2018 marks 100 years since the day the Allies of World War I and Germany signed an armistice for the cessation of all hostilities on the Western Front. This took effect on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month of 1918.
For this special centenary year we have worked closely with The Royal British Legion, including five veterans from Bravo 22 Company, as well as numismatic artist Michael Guilfoyle, to design a poignant Armistice Commemorative Medal for the Centenary.
Bravo 22 Company
Bravo 22 Company, which is made possible by The Royal British Legion and The Drive Project, has been successfully running theatre and art projects across the UK since 2011.
The projects are open to all members of the Armed Forces Community, including serving personnel, veterans and their family members and are designed to improve self-esteem, confidence and motivation, as well as help individuals along their paths to recovery.
The design process
The design process began with a creative workshop led by numismatic artist Michael Guilfoyle, at the Legion’s Pop In centre in Bristol. Five alumni from Bravo 22 Company were invited to join the workshop, all of whom have served in the Armed Forces. The participants were encouraged to draw on their experiences in the military to create a fitting tribute for the Armistice 100 year centenary anniversary.
Mike started the session with an introduction to medal design and explained the process from the initial ideas stage through to final production. Coins and medals generally offer a relatively small canvas to the artist, so Mike explained the importance of using a simple composition to create a strong and impactful design.
To generate some key themes, Mike had everyone write down words they associated with the First World War and Armistice. These were then used to inspire the visual design stage, where everyone began to sketch ideas.
The rest of the workshop was spent developing the rough sketches into more refined ideas.
The finished design
Taking inspiration from the original designs of the veterans, Mike was able to create the striking and poignant designs that feature on the medal.
The Royal British Legion 2018 Armistice Medal is available to own today. Due to its significance, the medal has been issued in partnership with The Royal British Legion and Bravo 22 Company. If you choose to own one, we will ensure a donation is made to them on your behalf.
I was lucky enough to be in Normandy for the 70th anniversary of the D-Day landings.
For years veterans have travelled to Normandy on the 6th June to remember their comrades who never made it back from the beaches.
However for many of the veterans in attendance, it would be their last visit, as this year’s commemorations are the last to be officially marked by the Normandy Veterans Association which is disbanding in November.
I had previously visited the area ten years earlier for the 60th anniversary of the D-Day landings, when my family and I had taken my grandfather over to collect his 60th anniversary medal.
This time around, everything was on a much larger scale, there were events all along the Normandy coast and politicians and dignitaries from all over the world would be in attendance. With so many events and ceremonies taking place it was impossible to attend them all. Our first stop was Colleville-Montgomery, where a ceremony was to take place at Monty’s statue.
At 11am the veterans marched in with standards held high, the response they got from the crowd and townspeople was amazing.
After taking their seats, the Mayor of Colleville-Montgomery addressed the crowd and relayed his thanks to the veterans.
Next were speeches by George Batts and David Baines of the Normandy Veterans Association.
The following day we headed for Arromanches, site of Gold Beach, where British troops arrived on D-Day. When we arrived the town was packed, it seemed like the whole of Normandy had come out to show their gratitude to the veterans!
After a late lunch we made our way down to the square in front of the D-Day museum for another ceremony.
Unless you had a pass it really was standing room only, luckily my pass had arrived from the Ministry of Defence just a few days earlier and I headed for the seating area in the middle of the square.
Before the ceremony started, the crowds were entertained by flypasts by the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight. The planes looked spectacular with their distinctive D-Day markings.
Around 5pm, the Brass band started and the veterans marched once more into the square.
This was followed by a speeches by the Mayor of Arromanches and the Duke of Cambridge. Although it was a memorial service, the mood was upbeat and included sing-alongs like “We’ll meet again” and “Auld Lang Syne”.
We will remember them
As the ceremony came to a close, it dawned on me how lucky I was to be there for this historic event and to be able to show my appreciation to these brave men. And although the NVA will not be in attendance in the future, the people of Normandy, the family of veterans will continue to honour the memory of these men in the years to come.
To mark the 70th anniversary we are proud to announce we have worked with the Normandy Veterans Association to produce an exclusive brand new limited edition set of commemorative covers personally signed by 12 Normandy veterans.
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