Lancashire fell silent as scores of people gathered to remember the nation’s war dead at services around the county.
In Preston city centre the Flag Market was a scene of a major gathering, while in South Ribble a stunning tribute to the borough’s fallen hereoes was officially unveiled with a poignant service.
The Rev Gary Lewis led the short but moving ceremony at Preston’s war memorial yesterday morning as scores of war veterans, civic dignitaries, residents, workers and shoppers all turned out to pay their respects.
Around a dozen medal-wearing veterans formed the front row as onlookers gathered before the service.
The standard bearers marched to the war memorial accompanied by dignitaries including the Mayor of Preston, Coun Margaret McManus, and Colonel Bernard Stam, President of the Preston and District Veterans Council.
The Flag Market was ringed with onlookers, workers and shoppers as the city got ready to mark the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month – the time in 1918 when the guns fell silent along the Western Front in Europe.
Mr Lewis reminded the gathering that they were there to mark not just the dead of two world wars, but in all other armed conflicts.
He said: “We give thanks for the freedom that we enjoy and the debt that we owe to those who made the ultimate sacrifice.”
Mr Lewis said armed forces who were still serving abroad were also in everyone’s prayers and they could be assured of the gratitude and pride of everyone in Preston.
The two-minute silence was impeccably observed as the city marked the 97th anniversary of Armistice Day.
Wreaths were laid and a short time later the city went back to work – with a poignant thought.
Meanwhile, the new war memorial in Lostock Hall, which remembers 686 men who died serving their country in the Great War, was dedicated in a moving ceremony on Armistice Day.
Led by Mayor of South Ribble Councillor Mary Green, the service included readings by Vice Lord Lieutenant of Lancashire Colonel Alan Jolley and Wellfield High School head girl Chloe Juniper, as well as a number of hymns.
“The service was incredibly humbling,” the mayor said. “These men made the ultimate sacrifice for their country and it was wonderful to see civic leaders from across the county coming together and paying their respects. We wanted to create the best memorial ever. The public have already taken this wonderful memorial to their hearts and I very much hope it becomes a South Ribble landmark.”
In spite of the torrential rain a large crowd turned out at the Barton, Bilsborrow & Myerscough War Memorial at Bilsborrow to honour and remember those who have fallen in the two world wars and other conflicts.
Civic leaders, local school children, the Women’s Institute were among those who played a special part. Regimental Standards were dressed by Sheena Hornby and a pupil of Barton St. Lawrence CofE Primary School. The Last Post and Reveille were beautifully sounded by Ben Jarvis, a pupil of Archbishop Temple School. Prayers were led by Fellside Team Rector Rev. Stephen Cooper, Fellside Vicar Rev Gary Wilkinson and Father Anthony Keefe of St. Thomas’s Claughton.