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UK remembers on Armistice Day

The anniversary of the World War One armistice – signed 95 years ago – has been marked in the UK with a two-minute silence.

Ceremonies have taken place at military bases, town halls, churches, schools, and at the National Memorial Arboretum in Alrewas, Staffordshire.

The Royal British Legion held its own event in London’ s Trafalgar Square.

Meanwhile, the Duke of Edinburgh has visited Belgium, scene of some of World War One’s deadliest battles.

This year, Armistice Day, which honours members of the armed forces who have died in that war and in all conflicts since, comes a day after Remembrance Sunday.

In commemorations across the UK:

  • Mairtin O Muilleoir became the first Sinn Fein Lord Mayor to attend an Armistice Day ceremony – at Belfast City Hall
  • Welsh Secretary David Jones struck a £5 Remembrance Day coin at the Royal Mint, Llantrisant, near Cardiff
  • At Glasgow’s Central Station, a new memorial stone dedicated to railway staff who died in wars was unveiled
  • In Wrexham, an air raid siren marked the start of the silence – a week ahead of A Company 3rd Battalion The Royal Welsh pulling out of the town’s Hightown barracks
  • In Staffordshire, 93-year-old Dorothy Ellis – thought to be the last surviving widow of a World War One veteran – joined senior representatives of the government and the armed forces at the National Memorial Arboretum
  • The arboretum’s Portland stone memorial is designed so that on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, a shaft of sunlight dissects its inner and outer walls, falling on a bronze wreath sculpture.

It is the nation’s tribute to more than 16,000 servicemen and women who have died on duty, or as a result of terrorism, since 1948.

Soldiers at military bases including Catterick Garrison, north Yorkshire, stood silent

The Duke of Edinburgh visited Ypres – his first foreign trip since abdominal surgery in June.

Silences were observed at memorials including the National Memorial Arboretum

And those at the Cenotaph, Whitehall, were silent for a second day running

The Royal British Legion’s Silence in the Square is in its sixth year
In London, the Royal British Legion’s sixth Silence in the Square remembrance ended with members of the public dropping poppy petals into the Trafalgar Square fountains.

Actor Adrian Lester and Britain’s Got Talent winner Paul Potts also appeared at the event alongside The Poppy Girls – five schoolgirls aged between 10 and 17 whose fathers are all servicemen.

Their song The Call (No Need To Say Goodbye) was released on Saturday as part of this year’s Royal British Legion appeal.

In Lytham St Annes, Lancashire, meanwhile, hundreds of people from across the UK answered a request to attend the funeral of a World War Two veteran they never knew.

Harold Jellicoe Percival served as ground crew on the famous Dambusters raids carried out in May 1943 by 617 Squadron.

The funeral home organising the service put an advert in a local newspaper – which was then widely publicised on social media sites – appealing for people to attend.

Royal visit
The two-minute silence takes place annually at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month – the time the guns fell silent along the Western Front in 1918, and an armistice was declared.

It was first observed in November 1919 following a suggestion by an Australian journalist.

The proposal was supported by a former high commissioner to South Africa and endorsed by the cabinet and King George V just a few days before the first anniversary of the armistice.

In Belgium, Prince Philip, 92, attended a “sacred soil” ceremony in Ypres alongside soldiers of the Household Division, Belgian soldiers and British and Belgian schoolchildren.

Seventy sandbags filled with soil were collected from the World War One battlefields of Flanders by Belgian schoolchildren, the first time this has been allowed.

The soil, taken from Commonwealth cemeteries, will be placed in the Flanders Field Memorial Garden, due to open next year at The Guards Museum in London.

The trip was the duke’s first outside the UK since undergoing abdominal surgery in June.

On Sunday, two-minute silences took place at war memorials across the UK and the Commonwealth.

In London, the Queen and other members of the Royal Family laid the first wreaths at the Cenotaph in Whitehall, before a march-past by 10,000 military veterans and civilian representatives.