GREATER Manchester Police fell silent today to remember two of their officers who were killed in a grenade and gun attack.
Pcs Nicola Hughes, 23, and Fiona Bone, 32, died yesterday after they were called to investigate what appeared to be a routine burglary report.
Fellow officers and civilian staff at GMP held a minute's silence at 11am in memory of the pair.
Thousands of tributes have poured in for the women, and Pc Hughes's family said she had died doing "the job she loved".
Home Secretary Theresa May is due to meet GMP Chief Constable Sir Peter Fahy later today - it is understood she has cut short her holiday in the wake of yesterday's murders.
Soon after the two policewomen died, one of the country's most wanted men, Dale Cregan, 29, gave himself up to police.
Cregan had been questioned and bailed in connection with the murder of Mark Short, 23, who was shot dead in a Manchester pub in May.
Mr Short's father, David Short, 46, who had branded his son's killer "a coward", was murdered in a gun and grenade attack at his home in August.
Cregan was wanted for questioning over both killings.
In a statement, Pc Hughes's family said: "When she left the house this morning she was going to the job she loved.
"Nicola always wanted to make a difference and, in doing so, she made such a big difference to everyone she knew. She cared about everyone and especially her colleagues.
"Nicola was only 23 years old and had the whole of her life in front of her.
"We cannot express how we feel today except to say we have always been exceedingly proud of Nicola and always will be. She knew she was loved by us all and we shall all miss her dreadfully."
At a press conference yesterday, Sir Peter said it was one of the "darkest days" in the history of the force.
He told reporters: "Clearly we are devastated today by the loss of two of our officers.
"This is one of the darkest days in the history of the Greater Manchester Police, if not for the police service overall, because we have lost two deeply-loved and valued colleagues, because they are part of our team. Policing is very much a family."
The Chief Constable said it was routine to send unarmed officers to a burglary call.
Chairman of the Greater Manchester Police Federation Ian Hanson called yesterday's killings "the slaughter of the innocents", while Prime Minister David Cameron said the killings were an "absolutely despicable act of pure evil".
Eyewitnesses said a hail of bullets was fired and then a grenade was used during the attack, shortly before 11am. One of the officers died at the scene. The second was critically injured and died later.
Sir Peter yesterday paid tribute to Pc Hughes, describing her as a "chatterbox" and a "great bobby" who was "always smiling". He said Pc Bone was a "calm, gentle woman" and an "excellent bobby".
Police said Pc Bone had been in the middle of planning a civil ceremony for her same-sex partnership.
Four men have already been charged in connection with Mark Short's murder and will enter pleas at Manchester Crown Court in November.
A 33-year-old man and a 24-year-old man have been charged with the gun and grenade murder of David Short.
A steady stream of people arrived at the scene in Abbey Gardens, Hattersley, today to lay flowers for the fallen police officers.
Among the tributes was a large blue and white bouquet of carnations, bluebells and lilies from Manchester City Football Club.
The card read: "MCFC offer their condolences to the families, friends and colleagues of Pc Fiona Bone and Pc Nicola Hughes."
At 11am, police activity came to a halt as the minute's silence was observed by officers, the forensics team and the media gathered around the cordon.
Some officers bowed their heads while others remained bolt upright in sombre thought.
The two men accused of the murder of David Short are due to enter their pleas at Manchester Crown Court on November 9, with a provisional trial date set for next March.
Neighbours described Miss Bone and her partner as a "lovely couple".
The officer's partner has a daughter, a "very talkative" five-year-old girl, and the couple were devoted to the youngster, sharing child care duties around their work shifts along with the help of grandparents.
Miss Bone moved into the neat, mid-terrace house in a quiet cul-de-sac in Sale, Cheshire, around two years ago. Her partner already lived with the girl, locals said.
Today the curtains at the house were half drawn with a small teddy bear in the window and a child's mobile hanging from the ceiling in the front lounge.
