On 11 November 1918 the Armistice was signed between the Allied and German armies, ending the First World War ? a global war that lasted four years with the total human cost to Britain and the Empire of 3,049,972 casualties, including 658,705 dead.
Of all the millions of men who joined up to serve and defend the country, 90 years later the ranks have thinned dramatically. Now, there are just three stalwarts of the battlefields living in the UK. Harry Patch, Bill Stone and Henry Allingham are the only survivors to bear witness to those dark days. When they are no longer with us, the Great War will pass from living human memory finally to history.
Henry Allingham has said: "These hellish memories of war are ones I'd rather forget. But never my comrades. Never the men who gave their everything." During a visit to a war cemetery in France, he was quoted as saying, "All of us must remember them, always."
Remembrance Day and the Two Minute Silence have been observed since the end of the First World War, but their relevance remains undiminished. When we bow our heads in reflection, we remember those who fought for our freedom during the two World Wars. But we also mourn and honour those who have lost their lives in more recent conflicts. Today, with troops on duty in Iraq, Afghanistan and other trouble spots around the world, Remembrance, and this two minute tribute, are as important as ever.