Red Poppy

An Ongoing Tribute To ‘Poppy Day’

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Poppy Day,
also known as Remembrance Day
& Armistice Day,
is Veteran’s Day in the
British Commonwealth.

It is always observed on November 11, without exception since that was Armistice Day — the day, in 1918, the armistice [i.e., truce] was signed the Allies [i.e., US the good guys] and Germany, at Compiègne, France, to bring to an end World War I [1914 to 1918], which involved over 70 million troops and had killed more than 9 million combatants.

The armistice was signed, symbolically, on the ‘eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month‘, 11 a.m., on 11/11, 1918 in a railway carriage in the woods of Compiègne, in northern France. [Yes, I have visited Compiègne and seen the railway carriage].

The poppies symbolize those that grew in profusion across some of the worst battlefields. [Think of French Claude Monet’s ‘Poppies Blooming’ painted in 1873.]

A Canadian physician, Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae, who was serving in WW I,wrote a poem, in 1915, called ‘In Flanders Fields‘, after attending the funeral of a fellow soldier [‘Flanders‘ being a region in northern Europe in which there was heavy fighting]. The first verse of it went:

 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.

An autographed copy of the poem that gives us this lovely tradition.

Inscription of the complete poem in a bronze “book” at the John McCrae memorial at his birthplace in Guelph, Ontario, Canada.

Canadian Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae [Nov. 30, 1872 to Jan. 28, 1918] — soldier, physician & poet. He died, at 45, of pneumonia while commanding No. 3 Canadian General Hospital (McGill) at Boulogne [France]. He was buried closeby.

Click to explore.

George Edward Honey’s suggestion of a few minutes of silence

Plaque in memory of Australian Edward George Honey in “Kings Domain”, Birdwood Avenue, City of Melbourne, Down Under.

London Evening News in 1918.

On May 8, 1919, a letter to the editor signed ‘Warren Foster’ appears in London Evening News proposing the first anniversary of the armistice ending World War I 1918 November 11th, be commemorated by several moments of silence.

The author, actually an Australian journalist named George Edward Honey, living in London (U.K.), after being invalided out of the in the British army with a leg injury, was concerned about the huge celebrations on the streets on “Victory Day” 1918.

He suggested a silent commemoration of the sacrifices made and the lives lost during the war would be a far more appropriate way to mark the first anniversary of its end – the first “Armistice Day” in 1919.

Placement of the above plaque.

“Five little minutes only, silent minutes of national remembrance.  A very sacred intercession. Communion with the Glorious Dead who won us peace, and from the communion new strength, hope and faith in the morrow. Church services, too, if you will, but in the street, the home, the theatre, anywhere, indeed, where Englishmen and their women chance to be, surely in this five minutes of bitter-sweet silence there will be service enough.”

Honey’s letter did not immediately bring about a change but a similar suggestion was made to Sir Percy Fitzpatrick that October, reaching King George V, who on November 7, 1919, made an official proclamation, practicality setting it as a 2 minute period of silence (as opposed to ‘5’), beginning with the first stroke of the hour of 11 am November 11th across the Empire.


We today are used to gatherings at local cenotaphs but most weren’t up yet in 1919. These monuments seem to have killed the brilliant idea of a stoppage in ordinary places to reflect individually, no dignitaries and school children and old guys having photo ops.

King George V’s November 7, 1919, Proclamation
Introducing The 2 Minute ‘Great Silence’.


From Click image to ENLARGE. Use link below to access original.

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Nancy's transcript of the King's proclamation. Scanned image cope she sent to me. Click to ENLARGE.

Nancy’s transcript of the King’s proclamation. Scanned image cope she sent to me. Click to ENLARGE.

The Commemorative ‘Blood Red Poppy’ Plaque, Lobby Of The Prince Arthur Hotel, Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada.

From a contributor from Ontario, Canada.

The above plaque hangs in the lobby of the Prince Arthur Hotel in the city of Thunder Bay, Ontario, the amalgamation of twin cities Fort William and Port Arthur in 1970.

Mme. Anna Guerin, wife of a French jurist and founder of a Paris war orphanage reached out to North American for financial support. She was aware of Canadians’ strong association between the Flanders poppy and their heavy overseas losses, their “fallen” soldiers, since late December 1915 when an little poem “In Flanders Fields” appeared anonymously in England’s popular periodical ‘Punch‘.

This turned out to be authored by an Ontario physician army officer, composed that May while contemplating the fresh grave of friend, which later was sent to England by a fellow officer.

As she wrapped up her charitable fundraising, in 1921 Mme. Guerin brought out French-made cloth replicas of the wildflower and, with the encouragement of Canada’s first ‘returned soldiers’ association [see plaque] and public support asked government to recognize it and ask citizens everywhere to wear one on November 11 that year. Recently with our own Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Ottawa, the custom has arisen spontaneously of placing one’s poppy on the sculpture, a blanket of funeral-like flowers. A moving sight.

The first Armistice Day in the Empire, 1918, was an occasion of celebration and thanksgiving for victory. But in 1919 King George V asked his subjects everywhere to pause just where they were, to stop all traffic, and to observe two minute of silence at the stroke of 11 am in remembrance of those who did not come back. This tradition makes it a solemn day, remembering our many losses, the families they left behind, while former military “vets” join civilians recalling lost comrades.

Prince Arthur Hotel a Thunder Bay landmark

VVIPs Proudly Wearing Poppies

The Queen, Poppy Day 2012 showing how it is carried off with pomp.

92-year old Prince Phillip, a navy veteran.

From Click image to ENLARGE. Use link below to access original at Many thanks to zimbio.

Other related images

Remembrance Day (Armistice Anniversary) Announcement
in Perth, Western Australia ‘The Daily News’
From November 9, 1931.

