Remembrance Poppies

The Poem and the inspiration for poppies

A field of poppies

A field of poppies

The poppy is not a symbol of victory, many who wear the poppy have seen service or provided support to the forces and civilians -remembering courage and sometimes – all too frequently- the supreme sacrifice.

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.

The publication

Lt.Col John McCrae

Lt.Col John McCrae

In December 1915 “Punch” magazine published an (anonymous) poem “In Flanders Fields”, written by a Canadian military doctor, Lt. Col. John McCRae, inspired after presiding over the funeral of his friend Lt. Alex Helmer. The lieutenant died on a poppy strewn battlefield during the second battle of Ypres in Belgian Flanders. Poppies, bright red wild flowers were the first to bloom on the moonscapes created by intense artillery barrages, and created an intense carpet over thousands of fallen soldiers buried in the sodden mud of the terrible conflict.

The United States and Canada

Miona Michael

Miona Michael

In 1918 an American YWCA worker , Moina Michael, was inspired by the work, writing her own poem, vowing to always wear a red poppy in remembrance of the dead. In November 1918 Miona’s fellow YWCA Overseas War Conference members thought highly of the idea of a remembrance poppy, and by 1920 these ladies had successfully petitioned the American Legion to adopt the poppy as their own remembrance symbol.

Mdm GuerinFrance

It was now that a Frenchwoman, Madame Maria Anna Guerin had the idea that a cheaply made silk, and then paper poppies could be sold to help orphans, widows and injured ex servicemen. She sold her poppies with female volunteers in France and in the U.K .

The UK

The first Haig Fund Poppy Design

The first Haig Fund Poppy Design

Field Marshal the Earl Haig had these poppies adopted by the Royal British Legion – he saw it as a way of raising funds and also employing ex servicemen to make them. However for the first British Poppy Campaign (1921) they used poppies purchased from France.

Designs around the world

There are various designs around the world

United Kingdom and Commonwealth

British Poppy

British Poppy

Possibly the most familiar is that used in most of the United Kingdom which is distributed to many services of remembrance in Commonwealth countries around the world, and to countries where Commonwealth forces saw action in the two world wars. They are also worn in the former colony of Hong Kong


Scottish poppies

Scottish poppies

Scotland has it’s own distinct design of poppy, more similar to the real flower. than the one used in the rest of the UK.

The Island of Ireland.

In the northern (British) six counties poppies are often to be seenworn around Armistice Day and Remembrance Day

In Eire the wearing of poppies is not common as they are associated with “The Troubles” between Irish Nationalist and the British Government. However the Irish Government hold a National Day of Commemoration in July where real flowers are used for wreaths.

The United States of America

American Poppy 1921

American Poppy 1921

The USA has two designs of poppies, for Memorial Day poppy and the poppy of Veterans of Foreign Wars.


Canadian Poppy

Canadian Poppy

The second country after the United States to adopt the poppy, their design is very distinctive and like the Scots regard the design as more authentic a representation of a real flower than those used in many other countries.


Rosemary for remembrance

Rosemary for remembrance

Poppies are worn on Remembrance Day (11th November) and available to be worn on Anzac Day, but on this occasion a sprig of rosemary is very commonly worn.

New Zealand.

NZRSA poppy

NZRSA poppy

In New Zealand poppies are commonly seen on Anzac day (25th April) and on Remembrance Day.


ThailandThailand has it’s own distinctive design which is worn for Veterans Day in January at a service outside Independence Monument in Bangkok

 Sri Lanka

sri lankan 3Sri Lanka is one of the many Commonwealth countries to observe Remembrance Services, although controvercies over the tragic civil have clouded the observance of days of remembrance


Bluet de France

Bluet de France

Today France does not use the poppy, but rather the Bleut de France

The White Poppy

White poppy for peace

White poppy for peace

White Remembrance Poppy

In 1933 the Women’s Co-operative Guild introduced a white poppy as a lasting symbol for peace and an end to all wars. These are rarely seen today as most see the red poppy as a symbol worn for the same sentiments.

The Animal Aid Purple poppy

The Purple Poppy

The Purple Poppy

This poppy is commemorate the millions of animals who died in conflict in the service of theri human masters. In WW1 over one million horses died in battle. Dogs, pigeons, draft animals all died in huge numbers.


