An attempt at describing and dating British poppies: A ‘Work in Progress’ List.
Including a FOOTNOTE relating to the white Peace Poppy and earlier British FLOWER DAYs.
“Quotes” denote descriptions discovered, in relation to poppy emblems from 1921 onwards.
This may be an impossible quest so feel free to help, if you can!
These two beautiful pieces of art (shown above, adjoining) were created by Collette Olivia Hunter. Inspired by the history of The Poppy Factory, Collette created several illustrations and this is her Poppy Lady Madame Guérin and her 1921 British Remembrance Poppy, made by the widows and children of the devastated areas of France. These illustrations formed a small part of the work submitted by Collette, for her Edinburgh College of Art Masters Degree in Illustration. Collette’s work has been likened to that of the artists and illustrators Sir Quentin S. Blake, C.B.E., F.C.S.D., F.R.S.L., R.D.I., and Ernest H. Shepard, O.B.E., M.C. They are reproduced here with permission from Collette Olivia Hunter©
1921: MADAME GUÉRIN. It all started with Madame Guérin’s ‘Inter-Allied Poppy Day’ idea. After taking her idea to Field Marshal Douglas Haig and the British Legion, Madame Guérin’s poppies (made by the widows and orphans/women and children of the devastated areas of France) were distributed on British streets on 11 November 1921 – on the country’s first Poppy Day. Madame Guérin personally paid for the British consignment because the Legion was so poor and was reimbursed after the Armistice Day distribution.
Shown above: one of Poppy Lady Madame Guérin’s 1921 silk poppies – preserved on a book page, along with Canadian John McCrae’s poem ‘In Flanders Fields’ (albeit entitled here “Poppy Day”). The poppy was made by the widows and orphans of the devastated areas of France, for Great Britain’s first ‘Remembrance Day’ on 11 November 1921. These images are owned by Andy Chaloner© and they are reproduced with his permission.
“There is an added value to these poppies in the fact that they are made by the women and children in the devastated areas of France.” (05.10.1921. Nottingham Evening Post); “The poppies which will be sold are being made by peasants in some of the devastated French villages. They are made in two qualities – in silk and in mercerised cotton.” (05.11.1921. Tamworth Herald).
Right from that first British Poppy Day, the British Legion had to worry about fake poppies: “Unauthorised persons are selling paper poppies in Leeds and pocketing the money.” (11.11.1921, Leeds Mercury). BUT, in Kent, paper poppies were being made and distributed with good will: “… the helpers at the Committee Room were working hard from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. making poppies of scarlet paper to supply the continuous demand of the seller.” (18 November 1921, Kent & Sussex Courier).
The poppy shown above belongs to the Green Howards Museum in Richmond, North Yorkshire. This poppy and its accompanying note from Field Marshal Douglas Haig were laid at the London Cenotaph on 11 November 1921. In British newspaper reports of the time, Haig is credited with originating the term “Remembrance Day” AND the poppy idea.
1921: “selling impromptu poppies made from red ribbon” (18.11.1921. Western Gazette); “The Legion purchased small “poppies” for 3d. in France, where they were manufactured by the women and children in the devastated areas. … The first orders for the 1s. poppies were given to London manufacturers, but the demand was so great that it was impossible to get enough to London, and they had to send to France, Coventry and many parts of the country, and were even then unable to meet all demands.” (28.7.1923. Folkestone, Hythe, Sandgate & Cheriton Herald).
1922: “HAIG’S FUND”. “the Flanders’ Poppy … bears a small paper label containing a registered number (09.11.1922. Hull Daily Mail); “poppies should only be bought from sellers appointed by Earl Haig’s Fund, who will wear the official badge”; “centres of which bear the words “Haig’s Fund.” (02.11.1922. Sheffield Independent); “The Record for 1922” of the Red Cross’ Portsmouth Branch noted: “To help the British Legion, the Red Cross Depot supplied 1,237 poppies on Remembrance Day.” (19.1.1923. “THE RED CROSS. Portsmouth Branch’s Fine Work”, Hampshire Telegraph); The Disabled Society made 5,000,000 poppies, with the balance being supplied by manufacturers. (28.7.1923. Folkestone, Hythe, Sandgate & Cheriton Herald).
Is the above an example of the first/1922 British Legion “Remembrance Day” Poppy? It has a paper label but, however, no registered number. It is reminiscent of Poppy Lady Madame Guérin’s 1921 French-made poppy. This is a delicate, smaller artificial poppy – measuring approx. 2.75 inches in total length. The ‘sliver’ of an image on the right hand side depicts the scarlet red colour both sides of the poppy would have originally been The poppy was acquired with the smaller spray of artificial forget-me-nots already entwined around its stem.
LEAVES, with POPPIES: It is deduced that poppies of silk possessed a leaf, others did not. In 1959, “the poppy with the leaf was dropped as being too expensive”. But “the public preferred a poppy with a leaf to a leafless poppy and the 1987 Annual Conference had asked that in future poppies should come with the leaves attached.” [Source: ‘Keeping Faith’ by Brian Harding]. Thus, it appears, there were no leafed-poppies produced between 1959 and 1987.
1923: “HAIG’S FUND”. On Remembrance Day, November 10, between twenty-five and thirty millions of imitation Flanders poppies will be on sale throughout the United Kingdom and in British centres abroad. … The material from which the flowers are made is supplied in large quantities from Manchester, and the metal centres from Birmingham … official poppies will be sold by lady sellers wearing a poppy badge and carrying a collecting-box labelled “Earl Haig’s Appeal.” The metal centre of each genuine flower is inscribed with the words “Haig’s Fund.” (London Observer. 28 October 1923); “The poppies … have a green button with lettering, “Haig’s Fund.” They also have a tab, “British Legion Remembrance Day.” Two different styles of poppies will be on sale, one being a silk poppy, which is to be sold at one shilling and upwards. The other is for smaller contributions. …” (09.11.1923. Dundee Evening Telegraph); “The Haig fund poppy has a green centre on which are printed the words “Haig’s Fund,” (10.11.1923. Northern Whig, Northern Ireland); Four kinds of poppies were available, large silk ones at 1s each, small silk poppies 6d, small muslin poppies 3d, and penny cardboard poppies, which are being sold to schoolchildren only. (10.11.1923. Shields Daily News); “penny cardboard emblems …” (12.11.1923. Exeter and Plymouth Gazette); The Disabled Society made “180,000 cornflowers for the Ypres League for Ypres Day”. (‘Folkestone, Hythe, Sandgate & Cheriton Herald’, 28 July 1923); “Poppy Day 1923: 2,253,433 large silk poppies; 3,034,875 small silk poppies; 12,091,748 muslin poppies; 5,387,375 children’s card poppies; …” (21.10.1924. Coventry Evening Telegraph).
1923: “REMEMBRANCE DAY. MILLIONS OF “FLANDERS POPPIES.” .. 25,000,000 “BLOOMS” … More than 25 millions of poppies were prepared for sale in various parts of the Empire—poppies made of Manchester muslin, coloured scarlet with a thousand pounds of British dyes, and mounted on wire made in Halifax. …” (Western Gazette, 16 November 1923).
Card Poppy: From the green centre of the card poppy, shown above, it is deduced that it dates to 1923 or 1924 too – as per the silk example and the descriptions of aforementioned “penny cardboard emblems” and “children’s card poppies”, quoted below.
1924: “HAIG’S FUND”. “the poppy with either a black or green centre”; “stamped with the words “Haig’s Fund.”; “… 25,000,000 poppies … silk; lawn; thin card (the latter are manufactured expressly for wearing by children.)” (07.11.1924. Yorkshire Post and Leeds Intelligencer); “… 200,000 scarlet poppies a day, in lawn, silk or paper …”. (30.10.1924. Aberdeen Journal); “There is only one kind of poppy … the poppy with either a green or black centre of registered design stamped with the words “Haig’s Fund.” … 25,000,000 poppies … approximately 22 miles of silk, and 42 miles of lawn, while over 200 miles of green fringe (for the stems and foliage)” (7.11.1924. Coventry Herald); “large silk poppies; small silk poppies; muslin poppies; children’s card poppies; wreath poppies; giant poppies; sprays” in 1924 (01.09.1925, Gloucester Citizen).
