Poppies and prayers for veterans of Second World War

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The Independent Online

The closing ceremonies to mark the 60th anniversary of VE and VJ Days took place on a day of bright sunshine, but amid a sombre and reflective mood. At a service in Westminster Abbey, Dr Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, said: "Today of all days, we need no reminder that the spirit of murder and humiliation is still abroad ..."

Speaking later at Horse Guards Parade, the Queen said: "It does not surprise me that, during the present difficult days for London, people turned to the example set by that generation - of resilience, humour, sustained courage ..." The comparison between now and then seemed to extend to when Joe Pasquale and Bradley Walsh paid homage to Flanagan and Allen at Horse Guards. Cheers went up as they belted out: "The bombs may fall on London town, but you will never get us down."

Simon Callow, Robert Hardy, Bruce Forsyth, Petula Clark, Jane Horrocks, Penelope Keith and Claire Sweeney also helped to recreate memories of the war. Loud applause greeted Dame Vera Lynn as she came on stage during a rendition of "We'll Meet Again".

Finally, a million poppies were dropped on the Mall.

Sergeant Ray Ransom, 79, who had seen action in north Africa, Italy and France, said: "I'm not going to speak about the Blitz spirit or standing up to terrorists or anything like that. I just feel a bit sad to see, 60 years later, that man's inhumanity to man continues."