Many people around the world object to the wearing of poppies, especially if they were the former – or are present enemies of those countries were they are commonly worn today. However it is generally seen as a mark of respect for all who fell in conflict.

Indian Armed Forsces wearing poppies of Remembrance

Indian Armed Forces wearing poppies of Remembrance

Posted on by TOBY in Inspirational, Remembrance Tour, Specials, Tours 9 Comments

9 Responses to Remembrance Poppies

  1. Pingback: Remembrance Day – Poppy Day | Northern News

  2. Nell in Ontario

    The US did in the end not adopt the poppy as a nation nor does it honour its Fallen in November.
    The Dominion of Canada led the Empire group of nations in country-wide use of the Mme. Anna Guerin-provided replica by arrangement with the Great War Veterans Association on July 4, 1921. The event is
    historically plaqued in the Prince Arthur
    Hotel in now-Thunder Bay, Ontario.
    Mme. Guerin is pictured in 1921 Toronto papers and is very attractive. Are you sure that is the right Anna Guerin (nee Boulle)?

    • TOBY

      Dear Nell, You are quite correct. I was provided Mme. Guerin’s picture by the Canadian High Commission in London and the Canadian Embassy in Thailand and I still believe it is a correct likeness. However I could be wrong.

      The USA is a Union of aligned states with state and federal laws and initially the shock on the war led the various legislators to even wear the poppy but the steam went out of the movement prior to the Great Depression. However, the USA have two official remembrance days, Veterans Day (Nov. 11th and formally called Armistice Day) which remembers the service of all, and Memorial Day (last Monday in May) which remembers those who fell. These are Federal observances.

      As I write this on April 24th it is Anzac Day, where Australians and New Zealanders remember the initial landings of their forces on the Gallipoli “beaches” near Istanbul in Turkey. This is part of nation building. However the British Empire forces as well were there, indeed my Grandfather in the Royal Naval Division – after the failure of the attack he was withdrawn to northern Greece to fight the Turks, before being withdrawn to Marseilles to march to the Somme on the western front until the Armistice, and then was required to go to Russia to fight with the “White Russians”..

      My other Grandfather fought from 1914 until being gassed at the 3rd battle of Ypres (Passchendale – spelling differs) – all brave boys and by chance they both survived. He fought with the Canadians, the Sikhs, the demounted (and mounted) Bengal Lancers, the Jat Regiment, the Gurkhas, the New Zealanders, the Ozzies and many others, including the French and Belgians.

      He and his colleagues in the Manchester Regiment gave half their rations to the Chinese labourers who helped build the defences. My grandfather had great respect for the Salvation Army, who brought hot food and drink to the front lines – I think they did this to the Central Powers as well.

      Nell, I am sure we are all proud of the service of our families – my great uncles in 1915 who fell piping their men over the line, the friend of my Father’s father ( Gallipoli) where his friend Jack Simpson was shot taking wounded on his donkey at Gallipoli, and many many more.

      Poppies – we need to remember them.

      As a Brit we are very proud of Canada and her service. Very.

      best wishes


    • Heather

      Toby … Would you like to look at this site You will discover the real Madame Guérin here. The image is also on the Royal British Legion website – I drew their attention to this being an incorrect image but the image of a MADEMOISELLE Guérin (which has been used without authentication) still remains there 🙁 I hope you will be enlightened 🙂

  3. Stephen Mulqueen

    I am writing about the image of Anna Guerin ‘France’ that you have on this page; ‘Remembrance Poppies’ and I am curoius about where you might have obtained this photo of Guerin. I am currently undertaking research on the Frenchwomen and would appreciate any feedback regarding my inquiry.

    Kind regards


    • TOBY

      Dear Stephen,

      I don’t know if you got my reply as the message bounced back. To repeat I received the image from the canadian High commission here in Bangkok.

      I know there is another image of probably a different lady here.

      kind regards

      David Forsyth

  4. Heather Johnson

    May I draw your attention to the fact that the image you have for Madame Guérin on this page is not correct. If you have a look at this: you will see many different correct images of her 🙂 Many thanks Heather

    • TOBY

      Dear Heather,

      Thank you,

      The correct image is now in place.

      kind regards


      • Heather Johnson

        Sorry, Toby, I totally missed your reply and have just caught up with it. Thank you very much for the addition, much appreciated. Heather


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