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Sunday, November 11, 2007

Nation poised to honour war dead

Nation poised to honour war dead

The Queen is to lead the Remembrance Sunday ceremony commemorating the sacrifices made by Britain's war dead.
A two-minute silence at 1100 GMT will be followed by the Queen laying the first wreath at the Cenotaph memorial in central London.

PM Gordon Brown and Prince William will also lay wreaths, as other events take place in the UK, Iraq and Afghanistan.

Britain's oldest war veteran, 111-year-old Henry Allingham, will lay a wreath in northern France.

This year Remembrance Sunday falls exactly 89 years after the ending of World War I, Armistice Day.

Afghanistan ceremony

In Afghanistan, 100 Royal Marines from 40 Commando have already held a service overlooking the Kajaki dam Helmand province, a site they have been fighting to protect from the Taleban.

At 1100 local time - 0630 GMT - a two-minute silence was held. This was followed by the laying of a single wreath at the foot of a wooden cross by the youngest marine present - Robert Worth, who turned 18 two days before he was deployed.

And with 42 British soldiers having died since the last Remembrance Day, a roll of honour was read out.

At the London ceremony thousands of veterans, many elderly and frail, will march to the memorial in Whitehall to pay their respects.

Other senior royals due to attend include the Duke of Edinburgh, Prince Charles, the Duke of York, the Princess Royal and the Duke of Kent.

We use this time to remember those who have made sacrifices and continue to do so, in order to bring about and maintain our freedom

Chris Simpkins
Royal British Legion

A Clarence House spokeswoman said Prince Harry would be attending a private remembrance service with his regiment.

William and his uncle Prince Edward will both be laying wreaths for the first time.

Politicians from past and present, including Conservative leader David Cameron and former prime ministers Tony Blair, Baroness Thatcher and Sir John Major, will also pay their respects.

More than 40 High Commissioners of Commonwealth countries are also expected to lay wreaths at the event.

Scotland's First Minister Alex Salmond is to take part in a special Remembrance service in Sri Lanka.

Chris Simpkins, the Royal British Legion's director general, said Remembrance Sunday was one of the most important days in the nation's calendar.

He called on everyone to observe the two-minute silence to remember not only those who died in the two world wars, but also those currently fighting in the Middle East.


Elsewhere, 200 veterans of the Falklands War have returned to the islands for a service of commemoration in Port Stanley.

British soldiers in Iraq and other countries are also holding services and parades.

The Chief of the Defence staff, Air Chief Marshall Sir Jock Stirrup, sent a message to members of the armed forces.

"For the great many of you who have served or are serving in Iraq and Afghanistan, the memories of the price paid will be all too fresh.

"We have lost friends and comrades. Families have lost husbands, wives, sons, daughters, parents.

"We remember those families today; they bear a heavy burden, and the nation owes them a debt that it can never fully repay."


The event in London follows on from Saturday night's Festival of Remembrance.

Poppies were sprinkled over the Royal Albert Hall in London, a symbol of the blood shed by those who gave their lives.

The Queen, patron of the Royal British Legion, was joined there by other members of the Royal Family, including the Duke Of York.

Earlier on Saturday, Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall attended a service of remembrance in Whitehall, where they were joined by around 150 war widows.

The Remembrance Sunday ceremony at the Cenotaph, Whitehall, will be broadcast on BBC One from 1030 GMT to 1210 GMT.

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