12 November 2020 02:32
SACRIFICE comes not only in war, but is "the virtue that smooths the rough roads over which our societies travel", the Archbishop of Canterbury said on Wednesday, as he paid tribute to those "unnamed and unclaimed except by God" who are commemorated by the tomb of the Unknown Warrior. The socially distanced Armistice Day service at Westminster Abbey, marking the centenary to the day of the burial of the Unknown Warrior there, started at 10.30 a.m. on Wednesday. Archbishop Welby said: "We pay tribute to the men and women who died on so many battlefields, unnamed and unclaimed except by God. From the life of this Unknown Warrior comes the fruit of Remembrance and hope. Public worship during the latest lockdown, which began last Thursday, was forbidden except for a restricted number at Remembrance Sunday ceremonies and those attending the service on Wednesday. Armistice Day was added to the list of exceptions on Monday, to allow the public to attend events held outside in accordance with pandemic restrictions (News, 10 November).
SOCIALLY distanced commemorations have marked Armistice Day across the UK, as the nation honoured its war dead in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic. Much of the British public was forced to observe the traditional two minutes' silence from home at 11am on Wednesday, due to widespread restrictions on gatherings and travel. A face mask-wearing Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall joined a socially distanced congregation at a private, but televised, service at London's Westminster Abbey to mark the centenary of the funeral of the Unknown Warrior. The unidentified British serviceman whose body was brought back from northern France after the end of the First World War, was laid to rest at the abbey on November 11, 1920. For 100 years his grave has represented all those who lost their lives in the conflict but whose place of death was unknown or body never found.
He was laid to rest in Westminster Abbey the following day. The exhibition will be available to view until the 17th of November giving passengers plenty of time to observe social distancing and to view the display. At the National Army Museum, an extensive exhibition of the story will be on display until 14th February 2021. Nicole Cohen-Wray, station director for Network Rail Southern region said: "It's a great shame that we have not been able to see the crowds which originally accompanied the Unknown Warrior on his original return to Britain but we are honoured to be able to support the National Army Museum in this small way so that passengers passing through Victoria Station may be able to stop briefly to understand the story and memory of the Unknown Soldier." Justin Maciejewski DSO MBE, Director at the National Army Museum, said: "Despite current restrictions on travel, we were determined to tell the story of our Unknown Warrior to all those that need to use Victoria Station at this time. We hope that rail travellers are able to pause for a few moments at our poignant exhibition and reflect on this monumental story of national remembrance, thanksgiving and healing as they pass the place where he arrived by train into London." "We are pleased that Network Rail are able to host this exhibition to the Unknown Solider at Victoria Station.
"In war and peace sacrifice is the virtue that smooths the rough roads over which our societies travel. "Loss immeasurable is laid here, yet because of the resurrection, hope infallible." My sermon at Westminster Abbey's service this morning marking the centenary of the burial of the Unknown Warrior: — Archbishop of Canterbury (@JustinWelby) November 11, 2020 The senior cleric went on to say: "The Unknown Warrior sounds the call of sacrifice for every person." Exactly one hundred years ago, the Unknown Warrior was laid to rest at Westminster Abbey following a campaign by the Reverend David Railton who served as a chaplain on the Western Front during the First World War. The Unknown Warrior's coffin resting in Westminster Abbey (PA) On November 11 1920, the coffin was draped with a union flag and taken on a gun carriage to the Cenotaph, where George V placed a wreath upon it and the King was present as the warrior was buried at the Abbey. The Archbishop said: "On this centenary of the burial of the Unknown Warrior at Westminster Abbey we pay tribute to the many millions of men and women who have died on so many battlefields, unnamed and unclaimed except by God." "All of those whose graves are so anonymous, so reluctant to tell their story, had those who did not know where their friends died, never found the ground." Poet laureate Simon Armitage read his poem The Bed, written to commemorate the Unknown Warrior's burial centenary, as the socially distanced congregation of around 80 listened. Victoria Cross hero Colour Sergeant Johnson Beharry, who was awarded Britain's highest military honour for twice saving colleagues under fire in Iraq, took part in the service as did Charles and the Prime Minister, who gave readings. Colour Sergeant Beharry said after the service: "I was sitting there reflecting on the Unknown Warrior, what he was like, trying to imagine what they would have been through, and even reflecting on my time in Iraq in 2004 – how difficult it was for me and my colleagues.