Thousands mark Remembrance Sunday at the National Memorial Arobretum

Up to 10,000 veterans, serving personnel and members of the public marked the 100th anniversary of the Armistice at the National Memorial Arboretum.

As the final notes of The Last Post drifted away, the only noise that could be heard above the silence was the wind in the trees.

The arboretum and its centrepiece white Portland stone Armed Forces Memorial, at Alrewas, Staffordshire, provided a backdrop for a service of sombre reflection on a poignant Remembrance Sunday.

Armistice Day 2018
Armistice Day 2018

A century ago, the guns fell silent as the First World War came to a close.

Remembering those who gave their lives, the Reverend Tim Flowers, assistant chaplain of the arboretum, said theirs had been a sacrifice for future generations “that all people may together live in freedom, justice and peace”.

After the act of remembrance by the chaplain, Rev Vic Van Den Bergh, came the exhortation – “We will remember them”.

Then, five buglers of the Royal Marines played The Last Post, as the two-minute silence fell.

Armistice Day 2018
Armistice Day 2018

Reveille sounded and then, as sea cadet Eleanor Deeley read the Kohima Epitaph, a sudden gust of wind blew up, rustling the trees which cover the vast site.

The crowd lent full voice to the hymn Abide With Me while earlier the Band of the Royal Marines had played the Band of Brothers television theme – Requiem for a Soldier – and the hymn Amazing Grace.

Afterwards, the focus shifted to the central plinth of the Armed Forces Memorial.

There was a wreath-laying led by the Duke and Duchess of Gloucester, but others left by families, loved ones who had lost relatives in the Great War and other conflicts.

Armistice Day 2018
Armistice Day 2018

Among those personal tributes, wooden crosses, and poppy wreaths was a simple painted stone which read: “1918-2018, 100 years – George Parker, thank you.”

Another wreath was for Private Harry Grocott, of Shawbury, Shropshire, who, aged 16, died serving with the King’s Shropshire Light Infantry, after his dug-out was hit by a German shell on April 3, 1916.

Boy soldier
Boy soldier

A card fixed to the poppies, read: “We never knew you but we know of you – we will never forget your selfless sacrifice. Thank you.”