Sunday, 10 November 2013
Remembrance Sunday - The story of the Poppy
Today in churches up and down this island, and other parts of the world, special services of remembrance will take place. The congregations will then lay wreaths of paper poppies at the memorials.
Of all the religious and/or historical events we celebrate this is one that has it's roots in modern times. Its origins are the Great War aka WWII or the 1914/18 war. A war that changed warfare, the leaders military and political thought of war in terms of marches to battlefields and then face to face hand to hand fighting ending in orderly retreats with clear winners and losers. Not so this war Tanks entered the battlefields, Airplanes flew gathering information and engaged in aerial battle. The old canon and somewhat inaccurate long range guns were replaced by more accurate and faster machines that bombarded the enemy. Worse of all chemical warfare made it's debut Mustard Gas or Nerve Gas a dreadful completely alien to comprehension of the powers that be at that time.
In the thick of all this men, young and old, lived in appealing unthinkable conditions. They dug (or later used those dug by the enemy) trenches, six foot deep open top passages cut in to the ground. Open to all the elements rain, snow unshaded sun these places had no conveniecnces such as running water or power for a cooker or heater. These trenches were vacated only when the men were on the march to the next set of trenches or going into face to face hand to hand battle with the men from the trenches opposite. Battles made worse by bombardments of shells and the belief of the war lords that war and these 'set piece' battles were the same as they had been in the preceding century, the Bore war had started the change but nothing like this and its lessons were ignored.
Understandably some men simply could not take this and ran away. Something else that has always happened in warfare men would abscond and go back to their family and fields. Now we understand stress but not then it was seen as cowardice and deserters were executed by firing squad.
At the end of this carnage a generation of men were de-mobbed and that was that. These men were all pretty much damaged some visibly with missing limbs or terrible shortness of breath a legacy of the gas. Others were damaged in their mind or soul all were left to the mercy of society.
In 1919 there was a flu outbreak (Spanish flu) it killed more than had died in the war or so we have been told. As this island began to recover that was little resource or facility to sympathise with the former soldiers or capacity to give the help. Most had some occupation to fall back on but life was hard. Others the maimed could only beg.
For them a societys' were formed to raise money to help them and to give them occupation. I worked for one that continues today providing homes and care for the impaired of today Enham. Another group now the Royal British Legion gave some of these occupation basket weaving and making other useful things. They also made paper poppies to raise funds, I remember being told that it was one poppy for every man who fell. Today it is thousands more.
Why poppies, they are survivors the first plants to bloom on those scared battle fields were poppies. If you see the poppy fields in the summer (a wonderful sight in the English country side) all those little red flowers waving in the breeze. You can see why they are such a powerful symbol.
Today we remember not just the solders of that war but of the wars that followed and continue today. Warfare has developed and become more dreadful but perhaps it was never a bloody and raw as the 1914/18 war to end all war.
Many of us paper crafters are remembering today and this is for them.
Delicious Doodles - Remembrance Sunday
SweetPea Stampers - Let us Remember/Thinking of you
Creative Inspirations - Poppies and or Red flowers
Stamp n Doodle - Remembrance
The Male Room - Remembrance
Thank you to all of them for giving this special occasion it's voice in our paper craft world.