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Last Updated: Thursday, 8 November 2007, 18:32 GMT
Duke opens Field of Remembrance
Prince Philip
Prince Philip chats to servicemen past and present
The Duke of Edinburgh has honoured Britain's war dead by opening a Field of Remembrance filled with a record number of wooden crosses.

More than 29,000 of the poignant symbols were planted in the ground at Westminster Abbey in London.

The Royal British Legion said the number had risen by 3,000 compared with last year.

Each cross bears the name of a fallen serviceman or woman, a poppy and the words "In Remembrance".

The crosses lie grouped in dozens of plots representing the various regiments, ships and corps involved in conflicts from the World War I to Iraq and Afghanistan.

Patricia Dennington, from the Legion's legacy office, said: "It's the highest number there's ever been.

"There's been increase of people doing it year on year.

My friends are buried in France, Belgium, Holland. This is my way of paying my respects to my fallen comrades
Dicky Bowen,
D-Day veteran

"People are more aware of our campaign. The grandchildren are taking part, and children and siblings, as the parents pass away.

"It's the younger generation. They're more enlightened because of education."

Prince Philip placed his own personal cross of remembrance at the site during the open-air service. He joined veterans for a two-minute silence. The Last Post was sounded from the parapet by trumpeters of the Household Cavalry.

Fallen comrades

Lance Corporal Michelle Norris, the first woman to win the Military Cross, was at the service for the first time.

She represented her regiment by standing at the head of the Royal Army Medical Corps' plot.

The medical orderly braved a hail of fire from 200 insurgents in Iraq in June 2006 as she clambered on top of an armoured vehicle to give life-saving treatment to a severely wounded comrade.

Wooden remembrance crosses
A record 29,000 wooden crosses were planted this year

Her honour is one of the highest awards for gallantry in combat.

The 20-year-old from Stourbridge, West Midlands, said: "It's the first time I've done this and it's an honour to be here. I can't even describe it."

82-year-old Dicky Bowen also made the journey from his home in York.

Mr Bowen, who joined the Army when he was just 15 and took part in D-Day with the 5th Battalion East Yorkshire, spoke of the importance of honouring his fallen comrades at the Abbey each year.

"I served for 25 years. My friends... some are buried in France, Belgium, Holland. I have friends buried in Egypt and friends buried in Palestine.

"How can I go and visit all their graves? It's impossible. So what I do is come here and this is my way of paying my respect to my fallen comrades."

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