Updated: Sep 7, 2019
This year Remembrance Sunday is an important moment in our nations history, as it marks 100 years since the end of the First World War.
The First World War or the Great War, was a global war originating in Europe that lasted from 28 July 1914 to 11 November 1918. Contemporaneously described as the "war to end all wars", it led to the mobilisation of more than 70 million military personnel, including 60 million Europeans, making it one of the largest wars in history. An estimated nine million combatants & seven million civilians died as a direct result of the war,
This blog is about why we remember, how we remember, the poppy & places to visit.
When we Remember?
Remembrance Sunday, which falls on 11 November in 2018, is a day for the nation to remember & honour those who have sacrificed themselves to secure & protect our freedom.
NATIONAL SERVICE OF REMEMBRANCE AT THE CENOTAPH
The National Service of Remembrance, held at The Cenotaph in Whitehall on Remembrance Sunday, ensures that no-one is forgotten as the nation unites to honour all who have suffered or died in war.
HM The Queen will pay tribute alongside Members of the Cabinet, Opposition Party leaders, former Prime Ministers, the Mayor of London and other ministers. Representatives of the Armed Forces, Fishing Fleets & Merchant Air and Navy will be there, as well as faith communities & High Commissioners of Commonwealth countries.
The Cenotaph in Whitehall is the site of the annual National Service of Remembrance, held at 11.00.am on Remembrance Sunday.
Originally conceived as a temporary structure for the London Victory Parade by Sir Edwin Lutyens in 1919, a permanent design made from Portland stone was built in 1920, undecorated except for a carved wreath on each end & the words "The Glorious Dead".
Taken from the Greek for ‘empty tomb’, a cenotaph is a tomb or monument erected to honour a person or group of persons whose remains are elsewhere.
Flags flanking the sides of The Cenotaph since 2007 represent the Royal Navy, the British Army, the Royal Air Force, & the Merchant Navy.
TWO MINUTE SILENCE
Each year at the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month, we observe a Two Minute Silence. Armistice Day on 11 November marks the end of the First World War and is a day to remember & honour those who have paid the price for our freedom.
The Poppy Appeal
The Poppy Appeal is the Royal British Legion’s biggest fundraising campaign held every year in November, the period of Remembrance. This year, we mark the end of the WW1 centenary by saying Thank You to all who served, sacrificed & changed our world.
WHY DOES THE ACT OF REMEMBRANCE MATTER
Great Britain still believes strongly in remembering those who fought not only in World Wars, but the more than 12,000 British Servicemen & women killed or injured since 1945.
The Royal British Legion supports silences observed during both Remembrance Sunday services & on 11 November, Armistice Day, itself. The act of Remembrance rightly has a place in - & impact on - our lives, no matter which day of the week it might fall upon.
HOW TO OBSERVE THE TWO MINUTE SILENCE AT
At 11am, the Last Post is played
The exhortation is then read (see below)
The Two Minute Silence then begins
The end of the silence is signalled by playing the Reveille
"They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old,
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun, and in the morning
We will remember them."
Response: "We will remember them."
The inspiration behind the poppy as a symbol of Remembrance.
WHAT THE POPPY MEANS
The poppy is
A symbol of Remembrance & hope
Worn by millions of people
Red because of the natural colour of field poppies
The poppy is NOT
A symbol of death or a sign of support for war
A reflection of politics or religion
Red to reflect the colour of blood
Wearing a poppy is a personal choice & reflects individual & personal memories. It is not compulsory but is greatly appreciated by those it helps – the Royal British Legions beneficiaries: those currently serving in our Armed Forces, veterans, & their families & dependants.
THE STORY OF POPPY
In the spring of 1915, shortly after losing a friend in Ypres, a Canadian doctor, Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae was inspired by the sight of poppies growing in battle-scarred fields to write a now famous poem called 'In Flanders Fields'. After the First World War, the poppy was adopted as a symbol of Remembrance.
History of the Poppy
During the First World War (1914–1918) much of the fighting took place in Western Europe. Previously beautiful countryside was blasted, bombed & fought over, again & again. The landscape swiftly turned to fields of mud: bleak & barren scenes where little or nothing could grow.
Bright red Flanders poppies (Papaver rhoeas) however, were delicate but resilient flowers & grew in their thousands, flourishing even in the middle of chaos & destruction. In early May 1915, shortly after losing a friend in Ypres, a Canadian doctor, Lt Col John McCrae was inspired by the sight of poppies to write a now famous poem called 'In Flanders Fields'.
