Remembrance Day - Museums Pay Tribute To The Fallen

By David Prudames | 09 November 2004
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Shows a photograph of a clump of poppies in a field at Gallipoli.

Picture courtesy of The Royal British Legion.

With military and support personnel currently on active service in Iraq, annual acts of remembrance will have a particular resonance this year.

Traditionally held in November to mark the moment when at 11.00am on November 11 1918, the guns finally fell silent on what became known as 'the war to end all wars'.

Each year since, two minutes of silence has been observed to remember those from Britain and the Commonwealth who died not only in the First and Second World Wars, but in subsequent conflicts in Korea, the Falklands, Northern Ireland and, of course, Iraq.

All over the country, at the 11th hour on the 11th day of the 11th month people will be taking a moment to honour the sacrifice made by hundreds of thousands of young men and women in all theatres of war.

Museums will also be marking the occasion, offering the perfect opportunity to learn about what happened and providing a suitable place to reflect and remember.

In the capital, following the two-minutes silence, the Imperial War Museum will echo with the sound of a particularly poignant tribute.

Shows a photograph of a violin made out of wood taken from First World War battlefields.

Constructed by late member of the BBC Symphony and Royal Philharmonic Orchestras, Kenneth Popplewell, this violin is made out of wood from the battlefields of the Somme and Ypres. © Imperial War Museum, London.

Jennifer Pike, 15 and the youngest ever winner of the BBC Musician of the Year award will play a short recital on a violin crafted using wood from trees growing on the First World War battlefields at Ypres and the Somme.

She will be joined by Henry Allington, 108, who served in the Royal Naval Air Services and fought at both sites in 1917.

At the Royal Armouries’ Fort Nelson site, an original First World War 18-pound gun will be fired in remembrance at 11.00am

The commemorations will continue on November 14, with traditional Remembrance Sunday ceremonies in churches and at war memorials, as well as museums all over the UK.

There will be free entry for all at Imperial War Museum Duxford as well as the observation of a two-minutes silence at 11.00am and wreath-laying services.

Shows a photograph of a hand holding a remembrance poppy. Out of focus and in the background there are a number of poppies in a box.

Picture courtesy of The Royal British Legion.

The museum is also planning remembrance-themed activities for children in the American Air Museum on site, where explainers will be on hand to help them understand the event.

"We very much hope that people will take this opportunity to come and explore IWM Duxford on the day when the British and Commonwealth dead of both world wars and subsequent conflicts, including Iraq, are remembered," explained Duxford’s Frank Crosby.

"Whole generations of men were lost during two world wars while conflicts including Iraq have affected many British families," he added.

"Wherever possible, our larger exhibits are complemented by smaller, personal items from letters and diaries to, perhaps the most poignant of all, a simple pair of British Army boots worn by an unknown soldier during the First World War. These serve to remind us that, no matter how technologically advanced warfare may become, wars are still fought by people."

The Royal Marines Museum in Southsea will also be free for the day, with a service of remembrance starting at 10.45am.

Shows a photograph of rows of mini wooden crosses, each one bearing a remembrance poppy.

Remembrance Sunday, 2001, Brighton. © Jon Pratty.

During the Second World War, Bletchley Park in Buckinghamshire was the site of top secret code breaking work and a commemorative parade will be held there on November 14.

Making its way from inside the park to the church in the village between 9.30am and 11.30am, the parade is organised by the local British Legion and local Cadet forces are all taking part.

Up in Manchester at Imperial War Museum North visitors are invited to add their own message or memory to a special Remembrance Poppy Display, while a piper’s lament will follow the traditional silence at 11.00am.

Shows Imperial War Museum North, designed by Daniel Libeskind.

Imperial War Museum North. Photo: Len Grant. © Len Grant.

At Yorkshire Air Museum, services will be held at the French Memorial at Elvington and in the museum chapel.

Over in Kirklees, the wartime sacrifices on the Home Front are being remembered with the return of a hugely popular temporary exhibition to Red House Museum in Gomersal.

The exhibition, entitled All Clear on the Home Front, will re-open on November 13 and continue until November 13 2005.

"The Second World War is still vividly remembered by those who lived through the danger and hardships of the time," said museum officer Helga Hughes.

"Around 15 years ago people all around Kirklees were interviewed about their wartime experiences. Their memories helped create this exhibition - some are amusing, some angry, some happy and some sad. They capture the real and personal stories of life at the time."

Shows a black and white photograph of a group of schoolchildren wearing gas masks and standing legs apart, arms up in the air in rows.

Trying their gas masks out for size during the Second World War. © Kirklees Community History Service.

Back down in London the National Army Museum has a weekend of events planned to commemorate Remembrance Day.

As well as an act of remembrance at 11.00am on Sunday, there will be lectures on Saturday November 13, poppy and wreath making and an opportunity to have photographs, documents and artefacts identified by museum curators.

This is just a brief rundown of some of the Remembrance events going on in museums. So, contact your local institution to find out what's happening in your area.

If you have children, you might be interested in the Remembrance Day coverage on our kids' site www.show.me.uk.

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