Connect with us

World

World War One: Theresa May pays respects in France and Belgium

Published

on

Theresa May lays a wreath at the grave of John ParrImage copyright AFP/Getty Images
Image caption Theresa May lays a wreath at the grave of John Parr, the first British soldier to be killed in the conflict

Theresa May has laid a wreath at the graves of the first and last UK soldiers killed in World War One, as part of a trip to France and Belgium to mark the Armistice centenary.

Visiting the St Symphorien Military Cemetery in Mons, the PM thanked fallen soldiers for being “staunch to the end against odds uncounted”.

She also stood for the sound of The Last Post before a minute’s silence.

Mrs May is visiting war cemeteries with the leaders of France and Belgium.

Later she will attend a private meeting and working lunch with French President Emmanuel Macron.

The Armistice 100 years on

Image copyright AFP

Long read: The forgotten female soldier on the forgotten frontline

Video: War footage brought alive in colour

Interactive: What would you have done between 1914 and 1918?

Living history: Why ‘indecent’ Armistice Day parties ended

During the ceremony at Mons on Friday morning, accompanied by Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel, the prime minister laid wreaths at the graves of John Parr, the first UK soldier to be killed in 1914, and the last, George Ellison.

He was killed on the Western Front at 09:30 GMT, before the Armistice came into effect at 11:00, 100 years ago this Sunday.

Image copyright AFP/Getty Images
Image caption Mrs May quoted a 1914 poem by Laurence Binyon, in a card left at the grave of George Ellison
Image copyright AFP/Getty Images
Image caption Theresa May bowed her head at the grave of Private Ellison, the last British soldier to be killed in the war
Image copyright AFP/Getty Images
Image caption Mrs May stood alongside Belgium’s Prime Minister Charles Michel at the ceremony at the St Symphorien Military Cemetery

Mrs May and Mr Michel also attended a reception, where they met British and Belgian serving members of the armed forces ahead of travelling to France.

Later she will meet Mr Macron in Albert, a town in the heart of the Somme region which suffered heavy bombardment during World War One.

The two leaders will then hold their meeting before attending a wreath-laying ceremony at the nearby Thiepval Memorial, which commemorates more than 70,000 British and Commonwealth soldiers.

A wreath combining the poppy and le bleuet (or cornflower) – the two national emblems of remembrance for Britain and France – has been made for the occasion.

Mrs May said the visit would be a chance to reflect on the time the countries spent fighting side by side in Europe, but also to look ahead to a “shared future, built on peace, prosperity and friendship”.

She said the ceremony at Mons was “a fitting and poignant symbol” for “every member of the armed forces who gave their lives to protect what we hold so dear”.

“We remember the heroes who lost their lives in the horror of the trenches. As the sun sets on 100 years of remembrance, we will never forget their sacrifice.”

Media playback is unsupported on your device

Media captionHow do Germans remember the World Wars?

Credit:BBC

Most Read