Few things are as moving as the dedication, respect and simplicity shown when you see row upon row of scarlet poppies, sprawling before you. At RHS Chelsea Flower Show this year, over 30,000 woven poppies graced the lawns the Royal Chelsea Hospital, the enormity of the presentation seemed overwhelming, but, in hindsight, we saw but a slither of the sacrifice and honour of our servicemen that we should be thinking of.
2016 marks the centenary of The Battle of the Somme. I’ll shamefully admit that, outside history books and family ancestry, little thought is generally offered to one of the greatest military sacrifices in our country’s history. The Battle of the Somme was fought at such terrible cost that it has come to symbolise the tragic futility of the First World War. Its first day of conflict remains the bloodiest day in the history of the British Army. Over the course of 141 days, British soldiers advanced just 6 miles, lost more than 400,000 lives and returned 1.3 million wounded heroes to a country scarred by the terror of war.
It seemed almost coincidental that I should find the following email in my rather full inbox.
Dear Miss Sells,
In September’s issue of The Poppy I am very proud to introduce our annual Fields of Remembrance. Since 1928, thousands of dedicated people like you have joined The Royal British Legion in honouring their loved ones, and those who fought for our country, in our Fields of Remembrance, and helped raised funds for those who Live On.
In six locations across the UK, row upon row of scarlet crosses with along with personal tributes, photographs and memories show that we will never forget the sacrifice made by so many on our behalf. Read on to find out how you can get involved in this touching and poignant initiative.
You can also read about our successful 2016 Pedal to Paris cycling challenge, which raised over £600,000, and be among the first to hear about our exciting new ultimate cycling challenge – Pedal to Paris 24 in 2017.
Thank you so much for your ongoing support of our Armed Forces Community. Your support helps more than you know.
Assistant Director of Fundraising: Individual Giving
FIELDS OF REMEMBRANCE
Each year, hundreds of volunteers’ plant more than 120,000 tributes across six Fields of Remembrance in the UK. Members of the public can make a Remembrance tribute to be planted , in the form of a religious or secular symbol carrying a poppy and bearing a personal message to someone who lost their life in the Service of our country.
The National Field of Remembrance is held annually in the grounds of Westminster Abbey, but, fittingly and well overdue, further Fields have now been created in sites across Britain including the Staffordshire, Cardiff, Swindon, Gateshead and Belfast.
The very first Field of Remembrance was held in the grounds of Westminster Abbey in November 1928, when The Poppy Factory took a group of disabled veterans, a tray of poppies and a collecting tin to the grounds of St Margaret's Church in Westminster. Only a handful of poppies were planted around a single cross, but it began a tradition that has grown over the decades.
THE SOMME 1916 POPPY LAPEL PIN
Of course, for the majority of us the traditional poppy lapel pin is the way we’ll show our respect. However, Legion has created a simple and deeply meaningful alternative for 2016. The Legion Somme 1916 Poppy Lapel Pin tells the story of sacrifice made at the Battle of the Somme 100 years ago.
No two pins are the same due to the unique materials used to create them. A perfect representation that behind the numbers of those who died at the Somme were real people just like us: sons, husbands, fathers and amazing stories of comradeship and courage.
The unobtrusive brass pins are, ever so peacefully, a reminder of the war and sacrifice that they represent. The pins are forged from British shell fuses fired during the Battle of the Somme with the centre of the pin coloured by paint mixed with soil from the same fields British soldiers fought over a hundred years ago. Each fuse and shell has been collected from the historic front line, melted down and handcrafted in the jewellery quarters of London and Birmingham.
This November, The Royal British Legion will, once again welcome members of the public from across the UK to join, honour and remember those who lost their lives whilst serving in our Armed Forces. The Two Minute Silence at 11am with bugler playing the Last Post and the reading of the Exhortation will be ever more poignant, and, so remind us, Lest We Forget.
GET YOUR OWN COMMEMORATIVE POPPY
If you wish to show your respect in some other way the Royal British Legion’s Poppy Shop offers other Somme 100 commemorative items, including high quality Somme 100 cufflinks made using the same materials and methods, are available from poppyshop.org.uk