The poppy has a long association with Remembrance Day, the day to commemorate soldiers who have died in war.
In late 1914, the fields of Northern France and Flanders were once again ripped open as World War One raged through Europe’s heart. Once the conflict was over the poppy was one of the only plants to grow on the otherwise barren battlefields.
Blood Swept Lands and a Sea of Red
The poppy came to represent the immeasurable sacrifice made by all the soldiers in the Great War and quickly became a lasting memorial to those who died in World War One and later conflicts. It was adopted by The Royal British Legion as the symbol for their Poppy Appeal, in aid of those serving in the British Armed Forces, after its formation in 1921. The poppy helps to provide thousands of modern veterans, Service men, women and their families with vital advice and support.
In 2014, commemorating the centenary of the outbreak of World War I, the moat of the Tower of London housed a temporaly work of installation art known as Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red, title taken from the first line of a poem by a World War I soldier. It consisted of 888,246 individually hand-made ceramic red poppies, each intended to represent one British or Colonial serviceman killed in the War, that were arranged to resemble a pool of blood which appeared to be pouring out of a bastion window. In fact, the moat itself was used in the early days of the war as a training ground for City of London workers who had enlisted to fight
The poppies were added to the installation progressively by volunteers. The first one was planted on 17 July, and the work was unveiled on 5 August, coinciding with the centenary of Britain’s entry into the war. The last one was planted on 11 November, the Remembrance Day. An estimated five million people saw the memorial before it started to be removed after the Remembrance Day. Every ceramic poppie was sold for £25 each and the huge profit was shared between six service charities.”
Find out more stories like this one with Timeline Trip London