The Imperial War Museum has, within its collection: A “Handmade poppy with red fabric petals, green plastic centre and wire stem, underneath the poppy flower is a red card label printed as follows ‘EARL HAIG’S APPEAL FOR EX SERVICE MEN OF ALL RANKS’”. [No image]
The Imperial War Museum has, within its collection: A “Handmade red fabric poppy with a black plastic centre marked ‘HAIG’S FUND’, green stamens, a green fabric leaf and a green paper covered wire stem.” [No image]
1925: “HAIG’S FUND”. “Every genuine poppy had on the button in the centre of the flower the words, “Haig’s Fund.”” (16.11.1925. Derby Daily Telegraph)
1926: “HAIG’S FUND”. “new paper poppy” (04.06.1926. The Scotsman); “Each one had a black button in the centre which bore the words “Haig’s Fund.””. (03.11.1926. Dundee Evening Telegraph).
In March 1926, the Lady Haig Poppy Factory was opened in Edinburgh.
Shown above: Scottish-made 1926 crepe paper poppies. 1926 was the first year of poppy production at the Lady Haig’s Poppy Factory, when it was at its original site on the Royal Mile, Edinburgh. The poppies, and the Field Marshal Earl Haig autographed card, form part of ‘The Poppy: A Symbol of Remembrance’ exhibition (held at the National War Museum, at Edinburgh Castle 30 March 2018 – 27 January 2019). This image is reproduced courtesy of The Lady Haig’s Poppy Factory and the National Museums Scotland – copyright held by The National Museums Scotland.
1927: “HAIG’S FUND”. “Metal centre”; “formed out of lawn, sateen, silk, and paper” (17.04.1927. Sunday Post); “EARL HAIG POPPIES. SHOULD THEY ALL BE THE SAME SIZE? … some people refused to buy because the poppies were not all alike. (15.09.1927. Hull Daily Mail); “… special metal centre on which stand out in relief the words “Haig’s Fund.” (04.11.1927. Sheffield Independent).
A Festival Commemoration Performance, which first took place on Armistice Day at London’s Royal Albert Hall in 1923 (in aid of the British Legion) was renamed ‘The British Legion Festival of Remembrance’ and recorded for a ‘His Master’s Voice’ gramophone record.
1928: “HAIG’S FUND”. “…a number of disabled worker have been cutting, twinning, wiring, and pasting millions of poppies …” (27.10.1928. Derby Daily Telegraph); “words “Haig’s Fund” are printed in the centre of the poppy.” (09.11.1928. Aberdeen Journal)
Above: The British Remembrance Poppy is a poor survivor but a loved one, all the same. It may date to c1926-1928 or is it 1930’s – because of the dots on the Haig’s Fund button? The underpinning petals are made from a starched lawn fabric; the upper petals are silk; with black painting at the centre. The stem is thick, substantial wire; lined with paper; and topped with a chenille “fringe”/thread wound around it. The stamens must be coconut fibre (as aforementioned), which have been dipped in glue and sawdust. The measurements are: poppy head 3.25 inches dia.; length of stem, to bottom of flower head 3.25 inches; average overall length 4.25 inches.
On 27 September 1928, ‘The Birmingham Daily Gazette’ printed the following text underneath an ill-defined photograph of a WW1 ex-veteran, working at The Poppy Factory: “PAINTING THE POPPIES. Colouring silk poppies by hand at the Richmond Poppy Factory, in readiness for Armistice Day.” Could the silk Remembrance Poppy, shown above, date to 1928? Any enlightenment on this or any poppy will be greatly appreciated.
The first ‘Field of Remembrance’ in Great Britain: at Westminster Abbey, London, England. “A “Field of Remembrance” will be made on the grass outside Westminster Abbey …” (10.11.1928., Western Morning News); “Last year, in the precincts of Westminster Abbey, a “Field of Remembrance” was instituted … … It was thought that many people would like to purchase two poppies, one to plant in the Field and one to wear” (09.11.1929, Driffield Times)
‘Keeping Faith’ by Brian Harding [sic]: “The Field of Remembrance Major Howson, the Poppy Factory’s chairman, had conceived most of these new ideas and in 1928 he had a further thought. At Remembrance time he and his wife took a group of disabled men, a tray of poppies and a collecting tin to the grounds of St. Margaret’s, Westminster, close by the great Abbey where, gathered round an original wooden cross taken from the battlefield grave of an unknown British Soldier, some of the men pushed poppies into the ground. Passers-by stopped, asked questions and soon began to buy and plant their own poppies. The Field of Remembrance had been born. …”
It is St. Margaret’s Field of Remembrance which is shown in this postcard. The Crimea and Indian Mutiny Memorial (also known as Westminster Scholars War Memorial) is seen beyond, standing off the right hand end of The Sanctuary House.
In 1928, British Flanders Poppies were “sold in Paris along the Riviera and everywhere where a few British” were found. (10.11.1928. Hull Daily Mail)
1929: “HAIG’S FUND”. “Lady Haig warned the public against buying German and other foreign poppies” (07.10.1929. Aberdeen Journal); “The official poppy bears the inscription “Haig’s Fund” …” (18.10.1929. Western Morning News); “The silk poppies cost about 1s. to make in the factories, but there was still an inclination in some parts to sell them cheaper. Each silk poppy should be sold for 2s. 6d., or a good deal more.”; “A Garden of Remembrance” suggestion by Lady Haig. (18.10.1929. Northampton Mercury); “… four tons of cocoanut fibre were used for the stamens of the poppies. …” (18.10.1929. Market Harborough Advertiser and Midland Mail); “A new production this year from the poppy factories was in the form of a large poppy mounted as a motor mascot” (26.10.1929. The Scotsman).
“Armistice Day this year will end with a great festival at the Albert Hall, when 1,060,825 poppy leaves will be released and float down from great baskets in the dome – a leaf for each man who laid down his life for the Empire. …” (28 Oct 1929, Coventry Evening Telegraph) [N.B. also seen reported as 1,089,919 leaves]; “The “Field of Remembrance”. Last year, in the precincts of Westminster Abbey, a “Field of Remembrance” was instituted … It was thought that many people would like to purchase two poppies, one to plant in the Field and one to wear” (09.11.1929. Driffield Times).
The above image shows “HAIG’S FUND” poppy buttons depicting various numbers of dots: zero; two; five; and six. It is believed the poppies date to the 1930’s but what is it with the dots? Does anyone know, and are there poppies out there with one; three; or four dots??
1930: “HAIG’S FUND” or “HF”. “usual black metal centre bearing the words “Haig’s Fund” in the larger poppies and the letters “H.F.” in the smaller ones.” (1930.11.10. Northern Whig, Northern Ireland).
The tag attached to the poppy shown above bears the inscription ‘EARL HAIG’S APPEAL For Ex-Service Men of all Ranks and their Dependents’ on one side; and ‘BRITISH LEGION “REMEMBRANCE DAY ” (Reg. No 689 752)’ on the other. The poppy is made of two layers of different fabric: the under layer is probably lawn and the upper is probably artificial silk. It bears a green fabric leaf; faux stamens; and a metal centre bearing “HAIG’S FUND”.
“Interwar”: The Imperial War Museum has an “Interwar” poppy in its collection: “Physical description: flower, stem and tag poppy (95 mm in diameter) made of cloth strengthened with wire at the stem. Embossed in the centre is the inscription ‘HAIG’S FUND’. A tag attached to the poppy bears the inscription ‘EARL HAIG’S APPEAL For Ex-Service Men of all Ranks and their Dependents BRITISH LEGION “REMEMBRANCE DAY” (Reg. No 689 752)’.
A) embossed in the centre b) printed on the tag
a) HAIG’S FUND b) EARL HAIG’S APPEAL For Ex-Service Men of all Ranks and their Dependents BRITISH LEGION ‘REMEMBRANCE DAY (Reg. No 689 752)”
In 1930 “… There were two novelties introduced this year. One was a mascot for motor cars, a waxed poppy which would stand the weather … a small five poppy button-hole …” (08.11.1930. Nottingham Evening Post).
1931: “HAIG’S FUND” or “HF”. “On a metal centre in raised letters the poppies bear the words “Haig’s Fund.” (30.10.1931. Sevenoaks Chronicle and Kentish Advertiser); H.F: “They were made up as ladies’ buttonholes” (26.11.1932. Lincolnshire Standard and Boston Guardian).
