Saturday, 11 November 2006

Armistice Day - Remembrance Day - Poppy Day

They shall not grow 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 evening
We will remember them.
Lest we forget.
"Those who forget the past are condemned to relive it. " - George Santayana
Let us not forget the madness and horror of war.

At the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month, in 1918, the armistice officially ending World War One was signed in a railway carriage in a clearing in the forest at Compiègne in France. It marked the cessation of hostilities on the Western Front. War continued, however, across the former Russian Empire and in parts of the former Ottoman Empire.

My grandfather was one of the bright-eyed young Australians who fought this far-away war, "for God, King and Empire" (note the British flag in his photo). Unlike 60,000 of his countrymen, he survived Gallipoli, the Somme and Flanders, to come home and marry my grandmother (they met after the war). The picture centre bottom above is them on their honeymoon in the Blue Mountains.

The poppy's significance to Remembrance Day is a result of Canadian military physician John McCrae's poem In Flanders Fields. The poppy emblem was chosen because of the poppies that bloomed across some of the worst battlefields of Flanders, their red colour an appropriate symbol for the bloodshed. French woman Madame E. Guérin introduced the widely used artificial poppies given out and sold today.

Armistice Day - Remembrance Day - Poppy Day (Wikipedia)


  1. it's called remembrance day in Canada and veterans would do fund raising by selling poppy flowers.

  2. Bravo, voila un superbe hommage.

    Cheer, veiled a superb homage.

  3. Have a listen to the Remembrance podcast on iTunes or on the Royal British Legion blog.

  4. A moving post Sally. We are on the same theme today.

  5. At my son's cricket match this mornign, we stopped for a minute's silence at 11am.

  6. what a touching post, sally. love those poppy flowers.

  7. What a lovely post Sally and thank you for the history of the poppy. I never knew the background so this was nice to have. I also read somewhere (BostonWeeklyPhoto) that it is/was your birthday? Happy (belated?) Birthday!

  8. Your words touch me, Sally. My grand father was also a "Poilu de la Grande Guerre", but he always refuse to speak about it...Perhaps he met your grand father in a field with poppies? Who knows?

  9. alice: mine refused to speak about it too; most of the did. It was just too, too awful.

    There is a lovely tribute to the poilou at the Arc de Triomphe in Paris.

    Two years ago I went to the Anzac Day - 25 April - ceremonies in Villers-Bretonneux and Bullecourt in Picardie (see my post here about Anzac Day:

    What amazes me is the affection with which, nearly 80 years later, with almost noone still alive from that time, Australians are held in those villages. It is one of the things that is the cause of my attraction to France. Reading my grandfather's letters from that time - his talking about having been invited in to a farmhouse by a young woman sit by a fire and write his letter, the description of the beauty of the first spring there (1916 for the Aussies) before the horror of Fromelles and Pozieres...

    My grandfather lived with us when I was a child - he died when I was 9. He was a lovely, lovely man - very gentle and softly-spoken. He had seen such untold horrors, that they sytayed untold. All he would ever say was "It must never happen again." He was a lifelong pacifist, as many of those men were.

  10. Our grand fathers did not speak the same language, nevertheless they said the same thing. Thank you Sally for answering me in this way.

  11. I'm glad that quite a few Daily Photo bloggers are including reference to the Armistice, it is so important to learn the harsh lessons of the past.
    I'm featuring Remembrance day all this week.

    Curly's Photoshop

  12. Thanks for sharing your family history with us. A very moving post.

    One of my grandfathers was in the trenches too, an officer responsible for maintaining the vital communication lines. Not easy since the cables kept being destroyed by constant shelling. He also married after the war. My other grandfather was too young to take part in WW1 but was a POW for most of WW2.

    PS - I had no idea a French lady invented the artificial poppy. They are not used in France and the poppy is not associated with Remembrance day.

  13. Hi Sally
    I enjoyed your entry on Anzac Day. I came across your blog by accident when I Googled The Sydney Mail- an early Sydney newspaper of which I have a complete set for WW1.
    I'm still exploring your vast blog!! Wow, what a voyage of discovery.
    You may like to check my blog and see my notes on Anzac Day and earlier on the Lone Pine. I have 6 descendants of the original Lone Pine (Alleppo Pine) growing on my land). I'm at