History of the Remembrance Poppy
The remembrance poppy was inspired by the World War I poem "In Flanders Fields". Its opening lines refer to the many poppies that were the first flowers to grow in the churned-up earth of soldiers' graves in Flanders, a region of Belgium. It is written from the point of view of the dead soldiers and, in the last verse, they call on the living to continue the conflict. The poem was written by Canadian physician, John McCrae, on May 3 1915 after witnessing the death of his friend, a fellow soldier, the day before. The poem was first published on December 8 1915 in the London-based magazine Punch.
In 1918, Moina Michael, who had taken leave from her professorship at the University of Georgia to be a volunteer worker for the American YMCA Overseas War Secretaries organization, was inspired by the poem and published a poem of her own called "We Shall Keep the Faith". In tribute to McCrae's poem, she vowed to always wear a red poppy as a symbol of remembrance for those who fought and helped in the war. At a November 1918 YMCA Overseas War Secretaries' conference, she appeared with a silk poppy pinned to her coat and distributed 25 more to those attending. She then campaigned to have the poppy adopted as a national symbol of remembrance.
At its conference in 1920, the National American Legion adopted it as their official symbol of remembrance. Frenchwoman Madame Anna E. Guérin was invited to address American Legion delegates at their 1920 Cleveland Convention, about her ‘Inter-Allied Poppy Day’ idea. After which, they too adopted the poppy as their memorial flower and committed to support Madame Guérin in her future US Poppy Days. It was there that the American Legion christened her “The Poppy Lady from France”. In the US, she organised the very first nationwide Poppy Day, held during the week before Memorial Day in May 1921, using silk poppies made by the widows and children of the devastated regions of France.
When the American Legion reneged on the poppy, in favour of the daisy, the Veterans of Foreign Wars’ veterans supported Madame Guérin instead. Using French-made poppies, purchased through Madame Guérin, it was the V.F.W. that was responsible for organising the very first veterans’ Poppy Day Drive in the US, for the 1922 Memorial Day. In 1924, the Veterans of Foreign Wars patented the Buddy Poppy.
Madame Guérin's ‘Inter-Allied Poppy Day’ idea was also adopted by military veterans' groups in parts of the British Empire. After the 1921 Memorial Day in the US, Madame Guérin travelled to Canada. After she addressed the Great War Veteran Association veterans on 4 July, they adopted the poppy emblem and her ‘Inter-Allied Poppy Day’ idea too. They were the first veterans of the British Empire (now British Commonwealth) to do so.
Madame Guérin sent her representative Colonel Moffat (ex-American Red Cross) to Australia and New Zealand (and probably South Africa) afterwards. Then, Madame Guérin travelled to Great Britain, where she informed Field Marshal Douglas Haig and the British Legion about her “idea”. Because it was a poor organisation, Madame Guérin paid for the British remembrance poppies herself and the British Legion reimbursed her, after the first British Remembrance Day Poppy Day on 11th November 1921.
Madame Anna Guérin’s Remembrance Poppy and Poppy Days idea has been adopted by countries and organisations across the globe.
The Empire Poppy
The Empire Poppy is an original design that was commissioned by the Ancre Somme Association in 2018.
The artwork was the idea of Association members who worked with Snowhite Design to design, what we believe to be, an image that relays perfectly our thoughts about those brave men and woman who fought, and continue to fight, for the freedoms we all take for granted today.
The bringing together of the hearts, that comprise the Empire Poppy, is our way of remembering all those, who through various wars and conflicts, left these shores never to return. Leaving behind families who were left with only memories of those they had loved and lost.
As so many from the British Commonwealth sacrificed their lives for others we felt that it was fiiting to use the verse from John 15.13 "Greater love hath no man than this that a man lay down his life for his friends."
Purple Empire Poppy
The Purple Poppy Day is the 23rd August. The purple poppy is a symbol of remembrance in the United Kingdom for animals that served during wartime.
Over 16 million animals served in the First World War. They were used for transport, communication and companionship.
In 1914, both sides had large cavalry forces. Horse and camel-mounted troops were used in the desert campaigns throughout the war, but on the Western Front, new weapons like the machine gun made cavalry charges increasingly difficult.
However, animals remained a crucial part of the war effort. Horses, donkeys, mules and camels carried food, water, ammunition and medical supplies to men at the front, and dogs and pigeons carried messages. Canaries were used to detect poisonous gas, and cats and dogs were trained to hunt rats in the trenches.
