May’s Armistice centenary tribute to First World War dead’s ‘immense sacrifices’

By Press Association Reporters

Theresa May has paid tribute to the “immense sacrifices” made during the First World War as she hailed the strong relationship between Britain and its European allies.

The Prime Minister spoke as the centenary of the end of the bloody four-year battle draws near.

Mrs May will take part in a series of events this week, culminating in a national service of remembrance on November 11.

How the First World War changed Europ
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On Sunday, a bugle will sound at the French graveside of war poet Wilfred Owen, marking 100 years since his death on November 4 1918, just seven days shy of peace being declared.

Elizabeth Owen, the widow of his nephew Peter, will attend a ceremony in Ors, in the north of the country, where the instrument – which was taken from a dead German soldier – will be used to play The Last Post.

Meanwhile, at the Tower of London on Sunday evening, about 10,000 flames will be lit, in remembrance of those who fought and died in the war.

The light display installation, called Beyond the Deepening Shadow, will run each evening up to and including on Armistice Day.

On Friday, Mrs May will join Emmanuel Macron in France to commemorate the fallen.

Downing Street said she would meet the French president for a ceremony on the Somme, where tens of thousands of British and French soldiers were killed in the bloody conflict.

Mrs May said: “Next week will mark one of the most significant moments in our nation’s history.

“One hundred years after the guns fell silent on the Western Front, each and every one of us can pause to reflect on the immense sacrifices that were made by so many.

“The killing fields of France and Belgium are scarred by the horrors of war, but the strength and closeness of our relationship today is a testament to the journey our countries have travelled together.

“I’m proud to represent the immense gratitude of our nation at these commemorations and share these moments of reflection with our friends and partners in Europe.”

The wreath she and Mr Macron shall lay will comprise poppies, the British remembrance symbol, and their French equivalent le bleuet.

First World War: how the world divided
(PA Graphics)

Downing Street said the Prime Minister would also join senior royals at The Royal British Legion (RBL) Festival of Remembrance at the Royal Albert Hall on Saturday.

The following day she will attend the Cenotaph alongside them, where federal president Frank-Walter Steinmeier will become the first German leader to lay a wreath at the monument to the dead.