THE STORY OF THE POPPY

THE STORY OF THE POPPY

The unveiling of the Cenotaph, London 11th November 1920. Designed by Edwin Lutyens

THE FLANDERS POPPY WAS FIRST DESCRIBED AS THE FLOWER OF REMEMBRANCE BY COLONEL JOHN McCRAE, IN PEACETIME A WELL KNOWN PROFESSOR OF MEDICINE AT McGILL UNIVERSITY IN MONTREAL.

HE HAD SERVED AS A GUNNER IN THE SOUTH AFRICAN WAR AND AT THE OUTBREAK OF THE FIRST WORLD WAR WISHED TO JOIN THE FIGHTING RANKS. HOWEVER THE POWERS THAT BE DECIDED HE COULD BE USED TO GREATER ADVANTAGE AND SO HE LANDED IN FRANCE AS A MEDICAL OFFICER WITH THE FIRST CANADIAN CONTINGENT.

AT THE SECOND BATTLE OF YPRES IN BELGIUM IN 1915 HE WAS IN CHARGE OF A SMALL FIRST - AID POST. DURING A LULL IN THE ACTION HE SCRIBBLED DOWN IN PENCIL, ON A PAGE TORN FROM HIS NOTE BOOK THE FOLLOWING VERSES:
      
                                      IN FLANDER'S FIELDS THE POPPIES BLOW
                                       BETWEEN THE CROSSES, ROW ON ROW
                                      THAT MARK OUR PLACE; AND IN THE SKY
                                       THE LARKS, STILL BRAVELY SINGING, FLY
                                      SCARCE HEARD AMID THE GUNS BELOW.
            
                                       WE ARE THE DEAD, SHORT DAYS AGO
                                      WE LIVED, FELT DAWN, SAW SUNSET GLOW
                                        LOVED AND WERE LOVED, AND NOW WE LIE
                                      IN FLANDERS FIELDS

                                       TAKE UP OUR QUARREL WITH THE FOE
                                      TO YOU FROM FAILING HANDS WE THROW
                                        THE TORCH; BE YOURS TO HOLD IT HIGH
                                       IF YOU BREAK FAITH WITH US WHO DIE
                                         WE SHALL NOT SLEEP, THOUGH POPPIES
                                       GROW IN FLANDERS FIELDS.

IN JANUARY 1918, TOWARDS THE END OF THE WAR, COLONEL JOHN McCRAE WAS BROUGHT AS A STRETCHER CASE TO ONE OF THE BIG HOSPITALS ON THE CHANNEL COAST OF FRANCE. ON THE THIRD EVENING HE HAD BEEN WHEELED ONTO THE BALCONY OF HIS ROOM AND HE WAS LOOKING TOWARDS THE CLIFFS OF DOVER WHEN HE TURNED TO THE DOCTOR WITH THE WORDS;   

                                                      TELL THEM THIS
                         IF YE BREAK FAITH WITH US WHO DIE, WE SHALL NOT SLEEP

THE SAME NIGHT COLONEL McCRAE DIED AND HE WAS BURIED IN A BEAUTIFUL CEMETERY ON RISING GROUND ABOVE WIMEREUX, FROM WHERE THE CLIFFS OF DOVER ARE VISIBLE ON A CLEAR DAY.

AN AMERICAN WOMAN NAMED MOINA MICHAEL, WHO WORKED FOR THE YMCA, HAD READ AND HAD BEEN DEEPLY IMPRESSED BY JOHN McCRAE'S POEM. THE WEARING OF A POPPY SEEMED AN APPROPRIATE WAY TO KEEP THE FAITH. SHE WROTE THIS REPLY;

                                                       OH! YOU WHO SLEEP 
                                                       IN FLANDERS FIELDS
                                                SLEEP SWEET-TO RISE ANEW;
                                              WE CAUGHT THE TORCH YOU THREW
                                                   AND HOLDING HIGH WE KEPT
                                                 THE FAITH OF THOSE WHO DIED

                                               WE CHERISH TOO THE POPPY RED
                                               WEAR IN HONOUR OF OUR DEAD.
                                         FEAR NOT THAT YE HAVE DIED FOR NAUGHT
                                        WE'VE LEARNED THE LESSON THAT YE TAUGHT
                                                         IN FLANDERS FIELDS

TWO DAYS BEFORE THE ARMISTICE WAS SIGNED, MOINA MICHAEL WAS PRESENTED WITH A SMALL GIFT OF MONEY BY SOME OF THE OVERSEAS WAR SECRETARIES OF THE YMCA. SHE ANNOUNCED THAT SHE WAS GOING TO BUY SOME RED POPPIES WITH THE MONEY, WHICH IN TURN SHE SOLD TO RAISE MONEY FOR EX-SERVICE MEN.

THE FRENCH SECRETARY, MADAME GUERIN, WAS SO INSPIRED BY THIS IDEA AND DECIDED TO VISIT DIFFERENT COUNTRIES TO SUGGEST THAT ARTIFICIAL POPPIES TO BE MADE AND SOLD TO HELP EX-SERVICE MEN AND THEIR DEPENDENTS IN NEED. FROM THAT POINT THE POPPY BECAME THE EMBLEM OF REMEMBRANCE.