Tearful neighbour Angela McGranaghen, 66, said: "I'm shocked. I saw a policeman there yesterday and said to my son, 'I hope she's not had an accident,' because her partner rode a motorbike.
"They are a lovely couple. The officer is a lovely person, she taught her partner's little girl how to ride her bike. They used to go out on pedal bikes.
"I saw them struggling with the little girl, teaching her to ride her bike and they got one of those bike extensions for her, to sit on the bike and now she pedals on her own bike.
"When my husband was alive he used to say, 'What a polite little girl, she is so well brought-up'."
Widower Mrs McGranaghen added: "One would go out to their job and the other would be at home with the little girl, both waiting for the other one to come home.
"I thought they were such a nice couple. The grandparents used to help with childcare as well, they were very family orientated.
"That is no age at all to die, she had her whole life in front of her."
Derrick Mather, 78, who lives on the same road as Pc Hughes' parents in the picturesque village of Diggle, paid tribute to her.
He said: "She was a beautiful young lady. Talented. Thoughtful. No one deserved success more than she did.
"I feel that we are all stunned around the neighbourhood. She comes from a beautiful family.
"I have a daughter of my own. I can't begin to think what I would feel like if it had happened to her when she was a special constable in the police force many years ago. It must be devastating for the family."
He said if Pc Hughes had been his granddaughter he would have been "very very proud".
Mr Mather said none of the family "had a bad bone in their body", adding: "They are absolutely lovely people."
He said that recently the family had given him an antique desk and a chair, which he was very grateful for.
Mr Mather said: "Some time went by and Nicola stopped her car on the corner to tell me she had found the key for the desk. The drawers were unlocked so I could still use it but she wanted to make sure I had the key. That was the kind of person she was."
In a statement, Pc Bone's former school on the Isle of Man said: "Fiona joined the sixth form at Castle Rushen High School in September 1997, when her family moved to the island from Derby.
"Fiona's outgoing nature, friendliness and undaunted sense of humour, which was commented on by Greater Manchester's Chief Constable, saw her quickly make new friends here.
"Fiona was pleasant and courteous and enjoyed good relationships with everyone she came into contact with. Her form tutor at the time noted that she had a great sense of responsibility and was totally reliable.
"These are no doubt qualities that supported her in being such a good police officer.
"Fiona was described by her teachers as a listener first and a contributor second when in discussion, but she was unafraid to ask questions and seek to clarify things, other strong qualities that would have stood her in good stead in her chosen career.
"Fiona was a student at Castle Rushen High School for two years, until July 1999, completing her qualifications in English, computer studies and general studies before moving on to university.
"Fiona's death has deeply shocked and saddened everyone at Castle Rushen High School. The school's flag is flying at half- mast today as a mark of respect and our deepest sympathies are with Fiona's family, her many friends, her fiancee and her colleagues."
Manager Sir Alex Ferguson said: "We are all deeply saddened by the tragic loss of two young policewomen protecting our community.
"Fiona and Nicola were highly valued members of Greater Manchester Police and the local community. Our thoughts and prayers are now with their families and friends at this devastatingly sad time."
Speaking at the scene, Pam Gardiner, who lives a short walk from where the police officers were killed, laid flowers with her two-year-old son, Callum.
She remembered Pc Hughes, saying: "We used to see her in the street walking up and down and she would always say hello and give a smile to Callum.
"She was very bubbly and looked as though she loved her job.
"She was part of the community."
Mrs Gardiner said the residents were struggling to comprehend the tragic events which had taken place.
"There's just shock, to be honest," she said.
"Nobody can understand it.
"I've lived here five years and I've never known anything like it."
Among the floral tributes was a card to "Auntie Nic Nic", which read: "Miss you lots and lots like Jelly Tots.
"You are now a twinkle twinkle little star in the sky.
"All my love, Summer."
A card from a colleague of the police officers said: "We just can't believe you are gone.
"We wish we had got there sooner to help you.
"It was an honour to have known and worked with you both, Cherie."