Royal British Legion Festival of Remembrance

On Saturday 10th November Rod Stewart performed for the Queen at the Festival of Remembrance at the Royal Albert Hall in honour of Britain’s war dead. The Queen was joined by the Duke of Edinburgh for the televised event at the Royal Albert Hall, which was watched by thousands – including the Prime Minister and his wife Samantha, and Labour leader Ed Miliband and his wife Justine. Stewart appeared alongside Alexandra Burke, Russell Watson and the Military Wives choir, who performed with former X Factor contestant Jonjo Kerr, who is a private with the 3rd Battalion The Yorkshire Regiment.

Olympians Heather Stanning, Pete Reed and Paralympian Derek Derenalagi also appeared. The Royal British Legion staged the festival, which included the traditional two-minute silence as poppy petals fall from the roof of the Royal Albert Hall, each representing a life lost in war. The event, which had an audience of veterans and their families, was intended as a moving tribute to the country’s fallen. Around 150 personnel from the army, navy and Royal Air Force marked the two-minute silence at 11am local time and a bugler sounded The Last Post before a piper from The Royal Dragoon Guards played a traditional lament. They were joined by coalition representatives from the USA, Denmark, Estonia and Bosnia as well as senior officers from the Afghan National Security Forces

Remembrance Sunday

This years Poignant Remembrance Sunday service took place on 11th Novemberand was Led by Members of the The Royal Family including Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, HRH Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, HRH Prince  William the Duke of Cambridge, HRH Prince Andrew – The Duke of York, HRH Prince Edward – The Earl of Wessex, The Princess Royal Princess Anne, Prince Michael of Kent and Field Marshal Lord Guthrie of Craigiebank. and observed by HRH the Duchess of Cambridge and HRH Countess of Wessex, However The Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall were unable to attend as they are in New Zealand on a Jubilee tour. The event included the traditional Laying of the Wreaths and March-past the Cenotaph War Memorial in Whitehall London finishing at Horseguards Parade.  This year nearly 10,000 people took part. When I was younger I used to be a member of the Scouts so I’ve taken part in numerous local Remembrance Sunday Parades myself.

Various other dignitaries also attending the event included Prime Minister David Cameron, Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, Labour leader Ed Milliband,  Westminster Plaid Cymru group leader Elfyn Llwyd,  who was representing both Plaid Cymru and Scottish National Party, Former Prime Minister William Hague, who was Representing overseas territory, Mayor of London Boris Johnson, Former Prime Minister Tony Blair, Education Secretary Michael Gove and Home Secretary Theresa May as well as Forty seven High Commissioners Representing the Commonwealth Leaders and fifteen Religious leaders including representatives of the Roman Catholic, Jewish, Buddhist, Sikh, Zaoastrian and Hindu faiths and The President of the Royal British Legion also laid a wreath

There was a Brief service conducted by the Bishop of London, then at The first stroke of Big Ben at 11am the firing of a gun from Horse Guards Parade by The King’s Troop Royal Horse Artillery marked the start of two minutes’ silence, which was followed by The Last Post, sounded by the Buglers of the Royal Marines. This was Followed by the National Anthem, other music was performed by Chapel Royal Choir School and the Massed Bands of the Black Watch and the Royal Marines, which included Rule Britannia, Heart of Oak (The Unofficial Anthem of the Royal Navy) and Nimrod from Sir Edward Elgar’s “Enigma Variations” (Which always brings a lump to my throat).

Organisations taking part in the march-past the Cenotaph included
Royal navy association
Royal Airforce Association
Paratroop Regiment association
Royal Marines Association
Merchant Navy Association
Fleet air arm association
Gurkhas Association
Burma Star association
The Chinditz
Royal Mechanical Engineers association
Royal Northumberland fusiliers association
Royal Army Corps
656 squadron Association
Home Guard
Royal Engineers Association
Army Air Corps
Metropolitan Police
Royal Pioneer Corps
Reconnaissance corps
Maritime Air Association
Bomber Command
Royal Observer Corps
Falklands Association
Sappers Association
War Widows Association
Irish Defence Association
Royal Marine Commandos association
The Salvation Army
NAAFI Association
National Association of Retired Police Officers
St Johns Ambulance
Commonwealth Graves Association

Elesewhere The Archbishop of Canturbury designate, the Right Revd. Justin Welbey, Bishop of Durham, led a remembrance service at St. Gabriel’s Church in Sunderland and at The National Memorial Arboretum in Alrewas, Staffordshire, there was an outdoor service of remembrance. The Duke and Duchess of Gloucester represented the Queen at the service,The Duke of Gloucester KG GCVO laid a wreath at The Armed Forces Memorial during the service which was attended by more than 3,000 people. The arboretum’s focal point, the national Armed Forces Memorial, is designed so that on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, a shaft of sunlight dissects its inner and outer walls, falling on a bronze wreath sculpture.The Portland stone memorial is the nation’s tribute to more than 16,000 servicemen and women who have died on duty, or as a result of terrorism, since 1948.

