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UK falls silent to honour fallen soldiers on Remembrance Day

Britain has paid its respects to those who have laid down their lives in war (Picture: REX/EPA)

The nation paid its respects to those who lost their lives in battle with a two minute silence this morning.

Britons bowed their heads and spared their thoughts for the fallen at 11am, marking the exact date and time the armistice agreement that ended World War 1 was signed in 1918.

Remembrance Day ceremonies were very different this year, as it is the first time it has been observed in the middle of a pandemic.

People were encouraged to pause on their doorsteps or by windows for the traditional two minutes silence, as coronavirus related restrictions on gatherings and travel disrupted many events.

Boris Johnson and members of the Royal Family attended a Remembrance Sunday ceremony at the Cenotaph in London over the weekend, but it had to be scaled back significantly to reduce the risk of spreading Covid-19.

An invitation-only service was due to be held at London’s Westminster Abbey today to mark the centenary of the burial of the Unknown Warrior.

The televised service, to be attended by the Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall, will commemorate the funeral of an unknown British serviceman whose body was brought back from Northern France.

Boris Johnson arrives for a remembrance service on Armistice Day at Westminster Abbey (Picture: Reuters)

He was buried at the west end of the abbey’s nave on November 11 2020 to represent all those who lost their lives in the First World War but whose place of death was unknown or body never found.

Each year the two minutes Armistice Day silence marks the end of that four-year conflict, after an agreement between Germany and the Allies took effect at the ’11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month’ of 1918.

The service and silence was led by the Dean of Westminster, The Very Reverend Dr David Hoyle, featuring an address from the Archbishop of Canterbury, The Most Reverend and Rt Hon Justin Welby.

Chief of the defence staff, the professional head of the armed forces, General Sir Nick Carter said: ‘The burial one hundred years ago of the Unknown Warrior was a seminal moment for the British people.

‘To many of those who stood in silence or who made the pilgrimage to Westminster, he was not unknown at all.

‘His very anonymity meant that he was the father, husband, son or brother who never came home from the war.

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer arrives at Westminster Abbey in London (Picture: PA)

‘Today the Tomb of the Unknown Warrior reminds us all that war has a cost and that we should never forget those who sacrificed their lives for our free and open way of life.’

This Remembrance Day also marks 100 years since the inauguration of the permanent version of Cenotaph memorial.

Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said: ‘The centenary of the unveiling of the Cenotaph and the burial of the Unknown Warrior are a poignant reminder of the scale of loss suffered in the First World War and the continued importance of coming together as a nation to remember all those who have sacrificed their lives for this country.’

Elsewhere today, more than 100 poppy wreaths were placed on board early-morning train services heading to London.

Great Western Railway has joined forces with military charities, local authorities and military bases for the ‘Poppies to Paddington’ operation, involving nine train services and more than 60 stations on its network.

On arrival to Paddington station, the wreaths were due to be placed at its war memorial on platform one in time for 11am.

Towards the end of the day, people are also being encouraged to look to the night sky from their homes in another collective moment of remembrance.

The Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC), which cares for war memorials and cemeteries around the world, is calling on the public to take a moment to look up at the stars at 7pm.

It has launched a free online tool on its website allowing people to ‘name a star’ in tribute to someone who died or served during the two world wars.

Powerful searchlights will also be shone into the night sky at 7pm as a symbolic lights of remembrance beamed from the CWGC’s Plymouth Naval Memorial, the Brookwood Military Cemetery in Surrey, as well as war grave plots at Cardiff Cathays Cemetery and Edinburgh Rosebank Cemetery.

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