THOUSANDS of people turned out to salute the Armed Forces at the national Armed Forces Day event in Plymouth on Saturday, with thousands more getting involved in their own communities around the country.
The Earl of Wessex, representing the Queen, took the salute as a parade of more then 1,200 Service personnel, veterans and cadets marched through the city streets and on to Plymouth Hoe, watched by Prime Minister David Cameron and First Sea Lord Admiral Sir Mark Stanhope.
A drumhead service followed the parade, and the Lord Mayor of Plymouth signed an Armed Forces Community Covenant for the city, with Service representatives adding their mark.
The ceremonial part of the day concluded with a flypast by a Hawker Sea Fury of Royal Naval Historic Flight.
Service personnel and veterans gather in Plymouth for the Armed Forces Day National Event. Pic SAC Ben Tritta/MOD
The Royal Navy’s contribution to the big day also included a steam-past in Plymouth Sound by Devonport-based frigate HMS Argyll, which was also responsible for firing a 21-gun salute.
Also off the Hoe was the auxiliary landing ship (dock) RFA Mounts Bay, carrying local schoolchildren and their families, as members of 29 Commando Regiment Royal Artillery fired a gun salute on behalf of Plymouth from the Royal Citadel.
HMS Argyll fired a 21-gun salute while conducting a steam-past off Plymouth Hoe during Armed Forces Day. Pic LA(Phot) Joel Rouse/MOD
The RAF also played their part with Typhoons and the red Arrows streaking overhead.
Admiral Sir Mark Stanhope said: "I'm delighted to be taking part in the national celebrations in Plymouth for Armed Forces Day, and showing my support alongside the many thousands gathered here for our Servicemen and women.
“People across the country from all ages and backgrounds have a deep respect and appreciation for the Armed Forces, and Armed Forces Day is an excellent opportunity for us all to let our men and women realise how much they are appreciated.”
Plymouth is the fourth city to host the National Event, following Chatham Historic Dockyard in 2009, Cardiff in 2010 and Edinburgh last year.
More than 200 other events were scheduled across the UK and beyond as part of Armed Forces Day, many featuring traditional parades, while others included sporting events or musical performances, embracing veterans, serving personnel and the various uniformed cadet organisations as well as families and friends.
Earlier in the day the Olympic Torch relay also contributed to the Armed Forces theme, with VC holder Cpl Johnson Beharry taking part as the procession passed through the National Memorial Arboretum in Staffordshire.
Accompanied by the Band of the Irish Guards and soldiers from 2nd Battalion The Mercian Regiment, Cpl Beharry carried the torch to the top of the Armed Forces Memorial, which commemorates all members of the Armed Forces who have lost their lives while on duty since 1948.
Visitors at the Carrickfergus Armed Forces Day event in County Antrim take a close look at a Royal Navy Search and Rescue Sea King from HMS Gannet. Pic Cpl G Moreno RLC/MOD
Among the other communities celebrating AFD was Carrickfergus in Northern Ireland, where the ancient castle formed a spectacular and suitable military setting for the parade and displays, which included an appearance by patrol boat HMS Charger and a Search and Rescue Sea King helicopter from HMS Gannet in Scotland.