11am, 11th day of the 11th month. This is Armistice Day.
The time and date commemorates the signing of the armistice between the Allies and Germany in 1918.
It is tradition to pause for a two minute silence as clocks strike 11am to remember those killed in the two world wars as well as British servicemen who have been killed or injured since 1945.
The armistice was signed in a railway carriage in a remote forest in France at 5.10am on 11th November 1918… but guns did not stop firing until almost six hours later.
Author Joseph Persico calculates that between 5am and 11am on that final day, the war claimed a further 11,000 casualties. He adds that the last day was a “microcosm of the entire war, in that it was a waste of young lives for no purpose”.
In Andover today there is an Armistice Day commemoration in the Garden of Remembrance at St Mary’s Church.
Even the more casual of observers will note that the war memorial in Andover is the only one in the UK which states, ‘The Great War 1914 – 1920’. These additional two years reflects the servicemen from Andover who died in anti-Bolshevik battles in Russia after the official end of the First World War.
Tomorrow, Remembrance Sunday, the Royal British Legion will parade through the town starting from Bridge Street at 10am, arriving at St Mary’s Church for two minutes’ silence at precisely 11am.
In Flanders’ fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place: and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae’s poem In Flanders’ Fields moved an American teacher to start making silk poppies and sell them to raise money for ex-servicemen. The bright red poppy is a resilient flower which managed to flourish on the battlefields, despite them having been destroyed by the ravages of war.
The poppy has been the emblem of the Royal British Legion since it began in 1921.