2014 especially commemorates the centenary of the start of Word War 1 (WW1).
A moving Remembrance Day tribute held annually at the Royal Albert Hall London. Each falling poppy leaf is a symbol representing those who sacrificed their lives in wars and conflict – BBC
Remembrance Day (also known as Poppy Day or Armistice Day) It is a memorial annually commemorated in the UK and Commonwealth Countries. Other countries involved in the World Wars and later conflicts hold Veteran Days around the same date.
At 11am on the 11th day of the 11th month 1918, hostilities of War One (WW1) ceased and the guns fell silent. The Treaty of Versailles in 1919 formally ratified the ceasefire.
WW1 was one the bloodiest conflicts in European history leaving many millions on both sides including civilians dead.
A week or so before Remembrance Day, volunteers appear to sell replicas of the red poppy flower (poppies) as badges. Poppies were chosen as symbol of hope, renewal and remembrance for all those who made the ultimate sacrifice of their lives in wars and conflicts fought since WW1. The poppies are sold for the British Legion, a charity for ex and veteran service personnel as well as families of those who perished and those wounded in wars and conflicts.
The poppies grow in fields in Flanders, a region of northern Belgium which saw some of the bitterest fighting in WW1 . The only living thing to survive and grow each year after the devastation were the poppy flowers.
We, who buy poppy badges, say we ‘wear them with pride’ for the sacrifice others made to protect the freedom and safety of our nations.
Artificial poppies were made for the first poppy appeal in 1921 and had been imported from France.
In 1922 the Disabled Society , a charity established in 1920 received a grant of £2,000 from the British Legion to employ disabled ex-service personnel to make remembrance poppies in England, A poppy makin factory was set up in a former collar factory on London’s Old Kent Road and employed employing 50 disabled veterans. The factory made a million poppies within two months.
In November 1924, the Prince of Wales ( the future King Edward VIII) visited the Poppy Factory, which made 27 million poppies that year. Most of the employees were disabled, and by then there was a long waiting list for prospective employees.
The old collar factory eventually proved too small as demand increased for poppies and in 1925 the factory moved to the disused brewery site in Richmond that is still its home. The name of the charity was changed to the British Legion Poppy Factory at about the same time. In 1933 the factory was rebuilt on the same site.
As of 2011, the Richmond factory is still operated by Royal British Legion through a separate company, The Royal British Legion Poppy Factory Ltd, and employs approximately 40 full-time workers, most of whom are disabled, who make the poppies throughout the year in preparation for the period around Remembrance Sunday. In addition, the charity employs approximately 90 home workers who live within 10 miles (16 km) of the factory. Total production is approximately 36 million poppies each year, although it has been as high as 45 million and there were once 365 workers.
The Richmond factory also makes approximately 80,000 poppy wreaths each year
A separate factory, Lady Haig’s Poppy Factory, was opened in Scotland in March 1926 at the suggestion of Countess Haig, wife of Field Marshal Earl Douglas Haig
In 1998, the factory became an independent charitable company, The Lady Haig Poppy Factory Ltd, owned by Earl Haig Fund Scotland Ltd.
The factory is operated by the Earl Haig fund and also employs ex-service personnel, many disabled, making five million remembrance poppies in Edinburgh each year, to a slightly different design with four-lobed petals rather than two for English poppies, and 8,000 wreaths.
The nearest Sunday to 11th November is known as On Remembrance Sunday and churches hold memorial services.
On Remembrance Sunday at the Cenotaph – Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in London’s Whitehall, a poppy wreath is laid by the reigning monarch Queen Elizabeth II and other members of the Royal Family.
They are followed by wreaths placed at the cenotaph by the Prime Minster, senior politicians, armed service leaders and representatives from the Royal Army, Royal Navy, Royal Airforce, emergency services, police, fire , ambulance services also auxiliary services, military veterans, ex service personnel, who also parade past the cenotaph. There is a poppy Field of Remembrance at Westminster Abbey.
Similar wreath laying ceremonies take place at local war memorials in the UK and Commonwealth Countries.
A two minutes silence is observed at 11am.
“Lest We Forget”