1932: “HAIG’S FUND” or “HF”. “A shortage of shilling and sixpenny poppies throughout the country on Poppy Day, November 11th, is probably following the serious fire last May at the British Legion poppy warehouse, King’s Cross, London.” (15.9.1932. Sheffield Daily Telegraph); “… some poppies had gone out with the button in the centre which did not contain the words “Haig’s Fund” and which did not comply with instructions …”; “one of the sprays which came out this year with “H.F.” on it.” (26.11.1932. Lincolnshire Standard and Boston Guardian)
‘In Remembrance’ Crosses: This is believed to be the first year that the British Legion began distributing small wooden crosses, for the “Fields” and “Gardens” of Remembrance. No earlier reference to them has been found. “… GARDEN CEREMONY. Small wooden crosses bearing a poppy in the centre are to be sold …” (04.11.1932. Derby Daily Telegraph); “… in this “field” small wooden crosses carrying poppies and the inscription “In remembrance” may be placed to the memory of fallen Servicemen. …” (08.11.1932. Hartlepool Northern Daily Mail).
The above image is a great photograph of a British Veteran Poppy Seller. Because of the man’s Poppy Seller badge and small wooden crosses, the photograph can be dated to between 1932 and 1935 inclusive. The man’s medals are all World War One: a 1914 (or 1914/15) Star; a British War medal; and a Victory medal. His medals confirm that he was serving in France from either 1914, or 15, so would have gone through a large part of the War, if he hadn’t have been medically discharged.
The first ‘Field of Remembrance’ in Scotland, in Edinburgh, at St. John’s Church in Princes Street and first sale of wooden poppy crosses there. “… in Edinburgh, on Friday there is to be, for the first time, a “Field of Remembrance.” … in addition to the usual poppy emblems, small wooden crosses bearing a Haig poppy in the centre will be on sale.” (08.11.1932., Edinburgh Evening News)
1933: “HAIG FUND” or “HF”. “Poppy on Every Motor-Car. Emblems of Waterproof Material”; “cluster of poppies”; The Dominions provide their own supplies of poppies, but many thousands have been sent from Richmond to Kenya, the West Indies, and smaller British possessions in all parts of the world. (01.11.1933. Lincolnshire Echo); “copyright button bearing the words “Haig Fund.”” (04.11.1933. Bury Free Press); “Purchasers should see that on Saturday next they buy no other than the Poppies marked in the centre “Haig Fund”.” (10.11.1933. Western Daily Press). N.B. There is no “’s” added to “Haig” in either of these articles.
1934: “HAIG FUND” or “HF”. “See that the words “Haig Fund” or letters “H.F.” are on the poppy.” (01.11.1934. The Berwick Advertiser); buy only the Official Poppy, which contains a centre stamped “HAIG FUND” OR “H.F.” (05.11.1934. Portsmouth Evening News). N.B. There is no “’s” added to “Haig” in either of these articles.
Wooden Crosses: Ypres. … A touching feature yesterday … ceremonial scattering of the ashes of the miniature crosses from the “Field of Remembrance” outside Westminster Abbey.—Reuter.” (07.8.1934, The Scotsman)
In 1934, ‘Remembrance Day’ was on Armistice Day – Sunday, 11 November. The posters in the photograph above (lower left and upper right of the window) read: “REMEMBRANCE DAY. NOVEMBER 11TH … POPPIES WILL BE SOLD ON SATURDAY NOVEMBER 10TH” and they help date the photograph to 1934. Printed on back of photograph is: K & H Ltd., Advertiser Gazette, Uxbridge.
1935: “HAIG FUND” or “HF”. “See that the words “Haig Fund” or letters “H.F.” are on the poppy.” (07.11.1935. The Berwick Advertiser) N.B. There is no “’s” added to “Haig” here; “artificial silk”; “cotton”; “red crepe paper”; “cardboard”. (08.11.1935. Dover Express).
1936: “HAIG’S FUND” or “HF”. “buy the poppy which contains a centre stamped “HAIG’S FUND” or H.F.” (02.11.1936. Portsmouth Evening News)
It appears that it became the custom, for Great Britain (and the United States of America), to send some of their respective Remembrance Poppies to be sold in France. With regard to the Great Britain, British poppies were sold on Armistice Day, 11 November. However, in 1936, yellow poppies were sold in aid of Haig’s Fund, instead of the scarlet red ones – a decision which was politically led. (06.11.1936. Dundee Evening Telegraph).
1937: “HAIG FUND” or “HF”. See that the words “Haig Fund” or letters “H.F.” are on the poppy.” (04.11.1937. The Berwick Advertiser); distinguishable by a metal centre embossed with the words “Haig Fund”. (06.11.1937. Gloucestershire Echo). N.B. There is no “’s” added to “Haig” in either of these articles.
1938: “HAIG’S FUND” or “HF”. “buy the poppy which contains a centre stamped “HAIG’S FUND” or H.F.” (02.11.1938. Portsmouth Evening News).
The poppy, shown above, came from possessions originally belonging to Eugene Charles Field. Eugene was born on 30 May 1898, in Altoona, Pennsylvania, U.S.A. His father was born in England, his mother in Pennsylvania. Eugene served as a Field Engineer during World War One. Eugene’s Marine brother Harry was killed during the Battle of Belleau Wood, aged 17, and is commemorated on the Aisne-Marne American Memorial at Belleau. It is known that Eugene travelled to Europe for a holiday (date awaited) and, it is deduced, he acquired this British poppy then. Its condition is “as new”.
The above image is taken from the photograph shown below, which was featured on a page within a 1939 edition of ‘The Great War. I was there’ magazine (Amalgamated Press Ltd). The following text was featured below the image:
“HE REMEMBERED HIS COMRADES IN ARMS. The Field of Remembrance close to the North Door of Westminster Abbey has in recent years become almost as important on Armistice Day as the Cenotaph. Above, ex-Private H. E. Day, of the 15th Hussars, who lost a leg during the War, is standing in the Field of Remembrance in the early dawn of November 11, 1938, selling the little wooden crosses with a poppy attached which are planted in the grass plot by relations and friends of the dead.”
1939: “HAIG FUND” “Poppy Day is going ahead in spite of the war.”; “suggestion is made that this year British people might buy two poppies, one as a tribute to the men of 1914-18 and the other to their sons who are serving today.” (14.10.1939. Surrey Advertiser); “Many sympathisers of the Poppy Day appeal may be rather concerned because they cannot obtain certain types of emblems, such as sprays and motor-mascots.” (04.11.1939. Evening Despatch, Birmingham); “small silk poppies made up into attractive sprays for our coats, the familiar single ones of all sizes” (04.11.1939. Hull Daily Mail)
In 1939, King George VI gave “instructions that French cornflowers as well as Haig Fund poppies are to be used in his wreath for November 11th. …” (06.11.1939. Lancashire Evening Post). There may have been a mutual agreement of sentiment between France and Great Britain, of sorts, because cardboard épinglettes or pins portraying the poppy and le bleuet were distributed or “sold” in France in 1939.
1940: “HAIG’S FUND”?? “Fewer types of poppies. In case factory is bombed.” (11.10.1940. Birmingham Daily Gazette); “In other years large consignments of poppies have gone to British communities overseas, including fifty-three foreign countries. Now that, in most cases, despatch to foreign places is difficult or impossible, it is hoped that the loss of revenue will be made up by purchasers here.” (07.11.1940. Birmingham Daily Post); “Members of the public are urged to buy two poppies this year (08.11.1940. Liverpool Evening Express).
1941: “HAIG’S FUND”?? “no shortage of poppies this year”; “fewer of the more expensive types.” (01.11.1941. Cheshire Observer); “Silk is used for the 2s. 6d. motor waxed sprays and poppies retailed at 1s. and 6d. The cheaper type of poppy is made from lawn. (07.11.1941. Nottingham Evening Post)
1942: “HAIG’S FUND”. AUSTERITY. “smaller”; “fewer petals”; “Some of the small poppies have been made of printed card”; to salve as many poppies as possible”. (29.10.1942. Birmingham Daily Post). “40 million” “Austerity poppies”; “only four millions will be of the more attractive silk types. And even these will be smaller than usual.”; “The wire stalk is giving place to an ingeniously contrived cardboard stalk, while the well-known metal centre is being replaced by a painted paper centre”. (31.10.1942. Burnley Express). The ‘Austerity’ poppies were made in silk and cotton. Silk poppies kept a leaf, but the cotton ones did not (see below).
