Britons' silent tribute to war dead

 

Millions of Britons have held a two-minute silence to remember the nation's war dead.

The tribute started at 11am, the time the guns on the Western Front fell silent at the end of the First World War in 1918.

Ceremonies nationwide commemorated fallen servicemen and women from both World Wars and later conflicts, including the 385 British personnel who have died since operations began in Afghanistan in 2001.

The silence was particularly poignant for those at Camp Bastion in Afghanistan, who are mourning the loss of the latest soldier to die on active service.

Private Matthew Thornton, 28, from the 4th Battalion The Yorkshire Regiment, was killed by an IED while on patrol in Babaji on Wednesday.

His family paid tribute to him last night as a "dedicated soldier" who "loved life".

In a recorded message used at the Royal British Legion ceremony in Trafalgar Square, Prime Minister David Cameron said: "We stand together to honour the incredible courage and sacrifice of generations of British servicemen and women who have given their lives to protect the freedoms that we enjoy today.

"From the trenches of the First World War to the desert of Afghanistan, our Armed Forces have proved time and again that they are the bravest of the brave and the very best of what it means to be British.

"We can never fully repay the debt we owe them."

He added: "While we're in the park, at the cinema or watching the football, our servicemen and women are out there, day and night, fighting in the heat and dust, putting their lives on the line for us.

"That's the true character of the British Armed Forces - the Army, Royal Air Force and the Royal Navy - of which we are so incredibly proud.

"So today we stop to say thank you, and to remember those who are no longer with us but whose sacrifice and valour will be honoured long after we are gone."

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said: "Right now, British troops are stationed across the globe - in places as different as Afghanistan, the Falkland Islands, the Caribbean, the Horn of Africa, central Europe and the Mediterranean - fighting terrorism, keeping the peace, delivering aid, defending vital shipping lanes, tackling the scourge of drugs. They do it without fanfare. They don't expect thanks. They just get on with the job, and the world is safer for it.

"Our service personnel follow in the footsteps of great men and women and they are a credit to their memory. Today let me take this opportunity to thank them for it - they are at the heart of what makes this country so great."

War memorials in the UK's villages, towns and cities became the focal point for remembrance at the "11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month" - the time the peace agreement between Germany and the Allies took effect in 1918 after four years of fighting.

Wreaths were laid at the Cenotaph in central London during a remembrance service organised by the Western Front Association.

Brother Nigel Cave, the association's padre, led the ceremony which was attended by senior defence staff along with servicemen and women.

At the National Memorial Arboretum in Staffordshire, a service of remembrance was attended by local and national dignitaries.

The Armed Forces Memorial is designed so that at 11am on November 11 a shaft of sunlight passes though a slot in its inner and outer walls and hits a central bronze wreath sculpture.

Television stars paid their own tribute to Britain's fallen at an event in Trafalgar Square which featured musical performances and readings.

Among the performers were Downton Abbey actor Dan Stevens - whose role in the period drama saw him in the trenches - Strictly Come Dancing's Vincent Simone and Flavia Cacace, singing trio The Soldiers and soprano starlet Laura Wright.

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, visited the Royal Naval Air Station at Yeovilton, Somerset, to take part in the Act of Remembrance at the Royal Naval Cemetery at St Bartholomew's Church.

Meanwhile, representatives of animal charities gathered at the Animals In War Memorial in London's Park Lane to remember the role of animals in conflict.

Many schoolchildren across the nation also observed the two-minute silence.

PA

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Trainee Health & Safety Consultant

£16000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A fantastic and exciting opport...

Recruitment Genius: Project and Quality Manager

£28000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company is an independent ...

Recruitment Genius: Trainee Sales Executive - OTE £20,625

£14625 - £20625 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This role is for an enthusiasti...

Guru Careers: Financial Controller

£45 - £55k DOE: Guru Careers: A Financial Controller is required to join a suc...

Day In a Page

Mullah Omar, creator of the Taliban, is dead... for the fourth time

Mullah Omar, creator of the Taliban, is dead... again

I was once told that intelligence services declare their enemies dead to provoke them into popping up their heads and revealing their location, says Robert Fisk
Margaret Attwood on climate change: 'Time is running out for our fragile, Goldilocks planet'

Margaret Attwood on climate change

The author looks back on what she wrote about oil in 2009, and reflects on how the conversation has changed in a mere six years
New Dr Seuss manuscript discovered: What Pet Should I Get? goes on sale this week

New Dr Seuss manuscript discovered

What Pet Should I Get? goes on sale this week
Oculus Rift and the lonely cartoon hedgehog who could become the first ever virtual reality movie star

The cartoon hedgehog leading the way into a whole new reality

Virtual reality is the 'next chapter' of entertainment. Tim Walker gives it a try
Ants have unique ability to switch between individual and collective action, says study

Secrets of ants' teamwork revealed

The insects have an almost unique ability to switch between individual and collective action
Donovan interview: The singer is releasing a greatest hits album to mark his 50th year in folk

Donovan marks his 50th year in folk

The singer tells Nick Duerden about receiving death threats, why the world is 'mentally ill', and how he can write a song about anything, from ecology to crumpets
Let's Race simulator: Ultra-realistic technology recreates thrill of the Formula One circuit

Simulator recreates thrill of F1 circuit

Rory Buckeridge gets behind the wheel and explains how it works
Twitter accused of 'Facebookisation' over plans to overhaul reverse-chronological timeline

Twitter accused of 'Facebookisation'

Facebook exasperates its users by deciding which posts they can and can’t see. So why has Twitter announced plans to do the same?
Jane Birkin asks Hermès to rename bag - but what else could the fashion house call it?

Jane Birkin asks Hermès to rename bag

The star was shocked by a Peta investigation into the exotic skins trade
10 best waterproof mascaras

Whatever the weather: 10 best waterproof mascaras

We found lash-enhancing beauties that won’t budge no matter what you throw at them
Diego Costa biography: Chelsea striker's route to the top - from those who shared his journey

Diego Costa: I go to war. You come with me...

Chelsea's rampaging striker had to fight his way from a poor city in Brazil to life at the top of the Premier League. A new book speaks to those who shared his journey
Ashes 2015: England show the mettle to strike back hard in third Test

England show the mettle to strike back hard in third Test

The biggest problem facing them in Birmingham was the recovery of the zeitgeist that drained so quickly under the weight of Australian runs at Lord's, says Kevin Garside
Women's Open 2015: Charley Hull - 'I know I'm a good golfer but I'm also just a person'

Charley Hull: 'I know I'm a good golfer but I'm also just a person'

British teen keeps her feet on ground ahead of Women's Open
Turkey's conflict with Kurdish guerrillas in Iraq can benefit Isis in Syria

Turkey's conflict with Kurdish guerrillas in Iraq can benefit Isis in Syria

Turkish President Erdogan could benefit politically from the targeting of the PKK, says Patrick Cockburn
Yvette Cooper: Our choice is years of Tory rule under Jeremy Corbyn or a return to a Labour government

Our choice is years of Tory rule under Corbyn or a return to a Labour government

Yvette Cooper urged Labour members to 'get serious' about the next general election rather than become 'a protest movement'