THE centre of Wrexham came to a standstill yesterday morning as around 500 members of the public observed the two minutes’ silence to honour the country’s war dead.
Ex-service and youth organisations were strongly represented at the poignant ceremony in Queens Square, which marked the exact time when the guns fell silent at the end of the First World War – 11am on November 11, 1918.
The oldest on parade was 94-year-old D-Day veteran John Bellis, of Southsea, while the youngest was 12-year-old Ieuan Read, of Gwersyllt, who was there as part of a contingent from the Clwyd and Gwynedd Army Cadet Force.
Mr Bellis, who served with the Royal Welch Fusiliers and the King’s Own Shropshire Light Infantry during the Second World War, said: “I am very impressed by the number of people who turned out for the ceremony.
“For a long time the silence wasn’t really observed but for the past few years people have been doing it again.
“It’s good to see people remembering those who died in war because I lost some good mates who fought alongside me from the Normandy Beaches all the way to Berlin.”
Ieuan, who has been a cadet for just 15 weeks, said: “I was really glad to be at the ceremony and it was mind-blowing being on parade with so many people here.”
The ceremony was opened by the Mayor of Wrexham, Cllr Jim Kelly, who said: “The first silence was held in 1918 to mark the end of what was called the war to end wars, but almost every year since we have seen members of our armed forces killed in the service of our country.
“The men who were in the trenches of the First World War share the same dedication and made the same sacrifices of those now fighting in Afghanistan.
“That makes the silence as relevant as ever.”
Sergeant Ian Simon, of the Corps of Drums of the 3rd Battalion of the Royal Welsh Regiment, sounded the bugle call Last Post to herald the silence.
The siren from Wrexham Museum wailed its mournful note across the town throughout the two minutes.
Sgt Simon then sounded the Reveille to signify the end of the observance.
The traditional Exhortation, which begins “They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old,” was read by another army cadet, 15-year-old Lance Corporal Dean Roberts of Wrexham.
The Kohima Epitaph – “When you go home, tell them of us and say, for your tomorrow, we gave our today,” was read by the same unit’s Lance Corporal Tristan Richards, also 15, to end the ceremony.
Also on parade were detachments from all the armed forces and a standard party from the North Wales branch of the British Korean War Veterans.
In Flintshire, crowds gathered at cenotaphs across the county to lay wreaths and to give thanks for those who have lost their lives in war.
Pupils from Ysgol Derwenfa County Primary School led the events at Leeswood war memorial.
Every year pupils from Years Four, Five and Six lay crosses at the cenotaph and give readings.
The event was attended by members of the Royal British Legion as well as councillors.
Headteacher Andrew Jones said: “As a school we do this every year because as well as being part of the children’s education we feel that it’s important that the children know why we are remembering. After all these people have given their lives for our freedom.”
The Royal British Legion said turnout at services across the county was better than ever this year.
Mike Greenwood, county manager for Royal British Legion North Wales, said: “The public turned out in great numbers to support Armistice Day and that is the message I have had back from all reports.”
However in Saltney just one lady attended St Mark’s Church to lay a cross at the war memorial.
Lesley Gorman, from Lache, was there to remember her father who was a prisoner of war and her mother who died two years ago on Remembrance Sunday.
The church explained that official Remembrance events would take place on Sunday.
There was confusion in Mold when some people turned up at the wrong venue to pay their respects.
A handful of people gathered at the War Memorial, but the official events were taking place at Mold Town Hall.
Town Clerk Fred Boneham said: “Every year we have it outside the Town Hall and that’s where it’s always been.
“We had quite a good turnout considering the forecast and it all went fine.”
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