Alex explained poppy days were held in Britain as a way a
raising money for charity before world war one. However, the
fact that the poppy, the red one, became the symbol of
remembrance after the war was attributed to several people.
During the war Anna Guerin, the ‘French Poppy Lady’, toured
the USA highlighting the plight and raising money for French
children affected by it. Alex said that the Royal British Legion
(RBL), following the end of the war was urged, citing Anna
Guerin, in adopting the red poppy. Its first poppy day was held
Other factors also led to the red poppy, first,
being popularised and, later, being associated with remembrance.
A Clement Scott, journalist and poet, wrote ‘The Garden
of Sleep’, A poem that popularised an area of north Norfolk by
calling it ‘Poppyland’, in the late 19th century.
Although Scott died in 1904, a world war one poet notably,
Canadian, John McCrae, wrote ‘In Flanders Field’. It was
influenced by Scott’s poem. McCrae’s poem inspired American
writer, Moina Belle Michael, to write her autobiography, ‘The
Miracle Flower, The Story of the Flanders Fields Memorial
The white poppy was introduced in 1933 by the
Women’s Co-operative Guild. They were a politically active,
working class group who wanted to counter militarism by working
for peace. A London vicar, Rev Richard Shepherd, went further by
forming the Peace Pledge Union in 1936.
There were calls
in the press to ban the white poppy. It seems, though, that the
outbreak of world war two reduced its popularity.
modern times there is still some strong opinions regarding the
wearing of white poppies. Some people wear both, in an attempt,
to accommodate both views.
It was an interesting talk at
an appropriate time.
Gill Croft, at very short notice,
recited four poems, including the 2 named above, on behalf of
Alex. She brought the poignant words to life for an appreciative