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Remembrance Day 2012: Somerset stops to salute the fallen

By Western Daily Press  |  Posted: November 12, 2012

  • Poppies at tributes at the Remembrance Day service in Vivary Park, Taunton

  • A bowed head and silence at a memorial stone placed in honour to 'The Last Fighting Tommy', Harry Patch, in Wells. The memorial stands close to Wells Cathedral

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The Queen led the nation in honouring the fallen as in glorious sunshine the country fell silent to remember its war dead.

In scenes replicated at memorials across the length and breadth of the United Kingdom and Commonwealth nations, the monarch laid the first wreath at the Cenotaph to commemorate members of the Armed Forces who died fighting in all conflicts since the First World War.

Other senior royals, including Second World War veteran the Duke of Edinburgh and current RAF pilot the Duke of Cambridge – with wife Kate watching from a balcony – joined the monarch and politicians, military leaders, veterans and serving personnel.

Big Ben struck to mark the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month.

In brilliant autumn sunshine, dignitaries laid wreaths at the Cenotaph before 10,000 veterans marched past to pay their respects to their departed comrades.

The crowds watching the service in central London could be the largest yet, the Royal British Legion said.

The charity’s head of remembrance, Helen Hill, said that numbers were swollen as recent conflicts brought the realities of war home to a new generation and created “people who are aged 18-and-a-half who are veterans of recent conflicts”.

“Once again the British public has shown its support,” she said, adding that the number of veterans marching had increased by 3,000 in the last five years.

“The numbers are going up, not down. There are an increasing number of associations looking after the veteran community. More and more people want to participate in the activities.”

Nearly every community in the West – whatever its size – came together to reflect on the sacrifices of earlier generations.

Among the most poignant was at Wells – where salutes were paid at a memorial stone installed this year honouring Harry Patch, Somerset’s ‘Last Fighting Tommy’.

On a much smaller scale, residents in the Somerset village of Nether Stowey held their first remembrance service at a new memorial statue.

There was also a poignant ceremony in Royal Wootton Bassett, the Wiltshire town honoured by the Queen last year for the way its people regularly turned out to honour the UK’s war dead.

One unfortunate incident soured events in central Bristol, when a cross-dressing protestor skate boarded past marchers. He was arrested for a public order offence.

His actions were condemned by Roger Duddridge, vice chairman of the Bristol and Somerset Royal British Legion. He said: “Frankly it is disrespectful.”

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