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Click this link to access original at ‘’.

A very detailed and well presente history from the U.K.
‘Great War’ Website. A must read.

Click to access.

Click to access.

Me, in November 2013, wearing my Canadian Poppy with Pride.
Click for post.

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Remembrance Day — Poppy Day Traditions and Pictures from Around The World.

Click to access the posts.

2013 Royal British Legion

London 2013

U.K. Poppy Day Appeal 2013:
Poppy Girls, Camilla …

U.K. 2013 … Birmingham buses …

Remembrance Sunday London 2012

Sri Lanka — Ceylon


America, i.e., U.S.A.

South Africa


Paul Cummins “Tower of London” Ceramic Red Poppies

Links to posts (click):

1/ Buying Tower of London poppy.

2/ The Tower of London poppies

3/ Tower of London crowds. 

4/ Will NOT ship till Jan. 2015.

5/ All 888,246 sold out.

6/ Ceramic Red Poppy arrives, at last.

7/ Final Resting Place.

Click to access post.

2014 Posts

Click to access post.


Click to access.


Links to posts (click):

>> Boris Johnson selling poppies.

>> 2014 Poppy Day Song (Single).

>> Prince Harry hops on bus.

>> Canada’s #Poppyproud.   

3 thoughts on “Red Poppy

  1. 'Janey Canuck'

    Just remember these terms are NOT interchangeable. Each nation has its
    own way of doing things, evolved over nearly a century. That’s where I dropped in on you, from a country which no longer has a single, money-oriented Legion clubs event. We called it Armistice Day to 1931 apparently, Remembrance Day then being adopted as it focussed on the function of the ceremonies, Remembrance of our war dead vs. a WW1 history event

    “Armistice Day” began in 1919 in the Empire group of nations, as did the 2 minute silence, and was the first anniversary of the 1918 truce that ended the Great War 1914-18 or 1917-18 depending if one is in the US or the Empire group of nations.
    Let’s remember that New Zealand’s story differs in date, due to late arrival of the shipment of “tags” from France…
    Nor has the original Guerin-supplied replica of 1921 been copied. Each user nation has evolved its own – you display the UK Legion one that is used on the wooden cross device – unlike the lapel one which has a green leaf, as well as the Canadian one from last year. Here at least it trademarked, so minimal tacky use of the image.
    Sadly, up here the ‘Vet’ focus, celebrating the ageing remainder of world war survivors, is creeping in re the 11th, almost overshadowing in younger minds the meaning of the anniversary which is to remember the Fallen, as a group and as our individual war dead family members.
    A war survivor/Veterans celebration works in the US as it long ago abandoned the November date in favour of its existing “day of the war dead” their Memorial Day in the spring, [now apparently bothering some Americans who think it is becoming too party-oriented, the true intent being lost.]
    Anu, you need 3 thinking hats – one for recollections of then-Ceylon, one in the English years, and one for your date of settling in the USA. Your president
    would not have been raised with childhood knowledge of the Empire tradition in the Pacific Ocean island, not sure about his time in an African nation.
    So keep that old map in mind when wondering where that replica is worn today in common cause.
    You are doing a real public service in anchoring this with the Prince Arthur Hotel plaque, local Royal Canadian Legion commemorating war veteran
    involvement is popularizing this memorial imagery.
    Something happened to it a while ago, as the cataloguing of news items it in the public library up there mentions it being “returned” in 2004.
    So can you get a poppy as it is worn in Sri Lanka ? Any followers who have access to those of other now-Commonwealth countries (since c 1952 ??)
    Hope that northern Canadian Legion has caught on to it prominence here thanks to you, south of the 49th parallel.

  2. 'Janey Canuck'

    Let’s get past how Canada does November 11 and the associated replica fundraiser out of the way so we can look at the far reaches of that Empire in the era. Where did it survive the breakup of it and which Commonwealth countries participate.
    The Legion group is not the only Service association that arose here but it got in on the ground floor, incorporating the GWVA and others in 1925 and getting its popular support. It tends to lead the country in these matters – although ex-servicemen and women not now the only membership – and is a powerful lobby. Its current rules re their annual poppy fund campaign say
    “Distribution of Poppies to the general public start no earlier than last Friday in october concluding on November 11”.
    Number one is presented to the Governor General. the Queen’s personal representive in Canada. [We stopped importing GGs 1952 with the
    new monarch and they are chosen by our government, and token Approved by her.
    ‘Poppy Day’ should mean nothing up here anymore – it diminishes the almost sacred nature of our Remembrance Day, the day for the Fallen.
    Anyone not displaying one, especially on TV, looks pretty out of touch. We
    take the flower so seriously it is even on some paper money.
    The focus on the icon over the implications of the occasion is concerning. Surely the author of the poem [died of disease January 1918 in France] would
    be horrified, when his Spring ’15 point was so clear – fight on to victory over the foe, don’t make our comrades in arms sacrifice meaningless.

    For those of you Americans with kin who served in the Canadian military in the WWs,you can Surname search the CEF enlistees with “CEF Attestations”, and all our war dead, Boer War to today’s military casualties with “Virtual War Memorial”
    here’s one long forgotten man buried in Quebec with a faulty ‘Commonwealth
    War Graves Commission’ headstone. Buigon GEE on the VWM is corrected to
    Bogan Scott GEE, but so far no GEE family interest in their lost son who died 1914, Sept. 14 of disease, documentation incomplete both as a homesteader in Alberta and with the military.
    Does Ceylon/Sri Lanka have CWGC graves? -if so their poppy device would
    show in photos.

    1. aguruge Post author

      Please give me a few days. I am swamped. Trying to publish a COUPLE of books. But, I will get to it. This is great. Thanks.


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