If anyone every visits London, find and look at the cenotaph
The service of Remembrance is partly a Church of England service although attended by the many of the different reglions because of the diversity of the armed forces in the UK and commonwealth.
Maybe its more important to me because of my interest in the 'three' services. Indeed, if it wasn't for my eyesight I would have probably joined either the Royal Navy (with its rich history) or the Royal Air Force- and I also knew and would have accepted that I would have been shot at or worse. Thats the nature. Because of the day, and the phrase 'We will Remember'. When people in their late 80's or more stand for over two hours in the cold then you see the honour and respect of whole service.
Each year there are less, each year is more important. Each set of people, their services - the Burma campaign, Korean, Arctic convoys (some wearing medals presented by the Russians), Royal Marines, RAF squadronsto the civilian services which fought themselves in their own ways. The list is endless but each person is there and most are in military step.
And now, a little about each of the services. You'll find no flag waving here, just a bit about each armed force. I am glad I'm from a country with such a rich and interesting history with its armed forces - just reading a little and seeing the development over centuries is interesting. Reading more is fascinating.
Royal Air Force
The oldest independent air force in the force, created 1st April 1918 by amalgamation of the Royal Naval Flying Server (Royal Navy, formed 1914) and the Royal Flying Corps (Army service, formed 1912). Through the foresight and bravery of Sir Hugh Dowding who created the 'Dowding system' which was the first integrated intercept system which allowed the RAF the crucial advantage of not having to run standing patrols and knowing where the enemy was - although the actual invasion was probably not going to happen, it did weaken the German Luftwaffe for its attacks on Russia. An interesting fact is that the Hawker Hurricane is the ONLY aircraft to serve in EVERY area of the war - from Europe, Russia and Burma to the Pacific with a British force with the US Pacific fleet.
The Royal Airforce Memorial is located on the Victoria Embankment in London
The motto - Per Ardua ad Astra is usually translated to 'Through Adversity to the Stars'
The Army was 'created' in 1661 when Charles II signed the document which created a 'full time' army (based on Cromwell's 'new model army' concept). Before an army was raised by the old feudal system. In 1707 the documents on which the army is now based was signed - incidentally, parliament has to 'sign' documents to allow the army to continue each year. The army has had lots of victories and quite a few defeats, but has always survived such like and learned to change and adapt to the situations. A good example is the Napoleonic wars. The name does not include the 'Royal' prefix due to its roots.
Each Regiment usually has its own motto due to the makeup and the Army does not have a 'main' motto. One widely known motto is the Special Air Service's (created in the North African Campaign in world war 2) 'Who Dares Wins' (and has reputed to have finished sieges by the rumour of their deployment due to their reputation and mystique. The Iranian Embassy assault changed the way this particular regiment was seen by the public (as it was not 'British' to do what they did but it proved)..
The most known part of the armed forces groups and also the oldest. Although a 'full time' navy can be traced back to Alfred the Great (9th century) and later by the Norman kings (12th century) the term 'Navy Royal' was first recorded by Henry VIII in the 16th century and it fought the French Navy in 1545 at the 'Battle of the Solent' (this is where the famous 'Mary Rose' capsized, it is now believed to have been overloaded). The navy has had lots of victories and a few major setbacks. Notable battles include the Spanish Armada (1588), Battle of the Chesapeake, Battle of the Nile the well known Battle of Trafalgar (1805), the interesting Battle of Jutland (the case of politics in the commander) the tactically interesting Battle of the River Plate (which included the fasted recorded transit of a ship - HMS Cumberland) and of course the Atlantic and Arctic conveys. Incidentally, when the ship HMS Dreadnought was launched in 1906 is instantly made obsolete all major ships in fleets on the entire globe - the only time every this has happened.
Another interesting fact is that a British carrier with the US Pacific Fleet in World War 2 was hit by a Japanese kamikaze in the middle of its flight deck but was able to resume operations within a hour or so due to the nature of how the carriers were built.
Royal Corps of Marines (Royal Marines)
I cannot finish without mentioning the amphibious troops linked with the Royal Navy. Known as the Royal Marines they were first created on October 1664 but 'officially' recorded in 1672. In the beginning they were part of the the ships company and in the beginning of the 20th Century were part of fire control/directors etc. Their role has always been amphibious raiding or landing. These later roles are usually undertaken by the Commando units of the Royal Marines. The training of which is widely accepted as the toughest training in the world - completion of which does not mean that the marine is given the coveted 'green beret'. This decision is made by the commanding officers.
It is an interesting fact that the officers have to complete this training to a higher degree than the 'rank and file'.
The motto 'Per Mare Per Terram' is translated to 'By Sea, By Land'.