UK Armed Forces mark Commonwealth Day

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Pictured is a Piper from 12 Company, Irish Guards. Photographer: Cpl Tim Hammond - UK MOD © Crown copyright 2023

Chief of Defence Staff, Admiral Sir Tony Radakin today joined foreign dignitaries and senior military representatives to lay a wreath on behalf of the UK Armed Forces at a Commonwealth Day service of Remembrance. 

Attendees commemorated the brave men and women who came from across the Commonwealth and Nepal to fight in two world wars and subsequent conflicts.

The ceremony took place at Memorial Gates on Hyde Park Corner in London, the site of the annual wreath-laying ceremony since its inauguration by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II in 2002.

Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said:

“Commonwealth Day is an opportunity to celebrate the long-standing and historical Defence relationships and values that have united our nations for over 70 years.

“Service personnel from across the Commonwealth play a significant role within the UK Armed Forces, bringing with them a vast array of experience and skillset.”

The war memorial was erected in 2002 to honour of the five million people who left their homes in Asia, Africa and the Caribbean to fight alongside British Forces during the First and Second World Wars. 

Their contribution, and that of their descendants, to the UK’s security, prosperity and way of life was honoured during the short service, which included a Two Minute Silence sounded by a Bugler, and a Piper from 12 Company, Irish Guards. Musical support was also provided by the British Army Band of the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst.

Photographer: Cpl Tim Hammond – UK MOD © Crown copyright 2023

Elsewhere, a Fanfare team from the Band of the Irish Guards and State Trumpeters from the Band of the Household Cavalry supplied musical support for the annual Commonwealth Day service at Westminster Abbey, which celebrates the unity of the Commonwealth today.

Today the Commonwealth is a dynamic alliance of nations and the UK is committed to the Commonwealth’s shared values of peace, democracy and security. 

There are currently 5,200 Commonwealth personnel serving as part of the UK Armed Forces, bringing with them a wealth of valuable experience and expertise.

The theme for Commonwealth Day 2023 is ‘Forging a sustainable and peaceful common future’. The theme combines the active commitment of member states to support the promotion of peace, prosperity and sustainability, especially through climate action.

Photographer: Cpl Tim Hammond – UK MOD © Crown copyright 2023

The UK Armed Forces have made high-profile contributions to these efforts over the last year, including in the following ways: 

Australia: The RAF took part in a series of large-scale air exercises with their Australian counterparts and regional partners.

Australia, New Zealand, Canada: Personnel from these nations have helped British forces train more than 10,000 Ukrainian recruits in frontline combat, helping them to defend their country from Russian aggression.

Cyprus: The UK supports UN operations on the island and provides search and rescue support to local emergency services.

Ghana: Royal Fusilier Lance Corporal Victor Ahiavor competed under the Ghanaian flag at the Birmingham Commonwealth Games. 

Jamaica: British Army personnel are supporting training at the Caribbean Military Academy, developing the Jamaican Defence force leaders of the future.

New Zealand: HMS Tamar hosted teams from the US Navy and Royal New Zealand Navy for a large-scale mine warfare exercise off the Republic of Korea.

Turks and Caicos Islands: Royal Navy ship HMS Medway provided emergency disaster relief to support those affected during hurricane season.

Zambia: British Army personnel completed their fourth deployment to Zambia to train local rangers to prevent the poaching of precious wildlife.

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