A Poppy Factory veteran didn’t quite hit the mark, when it came to cutting the cotton “Austerity” poppy shown above. That said, the imperfection didn’t stop a person from plucking it from the British Legion tray and one person, or more, from treasuring it ever since – the present owner being no exception.
1943: “HAIG’S FUND”. AUSTERITY. “war-time “austerity” type. The one-time wire stalk has given place to an ingeniously designed cardboard stalk. The well-known “Haig Fund” metal poppy centre is now replaced by a printed paper centre. The petals are smaller, while some of the poppies which previously had two layers of petals now have one layer only”; “Poppy wreaths” – “There are six new and attractive war-time designs”. (06.11.1943. Coventry Standard).
“HAIG’S FUND”. DECORATED CROSSES. “A new feature of the British Legion’s Armistice Day Garden of Remembrance at Westminster Abbey will be miniature wooden crosses decorated with the emblems …” (27 October 1943. Lincolnshire Echo)
1944: “HAIG’S FUND”. AUSTERITY. “majority will be the same austerity poppies as last year, some are of better quality than on former wartime Poppy Days”. (20.10.1944. Derby Daily Telegraph); “the shilling silk poppies on sale this year will be an improvement on those available hitherto, though some of last year’s will be in circulation. (07.11.1944. Hull Daily Mail).
1945: MOTORISTS. CYCLISTS. BETTER QUALITY POPPIES. It was the year the 25th Poppy Day took place. “Nearly 1,000,000 poppy emblems for motorists alone have been made … the emblem is now a large single poppy instead of the former three small ones.” (1.11.1945, Manchester Evening News); if the new large car poppies were not available, “… smaller waxed ones intended for cycles, and these, one of the workers told me, can be made into sprays for motorists if required.” and “… poppies seem to me to be of a much better quality than they were during the late war years.” (19.10.1945, Liverpool Echo).
The collection of Remembrance Poppies, shown above, was acquired with the provenance of “belonging to a lady remembering her young husband who died during World War II”. It is deduced they can be dated as post-War; during the 1950’s decade (?). Leaves were discarded after 1959.
Some of the bitumen buttons were either originally poorly stamped or, for some unknown reason, have suffered since their manufacture. As a collection, the poor quality buttons are given a “genuine” provenance by better quality ones – given they are all comparable.
The small Remembrance Poppy, above, is held within the afore-shown “post-World War Two” collection. It is different from the majority depicted, which are made with thin felt-type material, so it is probably earlier. This one may be made of a silk/lawn fabric (?). The bitumen button is one of the aforementioned poor quality ones but the words “HAIG FUND” can be deciphered.
The Remembrance Poppy fragments, above, are from the afore-shown “post-World War Two” collection, and are loose within it. It is worth posting images of them because, although damaged, they may give an idea as to how the poppy components were put together.
Below is one of the waxed Remembrance Poppies for cars, from the same “post-World War Two” collection. There was a mention of “new large [waxed] car poppies” in 1945 but “a mascot for motor cars, a waxed poppy” was a new “novelty” in 1930.
1948: Silk poppies were no longer made [?]: “… the Legion stopped making silk poppies ten years ago. …” (1.12.1958. Western Mail)
The central bitumen buttons on these sateen and cotton lawn poppy blooms (shown above & below) may date the poppies to post-WW2 or early 1950’s – further research may prove or disprove that.
Shown above, is a box which contains 20 British Legion Car Poppies – it; another containing 19; and an accompanying Poppy Collector’s certificate date to 1953. These three items comprised a lot which was auctioned off in March 2015.
1955: In Scotland: “One type of poppy. Poppies have been standardised—only one type will be sold in aid of the Earl Haig Fund (28 October 1955, Berwickshire News and General Advertiser); “The change from three types of poppy formerly available to one “Emblem,” will be made all over Scotland this year. It is intended that the “Emblem” should have a green leaf attached, but owing to a fire …, a considerable proportion of the “Emblems” to be issued this year will not have a leaf. (28 October 1955, Jedburgh Gazette).
1957: The black and white image shown left below, of a small wooden Remembrance Poppy Cross, appeared on page 8 of the Illustrated Sporting and Dramatic News, on 16 October 1957. The coloured image shows a 2017 version:
1958: “HAIG FUND”. “Foiling poppy cheats. To prevent people using the same British Legion poppy emblem year after year … the Legion headquarters are to be asked to introduce a colour scheme. … the black button in the centre of the poppy should be blue and yellow … on alternate years. … the Legion stopped making silk poppies ten years ago.” (1.12.1958. Western Mail)
1959: In this year, “the poppy with the leaf was dropped as being too expensive”. But “the public preferred a poppy with a leaf to a leafless poppy and the 1987 Annual Conference had asked that in future poppies should come with the leaves attached.” ‘Keeping Faith’ by Brian Harding. Thus, there were no leafed-poppies produced between 1959 and 1987.
1959: “HAIG FUND”. It is believed the poppy shown below once belonged to “Flight Officer Peter Walter Clark (906757)”. It came accompanied by documents dated 1958. Peter Walter Clark died during the 1st Quarter of 2001, in Ipswich, Suffolk. The poppy is made from two layers of scarlet red felt. It has been dated to between 1959 and 1966 because: from 1959 (until 1986) leaves were absent from poppies; plus wire stems and black bitumen centres remained up to, and including, 1966. In 1967, plastic stems and centres began emerging.
1967: A “new look” standard poppy began to emerge during 1967 – the bitumen centre and wire stem were on their way out: “New-look poppies. Poppy sellers on Remembrance Day next week will have a new carrier bag slung from the shoulder and will selling new-style poppy, made with plastic stem and one-piece petal. They will hold new blue torch-shaped collecting boxes.” (1.11.1967. Aberdeen Press and Journal); “There may be some misunderstanding about the “new look” Poppy Day so far as collecting boxes, poppies and trays are concerned because of previous publicity. In fact, only a very limited experiment with a new type is being conducted …” (3.11.1967. Birmingham Daily Post); “… NEW BOXES. The tray and collecting tins are also on their way out. A new water resistant earner bag for collectors and a new plastic collecting box will be brought into use this year.” (5.10.1967. Liverpool Echo); “… the Legion would be introducing one standard poppy, which would, in time, replace all existing types.” (19.5.1967. The Tewkesbury Register, and Agricultural Gazette); “the black bitumen centre and wire stem were replaced by green plastic.” ‘Keeping Faith’ by Brian Harding.
1968: The “new look” poppy arrived: “… this year’s poppy is slightly different from the emblem we have had in previous years. The new poppy was introduced experimentally in some districts last year, but this year it will be almost universally used. … This involved a change from bitumen and wire to a Plastic button and stem. The fabric petal has been retained, although the design has been slightly altered.” (4.11.1968. Belfast Telegraph).
The plastic button and stalk date the above poppy to post-1967 but pre-1987, after which leaves were brought back. “Haig Fund” didn’t change to “Poppy Appeal” until 1994.
The plastic “Haig Fund” button, plus plastic rear centre, date the above poppy from 1967 to 1987 (when leaves were brought back) … but the wire stalk dates to before 1967: after which, plastic replaced wire on the lapel poppy. However, at 3½ inches in dia., this may be a wreath version and it could date to 6 years beyond 1987, when “Poppy Appeal” wording took over. The poppy has had a hard life but it has retained its poignancy. Its two layers each have three petals: the under layer is thin felt and the upper layer is sateen.
1969: In this year, “the car poppy was replaced with a sticker, largely because of manpower shortages and production costs.” ‘Keeping Faith’ by Brian Harding. Waxed car poppies had been introduced in the year 1945(?). The car poppy did make a come-back though (in ?) – in the form of a large plastic one – see the “1995” image of the modern version.
1973: The image, shown above, was taken from a photograph dated 6 November 1973. The photograph was taken by photographer Keith Dobney, for The Evening Post of Hemel Hempstead. The location was Hemel Hempstead branch of The Leek and Westbourne Building Society. The close-up section gives a better idea of the poppies on offer … note the five-petal-bloom on the small wooden cross.
