VETERANS decorated in medals who fought on the beaches of Normandy, serving soldiers, schoolchildren and the families of those who sacrificed their lives in war – people of all ages stood side by side across Yorkshire in a show of respect on Armistice Day.
Poignant remembrance ceremonies took place throughout the county today in a year that marks the centenary of the brutal four-month Battle of the Somme, which claimed the lives of some 420,000 British troops.
Poppies cascaded from the upper floors of the Royal Armouries in Leeds on to a dramatic ceremony in a packed sun-lit entrance hall which displays weapons such as the Vickers machine gun once used to fell enemy ranks in the Great War.
Full-voiced visitors joined the Leeds Philharmonic Chorus to sing I Vow To Thee My Country before Archdeacon Arthur Hawes gave a sermon.
He said: “More people have died in wars in the last century than ever before in the history of mankind and as a consequence it’s even more important to hold them in our memories.”
A roll call of the 35 women who died in an explosion at the Barnbow munitions factory in Cross Gates on December 5, 1916, was read out by Jemma Bulmer and Zofia Matyjaszkiewicz.
In Sheffield, several hundred people gathered at Barker’s Pool for the nationwide two-minute silence at 11am – the moment guns finally fell silent in 1918 on the 11th day of November.
Christine Spencer, chairwoman of the Sheffield and Districts Joint Council of Ex-Service Associations, said: “Here today we remember all who made the supreme sacrifice in all wars.
“Particularly this year, those who lost their lives in the Battle of the Somme, which affected many, many families in this area.”
Frank Yates, 95, from Intake, was proudly displaying his Légion d’Honneur medal.
The former anti-aircraft gunner was one of many to land on the beaches of Normandy during the Second World War. He said: “It’s very important for the Remembrance tradition to continue. It’s delightful to see the schoolchildren here.”
From Pateley Bridge to Barnsley and Wakefield to Hull, services were held and attended by civic leaders and Royal British Legion branches in all corners of the county.
The Mayor of Barnsley, Coun Linda Burgess, said: “It was wonderful to see so many people coming together to pause their day to remember those who have fallen in the service of their country.”
More than 1,000 military personnel and civilians gathered at the Imphal Barracks in York, and heard Garrison Sergeant Major Brian Kiernan read Laurence Binyon’s 1914 poem For the Fallen.
Major General Giles Hill said: “Remembrance is a very personal thing. There are many different individual stories and different reflections.
“Some remembered colleagues, some remembered people they have heard of but never knew, some remembered family members or friends. It is what makes a day like this so special.”