McCrae’s poem inspired an American academic, Moina Michael, to make & 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 & sold them on 11 November that year. The poppies sold out almost immediately & 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 & housing.
In 1922 Major George Howson set up the Poppy Factory to employ disabled ex-Servicemen. Today, the factory & the Legion's warehouse in Aylesford produces millions of poppies each year.
The demand for poppies in England was so high that few were reaching Scotland. Earl Haig's wife established the 'Lady Haig Poppy Factory' in Edinburgh in 1926 to produce poppies exclusively for Scotland. Over 5 million Scottish poppies (which have four petals & no leaf unlike poppies in the rest of the UK) are still made by hand by disabled ex-Servicemen at Lady Haig's Poppy Factory each year & distributed by our sister charity Poppyscotland.
Today, poppies are mostly used in the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia & New Zealand, to commemorate their servicemen & women killed in all conflicts.
THE POEM by John McCrae
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
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 ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders' Fields.
Royals at War;
Prince Albert, later George VI during WWI;
From 1909, Prince Albert attended the Royal Naval College, Osborne, as a naval cadet. In 1911 he came bottom of the class in the final examination, but despite this he progressed to the Royal Naval College, Dartmouth. When his grandfather, Edward VII, died in 1910, Albert's father became King George V. Edward became Prince of Wales, with Albert second in line to the throne.
Albert spent the first six months of 1913 on the training ship HMS Cumberland in the West Indies and on the east coast of Canada. He was rated as a midshipman aboard HMS Collingwood on 15 September 1913, & spent three months in the Mediterranean. His fellow officers gave him the nickname "Mr. Johnson".
The First World War broke out 28 July 1914 a year after his commission. He was mentioned in despatches for his action as a turret officer aboard Collingwood in the Battle of Jutland (31 May – 1 June 1916), an indecisive engagement with the German navy that was the largest naval action of the war. He did not see further combat, largely because of ill health caused by a duodenal ulcer, for which he had an operation in November 1917.
In February 1918 he was appointed Officer in Charge of Boys at the Royal Naval Air Service's training establishment at Cranwell. With the establishment of the Royal Air Force two months later & the reassignment of Cranwell from Admiralty to Air Ministry responsibility, Albert transferred from the Royal Navy to the Royal Air Force. He served as Officer Commanding Number 4 Squadron of the Boys' Wing at Cranwell until August 1918, before reporting to the RAF's Cadet School at St Leonards-on-Sea. He completed a fortnight's training & took command of a squadron on the Cadet Wing.
In February 1918 the Prince was appointed Officer in Charge of Boys at the Royal Naval Air Service's training establishment at Cranwell. With the establishment of the Royal Air Force two months later and the reassignment of Cranwell from Admiralty to Air Ministry responsibility, Albert transferred from the Royal Navy to the Royal Air Force. He served as Officer Commanding Number 4 Squadron of the Boys' Wing at Cranwell until August 1918, before reporting to the RAF's Cadet School at St Leonards-on-Sea. He completed a fortnight's training & took command of a squadron on the Cadet Wing.
He was the first member of the British royal family to be certified as a fully qualified pilot.
Albert wanted to serve on the Continent while the war was still in progress & welcomed a posting to General Trenchard's staff in France. On 23 October, he flew across the Channel to Autigny. For the closing weeks of the war, he served on the staff of the RAF's Independent Air Force at its headquarters in Nancy, France. Following the disbanding of the Independent Air Force in November 1918 he remained on the Continent for two months as an RAF staff officer until posted back to Britain. He accompanied the Belgian monarch King Albert I on his triumphal re-entry into Brussels on 22 November. Prince Albert qualified as an RAF pilot on 31 July 1919 & was promoted to squadron leader the following day.
The National Memorial Arboretum is part of the The Royal British Legion family of charities
WHAT IS THE NATIONAL MEMORIAL ARBORETUM?
The Arboretum honours the fallen with 50,000 maturing trees surrounding 200 memorials, including the striking Armed Forces Memorial.
Open daily (except 25 December) with free admission, the park currently hosts around 300,000 visitors & over 200 events each year with an additional Act of Remembrance & Silence held daily.
For Servicemen & women or students, veterans or families of those lost, the Arboretum is a tranquil & powerful reminder of those who have given their lives to ensure our freedom.
A recently-confirmed £15.7 million redevelopment campaign will see a new Remembrance Centre taking pride of place in the Arboretum, scheduled for completion in 2016.
There are more than 100,000 war memorials in the UK. They take many forms, including cenotaphs, plaques, gardens & books.
Visit the Poppy Shop: http://tidd.ly/8310d077
We Will Remember Them..........