Page last updated at 16:44 GMT, Sunday, 8 November 2009

Nation unites to remember fallen

The Queen and the prime minister laid wreaths at the Cenotaph

Thousands of people across the country have honoured the men and women killed in conflicts past and present with a two-minute silence.

The Queen laid a wreath at the Cenotaph in London in front of the prime minister, military leaders and Commonwealth representatives.

Veterans and civilians then marched along Whitehall.

UK troops at Camp Bastion, Afghanistan, also remembered the fallen on the day two more army deaths were announced.

A serviceman from 4th Battalion, The Rifles, was killed in an explosion near Sangin, in Helmand province, on Sunday morning.

Also on Sunday, the Ministry of Defence announced the death of a soldier from the 2nd Battalion, The Rifles, in a blast in the same area on Saturday.

The latest deaths bring the number of UK service personnel killed in Afghanistan since 2001 to 232.

Crowds ten deep

Under heavy grey skies at the Cenotaph, crowds ten deep fell silent at 1100 GMT.

Remembrance Sunday service in Edinburgh

Afterwards, the Queen, wearing black coat adorned with a bunch of poppies, laid the first wreath followed by other members of the Royal Family.

Among them was Prince Harry, carrying out the duty for the first time. He was representing his father, the Prince of Wales, who is on an official visit to Canada.

Politicians, high commissioners from the Commonwealth and defence chiefs from all three armed forces also came forward to pay their tributes.

Finally, 7,500 ex-service personnel and 1,600 civilians marched past the Cenotaph. Chelsea Pensioners, in their traditional red jackets, and Gurkhas, wearing combat green, were among those lining the route.

'Steeling ourselves'

Earlier about 2,000 British servicemen and women gathered on a dusty, windblown patch of open ground at the camp in Afghanistan to join in prayer, lay wreaths and remember fellow soldiers killed serving their country.

Key moments from the Camp Bastion Remembrance ceremony

One padre spoke of the dangers of glamorising war and another urged leaders of nations to shape a better world through "wisdom, humility and a common love for peace".

Another service was attended by hundreds of British and coalition forces in Lashkar Gah, also in Helmand.

There Padre Mark Christian told the troops: "Remembrance for me is picking up the gauntlet, it is steeling ourselves for the fight that lies ahead of us for if we do not do that their lives have been given in vain."

Chief of the Defence Staff Sir Jock Stirrup told the BBC's Andrew Marr Show there had been only one year since World War II in which a British serviceman did not die on operations somewhere in the world.

"But of course with the conflicts in which we've been engaged in recent years, that's come into much sharper focus," he said, "And so it's right that we should remember particularly this year, which has been a very difficult, very painful year for us.

EYEWITNESS
Angus Crawford
By Angus Crawford, BBC News
There was a sea of berets in every possible colour. Among them the occasional slanted hat of the Gurkhas and even some Arab headdresses. This was the march past of the veterans.

They had waited patiently in the cold for more than an hour, watching as the Royal Family laid their wreaths. Then, after a blessing from the Bishop of London, Whitehall was theirs.

Flanked by today's service personnel, the tide of more than 8,000 moved slowly past the Cenotaph.

Most were marching, some though were pushed in wheelchairs - one man rose from his and insisted on walking the last few paces himself clutching a wreath in the shape of an anchor.

Some wore bowler hats, others, armbands with the insignia of the Home Guard.

In their midst was a child. A young boy wearing a suit and medals, swinging his arms as hard as he could, trying to keep up.

"But I think it is also important to bear in mind the sacrifices of all those who've gone before - not least in this year that's seen the passing of the World War I generation."

In Cyprus, a memorial is due to be unveiled to commemorate 371 British servicemen killed by members of a Greek Cypriot Eoka-B terror group fighting for independence from 1955 to 1959.

About 400 relatives and veterans of that campaign will attend the ceremony, which will be conducted by the Bishop of Cyprus and the Gulf in the presence of the British High Commissioner.

The Muslim Council of Britain has published a Remembrance Day report highlighting the contribution of Muslims to the country's armed force and urging that their sacrifices should be recalled in the day's ceremonies.

It insists that although many Muslims disagreed with the government's decision to send soldiers to fight in Afghanistan and Iraq, they nevertheless supported the troops.

Understanding sacrifices

The Royal British Legion said it expected at least 90% of people in Britain to observe some kind of service.

Stuart Gendall, from the legion, said the "terrible images brought into our lounges from Iraq and Afghanistan" and the losses there had given people a better understanding of the sacrifices being made.

As part of the UK's commemorations, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, addressed a service in Catterick Garrison in North Yorkshire.

He told the congregation "the courage, the sacrifice, the risk taking and the generosity that go on elsewhere in situations of extreme risk, it somehow feeds the rest of us".

"It somehow keeps the rest of us alive," he added.

Services for Guardsman James Major and Sergeant Matthew Telford were held in Cleethorpes and nearby Grimsby respectively.

They were among five to be killed in Afghanistan earlier this week by a rogue Afghan police officer and were referred to as "local heroes" at the ceremonies.

In Northern Ireland, a ceremony was held at Belfast City Hall and in Scotland, First Minister Alex Salmond laid a wreath at the Stone of Remembrance at Edinburgh Castle.

Meanwhile, the Army's last surviving all brass band in Wales opened a service in Cardiff.



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