Leeds came to a standstill as the city paid silent tribute to those who fought and died for the freedom of their country.
Veterans, dignitaries and members of the public gathered at the War Memorial on Victoria Gardens in the city centre for a short service to mark Armistice Day, 100 years since the start of the First World War,
Traffic around the memorial was halted as the city joined the nation in pausing to pay their respects to the war dead.
The Lord Mayor of Leeds, Councillor David Congreve said: “The service and two minute silence held at Victoria Gardens was an opportunity for people from Leeds to come together as one and remember those people who made the ultimate sacrifice during times of conflict.
“The sacrifice that they made for us should never be forgotten, and it is especially poignant this year as we reflect on and mark the beginning of the First World War 100 years ago.”
The bugle’s Last Post also sounded during a moving ceremony at the Royal Armouries, where poppies fell from the rafters onto the congregation below to mark the end of the two-minute silence.
Among the veterans gathered at the city centre museum was Jack Walker, from Leeds, who saw action in North Africa with the Cold Stream Guards, which he joined in 1949.
The 82-year-old now has terminal cancer and is staying at Leeds’ St Gemma’s Hospice, where staff rallied behind the scenes make sure he didn’t miss the service.
He told the Yorkshire Evening Post: “It was totally organised by the St Gemma’s nurses and staff - I didn’t know about it. It was a wonderful service. I was overjoyed that I was able to get here.”
Mr Walker, who lost a twin brother at the age of 19 with the West Yorkshire Regiment, said on Armistice Day he thinks about the “millions that didn’t come home”.
He added: “They are the heroes - and the ones who suffered terrible injuries. There’s just no explanation, there’s nothing you can put into words, the extent of feeling about that sort of thing.”
At the beginning of the Armouries’ service, a roll call was read out of the 99 men of the 2nd Battalion of the Duke of Wellington’s (West Riding Regiment), who died 100 years ago that day.
Dr Edward Impey, director general and Master of the Armouries, told the congregation: “The 11th November 1914, 100 years ago today, was not a day of remembrance but a day of fighting. Long before the ‘11th of the 11th’ became significant with the Armistice in 1918, it was a day little different from the ones before or after it. In Flanders exactly a century ago today the remains of the British Expeditionary Force was fighting desperately to prevent the German armies from breaking through. In the cold and rain, the fog and mud the 1st Battle of Ypres was drawing to its conclusion – the Germans’ great effort for a decisive victory in 1914.
“Amongst the troops in action trying to stop this attack on that day were the officers and men of the 2nd Battalion of the Duke of Wellington’s (West Riding Regiment). This famous unit had its depot at Halifax and recruited mostly from the western parts of the West Riding.”
He said many of the 99 soldiers of the 2nd Battalion of The Dukes who died that day have no known grave and are commemorated on the famous Menin Gate Memorial in Belgium.
Rev Gordon Warren, who led the service, highlighted the moving installation of 888,246 poppies at the Tower of London in tribute to those who “gave their tomorrows for our today” during the Great War.
“For the first time, and in one place, is the true numerical sense of their sacrifice,” he said.
Elsewhere across Leeds, shoppers The Headrow and at Trinity Leeds shopping centre paused to fall silent for the two minute tribute to the country’s fallen heroes.
A piece of felt artwork was also unveiled yesterday at Horsforth St Margaret’s School, created by over 400 children, aged four to 11 as part of their Armistice commemorations.
Each pupil at Woodlesford Primary School also made a poppy to plant in their field before an outdoor service with readings and a rendition of the Last Post.
Over 700 pupils, teachers, staff and former students from Harrogate’s Ashville College paid their respects to those from the school who lost their lives in both world wars. The names of those who fell in the two conflicts were read out as pupils and staff filed into the independent school’s Soothill Hall. After the service, the entire school filed to the war memorial for a service and to plant poppies.
** For more pictures see tomorrow’s YEP