1987: At this year’s British Legion Annual Conference (May?), it was “asked that in future poppies should come with the leaves attached.” In 1959, “the poppy with the leaf was dropped as being too expensive”. But “the public preferred a poppy with a leaf to a leafless poppy”. [Source: ‘Keeping Faith’ by Brian Harding].
It is believed the two beautiful British Remembrance Poppies, shown above, date to ‘twixt 1987 (when leaves returned) and 1994 (when “Poppy Appeal” replaced “Haig Fund”). One poppy is made of paper and the other made of thin felt-like fabric – both are smaller than those of today, with the blooms only measuring 1.75 inches long. These poppies were worn by a lady who wore them in remembrance of two brothers. The two were killed whilst serving in World War Two, one going missing in Burma. “To live in the hearts you leave behind is not to die“! It is easy to describe these poppies as “modern” but, in reality, they have survived 25-32 years of preservation.
1994: The words “Poppy Appeal” (as below) replaced “Haig’s Fund” in the centre of the poppies distributed in England, Northern Ireland and Wales.
2006: The ‘Earl Haig Fund Scotland’ organisation changed its trading name to that of ‘Poppyscotland’.
2007: ‘Poppyscotland’ discontinued its poppy’s pin and the words “Haig’s Fund” were replaced with “Poppy Appeal” on the Scottish poppies’ central buttons. Thus, from 2008, the Scottish poppy was aligned to the English; Northern Irish; and Welsh poppies – apart from the design shape.
The Scottish lapel poppy is smaller than the English/Northern Irish/Welsh one, measuring approx. 4cm (from top to bottom), against approximately 5cm. Both have black plastic “Poppy Appeal” buttons and the green plastic stalks have a branch, to anchor within a buttonhole or lock a pin. The poppies are made of pressed thick paper, the Scottish poppy being a deeper scarlet.
Lady Haig, wife of Field Marshal Haig, designed the Scottish poppy. The leafless shape, of four petals, is considered to be botanically correct … in contrast to the English; Northern Irish; or Welsh poppy of two petals, with a leaf. The Scottish poppy lost its metal pin c2007.
The Spray poppy’s measurement is approximately 8.5cm, at its widest diameter. The leaf (with a central metal vein) and petals are of a silk-like fabric; black plastic stamens encircle the “Poppy Appeal” button; and a thin wire to the rear enables display fastening.
For the 2018 Armistice Centennial year, the Royal British Legion produced 40,000 of these Limited Edition ‘Khadi’ poppies. They pay tribute to the 74,000 Hindu, Muslim and Sikh men who fought with the Indian Expeditionary Force in World War One. The ‘Khadi’ poppies are so-called because they are made from hand-spun Indian Khadi cotton – a fabric made famous by Mahatma Gandhi. This ‘Khadi’ Remembrance Poppy was acquired for the Guérin Archive, and British Remembrance Poppy Timeline, thanks to the kindness of Lord Gadhia.
The ‘Khadi’ poppy is larger than the Royal British Legion’s usual sized poppy, made of paper. Approx. measurements: Length: fraction under 2½ inches; Width: 2¼ inches maximum, and 1 7/8 inches minimum.
Leading up to Armistice Day 2018, many British parishes adorned their streets with large, sixteen inch Remembrance Poppies. This particular trio, featured above, were among the many that were attached to lamp-posts in the parish of Stanway, Essex. Those that were not damaged have been kept for future occasions.
The above image depicts a 1921 Remembrance / Poppy Day commemorative programme of 16 pages. It is believed to commemorate the Service of Remembrance at Westminster Abbey, November 1921. King, Prince of Wales and Field Marshall Earl Haig are all depicted, along with their messages. Also featured are reproductions of an original sketch of the Cenotaph, by Sir Edwin Lutyens, and a photograph of the Unknown Warrier’s Tomb at Westminster Abbey.
The text is entitled “The Unknown Warrior. WHAT WE KNOW OF HIM. HIS ACHIEVEMENTS IN THE WAR. THE EMPIRE’S PRIDE.” By Sir H. Perry Robinson, K.B.E. During World War One, Harry Perry Robinson had been official war correspondent for the Daily News and The Times. The poem “In Flanders Fields” is also featured, culminating with the aims and objects of The British Legion.
The last plates is entitled “A suggestion of a war memorial by Louis Raemaekers” – depicting a crucified soldier, with a widow and orphan grieving below. This sketch is very appropriate, given that Madame Guérin’s widows and orphans had made the 1921 poppies for Great Britain, to benefit such families plus surviving veterans. The ‘Haig Fund’, The Poppy Factory, in Richmond, and Lady Haig’s Poppy Factory, in Edinburgh, continued the good work.
05.10.1921. Nottingham Evening Post [sic]:
“THE FLANDERS POPPY. EARL HAIG AND REMEMBRANCE DAY – NOV. 11TH. Field-Marshal Earl Haig, President of the British Legion, desires that Armistice Day (November 11th) should be a “real remembrance day” and proposed to launch several schemes in aid of his appeal for ex-service men of all ranks. One of these is the wearing of the Flanders Poppy to the memory of the men who rest beneath the flower on the fields of Flanders.
This symbol has been accepted in Australia, Canada, and the United States of America as the National Memorial flower to be worn on “Remembrance Day.” There is an added value to these poppies in the fact that they are made by the women and children in the devastated areas of France.
The profits derived from the sale of these flowers will be used by the British Legion to alleviate distress among our ex-service men. Those interested in the project are invited to communicate with Captain W.G. Willcox, organising secretary, Earl Haig’s Appeal, 1, Regent-street, London, S.W.1.”
05.11.1921. Tamworth Herald [sic]:
““Poppy Day.” ARMISTICE CELEBRATION.
The British Legion is making elaborate arrangements to ensure that “Poppy Day,” which will be celebrated on Armistice Day, shall be a function worthy of its surroundings.
The Tamworth Rural District Council have decided to take a number of poppies, and have appointed a committee to organize the sale of them in the various villages in their area.
The poppies which will be sold are being made by peasants in some of the devastated French villages. They are made in two qualities – in silk and in mercerised cotton. It is intended to make “Poppy Day” an annual function.
REMEMBRANCE DAY, November 11, 1921.
To the Editor of the Herald. Sir,–The Kingsbury and District Branch of the British Legion earnestly appeals to the inhabitants of Kingsbury and district to loyally respond to the efforts of the Ladies’ Committee re the sale of poppies on Armistice day, November 11, 1921, which will be sold in the villages and towns of Great Britain and the Allied Countries.
We sincerely trust, in the words of Field Marshal Earl Haig, that every member of the community will wear a poppy on that day, as a token of remembrance and respect for the fallen, and a sign that the memory of those heroes is and always will be with us.
These poppies will be made by women and children of the devastated areas of France, by which those sorely stricken people will benefit, and the profits made on the sale will alleviate a large amount of distress amongst our own ex-service men and their dependants, and the widows and orphans of those who died. In conjunction with the Rural District Council, we, the undersigned, most earnestly appeal for your loyal support.—We are, yours etc.,
W. TATE. REG. H. STICKLAND. Hon. Secretary, British Legion. THOS. PRINCE, Hon. Treasurer. J. J. CARTER, British Legion. ENOCH FOSTER, jun., British Legion. SYDNEY RADFORD, British Legion.”
11.11.1921. Leeds Mercury
“POPPY PROFITEERS. The British Legion in Leeds wish to draw the attention of the public to the fact that unauthorised persons are selling paper poppies in Leeds and pocketing the money. The official poppies are made in silk and cotton.
A statement was issued yesterday by Earl Haig from Poppy Day H.Q. “It seems inconceivable,” says Earl Haig, “that private individuals should thus fragrantly attempt to profiteer by trying to foist upon the public these imitations of the sacred emblems which are issued exclusively by ‘Earl Haig’s Appeal.””
18.11.1921. Kent & Sussex Courier
“… Unfortunately the British Legion Headquarters had not sent sufficient poppies to meet the demand and of the 10,000 asked for by Tunbridge Wells only 6,000 supplied. These were all sold early in the day, and the helpers at the Committee Room were working hard from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. making poppies of scarlet paper to supply the continuous demand of the seller.”
