100 Years of Red Poppies

100 Years of Red Poppies

jeanniejeanniejeannie.co.uk BLOG Thursday 11th November 2021


100 Years of Red Poppies

 Amid the mud, blood and carnage of trench warfare in World War 1, tens of thousands of bright red poppies grew, marking the graves of the fallen.  This led John McCrae, a Canadian army physician who had lost a colleague, to write “In Flanders Fields”,

In Flanders fields, the poppies blow

Between the crosses, row on row

That mark our place, and in the sky

The larks, still bravely singing, fly.

This image inspired the adoption of a red poppy as the symbol of all soldiers who had died in conflict. Exactly 100 years ago, on the 11th Nov 1921, poppies of remembrance were sold for the first time in British and Commonwealth countries. Hostilities had actually ceased three years earlier at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month.

This year, on the 14th November, which is the nearest Sunday, a two-minutes silence will be kept at war memorials throughout the country, and at the national ceremony at the Cenotaph in London’s Whitehall.  The Queen will pay tribute alongside Members of the Cabinet, Opposition Party leaders, former Prime Ministers, the Mayor of London and many others. Representatives of the Armed Forces, Fishing Fleets and Merchant Air and Navy will be there, as well as High Commissioners of Commonwealth countries.  All will wear a red poppy.

Around 30 million poppies are sold each year in the UK by the Royal British Legion. All the proceeds are used to provide serving and ex-service personnel with financial support, advice, employment, mobility, housing and mental health facilities.

Today we are more aware than ever that battles are fought mainly by young people, and many of those who survive bear scars for life. The act of ‘remembering’ will not only look back to mark their sacrifice, but also yearn to learn lessons for the future.

Reflecting on the poem, ‘In Flanders Fields’, the American professor Moina Michael, wrote:

And now the Torch and Poppy Red

We wear in honour of our dead.

Fear not that ye have died for naught;

We’ll teach the lesson that ye wrought

In Flanders Fields.

As the Royal British Legion says: “We only ask you to wear it with pride.”

What is happening this year?

This year will see the return of Poppy Appeal collectors in local communities across the country.

40,000 collectors will be back on the streets after the Poppy Appeal was affected by the national coronavirus lockdowns last year.

Poppy Appeal: What do the different coloured poppies mean?

What do the different poppy colours mean?

Many people choose to wear a poppy in November for Remembrance Day to show respect for the people who died fighting in the First World War and the conflicts that followed it.

But there are other coloured poppies too – purple, black and white – that have different meanings.

What does the red poppy mean?

Red poppy: Memorial to World War One and following conflicts

The red poppy is the most famous symbol used to commemorate those who sacrificed their lives in World War One and conflicts that followed.

Wearing a poppy was inspired by the fields of poppies that grew where many of the battles were fought.

The red poppy is connected to the Royal British Legion – a charity created by veterans of World War One.

They say that the red poppy represents remembrance and hope.

What does the purple poppy mean?

Purple poppy: To remember animal victims of war

The purple poppy is often worn to remember animals that have been victims of war.

Animals like horses, dogs and pigeons were often drafted into the war effort, and those that wear the purple poppy feel their service should be seen as equal to that of human service.

In particular, many horses were killed or injured in World War One.

Donations to the Purple Poppy Appeal, which is organised by the War Horse Memorial, will go to charities like World Horse Welfare and the animal charity, Blue Cross.

What does the black poppy mean?

Black poppy: Remembering African, black and Caribbean communities’ contribution

The black poppy has two different meanings attached to it.

It is most commonly associated with the commemoration of black, African and Caribbean communities’ contribution to the war effort – as servicemen and servicewomen, and as civilians.

The campaign organisers say that while they also support the red poppy, they feel that the black poppy highlights this contribution and the place of black, African and Caribbean communities in remembrance.

What does the white poppy mean?

White poppy: Remembers people who died in conflict with a focus on an end to war.

Some people feel that the red poppy glorifies war and conflict.

Instead they might choose to wear a white poppy.

The white poppy is handed out by a charity called Peace Pledge Union, which promotes peace.

They say that the white poppy commemorates people who died in conflict but focuses on achieving peace and challenging the way we look at war.



British Legion in numbers

  1. £3bn in today’s money in the 100 years since the end of the first world war, the Guardian has established, making the yearly autumn fundraiser one of the most successful street donation campaigns in the country’s history.
  2. £84,000 collected by the first Poppy Appeal in 1921 – £4m in today’s money
  3. 40,000,000 poppies made each year by British Legion
  4. 235,0000 Legion members
  5. £49,300,000 spent by Legion on veterans in 2019
  6. 2,500 Legion branches. You don’t need to have served to be a member
  7. 255 D-Day veterans sailed on a Legion ship to Normandy for the 65th anniversary in 2019
  8. 888,246 ceramic poppies filled Tower Of London moat for centenary of World War One in July, 2014, representing British personnel killed in the conflict.
  9. People have given on average £1 every second for an inflation-adjusted amount of £3bn+ since the appeal fund was launched in 1921
  10. Now, a century after it began, the charity is helping more than 90,000 veterans and their families, at a cost of £50million a year.

BONUS: More than £1bn has been raised in the past 25 years alone, comparable to totals raised by Comic Relief and Children in Need respectively since their establishment in the 1980s.

A brilliant headline in the sun as Meghan has to apologise to the courts. 

More evidence that Piers Morgan was right!

REMEMBER: The most wasted of all days is one without laughter.

– Nicolas Chamfort


“The pessimist sees difficulty in every opportunity. The optimist sees opportunity in every difficulty.” – Winston Churchill.


Happiness is…supporting the Poppy Appeal


Did you hear about the perfume that smells of nothing? I think it’s total non-scents.


Love is…full of hope.


A time for war…A time to remember those who died in the war.


11th November

1945 John Hodgkinson (My late brother in law was born – Remembering all the laughs we had with him and loads of love to his family on this day.

1918 At the 11th hour on the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918, the Great War ended; a war that had lasted for 4 years and 97 days. Germany, bereft of manpower, supplies and food, signed an armistice agreement with the Allies. The war left 9 million soldiers dead and more than 21 million wounded, with Germany, Russia, Austria, Hungary, France, and Great Britain each losing nearly a million or more lives. In addition, some 6 million civilians died from disease, starvation, or exposure.

1919 Britain introduced a two minute silence at 11:00 a.m. to remember those who died in World War I.

1921 The first British Legion Poppy Day.

1953 The BBC television programme Panorama was first broadcast.

1987 Irises, a painting by Vincent Van Gogh was sold for £27m at Sotheby’s, a world record at that time for a work of art.

1992 The Church of England General Synod voted to allow women to be ordained to the priesthood.






©2021 Phil M Robinson