The Tomb of the Unknown Warrior: what is it, where is it located and what is written on the gravestone?

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The tomb has been a focal point for remembrance for over a century

Remembrance Sunday will be marked with events all across the UK. One of the most symbolic aspects of the day is located within Westminster Abbey and has come to be a focal point for all soldiers who died in conflict and were never named.

The tomb of the unknown warrior (or soldier as he is sometimes referred to) is a grave which has been a ceremonial aspect of the Abbey and Remembrance Day for over a century.

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With November 11 falling on a Friday this year, Remembrance Sunday will take place on Sunday November 13 and there will be a period of national silence at 11am on both days with the tomb becoming a significant focal point.

The unknown warrior has resided in the Abbey since Remembrance Day of 1920. He was buried during a ceremony which was attended by the monarch at the time King George V as well as government ministers and members of the public.

The idea of a tomb dedicated to unknown soldiers who died during the war was, according to Westminster Abbey, apparently thought up by a chaplain who was at the frontlines. Reverend David Railton got the idea when in 1916 he came across a grave in a garden at Armentières which on a cross had the words "An Unknown British Soldier" pencilled in on it.

In August 1920 he wrote to the Dean of Westminster, Herbert Ryle, through whose energies this memorial was carried into effect. The body was chosen from unknown British servicemen exhumed from four areas of the front line. These were the Aisne, the Somme, Arras and Ypres.

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Who is the unknown warrior?

The soldier buried in the tomb is without a name. He was a British soldier killed in the First World War whose identity has never been confirmed. He has come to symbolise all soldiers killed in war who have never been named. From the remains brought back from the war, we know that he was a soldier killed on the battlefield at one of the Aisne, the Somme, Arras or Ypres.

What does the inscription on the grave say?

Words of commemoration are carved into the headstone on top of the tomb outlining where the soldier came from and when he was laid to rest.

It reads: “Beneath this stone rests the body of a British warrior unknown by name or rank. Brought from france to lie among the most illustrious of the land and buried here on armistice day 11 nov: 1920, in the presence of his majesty King George V his ministers of state the chiefs of his forces and a vast concourse of the nation.

“thus are commemorated the many multitudes who during the Great War of 1914-1918 gave the most that man can give life itself for god for king and country for loved ones home and empire for the sacred cause of justice and the freedom of the world.

“They buried him among the kings because he had done good toward god and toward his house.”

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