The 11th of November, known as Armistice or Remembrance Day, marks the day for commemoration in The United Kingdom and around the Commonwealth. This year marks the 102nd year that we thank and honour our veterans and current serving personnel with a moment of silence.
We commemorate on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month as it was at that exact time in 1918 that the Armistice, an agreement to end the fighting of the First World War began.
Armistice, is a Latin word meaning to stand (arms) still.
The following Sunday is known as Remembrance Sunday. This year, UK politicians and High Commissioners from Commonwealth countries will be joined by representatives from the Armed Forces, Fishing Fleets, Merchant Air and Navy as well as faith communities will also be present during the ceremonies at The Cenotaph War Memorial in Whitehall, London.
Since its conception in 1919, Remembrance Day has united all countries that fought alongside the United Kingdom in the First and Second World Wars. It also serves as a day to remember and thank those who have served in recent conflicts as well as those who have provided aid in disasters and pandemics as first responders.
The Commonwealth soldiers, also known as the Colonial troops was comprised of service personnel from India (which at the time included Pakistan and Bangladesh), Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and Zimbabwe (formally known as Rhodesia).
Britain’s colonies contributed over two and a half million men to fight during the Great War, with India contributing the largest amount of soldiers. This contribution played a crucial part in the Allied Forces winning the First World War.
During the Second World War, over six million men and women from Commonwealth countries served alongside the British troops.
The South-East Asia Command (SEAC) was an Allied Command system operating in the Far East during the Second World War. Over 1.3 million men and women from the British Commonwealth and its Allies fought in what is commonly known as ‘the Burma Campaign’.
The fight in the Far East was resolved on Victory over Japan Day (VJ Day). It marks the day when Japan surrendered on the 15th of August 1945, ultimately ending the Second World War.
Many of the Commonwealth nations that contributed to the fight alongside the UK in the Far East go unnoticed in our commemoration. The African countries involved include The Gambia, Sierra Leone, Ghana, Nigeria, South Africa, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Malawi, Tanzania, Uganda, Kenya and Somalia.
Other countries included Pakistan, India, Nepal, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Malaysia and Brunei. The allied force in the Asia-Pacific, known as the Fourteenth Army was one of the most diverse in history with all major religious groups represented and over 40 languages spoken.
It is important that on these days of commemoration and tribute that we acknowledge all those that contributed to our shared victory.
Image by David Clode Unsplash.