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Thursday, November 11, 1999 Published at 11:22 GMT


War dead remembered

The century's war dead are remembered

The Queen Mother has led Britain in two minutes' silence to remember the dead of this century's wars.

Much of the UK fell silent at the stroke of 1100 GMT, as people remembered those killed or injured in the two world wars and other conflicts.

The BBC's Robert Hall reports on the ceremony

The ceremony was even more poignant than usual, marking the last Remembrance Day of a century which saw millions of British and Commonwealth soldiers give up their lives in action.

The silence was observed at airports, railway stations, supermarkets and banks, with veterans' association the Royal British Legion estimating as many as 85% of the adult population - 50 million people - observed the silence this year.

[ image: The Queen Mother led the ceremony at the Field of Remembrance]
The Queen Mother led the ceremony at the Field of Remembrance
The Queen Mother attended the Field of Remembrance Service on what is the 81st anniversary of the First World War.

The Duke of Kent accompanied the 99-year-old great-grandmother to the service outside Westminster Abbey.

She laid a cross in memory of Britain's war dead at the service, which she has missed only once since the Second World War.

Elsewhere in central London, on Horse Guards, the Last Post was sounded by Lance Corporal Steven Perry of the Welsh Guards.

Prime Minister Tony Blair left a Cabinet meeting in Downing Street to join veterans for the two minute silence at the Cenotaph, in nearby Whitehall.

Mr Blair will be unable to attend Sunday's official Cenotaph ceremony as he will be in South Africa for the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting.

The Prince of Wales will lead other members of the Royal Family in Sunday's Cenotaph wreath-laying ceremony, as the Queen is also in South Africa.

The Queen and prime minister will attend a remembrance ceremony in Durban.

The Queen marked Remembrance Day on Thursday by observing a minute's silence in South Africa.

The Queen was in Alexandra, near Johannesburg, at 11am South African time - 0900 GMT.

This is the fifth year in which the legion has campaigned for the silence on 11 November and it has the backing of the three main political parties and organisations around the country.

Passengers join silence

Passengers travelling on BA flights were asked to join cabin crew in a two-minute silence to mark the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month.

Railtrack staff observed the silence at all main line railway stations, with passengers invited to join in.

London Transport staff and passengers marked the silence at Underground stations, though tubes could not stop for safety reasons. Many London buses pulled into the side of the road for the two minutes.

The BBC's Rachel Ellison reports: "Veterans are concerned that with the passing of time the horrors of war will be forgotton"
Companies observed the silence, including Eurotunnel, Ford, Norwich Union, Shell UK, Vauxhall, McDonalds, Cadbury Schweppes, Jaguar, Nissan and Toshiba.

The start and finish of the silence was announced at supermarket and superstore outlets.

Among those observing the silence were Tesco, B&Q, Argos, John Lewis, Marks & Spencer, Waitrose, Sainsbury's, Asda, Safeway, the Post Office, Body Shop, Boots and Next.

Many radio and television stations also fell silent, while admission to the Imperial War Museums in London and Duxford, Cambridgeshire, is free on Thursday.

Ian Townsend, the British Legion's secretary general, said: "People in all walks of life all over the country have welcomed this simple form of remembrance. It introduces a poignant annual moment into their lives."

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