Remembrance

Armistice Day: Tributes Made To War Dead

A traditional two-minute silence at 11:00 was observed across the country despite the coronavirus pandemic.

The nation has paid silent tribute on a coronavirus-hit Armistice Day to those who lost their lives in conflict.

COVID-19 restrictions forced much of the British public to observe the traditional two-minute silence at 11:00 on Wednesday from their homes this year.

Scaled back socially-distanced commemorations were also held across the UK.

This year, Armistice Day marks the centenary of the burial of the Unknown Warrior in London’s Westminster Abbey after the end of the First World War.

Poet Laureate Simon Armitage has penned a poem commemorating the anniversary, which honours the symbolic "son we lost" who is "a soul without name or rank or age or home".

The Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall attended a private, televised service at the abbey to mark the funeral of the unknown British serviceman whose body was brought back from Northern France in 1920.

He was laid to rest at the west end of the abbey’s nave on 11 November that year to represent all those who lost their lives in the First World War but whose place of death was unknown or whose body never found.

In his poem 'The Bed', Mr Armitage charts the fallen soldier’s journey, from being "broken and sleeping rough in a dirt grave” to being buried “among drowsing poets and dozing saints".

It concludes: "All this for a soul, without name or rank or age or home, because you are the son we lost, and your rest is ours."

Elsewhere in the capital on Wednesday, early-morning train services run by Great Western Railway carried swathes of poppy wreaths from locations along its network to Paddington Station.

The Poppies to Paddington initiative, involving military charities, local authorities, and military bases, aimed to place the wreaths by the station’s war memorial on Platform 1 on behalf of those unable to travel to London for Remembrance events this year.

At the Cenotaph in central London's Whitehall, a small closed ceremony was held, helping to mark 100 years since the memorial's permanent inauguration in 1920.

Lance Sergeant Stuart Laing from the 1st Battalion Welsh Guards performed the Last Post and Reveille on a bugle recovered from the mud of the Somme battlefield in 1915.

Personnel helping with the mass covid testing on Merseyside stand during a two minute silence at the Arena Convention Centre in Liverpool to remember the war dead on Armistice Day 111120 CREDIT PA
Personnel currently assisting with coronavirus testing in Merseyside were among those to pay their respects (Picture: PA).

Earlier, environmental campaigners from Extinction Rebellion staged a protest at the memorial, unveiling a banner which read: 'Honour Their Sacrifice, Climate Change Means War'.

In Royal Wootton Bassett, Wiltshire, the town that has regularly turned out to pay respects to repatriated servicemen killed in conflict, the Last Post was played by the war memorial.

Commemorations were also held in Staffordshire at the National Memorial Arboretum.

The two-minute silence was observed at Edinburgh’s Memorial Gardens and by clergy at York Minister.

In Liverpool, soldiers helping with the mass COVID testing programme at the city's Arena Convention Centre paused during their work.

The coronavirus pandemic has disrupted landmark anniversaries and remembrance events throughout the year, including Victory in Europe (VE) Day and Victoria in Japan (VJ) Day.

Last weekend’s Remembrance Sunday service at the Cenotaph attended by the Queen had to be massively scaled back and was closed to the public.

Despite the coronavirus lockdown in England, Downing Street said remembrance events were allowed if they took place outside and social distancing was observed.