UNDER a clear blue sky and with Britain united by autumnal sunshine, they gathered to remember the fallen in wars long past and those that still echo on.
One year before the United Kingdom commemorates the 100th anniversary of the First World War, it was a relic of that bloody campaign, a blast from a 13-pounder gun, that marked the beginning of the two-minute silence at 11am on Remembrance Sunday.
In Edinburgh, a parade of veterans, serving military detachments and cadets joined First Minister Alex Salmond at the Stone of Remembrance outside the city chambers. In Glasgow, a guard of honour was formed by the Royal Navy in George Square, while in London, 10,000 gathered at the Cenotaph in Whitehall.
Among those who attended the service at the Cenotaph was Kerry Ashworth, whose son, James – a lance corporal in the Grenadier Guards – was killed last year in Afghanistan and awarded the Victoria Cross for bravery.
He charged a series of huts holding Taleban armed with rifles and rocket-propelled grenades, providing covering fire for his team.
His mother said: “The job that they do is so hard and so tough and when somebody loses their life, it’s just one little thing that you can do just to remember them for a few minutes.”
In Scotland, that remembrance was led by the First Minister, who attended a public service at St Giles’ Cathedral, along with the Scottish Secretary Alistair Carmichael and the Lord Provost Donald Wilson.
Mr Salmond said: “Scotland, in common with so many other nations, suffered an appalling loss of life in the Great War, and its effects on Scottish life were profound and long-lasting, making this year’s Remembrance Sunday especially poignant as we look ahead to next year’s commemorations.”
In Glasgow, Lord Provost Sadie Docherty led a service in George Square during which Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon laid a wreath.
In Aberdeen, members of the armed services, veterans and pipe bands paraded from Belmont Street through the city centre to the war memorial at the Cowdray Hall. A wreath-laying ceremony was held, followed by a service in the Kirk of St Nicholas.
In London, the Queen led the nation in honouring members of the armed forces killed in conflict by laying the first wreath at the Cenotaph.
Senior royals, including Second World War veteran the Duke of Edinburgh, Prince Harry and the Duke of Cambridge – with wife Kate watching from a nearby balcony – joined the monarch and politicians, military leaders, veterans and serving personnel in laying wreaths of poppies at the monument.
Harry laid a wreath on behalf of his father Prince Charles, who is on an official tour of India and marked the occasion there.
Troops in Afghanistan were joined by the Defence Secretary Philip Hammond and the Duke of York, who laid a wreath at Camp Bastion in Helmand Province to mark the 446 servicemen and women killed during the 11-year conflict.
Millions across the UK also fell silent in tribute to those lost in war, joining the crowds gathered in London who stood in a moment of contemplation as Big Ben struck 11am. The beginning and end of the silence was marked with the firing of a round by the King’s Troop Royal Horse Artillery, using a 13-pounder First World War gun.
More than 10,000 veterans and civilians then marched past the Cenotaph to pay their respects to their departed comrades, led this year by members of the War Widows Association.
Chelsea Pensioners, in their red coats, were cheered as they marched by the Cenotaph.
There was a contingent of veterans from the Korean War, the armistice of which was 60 years ago. The 70th anniversaries of the Battle of the Atlantic and the Dambusters’ Raid were also marked this year.
For the first time there was a delegation from a unit known as Churchill’s Secret Army, the Coleshill Auxiliaries, who were primed to go underground in the event of a German invasion.
A war veteran who died with no close friends or relatives is expected to be given a fitting send-off today, after an internet campaign driven by media coverage saw hundreds of people pledge to attend.
Harold Jellicoe Percival, who served on RAF ground crew during the 1943 Dambusters raids on Germany, died in October, aged 99.
He never married, had no children and has no close family to attend his funeral at Lytham St Annes, in Lancashire.
However, those involved in organising the funeral say they have been contacted by veterans’ groups and other military supporters keen to acknowledge Mr Percival’s career.