“At the eleventh hour on the eleventh day of the eleventh month – we will remember them.”
Armistice Day or Remembrance Day: What is it and why is it important?
Armistice Day, often referred to as Remembrance Day, is on 11 November. The Armistice was an agreement to end the fighting of the First World War at 11am on 11 November 1918. It put an end to four years of conflict that resulted in the death of more than 16 million people – soldiers and civilians alike.
To commemorate the armistice agreement a remembrance is observed – on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month – and the day has become known as Remembrance Day.
Remembrance Day was first observed in 1919 throughout the British Commonwealth. To this day, we mark Remembrance Day around the United Kingdom with a Two-Minute Silence at 11am on the 11 November.
Why do we hold a Two-Minute Silence?
The first Two-Minute Silence in Britain was held on 11 November 1919, when King George V asked the public to observe a silence at 11am. He made the request so "the thoughts of everyone may be concentrated on reverent remembrance of the glorious dead".
There is also Remembrance Sunday every year, which falls on the second Sunday in November – this year it is on 8 November. Remembrance Sunday is a day to commemorate the contribution of British and Commonwealth military and civilian servicemen and women in the two World Wars and later conflicts.
The National Service of Remembrance at the Cenotaph in London is held on Remembrance Sunday. The service is attended by senior members of the Royal Family, including Her Majesty the Queen, HM Government and features a March Past involving 10,000 veterans. Owing to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Remembrance Sunday March Past at the Cenotaph will not take place this year; however, the Remembrance Service at the Cenotaph will continue to go ahead, but as a closed ceremony.
Ashford and Tenterden Remembers
This year’s Remembrance Sunday service in Ashford will be held in a different format given the constraints currently in place regarding COVID-19 and social distancing.
A small ‘closed’ event for invited representatives will take place at the Memorial Gardens on Sunday 8 November, meaning that the Gardens will be closed to members of the public. The Mayor of Ashford and other distinguished guests will be in attendance to lay the wreaths. However, there will be no procession. This will be the first time in history, that National Service of Remembrance events will be closed to members of the public, in line with the Government’s latest scientific and medical advice.
However, to enable the public to view the event and still mark the occasion from the comfort of their own homes, we will be filming the event and will make it available as a live stream on our Facebook page. An edited short video and photos from the event will also be available to view here on our website.
(Above) Remembrance Sunday Service, Memorial Gardens, Ashford, 2019. Images courtesy of Andrew Clarke.
In Tenterden, there will be no parade to, or service at, the Tenterden War Memorial. Instead, there will be a pre-recorded, socially-distanced service from St. Mildred’s Church. The service will be attended by the Town Mayor, Canon Lindsay Hammond, Reverend Jeanette Kenneth and Roger Thomas from the Royal British Legion. The service will be available to view on Remembrance Sunday, 8 November, from 10.45am. View the service on the Tenterden Church of England website.
We will also be using the hashtag #RememberAtHome in line with other councils.
Ashford War Memorial, Memorial Gardens
“They gave their lives in war that we in peace might live” (inscription)
The Ashford War Memorial was designed by local architect Edwin A Jackson and unveiled on 1 June 1924 by General Sir Ian Hamilton GCB GCMG DSO, Commander of the British Mediterranean Expeditionary Force at Gallipoli. The land, memorial and ornate wrought iron gates of remembrance were funded by public subscription which by 1924 had raised more than £10,000.
The names of 250 of the fallen of the First World War were inscribed on the memorial and among those named is Sergeant Harry Wells, 2nd Battalion, Royal Sussex Regiment, who was awarded a posthumous Victoria Cross at the Battle of Loos in 1915. Following the Second World War, further names, including civilians, were added on plaques affixed to the low walls surrounding the memorial.
Today this elegant memorial and its elaborate memorial gates stand testament to the sacrifice and memory of those who gave their lives in subsequent conflicts throughout the world.
The Unknown Warrior
The Unknown Warrior is a British First World War soldier unknown by name or rank, brought from France to Westminster Abbey to be buried on 11 November 1920. The body of the Unknown Warrior was taken by train from Dover to London and the railway carriage in which it was carried is now in the care of the Kent & East Sussex Railway.
The same railway vehicle had been previously used to transport the body of Nurse Edith Cavell, who was executed by the Germans in October 1915 for helping British soldiers to escape, and it is now known as “The Cavell Van”. Other repatriated heroes it carried included Capt. Edward Fryatt, executed by the Germans in Bruges in 1916.
The Cavell Van is cherished by the Tenterden-based railway, where it is a popular attraction. It has been lovingly restored and contains a replica of the Unknown Warrior’s beautiful coffin, as well as stories of the heroes it carried.
Pictured above: The Cavell Van on display at the Kent & East Sussex Railway. Image courtesy of Robin Dyce.