Armistice Day is being celebrated with a series of events at IWM Duxford. © IWM
As people across Europe and the Commonwealth pause to remember and honour the fallen, Museums and Heritage organisations across the UK are marking their own contribution to the weekend’s remembrance activities and commemorations.
A key organisation in the preservation of our military heritage has been the National Heritage Memorial Fund (NHMF), which was set up specifically after WWII to provide a year round ‘living’ memorial to the fallen by protecting the nation’s most precious heritage.
This week has seen the publication of NHMF’s 27th Annual Report, which highlights a series of specific war-related items that have a particular resonance at this time of Remembrance.
Heritage pertaining to the Royal Navy, Army and Royal Air Force, as well as civilian service during conflict have been saved for the nation over the last 40 years including Elm Avenue, a great double avenue of English Elms at Wimpole Hall that stood for 2.25 miles, straight as an arrow and guided WWII RAF bomber pilots on their return home from flights over Europe.
The Royal Mail has launched a new series of stamps to commemorate the 90th anniversary of the Battle of Passchendaele. © Royal Mail
The trees fell prey to Dutch elm disease in the 1970s and died, but in 1980 NHMF awarded a grant to help the National Trust buy Wimpole Hall and restore the avenue to its former glory.
Similarly HMS Cavalier, the only surviving destroyer to have seen action in the Second World War was also saved by the NHMF for as a striking memorial to the 30,000 men who lost their lives in destroyers.
Other grants saved the ‘London Fire Brigade’ Collection of Films for the Imperial War Museum and a Valentine Light Tank and Vickers Light Tank for the Imperial War Museum at Duxford and a First World War Mark I British tank for Bovington Tank Museum.
Many of the museums to have benefitted from the scheme are taking an active part in the remembrance process, with several major museums and heritage sites holding ceremonies and special events, whilst several timely exhibitions that explore different conflicts are running throughout the winter.
At the Imperial War Museum in London two new displays highlight losses caused by two different conflicts from different centuries.
A new exhibition at IWM North looks at the work of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission. © Brian Harris
Steve McQueen’s moving commemoration of the British service personnel killed in the current Iraq conflict, Queen and Country, is part of a wider campaign to get deceased servicemen from the conflict commemorated on Royal Mail stamps, whilst an exhibition called My Boy Jack tells the story of Rudyard Kipling's only son John who was killed in the First World War.
The latter, which runs until February 24 2008, ties in with an ITV drama, starring Daniel Radcliffe, which will be screened on Sunday evening.
Across the weekend at the IWM a series of screenings and events include a talk by historian Lyn Mcdonald to mark the 90th anniversary of the Battle of Passchendale, which has been marked by the Royal Mail with a set of evocative stamps, whilst a remembrance service ceremony will take place in the Museum’s atrium on November 11 at 11am. For more information see the IWM website
The sacrifice of some of the men who survived war, but paid the price through disfigurement is revealed in a moving exhibition that opens at the National Army Museum in Chelsea on November 10. Faces of Battle tells the sometimes shocking story of the faceless wounded of WWI and the pioneering surgeons who fought to rebuild bodies and lives.
At the Royal Air Force Museum in Hendon visitors are invited to visit the Wall of Remembrance and to complete a brick for a loved one and add it to the wall, or add a poppy to the RAF Museum's collage. Find out more at www.rafmuseum.org.uk whilst the IWM’s aviation-themed museum, IWM Duxford is host to a remembrance service at 12.15pm with free admittance to all at the museum throughout the day.
Daniel Radcliffe in the TV drama My Boy Jack - also the subject of an exhibition at the Imperial War Museum. Courtesy IWM
The commission began life towards the end of the First World War – a ferocious and horrific conflict that really cemented the need for remembrance in the British collective consciousness. Since then the CWGC has looked after cemeteries and memorials in 23,000 locations around the world.
To celebrate this work and the lives of the men and women who have fallen, photographer Brian Harris has produced a series of haunting photographs of some of these memorials, cemeteries and graves. Remembered runs at the WaterWay until March 9 2008.
A Family History Weekend also takes place at the museum over the remembrance weekend on Saturday 10 and Sunday November 11. Staff from the CWGC and the IWM’s Printed Books Department will be on hand to advise visitors in tracing family history with particular reference to service records.
The weekend’s proceedings are augmented by a series of short films looking at Remembrance processions and memorials showing on Saturday and Sunday and a poignant Piper’s lament on Remembrance Sunday November 11 at 11am.
Artist Steve McQueen has combined with the Art Fund and the IWM to campaign for British soldiers killed in Iraq to be commemorated with Royal Mail Stamps
At the National Portrait Gallery at 3pm on Sunday there will be a free remembrance reading in the Ondaatje Wing Theatre. Dominic Hibberd, biographer of Wilfred Owen, will introduce The Winter of the World, an anthology of First World War poetry, co-edited with John Onions, with readings by Tom Coulthard, Anne Harvey and other actors.
The service men from the commonwealth who served during the last two world wars will be commemorated with a service of remembrance at the Museum in Docklands on November 11 at 11am.
The Royal Marines Museum in Southsea have been hosting free school visits for primary school children to learn about the meaning of remembrance and on Remembrance Sunday there will be a service and wreath laying ceremony.
A Royal Marine Bugler will sound the Alert at 10.55am followed by the Bidding and a two minutes silence at the 11am gun and then the Last Post. There will be prayers, hymns and readings.
Anyone is welcome to attend the service and admission to the museum for this day only is free. Any enquiries, call 023 9281 9385.
In WWI the fort acted as a transit depot for soldiers embarking at Portsmouth Docks for France, and was one of the barracks for the Portsmouth garrison, which at times numbered as high as 25,000 men. Bullet holes can still be seen from this period, in the outside walls of the North Caponier, from when the outer ditch was used as a rifle range.
A weekend of dramatic interpretations will include 18-pounder gun salutes at 11am, 1pm and 3pm throughout the weekend together with dramatic interpretations by resident professional actors.
For more information on Remembrance or to make a donation, visit the British Legion website: www.britishlegion.org.uk.
To find out more about The Art Fund campaign to get Royal Mail stamps for British Servicemen who have fallen in Iraq visit www.artfund.org/queenandcountry.