Wearing a paper poppy at this time of year has become a natural gesture of remembrance for millions of people all over the country. Here’s how the tradition began.
In 1915 a Canadian doctor, Lt Col John McCrae was inspired by the sight of poppies in the field of battle to write the poem ‘In Flanders Fields’ – which caught the public imagination.
an American academic, moved by his poem, had the idea to make and sell red silk poppies which were brought to England by a French woman, Anna Guérin.
The (Royal) British Legion, formed in 1921, ordered 9 million of these poppies and sold them on 11 November that year. The poppies sold out almost immediately and that first ever ‘Poppy Appeal’ raised over £106,000; a considerable amount of money at the time. This was used to help WW1 veterans with employment and housing. The huge success of this initiative led in the the following year to the creation of the Poppy Factory by Major George Howson. He employed disabled ex-Servicemen to make millions of poppies by hand at a time when there was very little work for such veterans.
Today, the factory and the Legion’s warehouse in Aylesford produces millions of poppies each year – with another site in Scotland making their unique four petaled version.
For more about this cultural icon visit – https://www.poppyfactory.org/history-timeline/ – my thanks to them and the British Legion website – http://www.britishlegion.org.uk/remembrance/how-we-remember/the-story-of-the-poppy/.