On the second Sunday of every November the United Kingdom remembers the contribution of British and Commonwealth military and civilian servicemen and women in the two World Wars and later conflicts.
It originated in the Armistice Day commemoration held on 11 November every year from 1919 – the first anniversary of the formal ending of hostilities between the German armed forces and the Allies, “at the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month” of 1918.
In 1939, with the outbreak of the Second World War, the two-minute silence moved to the second Sunday in November – the closest to 11 November – to avoid disruption to war production. Since then it’s formed the main focus of the events to remember those who died in battle, although in recent years a two-minute silence has been held both on the Sunday and on the 11th itself.
They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years contemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.
– Laurence Binyon (1869-1943), For the Fallen