Everything You Need To Know About Remembrance Day UK!

By | November 11, 2017

November 11th is a day where we pay respect and honor the fallen, to the men and women who fought for our country and for our freedom. Remembrance Day in the UK sees the nation come together to say thank you to these brave soldiers. Learn the history and the importance of this day in this very special post.

Remembrance Day UK

Remembrance Day is not a holiday but an observance that is shared by all Commonwealth countries all over the world, (except Mozambique). These countries include Australia and Canada. There is a similar observance on November 11th in the U.S. called Veterans Day.

Despite the different name the sentiment is still the same. And that is to honor and thank everyone who has served in the military. It is a day to pay our respects to the people who have lost their lives during the First World Wars and any war thereafter.

It is a day to honor the heroic efforts, the achievements and sacrifices that have been made by these brave people. And I believe that it is a day where we say thanks to these soldiers for allowing us to live in a free world.

Lest We Forget!

Special Date:

Remembrance Day – November 11th (also known as Poppy Day or Armistice Day)

Please note: In the United Kingdom the main observance is on the second Sunday in November, known as Remembrance Sunday. But there is also a 2 minute silence observed on November 11th at 11am as well.

Remembrance Day History!

Originally called Armistice Day in the U.K. this event first took place in 1919 when King George V hosted a banquet during the evening of November 10th. This tradition that was inaugurated by the king was called the “Banquet in Honour of the President of the French Republic“.

Remembrance Day UK History

The following morning saw the first official Armistice Day events take place on the grounds of Buckingham Palace. This observance would thus continue to this day.

King George V would not only suggest for events to take place right across the United Kingdom but also a 2 minute silence to be observed.

Then in 1939 in Britain the 2 minute silence was moved to the nearest Sunday to November 11th. This was because the government did not want to interfere with wartime production due to the onset of the Second World War.

Most of the Commonwealth countries after the war in 1945 would move the Armistice Day events to the nearest Sunday. And subsequently this observance would now allow people to pay their respects to the sacrifices made by people during both world wars.

The name was thus appropriately changed from Armistice Day to Remembrance Day or Remembrance Sunday.

Remembrance Day Activities

Remembrance Day in the U.K. is not a public holiday. However, a number of countries to commemorate this day with a public holiday. Why not check Wikipedia to see what your country does to mark this event.

Remembrance Day UK Activities

What can you do on Remembrance Day?

Even though the U.K. does not observe a public holiday people will stop work at 11am on November 11th for 2 minutes. So wherever you are and whatever you are doing at this time please pay your respects and think about the soldiers who have fallen.

This silence is observed on the “11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month” as this is when hostilities between Germany and the Allied Nations formally ended in 1918. The signing of the Treaty of Versailles was signed the following year on June 28th 1928.

Events take place on this day that include church services, memorial services and parades as well. For a selection of Remembrance Day prayers please visit The Church of England website.

There is also the Service of Remembrance that includes the sounding of the “Last Post“, (a bugle or trumpet call). This is then followed by a period of silence and the the sounding of “Reveille” or “The Rouse“. And then lastly there is a recitation of the “Ode of Remembrance“.

Services also see the laying of the Remembrance Day Wreath which is laid to honor the fallen. You may want to visit the graves of your military ancestors and lay a wreath or poppy.

To find peace within yourself on this day why not check out Gail Lowe’s How To Create Your Own Life.

The Cenotaph in London!

A national commemoration also takes place at The Cenotaph in Whitehall in central London at 11am on Remembrance Sunday. The Cenotaph is a war memorial which was erected in 1920. The first Cenotaph was a temporary structure made from wood and plaster. But after an outpouring of national sentiment this was replaced with a permanent structure made from Portland stone.

The first event at this location took place on July 19th 1919 which was called the London Victory Parade, (also called Peace Day Parade). This date was chosen as it was the anniversary of the formal ending of the First World War.

The permanent structure was unveiled by King George V on November 11th 1920, which was the second anniversary of the ending of the war. Not only is there an annual remembrance service that takes place on this date but there are other services as well on other days. This includes the Queen’s Birthday Parade, the Belgian National Day and ANZAC Day as well.

The 11am ceremony at the Cenotaph is an event now organized by the Royal British Legion who are a charity that dedicates to perpetuating the memory of all veterans who have served in war. So if you are in the area then please join the thousands on Remembrance Sunday to show your respect.

The Queen and the Royal Family!

When Big Ben tolls eleven bells a single gunshot is fired by the Horse Guards Parade and then 2 minutes of silence is observed. After which the Queen, politicians and military representatives will lay wreaths of poppies at the foot of the Cenotaph.

There is then a short religious service and a bugle call. The National Anthem is then sung and the Queen then departs. War veterans will then march slowly past the Cenotaph to show their respect. A member of the Royal Family will take a salute as the veterans walk past.

The Queen and the Royal Family will also observe other engagements during this time. This includes the Festival of Remembrance at the Royal Albert Hall. And while abroad members of the Royal Family will attend similar events

The Remembrance Day Poppy!

The red remembrance poppy is traditionally worn on Remembrance Day and Remembrance Sunday due to the poem “In Flanders Fields” that was written by Lieutenant-Colonel John McCrae. It was Moina Michael who after reading this poem then wrote the poem “We Shall Remember” and also swore to wear a red poppy on this anniversary.

Remembrance Day Poppy

Real poppies were originally worn to mark respect. The poppy was not only chosen because of the poem written by John McCrae but also as the poppy bloomed across some of the worst battlefields of Flanders,  (northern part of Belgium), during the First World War. Subsequently the red color would symbolize the blood that was spilled during war.

