Australian army; he was the first man of his country in 40 years to receive the Victoria Cross after protecting comrades during battle against the Taliban last year, in South Afghanistan.

Prime Minister Gordon Brown watched over the service, along with former PMs Margaret Thatcher and John Major. Tony Blair could not be present as he is currently in the Middle East acting as Special Envoy.

The sermon was given by Dr Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury. He spoke of the huge bereavement caused by the war, and praised the achievements of the soldiers who fought.

A poem was read out by the actor Jeremy Irons from the Poet’s Corner; he chose ‘Last Poet’, which was written after Harry Patch passed away (the last surviving World War I soldier in the UK who died earlier this year). It was penned by the poet laureate ‘Carol Ann Duffy’.

Acts of remembrance took place all over the country, as many families of the late servicemen still live here in the United Kingdom. Even some of our Kilburn Escorts have relatives who fought all those years ago, and they joined in with the nation to pay tribute with a 2 minute silence.