Eleven o’clock on Sunday 11th November will mark the centenary of the Armistice, the moment in 1918 when guns fell silent after the four years of the First World War.
Remembrance Day commemorates all who fought and fell in the defence of the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth in the two World Wars and subsequent conflicts. Held on the nearest Sunday to 11th November, in 2018 Remembrance Day and Armistice Day coincide 100 years on.
The principal, annual service of remembrance in Tower Hamlets, that on Tower Hill has a special significance around the world. It takes place at the national Merchant Navy Memorial which bears the names of those merchant seafarers and fishermen, civilians all, lost in the First and Second World Wars and Falklands Campaign, for whom there is no grave but the sea. The total commemorated, some 36,000, means the Memorial is the largest in the UK in the care of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission.
The First World War section carries 12,000 of those names. Men and women of 103 nationalities, their ages range from 13 to 73. After Britain, the larger contingents are from Australia, Barbados, Belgium, Canada, Cape Verde, Chile, Denmark, Finland, Greece, Ireland, Jamaica, Japan, Malta, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Russia, Sierra Leone, Spain, Sweden and the USA. In addition, 1,708 born in India, Aden and East Africa are honoured on the Bombay/Mumbai 1914-1918 Memorial with 533 from Hong Kong and China named on the Hong Kong Memorial. All served under the Red Ensign, the flag of Britain’s Merchant Navy flown permanently on Tower Hill.
The section of the Memorial shown above records the loss of the SS Murcia. Registered in London, the 4,871 grt cargo ship was carrying rice and jute sacking from Bassein in India to Marseilles when, in the Mediterranean 12 nm north of Port Said, it was torpedoed without warning by the German submarine UC-74 on 2nd November 1918. Of its complement of 123, the carpenter, Peter Madsen, was the only one lost. Danish-born and aged 57, he lived in Newport, Gwent. The SS Murcia was the last of 2,479 British merchant vessels lost to enemy action in the First World War.
A free public event at which all are welcome, the service is organised by the Honourable Company of Master Mariners. Music is provided by the Wake Band.
All of the Gardens and much of the Merchant Navy Memorial are accessible by wheelchair’
Tower Hill station (Circle & District Lines) is adjacent to Trinity Square Gardens and has step-free access
15 Trafalgar Square/Charing Cross Station - Blackwall station
42 Primrose St/Liverpool St station- East Dulwich Sainsbury’s
78 Shoreditch - Nunhead
100 London Wall/Museum of London - Shadwell station
RV1 Covent Garden/Catherine St - Tower Gateway station
Tower Gateway station is 5 minutes’ walk from Trinity Square Gardens. All DLR stations have step-free access
Fenchurch Street; Liverpool Street
London River Services
CS3 from Lancaster Gate to Tower Hill passes Trinity Square Gardens