11.11.1921. Folkestone, Hythe, Sandgate & Cheriton Herald (28 July 1923) [sic]:
“When the idea of Poppy Day was first suggested to the British Legion in 1921 by Mme Guerin of Paris, there were only six weeks in which to organise the scheme throughout the country. The Legion purchased the small “poppies” for 3d. in France, where they were manufactured by the women and children in the devastated areas. These poppies cost £15, 510.* The first orders for the 1s. poppies were given to London manufacturers, but the demand was so great that it was impossible to get enough to London, and they had to send to France, Coventry and many parts of the country, and were even then unable to meet all demands. The success of the 1921 Poppy Day far exceeded anticipations, realising £105, 842.” *N.B. Madame Guérin personally financed the order for the British Legion and was reimbursed after the British ‘Poppy Day’ on 11 November 1921.
18.11.1921. Western Gazette, 18 November 1921 [sic]:
“POPPY DAY PROCEEDS.—The organisation for the sale of Flanders poppies Armistice Day in, Dorchester was kindly undertaken the Mayoress (Mrs. J. M. Underwood), with the assistance of Mrs. Sherry. Though the weather was cold the sellers were about early and long before noon many were sold out. Through the energy of the Mayoress they were soon selling impromptu poppies made from red ribbon, which were just as eagerly bought up. The total amount realised was £35, which, considering the small number of poppies available, constituted excellent result. The following were the poppy sellers:—Mesdames G. Harris, W. M. Merrick, 11. A. Martin, R. Wright, Brailey, and A. S. Miles, Dawes, Boon, Maddox, May Wills, W. Keeping, Sutton, M. Atkins, G H, Sounders, Foot, Willis, A. Wills, Membury, and V. Harris.”
02.11.1922. Sheffield Independent [sic]:
“OUR LETTER BAG. FLANDERS POPPIES.
Sir.—In reference to the anniversary of the signing of the Armistice, I am instructed by Field-Marshal Earl Haig to ask you if you will assist him in his effort to raise funds to cope with the great distress which exists among ex-Servicemen of all ranks and their dependents, and the widows and orphans of the fallen.
In order to sell 30,000000 of Flanders Poppies a very large number of sellers will be required, and we appeal to those ladies who so freely gave their services at home while our men were fighting overseas, to come forward again to help these men by volunteering to sell the sacred Flanders Poppy emblems.
Ladies who desire to sell Flanders Poppies are asked to communicate with Capt. W. G. Willcox, organising secretary of Earl Haig’s (British Legion) Appeal, 1, Regent street, London, S.W.1. The addresses of local committees will be gladly given by Capt. Willcox.
A very large number of Flanders Poppy wreaths will again this year be placed upon the Cenotaph in London and War memorials throughout the country, as well as memorials erected by institutions, public companies, and private firms. Already many orders have been received.
Flanders Poppy wreaths are obtainable from Earl Haig’s Fund, 33, St. James Square (temporary Poppy Day headquarters), from which address an illustrated leaflet showing sizes and prices will be sent on application.
As far as practicable, this year Flanders Poppies have been made by our own severely disabled ex-Servicemen to a special design. Purchasers are warned that on “Remembrance Day” poppies should only be bought from sellers appointed by Earl Haig’s Fund, who will wear the official badge and sell poppies the centres of which bear the words “Haig’s Fund.”
G. Willcox, Capt., Organising Secretary, Appeal and Publicity Dept., British Legion.”
09.11.1922. Hull Daily Mail
““REMEMBRANCE DAY,” 1922.
It is understood that certain retail shops in Hull have obtained supplies of artificial Poppies for sale for private gain. The public are informed that the Flanders’ Poppy, which is being sold in the streets on Saturday next for the benefit of distressed ex-Service men, bears a small paper label containing a registered number.
These Flanders’ Poppies are now on sale at various stalls in the Market Hall, etc., and at the British Legion Headquarters, Anlaby-road, and in each case the vendor has an official badge and the moneys received are handed over to the Fund.
Anyone wishing to purchase supplies before Saturday, and who are desirous that their remittance shall be handed over to the “Remembrance Day” Fund, should take particular care to purchase Flanders’ Poppies only. There are ample supplies this year to meet all demands.”
28.10.1923. The Observer (of London) [sic]:
“POPPY DAY. FLOWERS MADE BY EX-SERVICE MEN.
On Remembrance Day, November 10, between twenty-five and thirty millions of imitation Flanders poppies will be on sale throughout the United Kingdom and in British centres abroad. The greater portion of this immense quantity is being made by ex-Service men at the British Legion’s poppy factory in the Old Kent-road.
Within little more than a year from the establishment of the factory, the manufacture of the poppies has grown from small beginnings into a flourishing business, and at the present time eighty ex-Service men are provided at the factory with continuous employment throughout the year. The material from which the flowers are made is supplied in large quantities from Manchester, and the metal centres from Birmingham.
The Legion has learned from reliable sources that large quantities of poppies have been prepared for sale on Armistice Day by private persons for their own benefit, and also that supplies from Germany have been dumped in this country. Earl Haig has therefore issued a warning to the public that the only official poppies will be sold by lady sellers wearing a poppy badge and carrying a collecting-box labelled “Earl Haig’s Appeal. “ The metal centre of each genuine flower is inscribed with the words “Haig’s Fund.”
Lady Londonderry will again give her assistance by arranging for the members of the Women’s Legion Club to sell poppies in the vicinity of Westminster Abbey and Trafalgar-square. Poppies will also be on sale in all the principal hotels and restaurants, many of which are arranging that their table decorations shall consist of Flanders poppies. Ladies will help at the hotel depots, at the theatres, at the stores, and in the streets. Many more ladies are needed, however, for selling the emblems in the West End of London and in the City, and offers of help should be addressed to Capt. W. G. Willcox, the organising secretary, at 34, Lowndes-square, Knightsbridge, where he would also be glad to have the immediate loan of motor-cars to expedite the heavy work of organisation before the day. An exhibition has been opened at No. 44, Lowndes-square, of the poppy wreaths which have been made for placing at the foot of the Cenotaph and on public war memorials throughout the country, the prices ranging from half-a-guinea upwards.
On the evening of Armistice Sunday the Prince of Wales will be present at the Albert Hall at the first performance of “A World Requiem,” by Mr. John Foulds. A chorus of over a thousand voices and orchestra will be conducted by the composer. The performance enjoys the patronage of the King and Queen, and the proceeds will be devoted to Earl Haig’s Appeal.”
09.11.1923. Dundee Evening Telegraph [sic]:
“DUNDEE’S “POPPY” WEEK-END. Over 1200 Collectors to be on Duty. The Remembrance Day Services.
This week-end will be a period of patriotic thanksgiving and remembrance of the glorious dead of the Great War.
To-morrow (Saturday) is Poppy Day—in Flanders Field the poppies grow—and over 1200 helpers of the British Legion will endeavour to sell 105,000 poppies in Dundee and suburbs.
Sunday is Remembrance Day, and the national two minutes’ silence in memory of the gallant dead will be observed in all the churches in Dundee, followed in the afternoon by a mass memorial service in Caird Hall, organised by the British Legion.
Everybody will wear a poppy to-morrow in token of the great anniversary, and arrangements in Dundee are being made with a view to this ideal being achieved.
A total of 105,000 poppies are in stock, and are to be distributed to sixteen centres, headquarters being at Albert Institute. … … …
In various centres announcements are being made to the effect that large quantities of German-made poppies have been sent to this country, and may be on sale. Inquiries made in Dundee to-day show that so far there has been no indication of the presence of German-made “pirate poppies” in the city. The poppies to be sold on behalf of the British Legion to-morrow are made by ex-service men, and have a green button with lettering, “Haig’s Fund.” They also have a tab, “British Legion Remembrance Day.” Two different styles of poppies will be on sale, one being a silk poppy, which is to be sold at one shilling and upwards. The other is for smaller contributions.
The collectors for the Haig Fund will each carry a permit as required by the city bye-laws.
