Few people realise that the first minute of silence on Armistice Day is in memory of the dead of the First World War and all subsequent wars, and that the second minute is for surviving comrades and the widows and orphans of war.
As Britain’s premier naval port and a garrison town, Portsmouth witnessed much bereavement and grief during the 20th century.
The Naval War Memorial on Southsea Common records the names of 9,666 men from the Portsmouth area who served in the Royal Navy and Marines during the First World War and were lost or buried at sea.
More than a third of men who answered Kitchener’s call and joined the two Portsmouth battalions of the Hampshire Regiment are known to have been killed in the conflict.
Numbers lost wearing the uniform of other regiments cannot be known. Five thousand names were submitted for inclusion in a Roll of Honour compiled and published by the Evening News, but this is not and does not claim to be complete.
The First World War Roll of Honour at Portsmouth Grammar School alone records the names of 127 Old Portmuthians who fought and died in every major battle of the war.
Nationally, by the end of the war, more than 192,000 wives had lost their husbands, nearly 400,000 children had lost their fathers and a further half a million children had lost one or more siblings.
To add to the tragedy, it is estimated that one in eight wives died within a year of receiving news of their husband’s death.
A new book by eminent First World War historian Richard van Emden, The Quick and the Dead, pays tribute to the families who were left to suffer at home while their husbands, fathers, brothers and sons went off to fight.
Richard, who also wrote The Last Tommies, will be talking about his new book in a special free talk at Portsmouth Grammar School on November 14 at 7.30pm (drinks available from 7pm). Anyone interested in attending this free event should send their name to firstname.lastname@example.org or phone the school on (023) 9236 0036 as soon as possible.