History of Armistice Day, Remembrance Day and the Remembrance Poppy

Armistice Day is always commemorated every year on the 11th November to mark the armistice signed between the Allies of World War I and their opponent Germany, at Le Francport near Compiègne in France at 5:45 am, for the cessation of hostilities on land, sea and air on the Western Front of World War I, which took effect at eleven o'clock in the morning—the "eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month" of 1918. 

But, according to Thomas R. Gowenlock, an intelligence officer with the US First Division, shelling from both sides continued for the rest of the day, only ending at nightfall.

The armistice initially expired after a period of 36 days and had to be extended several times. A formal peace agreement was only reached when the Treaty of Versailles was signed following year on 28 June 1919, took effect on 10 January 1920.

The armistice date is a national holiday in France and was declared a national holiday in many Allied Nations.

The first Armistice Day was held at Buckingham Palace, commencing with King George V hosting a "Banquet in Honour of the President of the French Republic" during the evening hours of 10 November 1919. The first official Armistice Day events were subsequently held in the grounds of Buckingham Palace on the morning of 11 November 1919, which included a two-minute-silence as a mark of respect for those who died in the war and those left behind. This would set the trend for a day of remembrance for decades to come.

Similar ceremonies developed in other countries during the inter-war period. In South Africa, for example, the Memorable Order of Tin Hats had by the late 1920s developed a ceremony whereby the toast of "Fallen Comrades" was observed not only in silence but darkness, all except for the "Light of Remembrance", with the ceremony ending with the Order's anthem "Old Soldiers Never Die".

In Britain, beginning in 1939, the two-minute silence was moved to the Sunday nearest to 11 November in order not to interfere with wartime production should 11 November fall on a weekday. This then became Remembrance Sunday.

During World War II, many countries changed the name of the holiday and after the end of World War II, most member states of the Commonwealth of Nations, like the United Kingdom adopted the name Remembrance Day as Canada had in 1931, in order to honour veterans of that and subsequent conflicts.

The United States celebrated Armistice Day on Nov. 11 to mark the end of the war for many years, then in 1954 Congress renamed it All Veterans Day, later shortened to 'Veterans Day', to explicitly honour military veterans, including those participating in other conflicts.

On 11 November 2018, the centenary of the World War I Armistice, commemorations were held globally. In France, more than 60 heads of government and heads of state gathered at the Arc de Triomphe in Paris.

 

Remembrance Day is held annually throughout the Commonwealth of Nations on the second Sunday in November and is therefore also called Remembrance Sunday, this is the Sunday nearest to the 11th November, which is the anniversary of the end of hostilities in the First World War at 11 a.m. in 1918

A group of people on a city street filled with lots of traffic

Description automatically generatedThe National Service of Remembrance is held annually on Remembrance Sunday at The Cenotaph on Whitehall, London. It commemorates "the contribution of British and Commonwealth military and civilian servicemen and women in the two World Wars and later conflicts".

The service has its origins in the 1920s and has changed little in format since. The ceremony has been broadcast nationally by the BBC on radio since 1928 and was first broadcast by the BBC Television Service in 1937.

To open the ceremony, a selection of national airs and solemn music representing each of the nations of the United Kingdom are played by massed bands and pipes. A short religious service is held with a two-minute-silence commencing when Big Ben chimes at 11 O’clock. Following this, wreaths are laid by the Queen and members of the British Royal Family, senior politicians representing their respective political parties and High commissioners from the Commonwealth of Nations. After a short religious service, a march-past of hundreds of veterans’ processes past the Cenotaph.

Remembrance Poppies form part of the wreaths and displays at all Armistice Day and Remembrance Day ceremonies nowadays in the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia and New Zealand—countries which are part of the British Commonwealth—to commemorate their servicemen and women killed in all conflicts.

 

The remembrance poppy is an artificial flower that has been used since 1921 to commemorate military personnel who have died in war, and represents a common or field poppy, Papaver rhoeas. ... Many organisations adopted the poppy as their memorial flower after WWI came to an end and The Royal British Legion’s Poppy Appeal is a means to seek financial contributions from the general public in order for The Royal British Legion to provide support and services to UK military serving personnel & veterans and their families.

 

The opening lines of the WWI poem "In Flanders Fields" refers to many poppies growing among the graves of war victims in a region of Belgium. The poem is written from the point of view of the dead soldiers and, in the last verse, the soldiers call on the living to continue the conflict. The poem was written by Canadian physician, John McCrae, on May 3, 1915 after witnessing the death of his friend and fellow soldier the day before. The poem was first published in the London based magazine Punch on the 8th December 1915.

 

 

In Flanders Fields

By John McCrae

 

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.

 

We are the Dead. Short days ago

We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,

Loved and were loved, and now we lie,

In Flanders fields.

 

Take up our quarrel with the foe:

To you from failing hands we throw

The torch; be yours to hold it high.

If ye break faith with us who die

We shall not sleep, though poppies grow

In Flanders fields.

 

 

At the going down of the sun, and in the morning,

We will remember them.

 

NEW STANDARD BEARER FOR RNA

 

Shipmate Bryan Dalton was voted in as the new Standard Bearer for the Royal Naval Association, Torrevieja Branch at their September meeting.  His first official engagement with the Standard was for the Royal Air Forces Association Battle Britain service at La Siesta Church on 15th September when he was unfazed by the torrential rain in Torrevieja that morning, kept calm and carried out his duties admirably.

Bryan, originally from Lincolnshire, joined the Royal Navy as a boy of 15 starting on HMS St Vincent in Gosport and served for twenty five years before retiring from The Royal Navy as a Chief Petty Officer.

The Royal Naval Association, Torrevieja Branch are always ready to welcome new members regardless of whether or not they have served in The Royal Navy.   For more information please call Chairman Paul Edwards on 618644934, Vice Chairman Danny Kay on 966716274 or Secretary Margaret Forshaw on 966921996.  We look forward to meeting you!

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