Lord Haig has issued a warning against buying the tokens from any but collectors who have in their possession a box labelled “Earl Haig’s Fund,” as there is reason to believe that large supplies have been dumped from Germany, from the sale of which the fund will earn no benefit. … …”
10.11.1923. Northern Whig [sic]:
“POPPY DAY. Today a great appeal will go out to the British public to support Earl Haig’s fund for ex-service men who are in necessitous circumstances. Thousands—one might safely say millions—of little red poppies, the emblem of the fund, will be sold in all the cities of the kingdom, and, as in previous years, the sale is expected to exceed the supplies.
A grave warning has been issued by the promoters of the fund to the public to be careful that they do not buy faked flowers from sellers who are acting for their own personal gain. In this respect it is not without irony to lean that a considerable number of cheap-manufactured poppies somewhat similar to the official ones have been send over from Germany for the purpose of providing would be defrauders with the where-withal to defraud. When one remembers why we have a remembrance day such action is typically German. That greatly used and muchly abused request “Don’t rub it in” seems particularly appropriate in this instance. Anyway, the promoters of the Earl Haig’s appeal give the public a guide in getting hold of the genuine article.
The Haig fund poppy has a green centre on which are printed the words “Haig’s Fund,” and they are sold by ladies wearing a poppy badge marked “Official seller.” In addition they carry the official collecting-box, with “Earl Haig’s Fund” clearly shown.”
10.11.1923. Shields Daily News [sic]:
“BUY A POPPY! Flanders Flowers on Sale To-day. … …
Four kinds of poppies were available, large silk ones at 1s each, small silk poppies 6d, small muslin poppies 3d, and penny cardboard poppies, which are being sold to schoolchildren only. In the borough 26,500 had been secured, the supplies being 2,000 at 1s, 2,000 at 6d, 15,000 at 3d, and 7,500 at 1d. The task of the distribution of the cardboard poppies in the schools had been undertaken by the head teachers, the consent of the Education Committee having been given. All authorised collectors wore official badges.”
12.11.1923. Exeter and Plymouth Gazette [sic]:
“EXMOUTH. The Remembrance Day sale of Flanders poppies was conducted in Exmouth on Saturday by the ladies of the Cosmos Club, who found a cordial response from the townspeople. Over 8,000 poppies, about five-eighths of which were penny cardboard emblems were ordered, and most of the stock was cleared by mid-day. … …”
1923: 21.10.1924. Coventry Evening Telegraph [sic]:
“Poppy Day” Appeal. REMEMBERING THE DEAD AND HELPING THE LIVING. … … The extent of the work (of the British Legion) may be gauged from the following list of poppies actually despatched from the department for Poppy Day 1923: 2,253,433 large silk poppies; 3,034,875 small silk poppies; 12,091,748 muslin poppies; 5,387,375 children’s card poppies; 20,694 large posters; 127,890 small posters; 146,184 window bills; 114,240 motor car bills; 727,794 leaflets; 133,176 sellers’ badges; 178,144 collecting box labels; 46,594 collecting boxes; 2,997 lantern slides; 112,739 poems set to music.”
The British Legion Poppy Collector Permits and Collection Receipts, shown above, were once the property of Miss Beatrice Eunice Brown. The Permits start with “15 November 1924” and, as can be seen, various years follow through from there, into the 1930’s – with a final one for “1943” – and they prove that Miss Brown was a Poppy Day Collector in the Shropshire town of Shrewsbury and the villages of Shifnal and Upton Magna.
It is believed Beatrice was born on 19 May 1888, at Wem, Shropshire. A birth for a “Beatrice E. Brown” was registered during the Apr/May/June quarter of 1888. (N.B. It is deduced that “19 May 1888” is the correct birthday for Beatrice. Even though different birth years are given in the 1939 Register, all other official entries point to 1888.
Beatrice was a daughter of Shropshire-born Farmer John Brown and his Welsh wife Kerenhappuch (nee Butler).
1891 Census: Alderley Lane, Wem, Shropshire. “Beatrice Eunice”. “2” years old. With parents; 2 older brothers; three older sisters; a female “Visitor”; a female “Domestic Servant”; and a male “General Labourer”.
1901 Census: Peplow Grange, Hodnet, Shropshire. “Beatrice E.” “12” years old. With parents; 2 older brothers; three older sisters; and a male “Wagoner Labourer”.
1911 Census: Heath Lane, Ellerdine, Wellington, Salop. “Eunice”. “22” years old. With “Cattle Dealer” brother Charles James and his wife/family.
1939 Register: The Chestnuts, Atcham, Shropshire. Birth date given as “19 May 1894” (pencilled-in date of “19 May 1991”). “Unpaid domestic duties. W.V.S.”. With “Farmer” father John and sister Sarah E[lizabeth] “Unpaid domestic duties. A.R.P. – W.V.S.”.
1967, Dec: A death for a “Beatrice E. Brown” was registered in the Shrewbury Registration District. The birth date given as “abt 1888”.
07.11.1924. Yorkshire Post and Leeds Intelligencer [sic]:
“BRITISH LEGION APPEAL FUND. THE OFFICIAL POPPY.
Sir,–May I be permitted to issue a serious warning in connection with the sale of Flanders Poppies for Field-Marshall Earl Haig’s British Legion Appeal Fund? There is only one kind of poppy that will assist the cause of distressed ex-servicemen, their dependents, and the widows and children of the fallen—the poppy with either a green or black centre of registered design, stamped with the words “Haig’s Fund.” In the past other types of poppies have been on sale—poppies made for commercial gain, and yielding no profit to the Field-Marshal’s fund. I respectfully ask the public to pay particular attention to this—otherwise they may be deceived into paying generously for a poppy thinking that they were contributing to Lord Haig’s fund. The genuine poppy is greatly recognised, and all authorised sellers have been instructed to give purchasers the opportunity of satisfying themselves that the genuine article is being offered them.
The Flanders Poppies are made in the British Legion factory by nearly 200 severely disabled ex-servicemen, who are employed all the year round on this work. Some 25,000,000 poppies will be on sale this year—made of silk, lawn, or thin cardboard (the latter are manufactured expressly for wearing by children). The amount of material used is approximately 22 miles of silk and 42 miles of lawn, while over 200 miles of green fringe (for the stems and foliage) have been used. … …
Yours, etc., W. G. Willcox, Captain, Secretary Appeals Dept., British Legion, 143, Piccadilly, W.1, Nov. 5.”
30.10.1924. Aberdeen Journal [sic]:
“MAKING THE POPPIES. DISABLED MEN PREPARE FOR NOVEMBER 11.
A big push is being made in the poppy workshops in Old Kent Road, London, in preparation for November 11.
Two hundred workers, all seriously disabled ex-service men, are skilfully fashioning something like 200,000 scarlet poppies a day, in lawn, silk, or paper. … …”
01.09.1925. – reference 1924 Gloucester Citizen [sic]:
“POPPY DAY. Result of British Legion’s 1924 Appeal.
At the time when Poppy Day Committees throughout the country are about to be formed in readiness for next Poppy Day, the full report by the British Legion of last year’s great appeal on behalf of ex-Service men of all ranks makes appropriate and interesting reading. … …
That the organisation of Poppy Day was a work of great magnitude was proved by the following figures, showing the number of Flanders Poppies actually despatched from the poppy warehouse, as well as quantities of publicity and other literature issued for use on the day:–1,938,524 large silk poppies; 3,905,267 small silk poppies; 10,521,993 muslin poppies; 5,171,103 children’s card poppies; 46,700 wreath poppies; 11,418 giant poppies; 26,973 sprays; 22,109 large posters; 120,391 small posters; 163,785 window bills; 117,852 motor car bills; 772,052 leaflets; 147,306 sellers’ badges; 195,944 collecting box labels; 56,278 collecting boxes; 4,397 lantern slides. … …”
7.11.1924. Coventry Herald [sic]:
“THE FLANDERS POPPY. EARL HAIG’S APPEAL. SATURDAY’S EFFORT IN THE CITY.
Poppy Day will be held in Coventry, and the Central Committee of the local British Legion Branches has issued a warning to the public against what they describe as “pirate poppies.” The authorised seller should wear a “poppy badge,” on the back of which is affixed the stamp of the British Legion Relief Fund, Coventry Branch, the date of issue, and the box number.