Animals were not only used for work. Dogs, cats, and more unusual animals including monkeys, bears and lions, were kept as pets and mascots to raise morale and provide comfort amidst the hardships of war.
l. 20,000 dogs serving Britain and her allies in WW1. Messenger dogs, mercy dogs, guard dogs and mascots did their bit for King and Country. Stubby even warned of impending gas attacks. Dogs were the first domesticated animal and have been used in battle throughout history. The Roman Army had whole companies of dogs wearing spiked collars around their neck and ankles.
2. Pigeons have been used as message carriers for over 5,000 years. Their vital messages saved the lives of thousands in WWI and WW2. Cher Ami was given the Croix de Guerre for her heroic message delivery that saved many soldiers' lives, despite being shot at and terribly injured.
3. Humans began to domesticate horses in Central Asia around 4000 BC and they've been used in warfare for most of recorded history. They are prey animals and so their first reaction to threat is to startle and flee. Despite this, against their natural instincts, they've raced into countless battles, carrying their riders. Over eight million died in WW1.
4. From Simpson and his donkey at Gallipoli to Jimmy 'The Sergeant', born at The Battle of the Somme, donkeys have saved soldiers lives and given their own. More suited to green fields than battlefields, donkeys have been to War for as long as horses have.
5. An estimated 500,000 cats served in World War I. In the trenches of the Western front there were serious problems with rats. WWI cats also detected gas.
No animal chooses to go to war but their selfless acts of unconscious heroism show us how to be true heroes.
Tiny forget-me-not flowers have a special meaning in the province of Newfoundland and Labrador, where they are often worn as symbols of remembrance on July 1st, just as many of us wear poppies for Remembrance Day on November 11.
Many of you might know that July 1st is Canada Day in our country and reason for celebration and fireworks! But in Newfoundland and Labrador, the day has another meaning–and not one for celebration.
Before joining Canada many years ago in 1949, Newfoundlanders traditionally had Memorial Day on July 1st each year. This date was chosen as a reminder of the hundreds of young soldiers from the Royal Newfoundland Regiment who died on July 1, 1916 (100 years ago!) at a place called Beaumont-Hamel, in the country of France during the First World War. It was a very sad day for the nation of Newfoundland, and almost everyone knew someone who had died.
They were very sad to lose their loved ones, but wearing the little tiny forget-me-not flowers made them feel a little bit better, and helped them to remember.
The forget-me-not is a good symbol to remember the Newfoundland soldiers. The blue symbolizes the loyalty of those young soldiers to their country of Newfoundland as they fought very bravely. The flower, (which can survive in harsh climates and grow in the toughest terrain), symbolizes the strength and courage of those young Newfoundland men on the battlefield.
Empire Resistance Daisy
In 1942 Queen Wilhelmina chose the daisy flower (the margriet, in Dutch) as a symbol for all those who had fallen in the resistance against Nazi Germany. She herself wore a daisy brooch. When Princess Juliana and Prince Bernhard had a daughter in Canada in January 1943, they named her Margriet.
The Dutch merchant navy acted as godfather for the new born princess and from that moment on, sailing merchant navy employees wore cufflinks and badges with a daisy combined with an anchor.
In addition, the 'Foundation for War Victims from among the Dutch Merchant Fleet and their Surviving Relatives' was renamed the Prinses Margriet Fonds. Prince Bernhard designed a silver daisy pin for this fund, and the proceeds of the sale of these pins went to the Fund. The pins were available in non-occupied countries and were worn by almost every Dutchman or woman as a symbol of their patriotism. Only few of the official daisy pins found their way to the Netherlands, but many Dutch people produced their own daisy jewellery, which they wore as a sign of silent defiance.
Flowers of Remembrance
Papaver Rhoeas, or more commonly known as Flanders Poppy, in memorial to those brave young men killed in World War I, and the Poppy that inspired the Poppies we wear in Remembrance of those killed in all wars and conflicts.
The purple poppy is a symbol of remembrance in the United Kingdom for animals that served during wartime. The symbol was created in 2006. Based on the principle of the traditional red remembrance poppy for Remembrance Day.
Tiny forget-me-not flowers have a special meaning in Newfoundland and Labrador where they are often worn as symbols of remembrance. Newfoundlanders traditionally observed Memorial Day on the 1st July each year.
During WW2 occupation of her country, Her Royal Highness Queen Wilhelmina sought refuge in the United Kingdom. The daisy held special significance for her as it had been blooming in Holland when the country was invaded.
ULSTER TOWER COLLECTION
We are always looking for people from a variety of backgrounds who feel they have something to give to the Ancre Somme Association. Our Volunteers are of all ages and backgrounds. There is no specific experience required to becoming a Volunteer. All you need is a passion to support our Charity.
As a small charity, Volunteers are vital to us to help raise our profile - and awareness - throughout the UK. If you would like to become a member why not send us a message today.
Ancre Somme Association
Email: [email protected]