IN SEPTEMBER 1921. SIR HERBERT BROWN, CHAIRMAN OF THE LEGIONM APPEALS DEPARTMENT, TRAVELED TO PARIS TO MEET MADAME GUERIN TO INVESTIGATE THE PRODUCTION OF ARTIFICIAL POPPIES. ON HIS RETURN HE REPORTED THAT THE SUPPLIERS WERE GENUINE AND CAPABLE OF PRODUCING LARGE NUMBERS OF POPPIES. ITWAS THESE FRENCH POPPIES WHICE WERE IMPORTED BY THE LEGION FOR THE FIRST POPPY DAY IN NOVEMBER 1921.

ON NOVEMBER 11TH, THE PEOPLE QUICKLY ANSWERED ANY CONCERN THAT THE BRITISH LEGION MAY HAVE HAD ABOUT THE SUCCESS OF THE POPPY. POPPIES WENT ON SALE AT AN OFFICIAL PRICE OF THREE PENCE, BUT BEFORE BREAKFAST SINGLE PETALS WERE SELLING FOR £5 (SOME €250 IN TO-DAYS MOMEY).

THE FIRST POPPY DAY WAS A REMARKABLE SUCCESS RAISING £106,000. AS IS THE CASE TODAY MANY OF THE POPPIES WERE SOLD BY WOMEN. INDEED THE KEY ROLE PLAYED BY WOMEN HAD MORE THAN JUSTIFIED THE NEED FOR A BRITISH LEGION WOMEN'S SECTION.

ITWAS CLEAR THAT THE LEGION COULD NOW INVESTIN PRODUCING POPPIES. THE FOUNDER OF THE DISABLED SOCIETY, MAJOR GEORGE HOWSON M.C. WAS DETERMINED TO HELP HIS LESS FORTUNATE COMRADES. HE CONCEIVED THE IDEA OF EMPLOYING DISABLE EX-SERVICE MEN IN THE MANUFACTURE OF REMEMBRANCE POPPIES. HE RECEIVED A £2,000 GRANT FROM THE LEGION RELIEF FUND TO SET UP THE FIRST POPPY FACTORY. WITHIN MONTHS, A COLLAR FACTORY IN THE OLD KENT ROAD HAD BEEN CONVERTED AND FIVE EX-SERVICE MEN WERE EMPLOYED TO MAKE POPPIES.

THE SUCCESS OF THE POPPIE FACTORY MIRRORED THAT OF THE POPPIE APPEAL. BY 1925 THE WORKFORCE HAD GROWN FROM 5 TO 191 AND TODAY THE POPPY FACTORY, NOW SITUATED IN RICHMOND, PRODUCES ANNUALLY SOME 36 MILLION POPPIES, 98,000 WREATHS AND 737,000 REMEMBRANCE CROSSES. THE AMOUNTCOLLECTED FOR THE NATIONAL POPPY APPEAL EXCEEDS £27 MILLION ANNUALLY.

THE NEED FOR THE ROYAL BRITISH LEGION IN THE REPUBLIC OF IRELAND IS STILL VERY EVIDENT. ONE IN FOUR OF THE CASES WE DEAL WITH ARE "NEW" CASES. THANKS TO THE CONTINUING GENEROSITY OF THE IRISH PUBLIC. REGIMENTAL FUNDS AND OTHER EX-SERVICE CHARITIES WE CAN LARGELY MEET THE NEEDS OF THE MEMBERS OF THE EX-SERVICE COMMUNITY. 



                                                     

          

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Andy Brophy | Reply 08.11.2016 22.23

Where could I buy a poppy wreat. I would like to lay it at a memorial in St Patrick's Cathedral.

Andy Brophy 09.11.2016 00.06

Cheers Noel, I just wanted to leave a wreath at my Regiment's memorial in the Cathedral, just a personal thing.

Noel Cullen 08.11.2016 23.34

Andy, at the Sunday 13th Remembraabce Service. Only 2 Wreaths are laid. President of Ireland & thr President of the Royal British Legion. I can supply a wreath.

Noel Cullen | Reply 03.11.2016 20.09

If you care text me with your address I can get some delivered to you.
There will be collectors out in town. I will confirm the days.
My No. 0871449934.

Denise Moran-Jones | Reply 03.11.2016 19.10

I'm in the north city centre but rarely out & about in the street. Is there anywhere I can be fairly sure of finding a poppy seller at any particular time?

Noel Cullen | Reply 02.11.2016 23.33

Shopping centre in Dunlaoighaire. Collectors on the centre. Let me check for you and confirm.

Noel Cullen 03.11.2016 18.24

Tomorrow &Saturday Jonathan Fracatti shopping centre Blackrock.

Noel Cullen | Reply 01.11.2016 22.36

St. Anne's Church, Dawson St. There will be Poppy collectors out Town over the next week or so. Any problems call me at 0871449934. Thank you for your support.

Jonathan 02.11.2016 22.38

Hey noel. Looking to buy a poppy somewhere in dublin. Is it usually during the afternoon that people will be out and about town because I work out inblackrock.

Catherine Porter | Reply 31.10.2016 19.36

Where can I buy a poppy in Dublin,? If

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Latest comments

09.09 | 20:52

Alan things are up in the air at the moment,but we have a new membership secretary will pass on details when i have them

Bob

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09.09 | 19:30

Where do I pay my membership now that Noel has passed away ?
I used to drop it down to Noel's house.
Can't make the meeting on Wednesdays.
Alan.

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03.09 | 13:07

Thanks Bob, managed to get sorted and have 6 tickets for the Festival on Saturday, before I march past the Cenotaph with the Irish Guards on Sunday. QS

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02.09 | 20:44

Hi Scot our secretary Noel would have got this code,Unfortunately noel passed away.He did send me an email about booking that has a code 27882 I hope this is it

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