YOUR DEFINITIVE GUIDE TO TODAY’S COMMEMORATIONS
Bagpipes will play at more than 2,000 locations across the country and around the world, from New Zealand to Somalia, and spanning every Commonwealth country. Pipers will play Battle’s O’er – a haunting tune traditionally played at the end of battles.
A Remembrance Service takes place at the Cenotaph, where Royals and politicians will lay wreaths after the two-minute silence. Prince Charles – who performed the duty last year, right – is expected to lay the first Royal tribute. MPs will then lay theirs. German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier will also lay a wreath, the first time Germany has taken part in the event.
Bells will ring across the country to replicate the moment in 1918 when long-silent bells rang out. Bradford Cathedral’s bells, above, cast in 1922 as a memorial, have been restored and will ring, while in London, Westminster Abbey, St Paul’s Cathedral and Big Ben will chime – a rare sound since it was silenced in 2017 for repairs to
the clock tower.
A People’s Procession, with 10,000 members of the public, each chosen by lottery, will file past the Cenotaph, having started at Buckingham Palace (see map). Six bands will play along the route. The event, live on BBC1, has echoes of November 1920, above, when the Cenotaph was unveiled, and a million people flooded past.
In Edinburgh, a free concert will take place at the former Craiglockhart Military Hospital, where officers were treated for shellshock. There will be fiddlers and an orchestra, and recitals of the poems of Wilfred Owen and Siegfried Sassoon, who met here. Many other towns and villages will hold memorial concerts.
In Richmond, South West London, a Rugby for Heroes team takes on a French Legends side. Team captain Thinus Delport, below, models the Heroes’ team shirt. Richmond FC and London Scottish FC lost more than 160 players in the war.
At Dunston Hall near Norwich, The London Ballet Company will perform Poppy, right, portraying the havoc wreaked by war on ordinary people.
In East Sussex, there will be a day of events to mark the extraordinary sacrifice of the village of Wadhurst, which lost 125 of its men.
At the Tower of London, 10,000 torches will be lit in the moat, creating a sea of flames. The circle of light is designed by one of the men behind the 2014 display of 888,246 ceramic poppies. The display has burned from 5pm to 9pm all week.
An invitation-only service at Westminster Abbey will be attended by the Queen, Prime Minister, other Royals, MPs, and representatives of nations from both sides in the war. It will be live on BBC1.
As the evening draws in, more than 1,200 buglers at locations across the country will play The Last Post. They have been organised by Bruno Peek, the renowned pageant master behind national celebrations such as the Queen’s Golden Jubilee in Mr 2002. Peek has been planning the nationwide commemorations for four years.
An estimated 1,300 beacons will be lit from Unst, the most northerly inhabited island in Scotland, to Cornwall in the south, and from St David’s, the most westerly city in Wales, to Lowestoft, the most easterly town in England. Some, such as the one in Shipston-on-Stour, Warwickshire, pictured, will be bonfires, others will be torches on wooden poles.
As the torches blaze, bells again will ring out in 1,300 churches across the country. Bruno Peek says the torch display symbolises ‘the light of hope that emerged from the darkness of war’.
In a final flourish to the day, 180 town criers nationwide will perform a ‘cry for peace around the world’. It will be led by Leo Tighe BEM, a Chelsea Pensioner.