It was during the 1921 anniversary ceremony that the first poppy was worn. This custom of wearing a red poppy would spread across the Commonwealth countries as well as other European countries.

Remembrance Day Activities for Children!

I feel that it is not only important to understand the meaning behind Remembrance Day and its history, but also to educate our children as well. So why not take your children to the Imperial War Museum in London where they put on special commemorative events. Here you will be able to learn about wars and the impact that it has had.

Activity Village is a great site where you can download and print off colouring pages, get craft ideas, read poems, play puzzles and fill in worksheets.

Remembrance Day Quotes

I have discussed the history of this special day and also what you can do to show your respect. Now I want to share with you some moving Remembrance Day quotes for you to enjoy.

The living owe it to those who no longer can speak to tell them their story for them. Czeslaw Milosz.

They shall not grow old, as we that are left grow old. Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn. At the going down of the sun and in the morning we will remember them. Laurence Binyon.

Lest We Forget. Remembering all those who have made sacrifices, especially those who gave their lives, so that the rest of us could live in freedom. With gratitude.

When you go home, Tell them of us and say, For your tomorrow, We gave our today.

Heroes are made by the paths they choose, not the powers they are graced with. Brodi Ashton.

My Final Thoughts on Remembrance Day

Not only do I want to share with you guides and tips to help you trace your family tree but I also want to teach you about days such as this. I feel that we should all know the importance of Remembrance Day.

We should know which of our ancestors fought in war but also think about the family they left behind and the hardships that they went through. For that reason we should look into our own family history and discover our military ancestors. And why not include your children in this adventure?

Why not discover your military ancestors?!

I have found out so much about my family history by visiting genealogy search websites. One of them that I have used extensively is FindMyPast.

Not only can you gain access to birth, marriage and death certificates, but also census records, wills and probates, passenger lists, and also military records as well.

==> Tips For A Military Records Search <==

Free options to discover your military ancestors!

There are free options available to you if you do not wish to spend your money. One excellent way to learn about your family history is to speak to older relatives.

The stories and information that they will share with you will be priceless. Who knows what they will tell you.


Thank You and Please Leave A Comment

I hope you enjoyed this post explaining what Remembrance Day UK is all about and its history. If you think that this post will be helpful to others then please share it with friends and family using the social media buttons below.

If you have any questions or comments then please leave a comment below. I would love to hear from you.

8 thoughts on “Everything You Need To Know About Remembrance Day UK!

  1. Rania Masaeed

    Hello Owain,
    This is a very touching post.. I really enjoyed reading it.. Your style is amazing in attracting the reader attention.. Besides, your vivid imagination makes us feel as if we are living the situation.. I really don’t know about the history of this day.. This is new for me because I always read about this date but never know about it.. Moreover, the pictures you’ve chosen are in harmony with the description. The quotations you added give importance to to the topic.. All in all, it’s a great post
    By the way, the niche of your site is unique.. Wishing you all the best

    1. Owain Post author

      Thank you for your kind words Rania. I am glad that you really enjoyed my post. Not only do I have a passion for genealogy and helping people discover their ancestry but also exploring the origins of days like these.

      It’s not only important to learn where our ancestors come from and what they did but also what times were like. Only then can we get a sense of what life was like and appreciate what they went through.

  2. Gail

    Hi Owain. Another well-researched and interesting post. It is only by understanding the mistakes of the past that we can hope to live in the future in peace and tolerance. Remembrance day is important not only to remind us of what has gone before, but what we hope to achieve in the present and the future. Teaching future generations that war has no place in the world is vital in my book. Thanks for the pertinent reminder. Peace to you and yours, always. Gail

    1. Owain Post author

      Only by looking into the past can we look into the future. We can all learn from our mistakes and it is by doing this that we can move forward.

      Through my site I want to not only educate people about what these days were about but also the history behind them. And from that we will become better people.

  3. John

    I think all of those brave souls who’ve looked tyranny and evil in the eye and did what was necessary should be embraced as some of the best humanity has to offer. War is most definitely a scourge that has been in mans history over the ages. Not everyone has the ability to free the oppressed. The UK and USA have had a special kinship for a long time and I hope it will continue for the foreseeable future. I would be remiss if I didn’t acknowledging all of the allies our countries had as well. My regards to veterans in the UK and a hearty thank you from your cousin across the pond.

    John M

    1. Owain Post author

      Hi John,

      These soldiers that lost their lives were grave souls, but my heart does go out to the younger generation who joined up. To them it was a sense of adventure and part naivety. They did not know the true nature of war until they had got to the frontline and experienced it.

      My heart also goes out to the families that lost their young boys during the First World War. Many thousands of them lost their lives and this definitely affected Britain and the Allied countries during and after the war many years to follow.

  4. Craig

    Thanks for a great write up on Remembrance Day in UK! It’s always a very poignant moment on the 11th hour of the 11th day on the 11th month!

    I remember once when I was in Edinburgh airport at that time and everyone stopped what they were doing and paid their respects in silence to remember the fallen.

    It’s not difficult to pay respect like that and I always wear a poppy with pride. I think it’s also important to remember the other lives lost from other countries. We wouldn’t be here today without their ultimate sacrifice.

    1. Owain Post author

      Thank you Craig for taking the time and commenting on this post. I am glad that you feel the same way about this day and that you wear the poppy.

      People I feel do know what this day is about but they should know more about its history and what sacrifices were made for our freedom. This can be done as I have mentioned in the post by connecting with our military ancestors. Only then can we truly appreciate what they went through. And their families as well.


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