The 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month
I took this picture in Lymington last year, at 11:00 on the morning of 11th November.
Following the signing of Armistice Treaty at Compiegne, France at 05:00, at 11:00 on 11th November 1918 the great guns that had been firing since 1914 fell silent and Europe was at peace, ending what was then termed "The Great War" or "The War to end all Wars".
The idea to hold 'a silence' is attributed variously to Australian Edward Honey, Sir Percy Fitzpatrick from South Africa and Mr J. A Eggar from Farnham in Surrey.
Whoever's idea it was, it was King George V's letter to The Times that brought it to the attention of the public and the Armistice Day tradition of remembrance and respect began.
"To all my people" Buckingham Palace, 7th November, 1919.
Tuesday next, November 11th, is the first anniversary of the Armistice, which stayed the world-wide carnage of the four preceding years and marked the victory of Right and Freedom. I believe that my people in every part of the Empire fervently wish to perpetuate the memory of that Great Deliverance, and of those who laid down their lives to achieve it.
To afford an opportunity for the universal expression of this feeling it is my desire and hope that at the hour when the Armistice came into force, the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month, there may be, for the brief space of two minutes, a complete suspension of all our normal activities. During that time, except in the rare cases where this may be impracticable, all work, all sound, and all locomotives should cease, so that, in perfect stillness, the thoughts of everyone may be concentrated on reverent remembrance of the Glorious Dead.
No elaborate organisation appears to be necessary. At a given signal, which can easily be arranged to suit the circumstances of each locality, I believe that we shall all gladly interrupt our business and pleasure, whatever it may be, and unite in this simple service of Silence and Remembrance.
After the 1939-1945 World War the day was renamed Remembrance Day, and now the events help the nation remember, with gratitude, the lives of those who died in conflict.
Here in Lymington a maroon is fired to mark both the beginning and the end of the silence. People stop whatever they are doing, cars pull over to the side of the road and shoppers put down their bags and bow their heads.
On the Sunday nearest 11th November, as well as the national service and parade at the Cenotaph in Whitehall, London, beginning at 11:00 there are multi-denominational services held in churches, community centres and alongside memorials such the Celtic Cross at the front of this picture. These services are attended by local people as well as those parading with pride in their best uniforms ~ members of The Royal British Legion; Army; Navy; Air Force and their Cadet groups; members of the Police, Fire Brigade, Ambulance Service and other civilian groups; Scouts; Guides and other youth groups. Wreathes of poppies, which are also worn by those attending, are placed around the base of the memorial and a little garden of tiny crosses, each bearing the name of a fallen serviceman, servicewoman or civilian who lost their life.
The first "Poppy Day" was held in 1921. Inspired by John MacRae's poem
In Flanders' Fields
John McCrae, 1915
In Flanders' fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place: and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders' fields.
Take up our quarrel with the foe;
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high,
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders' Fields.
This year saw the opening of ~ The National Memorial Arboretum ~
in Staffordshire, the new Armed Services Memorial for those who have given their lives whilst on active duty or as a result of terrorist action since 1945.
For more information about The Two Minute Silence visit ~ The Imperial War Museum ~
Visit ~ The Royal British Legion ~
to find out more about this Ex-Service community and what it does today.
To know more about Poppy Day ~ The Poppy Appeal ~
and the opportunity to make donations.