Marking the Centenary of Armistice Day at the Remembrance Service in Amersham

MARKING THE CENTENARY OF ARMISTICE DAY AT THE REMEMBRANCE SERVICE IN AMERSHAM

One of the Pavlovian responses from working at Westminster is responding to the division bells which punctuate our lives and call us to vote. But a lesser known, but no less memorable, sound for people in this corner of Westminster is to hear the bells of Westminster Abbey pealing. It may be in celebration or it may be in sad commemoration, but it stirs the heart in either case.

The bells pealed to mark the Armistice at the end of World War I and this year church bells rang throughout the United Kingdom, as we marked the centenary of ‘the War to end all Wars’.

I was in Amersham for the service at St Mary’s Church and I cherished memories of my dear grandfather, whom I never met, because he gave his life for his country, serving at sea in the merchant marine during the Second World War, whilst my mother served in the Wrens and my father in the Royal Engineers.

Memories will always remain poignant for so many families who have lost loved ones in times of conflict and I think it was most appropriate that, at the national service of remembrance at the Cenotaph, veterans should be joined too by a people’s procession of 10,000 members of the public. The First World War was the first global conflict and it touched the lives of everyone across the continents.

One of the projects in 2018, which being run in partnership by the Royal British Legion and the Commonwealth Graves Commission, is to establish a digital memorial for everyone from the Commonwealth who died during the First World War. People can search the database for a name and write a remembrance message, add a digital poppy or upload photographs.

On the day the Armistice was announced, MPs went from the Chamber of the House of Commons to the Westminster parish church of St Margaret’s, “to give humble and reverent thanks for the deliverance of the world from its great perils”.  A similar service took place at Westminster to mark the centenary and to honour the memory of all those from across the world who gave their lives.