Millions mark Armistice Day at events across the UK

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Media captionArmistice Day was marked with a two-minute silence across the UK

Millions of people across the UK have observed a two-minute silence to mark the 93rd Armistice Day.

The event commemorates those who died in the two world wars and subsequent conflicts, including 385 UK personnel killed in Afghanistan since 2001.

After the remembrance service in Whitehall, 179 people - believed to be English Defence League supporters - were arrested near the Cenotaph.

Those held to "prevent a breach of the peace" - totalling 176 - were released.

They face no further action while the other three, arrested on suspicion of affray, were bailed pending further enquiries, police said. There had been no reports of disorder ahead of the arrests.

Trouble flared on Armistice Day last year when the English Defence League clashed with members of Muslims Against Crusades (MAC) who had burned poppies outside the Royal Albert Hall. A demonstration organised by MAC for this year's event was cancelled after the group was banned by the home secretary.

Huge Respect

The ceremony at the Cenotaph was attended by the Chief of the Defence Staff, Gen Sir David Richards, and the professional head of the Army, Gen Sir Peter Wall, along with servicemen and women.

Prime Minister David Cameron paid tribute to British armed forces, saying they were among the best in the world.

He said: "If you ask yourself what are the things that are still absolutely great, first-class, best in the world, about this country, you would put our armed forces - our Army, the Royal Navy, the Royal Air Force - right up there.

"All across the world, people look at Britain and have huge respect for our armed forces so I think we can take immense pride in what they do."

The Royal British Legion - which is celebrating its 90th anniversary this year - held a "Silence in the Square" event in Trafalgar Square, featuring musical performances and readings before the two-minute silence.

Adrian Kies, 85, who served in the navy from 1944 to 1949, travelled from the Netherlands for the event.

He said: "It's very important for me to come and thank the British people who fought for us. I want to thank the British people for liberating the Netherlands."

In Staffordshire, a service of remembrance was held within the walls of the Armed Forces Memorial at the National Memorial Arboretum.

Among other events:

  • The Archbishop of Canterbury was visiting the Royal Naval Air Station at Yeovilton, Somerset, to take part in the Act of Remembrance at the Royal Naval Cemetery at St Bartholomew's Church
  • Traffic was stopped in Inverness city centre for the two-minute silence - the first time since World War II that this had happened
  • Leicester Cathedral clock underwent last-minute repairs to enable it to time the start of the silence. It had stopped working following the theft of copper wiring last month
  • Charity representatives gathered at the Animals in War memorial in central London to remember the part animals have played in conflict
  • Respects were paid at George Square and Central Station in Glasgow and the Garden of Remembrance in Edinburgh
  • An estimated 10,000 people turned out to see Royal Marines and Army personnel march through Plymouth
  • A service was held at the Royal British Legion's Field of Remembrance in Royal Wootton Bassett, Wiltshire - the town where tributes have been held for British soldiers repatriated from recent conflicts
Image caption Defence Secretary Philip Hammond laid a wreath at the British base at Camp Bastion in Afghanistan

Further afield, the Commonwealth War Graves Commission was holding services at its cemeteries in Libya in Tripoli, Benghazi and Tobruk.

British service personnel in Afghanistan held a two-minute silence at 11:00 local time (06:30 GMT).

Three thousand troops at the main British base in Afghanistan, Camp Bastion in Helmand province, took part in a ceremony attended by Defence Secretary Philip Hammond.

Mr Hammond said: "Sadly even since I've been in Afghanistan we've lost another serviceman killed in action, so it is a very very poignant reminder that this is not just a ceremony about the past, about history. It's about what is actually happening today as our brave men and women face the threats that are out there day in, day out."

The National Service of Remembrance, led by the Queen, will take place at the Cenotaph on Sunday.

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