Story and photo by Cpl. Meredith Brown
CAMP BASTION, Helmand province, Afghanistan – At the 11th hour on Nov. 11, 1918, the armistice was signed between the allied forces and Germany to end World War I. Today, the 11th of November serves as a national holiday in many of the allied countries throughout the world.
In the U.K., the holiday is known as Remembrance Day, and it commemorates all uniformed men and women who gave their lives in WWI and since. At Camp Bastion, Helmand province, hundreds of U.K. and other coalition forces gathered to mark the occasion with a remembrance ceremony.
“This is our annual event to remember all the fallen soldiers, comrades from the Great World War I all the way up to the recent conflicts,” said WO1 Darren Edkins, Garrison sergeant major for Camp Bastion. “So it is our time to get together and reflect and remember personal people that we’ve lost ourselves and any of the soldiers that have been lost.”
A two-minute moment of silence was held in remembrance of the roughly 20 million people who died in World War I and those who have died in following conflicts.
Wreaths were also placed at a memorial at the center of the formation by distinguished guests, including new UK Secretary of State for Defence, the Right Honorable Phillip Hammond.
For many of the troops in formation, the setting of the ceremony kept the significance of the occasion fresh.
“Being out here brings it a little more to home and because only last week we were here in this same spot at a service remembering our fallen comrade who was [killed in action] last week,” said Edkins. “So to actually come together again this week on this day at this time to do the same, it just makes you think about a lot more because actually being out here we are actually remembering people that we ourselves, within our own units right now, that have actually fallen in battle.”
“It is very significant for me because I have thoroughly enjoyed the partnership that I’ve had, especially with the British chaplains here at Bastion, said Capt. Steve Brown, chaplain for Regional Command Southwest. “We’ve had partnership and ministry and I’m happy to be a part of a ceremony honoring their war dead. It made me proud to be a part of it.”
More photos here.