Silence falls as young and old remember

Children from Portsdown Primary School plant poppies in the school grounds on Armistice Day. (left to right), Lewis Okani (10), Shannel Pettitt (nine), Stephanie Winter (nine), Jacob Butcher (eight)

Children from Portsdown Primary School plant poppies in the school grounds on Armistice Day. (left to right), Lewis Okani (10), Shannel Pettitt (nine), Stephanie Winter (nine), Jacob Butcher (eight)

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Across the area, people gathered yesterday to mark Armistice Day. CHRIS OWEN reports on the poignant ritual of remembrance.

It might be 93 years since the guns fell silent on the western front to mark the end of the First World War in 1918.

The service of Remembrance at The Cenotaph in Portsmouth

The service of Remembrance at The Cenotaph in Portsmouth

But rarely has Armistice Day meant so much to so many in modern Britain.

Across the area thousands of people stopped what they were doing yesterday to remember the fallen of the two world wars, later and current campaigns.

Nowhere was it more poignant that at Lee-on-the-Solent’s war memorial where scores of people watched two names added to the list of the dead.

Corporal Philip Bryant and Petty Officer Marine Engineering Mechanic David Briggs were killed in conflicts since the Second World War.

Workers abandoned their construction sites and shopkeepers stood in doorways to watch the dedication ceremony.

Cpl Bryant’s sister Sheila Tebbett flew from Spain to be there. After the names were unveiled, she laid a wreath with her sister Vicky Betsworth.

Sheila, 73, said: ‘He has finally come home. It was very emotional and I feel he’s at rest now. Having his name added to the memorial means we now have a place to come when we want to remember him.’

Cpl Bryant died when his plane crashed in the jungle during the Malayan emergency in 1950. He was buried quickly at the crash site and his grave was only found recently.

PO Briggs died in the Portsmouth-based destroyer HMS Sheffield after the ship was hit by an Exocet missile during the 1982 Falklands war.

In Portsmouth, the organisers of the Armistice Day ceremony around the cenotaph in Guildhall Square, said more than 400 people attended – a record.

Ted Marks, 88, from Portchester, the vice-chairman of the East Hampshire branch of the Royal British Legion who fought in Italy with the Royal Artillery in the Second World War, said: ‘It’s wonderful that more and more young people are coming each year.

‘It’s because of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Now they can make the connection.’

As a bugler played The Last Post more than 350 heads bowed to honour the fallen at Emsworth Memorial Garden.

It was packed with children, families, veterans and serving soldiers from 47 Regiment Royal Artillery who still face uncertainty in Afghanistan.

Ninety-year-old former RAF pilot Harold Groom was one of those who laid a wreath at the memorial sculpture. He founded the garden.

He said: ‘I was very concerned that there were no names of the people who were killed in conflict on public display in Emsworth. This was my objective in 1994 when the idea for the memorial garden began.’

There was an unusual act of remembrance at The Rose in June pub in Milton Road, Milton, Portsmouth, where Royal Navy veterans were treated to free ale for the third year running.

As the clock struck 11am, silence fell in the pub before the beer was given to the veterans.

Former Chief Petty Officer Writer Brian Murphy, 75, who served in HMS Blake, Victorious, Ark Royal and Agincourt over 27 years, said: ‘This means an awful lot to me. My grandfather died at the Battle of Jutland in the First World War while serving in HMS Black Prince.’

Former Royal Navy Warrant Officer Tom Dick, 76, of Langstone Road, Milton, served in the Falklands war. He said: ‘I get emotional when I think about those who have died. I’ve lost a lot of friends and colleagues, and during the Falklands war I saw a lot of devastation, a lot of burnt-out ships.’

Landlord Paul Saynor, 58, who was in the navy for 32 years, said he wanted to give veterans a different way of remembering. ‘There are lots of events which mark the remembrance, but is an informal, relaxed way of marking the day.’

It was not just at memorials that everything stopped. At Fareham Shopping Centre hundreds of shoppers came to a halt.

In every direction, shoppers and store staff stopped what they were doing as retired naval Lieutenant David Hessey played The Last Post joined by standard bearers from the Fareham branch of the Royal British Legion.

