Dates for assembly

5th November 2004 at 00:00
November 11 Armistice Day This was the original name for "Poppy Day", the annual commemoration of the ending of the First World War in 1918.

Outline script for assembly leaders

At five o'clock on a Monday morning in November 1918, a group of German politicians and army officers entered a railway carriage in a forest in northern France. There they admitted defeat and signed the armistice that ended the First World War. Six hours later, at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, the guns fell silent.

In Britain, Friday of that week was Victory Day. It was a grey, dull day but at 11 o'clock church bells rang. Boy Scouts cycled through every town sounding the "all clear" on bugles for the last time. Factories and schools closed. The streets were full of crowds waving flags, blackout curtains were pulled down and Big Ben chimed for the first time in four years.

The following July, a temporary memorial was constructed out of wood and plaster in London's Whitehall as a focus for a Victory Parade. People liked the design by Edwin Lutyens and the Government commissioned its recreation in stone as the permanent national war memorial.

The Cenotaph was unveiled on November 11, 1919. Meanwhile, in a letter to the London Evening News, an Australian journalist, Edward George Honey, had proposed "a respectful silence" to remember those who had given their lives. King GeorgeV read the letter and ordered a two-minute silence on each Armistice Day.

After the Second World War it became Remembrance Day to include those who had fallen in both wars (and now in subsequent wars). From 1955, it was observed on the second Sunday of November. Since the 50th anniversary of the ending of the Second World War, it has become usual to observe both Armistice Day and Remembrance Sunday.

Follow-up

Discuss and write about what it must have been like to be a schoolchild in November 1918. Information about the Armistice is at www.firstworldwar.comfeaturesarmistice

The Royal British Legion publishes a pack for history, especially for Year 2 pupils studying Unit 17 "What are we remembering on Remembrance Day?", and for citizenship at key stages 3 and 4. See www.britishlegion.org.ukschools.asp David Self

* ICT in history, page 21

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