Armistice Day: Final poppy placed in Tower of London display as nation remembers with two-minute silence

The artist behind Blood Swept Lands And Seas Of Red handed the last of 888,246 ceramic flowers to a young cadet to be planted as part of today’s service

Click to follow
The Independent Online

As Britain remembered the nation’s war dead with a two-minute silence, thousands gathered at an artistic installation at the Tower of London to pay their respects.

Veterans and dignitaries played a leading role in the service in London, where a young cadet was given the last of 888,246 ceramic poppies to plant in the ground.

Artist Paul Cummins hands the final poppy to be planted to Cadet Harry Hayes (13) for the art installation 'Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red'

The poignant display, entitled Blood Swept Lands And Seas Of Red, features one flower for each of the British or Colonial soldiers killed during the First World War.

Thousands gathered around the Tower to hear the bugler sound the Last Post just before the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month. The ceremony, which began at 10.30am, included a 21-gun salute by the Honourable Artillery Company and a final roll of honour - names of some of the fallen from the First World War - was read out.

Friends Karen Brown, Karen Lewis and Sarah Johnson visited in July as the first poppies were planted.

Ms Lewis said the sheer scale of the installation, then just one poppy away from completion, was breathtaking.

"To see the difference from the first few that we planted to how it looks now - we've watched it on the news but to actually see it today, it really brings it home," she said.

For every dead soldier, she said, many more have returned home injured or bearing invisible wounds.

"From the Afghanisan and Iraq wars, they say there will be 75,000 they're looking after," Ms Lewis said.

Remembrance-Day-10.jpg"You can see the lost limbs, but it's the mental scars you can't see."

For Ms Brown, this year marked the fifth Armistice Day since her nephew died in Afghanistan.

Rifleman Daniel Simpson, of the 2nd Battalion The Rifles, was just 20 years old when he was killed on 10 July 2009.

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg with cadet Harry Hayes (13) after the last poppy was planted in the art installation 'Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red'

Ms Brown said she was touched by the throngs of people who had turned out to remember those killed in battle.

"It's such a large crowd," she said, scanning the barricades laden with people.

"I've just come to pay my respects."

Additional reporting by PA