THE nation stood in silence to commemorate those who lost their lives during the First World War on Remembrance Sunday.

With this year marking the centenary of the Armistice, remembering relatives who fought and died at war was all the more poignant.

To honour the soldiers of the 10th Essex Regiment, a new memorial was unveiled in a small French village where many of the regiment lost their lives.

Many men who served in the regiment were from Harwich and the surrounding villages in Tendring.

It was formed at Warley Barracks, Brentwood, in 1914 and was part of Kitchener’s Second New Army and known as a fighting battalion.

The regiment fought in a range of battles between 1916 and 1918 including the Battle of the Somme and the Third Battle of the Scarpe.

David Foxcroft, of Marine Parade, Dovercourt, was one of the people who travelled to the French village of Preux-au-Bois to see the unveiling of the memorial for the 10th Essex Regiment on Remembrance Sunday.

The 73-year-old, said: “I attended the event with my wife, Eileen, as I am interested in the First World War - and I am a bit of a historian.”

He said doctor Ted Bailey, grandson of an Essex soldier, organised five war memorials in northern France to be built to commemorate the Essex regiments who fought there.

This was the final of the memorials to honour the Essex soldiers who lost their lives near Preux-au-Bois.

Mr Foxcroft said: “There were about 11,000 soldiers who died in the area during the First World War.

“Some of the 11,000 were English, some were French and there were many others from other countries.

“I travelled with my wife to support the unveiling of the memorial which I donated some money towards.”

The memorial was approved by the mayor of the village and installed in time for the 100th anniversary of the Armistice.

A three-part commemoration was held on Remembrance Sunday.

First, there was the ceremony in the Communal Cemetery to remember the deceased soldiers of the village and 65 British soldiers, including Privates Martin Johnson and William Levett of the 10th.

The 10th Essex Living History Group then gathered in the square ready to march ahead of the group to lead them up the hill to the site.

At the Cross of Sacrifice, the children of the village sang two songs and read poetry by Wilfred Owen who is buried nearby at Ors Communal Cemetery.

Mr Foxcroft said he was very touched by the ceremony and was glad he travelled to France for the occasion.

He said: “I am probably at an age where I am more old than young, and when I was younger I lived with my grandfather who served in the First World War.

“He survived the war and created the lovely family that we are now.

“The interest in the war came from him as it was always fresh in his mind.

“The war is fascinating to me - but it’s a nasty piece of history.”

For the second part of the ceremony the mayor told the story of Louise Thuliez who sheltered some British soldiers caught behind enemy lines at the beginning of the war, enabling them to escape.

She managed to rescue more than 200 soldiers by sending them through a secret channel to the neutral Netherlands.

Louise worked closely with nurse Edith Cavell and Belgian Princess Marie of Croy but the escape line was discovered and the organisers were sentenced to death.

Dr Bailey said: “Fortuitously, while Edith Cavell was executed to a hue and cry by the Allies, Louise was spared by the intercession of King Alfonso XIII of Spain and sent to prison in Germany for the duration of the war.”

During this Remembrance Day flowers were laid at her grave. The Last Post was then played followed by the two-minute silence at 11am.

Dr Bailey said the cease fire was sounded and the History Group laid down their weapons and helmets, some donning civilian caps to signal the end of the military conflict.