In Scotland, First Minister Alex Salmond joined the Lord Lieutenant and Lord Provost of Edinburgh Donald Wilson, Scottish Secretary Michael Moore, military leaders, veterans and serving personnel at the Stone of Remembrance at the City Chambers in Edinburgh.He observed a two minute silence and laid a wreath on behalf of the people of Scotland. The First Minister then attended a Service of Remembrance at St Giles Cathedral.In Northern Ireland Taoiseach Enda Kenny laid a wreath on behalf of the Irish Government, at the cenotaph in Enniskillen, during a commemoration ceremony on the 25th anniversary of the IRA Poppy Day bomb attack.

Armistice Day/ Remembrance Sunday

Armistice Day (which overlaps with Remembrance Day and Veterans Day) is celebrated on the day of every year on 11 November to commemorate the armistice signed between the Allies of World War I and Germany at Compiègne, France, for the cessation of hostilities on the Western Front of World War I, which took effect at eleven o’clock in the morning—the “eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month” of 1918. While this official date to mark the end of the war reflects the ceasefire on the Western Front, hostilities continued in other regions, especially across the former Russian Empire and in parts of the old Ottoman Empire. The date was declared a national holiday in many allied nations, to commemorate those members of the armed forces who were killed during war. An exception is Italy, where the end of the war is commemorated on 4 November, the day of the Armistice of Villa Giusti.

After World War II, the name of the holiday was changed to Veterans Day in the United States and to Remembrance Day in the countries of the British Commonwealth of Nations. Armistice Day remains an official holiday in France and Belgium. Armistice day was declared a holiday because President Wilson felt it was necessary to leave a day to celebrate the end of wars

In many parts of the world, people observe two consecutive minutes moment of silence at 11:00 a.m. local time as a sign of respect in the first minute for the roughly 20 million people who died in the war, and in the second minute dedicated to the living, generally understood to be wives, children and families left behind but deeply affected by the conflict. This gesture of respect was suggested by Edward George Honey in a letter to a British newspaper, although Wellesley Tudor Pole had established two ceremonial periods of remembrance based on events in 1917.

From the outset, many veterans in many countries have also used silence to pay homage to departed comrades. The toast of “Fallen” or “Absent Comrades” has always been honoured in silence at New Zealand veteran functions, while the news of a member’s death has similarly been observed in silence at meetings. Similar ceremonies developed in other countries during the inter-war period. In South Africa, for example, the Memorable Order of Tin Hats had by the late 1920s developed a ceremony whereby the toast of “Fallen Comrades” was observed not only in silence but darkness, all except for the “Light of Remembrance”, with the ceremony ending with the Order’s anthem “Old Soldiers Never Die”. In Australia, meanwhile, the South Australian State Branch of the Returned Sailors & Soldiers’ Imperial League of Australia similarly developed during the interwar period a simple ceremony of silence for departed comrades at 9 p.m., presumably to coincide with the traditional 11 a.m. time for Armistice ceremonies taking place in Europe (due to the ten-hour time difference between Eastern Australia and Europe).

In the United Kingdom, beginning in 1939, the two-minute silence was moved to the Sunday nearest to 11 November in order not to interfere with wartime production should 11 November fall on a weekday. After the end of World War II, most Armistice Day events were moved to the nearest Sunday and began to commemorate both World Wars. The change was made in many Commonwealth countries, as well as the United Kingdom, and the new commemoration was named Remembrance Sunday or Remembrance Day. Both Armistice Day and Remembrance Sunday are now commemorated formally in the UK. In recent years Armistice Day has become increasingly recognised, and many people now attend the 11am ceremony at the Cenotaph in London – an event organised by The Western Front Association, a UK charity dedicated to perpetuating the memory of those who served in the First World War.