At 11am on the 11th November every year the nation falls silent. This year, Armistice Day will be even more poignant, as it marks the centenary of the end of the First World War.As such, a number of special events are taking place.
You may already have seen silhouettes of Tommies at various locations around the country. These 6ft sculptures are part of a campaign, There But Not There, to create a nationwide installation for the fallen. The money made from the sale of the sculptures will go to armed forces and mental health charities.
The Tower of London has been holding a nightly ceremony and will do so until the evening of 11th November. The Beyond the Deepening Ceremony sees the tower’s dry moat filled with around 10,000 torches, accompanied by a sound installation featuring, among other things, words from Mary Borden’s Sonnets to a Soldier.
Prime Minister Theresa May will visit the WW1 battlefields on Friday. She’ll start in Belgium, at the St. Symphorien Military Cemetery, where she’ll lay wreaths at the graves of the first and last British soldiers to be killed in WW1.
She’ll then travel to the Somme, where she and President Macron will attend a ceremony at the Thiepval Memorial. They will lay a wreath that has been specially made for the occasion featuring both poppies and the bleuet de France, the emblems of remembrance for Britain and France.
Back in the UK, on Saturday 10th November the Festival of Remembrance will take place at the Albert Hall. Hosted by the Royal British Legion and presented by Huw Edwards, the Queen and other members of the Royal Family will be in attendance.
There will be performances from the likes of Tom Jones, Sheridan Smith, Bryn Terfel, Tom Fletcher and Sheku Kanneh-Mason, as well as the Central Band of the Royal Air Force and The Band of HM Royal Marines.
The festival will be broadcast on BBC One at 8.30pm.
On Armistice Day itself, events will take place across Europe to mark the centenary of the end of WW1.
In London, the Queen will be joined for the National Service of Remembrance at the Cenotaph by prominent politicians, including Members of the Cabinet, Opposition Party Leaders and the Mayor of London, as well as representatives of the Armed Forces, fishing fleets, Merchant Air and Navy, faith communities and High Commissioners of Commonwealth countries.
Veterans will perform the annual March Past, before 10,000 members of the public march past in ‘A Nation’s Thank You – The People’s Procession’.
And a German leader will take part in the commemorations at the Cenotaph for the first time. German President Steinmeier will lay a wreath on behalf of the German people as an historic act of reconciliation.
He will later attend a service at Westminster Abbey giving thanks for peace and for those who returned from the war. Theresa May, the Queen and other senior members of the Royal Family are also expected to attend.
The British government are also encouraging people around the world to ring bells at 12.30pm (GMT). This is to reflect the fact that church bells, which had largely fallen silent during WW1, were rung out in celebration as news of the Armistice spread.
And at 9.30pm on BBC Two, you’ll be able to watch Peter Jackson’s WW1 archive feature film They Shall Not Grow Old. The film uses archive footage, audio from the BBC archives and the voices of veterans, and the footage has been colourised and subjected to modern production techniques, all of which really bring to life the realities of WW1 for the soldiers.
Of course, as commemorations of the centenary come to a close, there are still plenty of lessons to be learnt in Flanders Fields and so we’ll be continuing to run our WW1 battlefield tours.
In fact, we currently have limited, last-minute availability for summer 2019 – please don’t hesitate to contact us for further information or to request a tailor-made quote.