Karen Hudson, of Southwick Court, Fareham, said: ‘In these days where we rush around from place to place, it doesn’t hurt us to take two minutes to remember their sacrifice.’

Nikki Schillemore, of Freemantle Road, Gosport, added: ‘My son has just come back from his second tour in Afghanistan in 18 months.

‘This means everything to me – a lot of the public have no idea what they’re going through out there. Something like this is so important.’ Nowhere was it more poignant that at Lee-on-the-Solent’s war memorial, where scores of people watched two names added to the list of the dead.

Corporal Philip Bryant and Petty Officer Marine Engineering Mechanic David Briggs were killed in conflicts since the Second World War.

Workers abandoned their construction sites and shopkeepers stood in doorways to watch the dedication ceremony.

Cpl Bryant’s sister, Sheila Tebbett, flew from Spain to be there. After the names were unveiled, she laid a wreath with her sister, Vicky Betsworth.

Sheila, 73, said: ‘He has finally come home. It was very emotional and I feel he’s at rest now.

‘Having his name added to the memorial means we now have a place to come when we want to remember him.’

Cpl Bryant died when his plane crashed in the jungle during the Malayan emergency in 1950.

He was buried quickly at the crash site and his grave was only found recently.

PO Briggs died in the Portsmouth-based destroyer HMS Sheffield after the ship was hit by an Exocet missile during the 1982 Falklands war.

In Portsmouth, the organisers of the Armistice Day ceremony around the cenotaph in Guildhall Square said more than 400 people attended – a record.

Ted Marks, 88, from Portchester, the vice-chairman of the East Hampshire branch of the Royal British Legion who fought in Italy with the Royal Artillery in the Second World War, said: ‘It’s wonderful that more and more young people are coming each year.

‘It’s because of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Now they can make the connection.’

As a bugler played The Last Post, more than 350 heads bowed to honour the fallen at Emsworth Memorial Garden.

It was packed with children, families, veterans and serving soldiers from 47 Regiment Royal Artillery, who still face uncertainty in Afghanistan.

Ninety-year-old former RAF pilot Harold Groom was one of those who laid a wreath at the memorial sculpture. He founded the garden.

He said: ‘I was very concerned that there were no names of the people who were killed in conflict on public display in Emsworth. This was my objective in 1994 when the idea for the memorial garden began.’

There was an unusual act of remembrance at The Rose in June pub in Milton Road, Milton, Portsmouth, where Royal Navy veterans were treated to free ale for the third year running.

As the clock struck 11am, silence fell in the pub before the beer was given to the veterans.

Former Chief Petty Officer Writer Brian Murphy, 75, who served in HMS Blake, Victorious, Ark Royal and Agincourt over 27 years, said: ‘This means an awful lot to me. My grandfather died at the Battle of Jutland in the First World War while serving in HMS Black Prince.’

Former Royal Navy Warrant Officer Tom Dick, 76, of Langstone Road, Milton, served in the Falklands war.

He said: ‘I get emotional when I think about those who have died. I’ve lost a lot of friends and colleagues, and during the Falklands war I saw a lot of devastation, a lot of burnt-out ships.’

Landlord Paul Saynor, 58, who was in the navy for 32 years, said he wanted to give veterans a different way of remembering.

‘There are lots of events which mark the remembrance, but this is an informal, relaxed way of marking the day.’

It was not just at memorials that everything stopped. At Fareham Shopping Centre hundreds of shoppers came to a halt.

In every direction, shoppers and store staff stopped what they were doing as retired naval Lieutenant David Hessey played The Last Post joined by standard bearers from the Fareham branch of the Royal British Legion.

Karen Hudson, of Southwick Court, Fareham, said: ‘In these days where we rush around from place to place, it doesn’t hurt us to take two minutes to remember their sacrifice.’

Nikki Schillemore, of Freemantle Road, Gosport, added: ‘My son has just come back from his second tour in Afghanistan in 18 months.

‘This means everything to me – a lot of the public have no idea what they’re going through out there.’

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