East End remembers millions who died in past 98 years of military conflict

The East End of London remembered its war dead on Remembrance Sunday as both young and old laid wreaths to honour the men and women fallen in battle.

Four official ceremonies were held in Tower Hamlets to mark the conflicts stretching back almost a century to the First World War.

No-one is alive today who fought in the Great War of 1914-18 which claimed 15 million souls.

But memories are still vivid among the older generations of a far greater conflict that followed, the Second World War that took 55 million lives—and all the wars since.

The East End’s official First Citizen Rajib Ahmed observed the 93rd anniversary of Armistice Day alongside Tower Hamlets’ executive mayor Lutfur Rahman at Tower Hill.

They stood among VIPs and dignitaries including the Queen’s representative, Deputy Lieutenant Commander John Ludgate, the City of London Corporation’s Pauline Halliday, Bethnal Green & Bow MP Rushanara Ali and Tower Hamlets councillors and officials.

Some 200 people turned up for the Merchant Navy Memorial service at Trinity Square, opposite the Tower of London.

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Mayor Rahman, speaking before the wreath-laying, said: “I am proud to remember the men and women who have given their lives in service of their country.

“Their bravery and sacrifice endures—we honour them today to ensure their memories live on.”

Other services were held at Bethnal Green, Mile End and the Isle of Dogs.

Bethnal Green remembered its war dead with a 10am Eucharist at St John’s Church, before the vicar, the Rev Alan Green who chairs Tower Hamlets Inter Faith Forum, led a procession to Bethnal Green Gardens for a wreath-laying at the library war memorial at 10.45am.

Simultaneous services were being carried out at Tower Hamlets Cemetery Park in Mile End and at Island Gardens next to Christ Church in Cubitt Town, Isle of Dogs.

Two minutes’ silence was held at all four services at precisely 11am—the moment when the guns fell silent on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918 as the Armistice began and the First World War came to an end.

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