Armistice Day: Final poppy is placed at Tower of London as capital falls silent in remembrance

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London fell silent today to remember the war dead on Armistice Day.

London fell silent today to remember the war dead on Armistice Day

London fell silent today to remember the war dead on Armistice Day.

Huge crowds gathered at the Tower of London to witness a 21-round gun salute by the Honourable Artillery Company before the names of 200 of the fallen were read out.

Then 13-year-old army cadet Harry Hayes stepped forward to place the last ceremonial poppy in a spectacular sea of red that has transformed the moat into a national monument to the country’s war dead.

Just before 11am a bugler sounded the Last Post and the thousands at the Tower joined together with millions in the capital and across the nation to mark a two minute silence.

Each of the 888,246 blooms represents a British or Colonial military death during the First World War, which began a century ago.

Carolyn Cooke, 54, a nurse, from Manchester said: “My grandfather served in the war and my father flew Lancaster Bombers and I wanted to come down today to pay tribute. It was something I just needed to see. It’s amazing.”

Anita Ferrari, a tour guide from Barnet, north London, said she had seen the installation grow in size from the very first day on July 17.

She said: “I really wanted to see it on the last day. It reminds you of your heritage and being part of that public consciousness.”

From tomorrow thousands of volunteers will begin removing the poppies, but two features of the memorial – the “Weeping Window” cascade of poppies from a window and the “Wave”, a surge of poppies near the entrance – will remain until the end of the month.

The government decision to keep the two elements in place follows huge public demand for more time to visit it, led by the Evening Standard’s Save Our Poppies campaign. An estimated four million people have seen it and many more now will get the chance.

David Nye, 61, an IT manager, from Abbots Langley, near Watford, said: “I was on my way to work, but this is the first time I have stopped and it really is such a unique event and sight.

"It makes you think about all the lives that have been lost and how it must have been for those guys fighting in the war.

"It puts you in a very contemplative mood and it’s good to take some time out sometimes from the hustle and bustle of daily life to stop and reflect.”

The two vast poppy structures will tour the UK for four years before being installed permanently at the Imperial War Museums in London and Manchester.

The designer of the poppie display Tom Piper said: “I am very pleased more people will have a chance to visit the exhibition. We have been working behind the scenes to secure a legacy for the two pieces which we have been able to do.”

Richard Hughes, of the Western Front Association - which organises the Annual Service of Remembrance at the Cenotaph, said this year’s commemorations were not just about the end of the First World War.

He said, “We have got the modern version here with us stepping back from Afghanistan. That itself has tremendous resonance.”

Europe was also marking the end of the First World War in a series of Armistice Day events across the continent.

In France, British and German officials met on the ground where their two countries were once at war to commemorate the end of WWI on the Western Front, which was declared on the eleventh hour, of the eleventh day of the eleventh month 1918.

Prince Harry was due to view an exhibition of photographs of young British servicemen and women who have suffered life-changing injuries on military duty in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Taken from the Evening Standard.

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