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12 November 2020 02:32

Queen Elizabeth II The Unknown Warrior British royal family

Welby links sacrifice of Unknown Warrior to ‘glorious’ fallen of the pandemic

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.

The Reverend David Railton, who was vicar there between 1927 and 1931, came up with the idea of the tomb after witnessing first-hand the conflict in France as a war chaplain, and the tragedy of thousands of men whose bodies could not be identified and the distress this caused to their families. He had seen a grave marked by a rough cross while serving in the British Army as a chaplain on the Western Front, which bore the pencil-written legend 'An Unknown British Soldier'. He wanted the lost men to be remembered and came up with the idea of the Unknown Warrior's tomb. One of six bodies exhumed from the battlefields became the Unknown Warrior. London Victoria railway station currently has a pop-up exhibition on the concourse which commemorates the 100th anniversary of the journey and burial of the Unknown Warrior.

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.

It's a shame that the pandemic has meant we've had to downscale our commemorations, but we hope people who do absolutely need to travel during this lockdown period are able to see and reflect at this small exhibition." Edward Winter, Station Manager for Southeastern at Victoria, said: "We're pleased to be supporting the recreation of the Unknown Warrior's journey from Dover to Victoria and that this display will be going up to explain to our passengers about those historic events. "We ask all passengers on our service travelling through Victoria to continue to respect social distancing guidelines but to take in the exhibition over the coming week." Mainline UK Steam Info Upcoming mainline steam tours/loco movements The Archbishop of Canterbury has paid tribute to the sacrifices of millions of "anonymous" people who have "put aside all they hold dear" during the pandemic. Justin Welby's words were delivered during a service marking the centenary of the burial of the Unknown Warrior, which has become a place of pilgrimage for those whose military loved ones have paid the ultimate sacrifice but whose grave is not known. As the Westminster Abbey service began, the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall, wearing face masks, led the nation in observing a two-minutes silence on Armistice Day from the warrior's graveside. Charles and Camilla wore face masks during the service like the rest of the congregation (Aaron Chown/PA) Mr Welby told the socially distanced congregation, which included Prime Minister Boris Johnson, Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer, Defence Secretary Ben Wallace and leading figures from the armed forces: "Sacrifice is not only in time of war.

"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.