Piet Chielens, coordinator of the In Flanders Fields War Museum in Ypres, Belgium, once checked all 1,700,000 names that are registered with the Commonwealth War Commission. He found no less than ten Privates William McBride.
I marked the two minute silence alone; the toddler absorbed in her coco pops, her older sisters still a-bed. A quiet moment of reflection and thoughts of friends in the services.
In London, three of the four surviving British World War I veterans attended a ceremony at the Cenotaph. Henry Allingham, 112, Harry Patch, 110, and Bill Stone, 108, represented the RAF, Army and Royal Navy respectively. In France, at Verdun – site of one of the most horrific battles in World War I – Prince Charles and French President Nicolas Sarkozy laid wreathes in honour and memory of the fallen; but no veterans attended.
Of the two huge armies that clashed and fought for eight months in the longest battle of the War, not one member survives to this day, the 90th anniversary of Armistice at the end of World War I.