Today is Remembrance Sunday, and this marks the beginning of our week that both celebrates, remembers and honours our fallen service men. Today in Great Britian and around the world, British institutions such as government agencies, armed forces, as well as family, friends and the general public, take a moment to remember those who have passed in service to their country. This is not about conflict but about those ordinary men and women who laid down their life for their country and our freedom.
Remembrance Sunday is the nearest Sunday to 11th November. The First World War ended on 11am on the 11th day of the 11th Month in 1918, so that is the day that we choose to remember.
In the UK, the main ceremony takes place in Whitehall at the Cenotaph that commemorates those who served in the First World War. We lay wreaths of poppies in honour and respect. The Poppy is the symbol of remembrance here in Britain. The tradition was started by the American Legion but it was soon adopted by Brits and now just ourselves and Canada use the red flower in this way. The reason for the poppy stems from the fact it was the first flower to grow in the barren battlefields after the war, and was immortalised in the poem ‘In Flanders Fields’ by John McCrae.
On this day in London, a national ceremony is held. Where the Royal Family, senior politicians, military figures and other dignitaries attend and lay wreaths. There are marching bands and a march past by veterans and active service personnel. It is both a rousing and moving experience to watch. Two minutes silence is observed at 11am and is marked by the firing of a canon and the playing of the Last Post on the trumpet.
As we at PGHQ looked ahead to the year, one of the most important things we thought about was doing a special week during Remembrance Week this year as it is the centenary of the start of The Great War (1914-18). Though it was followed by a longer a slightly more global conflict, it was considered, at the time, to be the war to end all wars. It was a seed change in armed conflict and certainly changed the globe, geo-politics and culture for the rest of the century. It could be argued it was more of a change to the world than World War II, but I will leave that to the historians.
We decided to do a week dedicated to World War I and all things associated with the conflict and the period. We are delighted and honoured to have Robert Wilton, best-selling historical fiction author, pen two pieces for us. Our resident style gentleman #3PG writes about men’s style in 1914. We cover art and poetry of the period, we talk about the Gentlemen going to war and our own Uncle Henry receives a letter from his Great Grandfather who signed up and fought.
One of the most interesting factors is that The Gentlemen was changed completely by the war. The Edwardian gentleman had a certain hangover from his Victorian cousins, but was very different from the post World War 1 gentleman who lived through the roaring 20s and adventurous 30s. Men in droves signed up to fight in the war, they saw it as their duty and they died in great numbers as war was changing and the world was moving rapidly right along with it. The men who came back were changed, as was the Britain they had left all those years ago, this was the start of the decline of the Gentleman over the 20th Century. Over the next few years we will discover and uncover more about these changes as our centenary coverage continues.
Both my Grandfathers, my father and my uncle all served in the armed forces and as such I have a great deal of respect and admiration for those that choose that path.
This week therefore, we remember not only the fallen service personnel but also the life of the Gentleman in 1914. We do hope you enjoy this week of information and something different in the Perfect Gentleman world.