The mud, blood and thunder of the First World War was close in the minds of all as Her Majesty The Queen led the observation of the National Act of Remembrance at the Cenotaph in Whitehall.
2016 marks the centenary of the Battle of the Somme, which saw 420,000 British soldiers killed or wounded across a five-month battle that failed to break the stalemate of the Western Front. While the Somme was of particular significance, the event marked the sacrifice of all who have laid down their lives for the Nation in war.
Beginning Britain’s most solemn ceremony, serving sailors, soldiers and airmen formed a hollow square at the heart of Whitehall.
Pictured: Wreaths neatly laid out in front of the Cenotaph on Remembrance Sunday 2016.
Troops were provided by the Royal Navy, Household Cavalry Mounted Regiment, 1st Battalion Coldstream Guards, 2nd Battalion Royal Gurkha Rifles, 9 Regiment Royal Logistic Corps, the Adjutant General’s Corps, 106 Regiment Royal Artillery (Army Reserve) and the Royal Air Force.
The massed bands of the Household Division included the Band of the Grenadier Guards, Band of the Coldstream Guards, Band of the Scots Guards and the Band of the Irish Guards.
They performed a sombre, deeply emotive programme of music, directed by the Senior Director of Music Lieutenant Colonel Kevin Roberts. The Pipes and Drums were provided by The Black Watch, 3rd Battalion The Royal Regiment of Scotland.
Exactly as Big Ben struck 11 O’clock, The King’s Troop Royal Horse Artillery fired their First World War era guns on Horse Guards Parade, marking the start of a two minutes’ Silence, and then fired a second to mark its end. The Buglers of the Royal Marines then sounded the “Last Post”.
Pictured: Veterans pose for a selfie on Whitehall during Remembrance Sunday commemorations.
After wreaths were laid by members of The Royal Family, the Prime Minister Theresa May, and by representatives of other political parties, by the Foreign Secretary, the Commonwealth High Commissioners, First Sea Lord Admiral Sir Philip Jones, General Sir Nicholas Carter Chief of the General Staff, and Air Chief Marshall Sir Stephen Hillier, wreaths were laid by the Merchant Navy and the Civilian Services.
When all the wreaths had been laid the Bishop of London led a service of commemoration and remembrance. After the Service, Trumpeters of the Royal Air Force sounded “Rouse” (Reveille).
After the ceremony thousands of ex-Service and Civilian Associations marched past the Cenotaph down Whitehall and past the Guards Memorial on Horse Guards where HRH The Prince of Wales took the Salute. Accompanying him was Secretary of State for Defence the Rt Hon Michael Fallon MP and Air Marshal David Walker, the National President of the Royal British Legion.
Pictured: Crowds gather to watch the procession to the Cenotaph and pay their respects to the war dead.