There is only one kind of poppy that will assist the cause of distressed ex-Service men, their dependents, and the widows and children of the fallen—the poppy with either a green or black centre of registered design stamped with the words “Haig’s Fund.” The Flanders poppies are made in the British Legion factory by nearly 200 severely disabled ex-Service men who are employed all the year round on this work. Some 25,000,000 poppies will be on sale this year; the amount of material used is approximately 22 miles of silk, and 42 miles of lawn, while over 200 miles of green fringe (for the stems and foliage) have been used. …”
16.11.1925. Derby Daily Telegraph [sic]:
“SPURIOUS POPPIES. USED IN DERBY CORPORATION WREATH. BRITISH LEGION PROTEST.
Poppies which had not been made by disabled men employed under Earl Haig’s fund, entered into the composition of the wreath placed on the Derby war memorial last week for the Mayor and Corporation. The fact was revealed at the annual dinner of the British Legion at the Assembly Rooms on Saturday evening, when a protest was entered and an assurance given that those who had charge of the matter acted quite innocently. … …
Commercialism had entered into the making of poppies, and it was damnable and wicked that the wreath placed on the Cenotaph should have contained spurious flowers. This must never occur again and the matter would be fully enquired into. … … Every genuine poppy had on the button in the centre of the flower the words, “Haig’s Fund.” … …”
04.06.1926. The Scotsman [sic]:
“Poppy Day Plans.
It is early days to be thinking of Poppy Day, but not too early for Lady Haig, to whose energy much of its success in former years is due.
Yesterday being a Ladies’ Day at the Edinburgh Rotary Club luncheon, Lady Haig was the honoured guest, and at an informal meeting held at the North British Station Hotel in the afternoon she took occasion to discuss some of the plans for next Remembrance Day with the ladies connected with the Club.
Rotarians are full of ideas as to how their help can best be given. It is evident, for one thing, that there will be an intensive campaign among shopkeepers to prevent the sale this year of poppies other than those made in the factories by disabled British soldiers. Owing to the demand last year being greater than the home supply, there was a good deal of foreign competition, which it is hoped in future to avoid. Lady Haig mentioned that she herself saw in one shop a poppy offered for sale which had been made in Germany. While there is no wish at this time of day to continue old animosities, this does seem, to say the least of it, contrary to the intention of the promoters and the public, which is entirely to commemorate the fallen in the most practical manner by providing work for our own surviving, disabled soldiers.
Songs in the Factory.
The obvious way out of the difficulty is to produce so many poppies at home that there is no need to have recourse to foreign countries. In this connection, Colonel McLean gave the ladies a graphic account of the efforts which are being made in the Canongate factory, where 29 disabled Scottish soldiers are hard at it, turning out as many poppies as they can against the great day, and “singing at their work.” The number they have made to date is upwards of 120,000. All the men were unemployed before the factory stated, and the average disablement is 76 per cent,–in some cases it is 100. Lady Haig says it is a pleasure to see them at work, and she thinks they specially enjoy a new paper poppy which she has herself designed, because it gives them an opportunity of bringing out their own individuality. It is suggested that probably one type of poppy—this new paper one—may be adopted universally for selling in the streets this year, the more expensive larger flowers being reserved for table or shop window decorations. Shops will probably be asked to exhibit a card stating that they show none but the genuine Earl Haig poppies.
The part assigned to the ladies of the Rotary Club yesterday was a house-to-house visitation in the capital. Conveners for the various wards were elected, and it is proposed to keep this collection separate this year from the usual collection in the streets.”
03.11.1926. Dundee Evening Telegraph [sic]:
“COUNTESS HAIG AND POPPY DAY. Appeal To Dundee To Help Disabled Ex-Service Men.
Countess Haig of Bemersyde paid a special visit to Dundee to-day for the purpose of stirring up interest in Poppy Day, which is to be held in the city on Saturday, and to appeal for workers on behalf of the Earl Haig Fund for Disabled Ex-Service Men. Lady Haig addressed a meeting of ladies in the Guild Hall. … …
Great difficulty was experienced in getting collectors, and she appealed for more workers. … …”
Reference was made to the poppy factory in Edinburgh: “There were at present 30 men employed and there was a waiting list of many hundreds. People should be careful that they were buying the genuine Haig poppy. Each one had a black button in the centre which bore the words “Haig’s Fund.” … …
Poppy Cuttings Sold
A quantity of poppy cuttings suitable for Christmas decoration were exhibited, and the ex-Lord Provost created great hilarity by selling them by auction. He sold them all in a few minutes, and realised the sum of £4 7s 6d in bids of 10s to 7s 6d, and the whole concern was worth about 3d. … …”
9.11.1926. Western Daily Press [sic]:
“POPPY DAY. “The slogan for Armistice Day is, “Be sure it is a Haig Poppy.” People desiring to help the British Legion should see that the centre-piece is a button bearing the words, “Haig’s Fund,” and should refuse to buy others manufactured for private gain.”
17.04.1927. Sunday Post [sic]:
“POPPY MAKING IN EDINBURGH. SPLENDID PROGRESS OF NEW INDUSTRY.
Started little more than a year ago by Colonel A. C. H. Maclean, C.B.E., late of the Royal Scots and the R.A.F., so successful has been the Scottish Poppy Factory in Edinburgh that it is to be trebled in size. … …
In addition to poppies, Colonel Maclean’s staff of disabled soldiers are producing up to a thousand wreaths of various pleasing designs for Armistice Day.
“The unique feature of these wreaths,” remarked the Colonel in a talk with a “Sunday Post” representative, “is that the leaves are grown in Edinburgh and preserved in the poppy factory. This is the first time this has been successfully done in Scotland.
The leaves are laurel and ivy, and the staff at the Royal Botanic Gardens has been very helpful, while the dyers have been equally kind in assisting us in regard to the preserving and dyeing.
As Scottish As Possible
“The making of the poppy centres bearing the inscription “Haig’s Fund,” necessitated one of the staff going to Germany to study their manufacture. The poppies are formed out of lawn, sateen, silk, and paper, and all the materials are made in Britain. One firm has done a great deal of experimenting to find a suitable silk, which they are now supplying to us at cost price.
The policy of the factory is to buy all our goods in Scotland so far as possible. In former years a lot of material for Flanders’ poppies had to be obtained from France and the Continent, but now it is entirely British.
“Another unique feature in our poppies is that the wax, of which the seeds are made, is made in Edinburgh on an idea evolved by the staff in the factory.
“There are quite a number of different processes to be gone through in the production of a single poppy. The silk flower has to be stamped out by a cutter, dyed, put through a machine to give it the crinkles, and then made up into the flower. The centre has to be cut and stamped, cocoanut fibre put in, and the tips dipped in boiling wax to make the seed. The process, allowing for the drying after dyeing, takes forty-eight hours.
Work for Disabled Men.
“We are at present employing thirty-seven disabled men who were all out of work and largely unemployable in ordinary commercial life. The men are paid on a bonus of production, the average wage of the factory being £2 15s a week.
“The factory is one of the only two in existence for the production of the Haig’s poppies. The other factory at Richmond, started in 1920, employs two hundred men. It has been supplying not only England, but the whole world, with poppies.* … …” [*Observation: rather an exaggeration].
15.09.1927. Hull Daily Mail [sic]:
“EARL HAIG POPPIES. SHOULD THEY ALL BE THE SAME SIZE? QUESTION RAISED IN HULL.
The complaint in some quarters about the practice of selling, on Armistice Day, poppies of different sizes at varying prices—ventilated from time to time in the correspondence columns of the “Mail”—was raised in the form of a question at a Group Conference attended by delegates representing various branches of the Women’s Section of the British Legion in Yorkshire and the North of England, and held on Wednesday afternoon in Hull Unity Hall, Waltham-street.
Miss I M. Jermyn, O.B.E., chairman of the Hull Branch of the Women’s Section presided.
BRITISH LEGION DISCUSSION.
The Chairman said when they were selling poppies some people refused to buy because the poppies were not all alike. For the benefit of the conference she asked why they were not all alike.
Mr. Wilce Taylor, of London, an official of the British Legion Poppy Factory, in reply, said the chief reason against the standard sized poppy was that it would result in the services of a large number of employes at the factory being dispensed with, because if they were all of one size they could all be made by a special type of machine. Further, he did not think there would be as much interest for the seller if all the poppies were alike. The saleswoman was naturally anxious to dispose of so many shilling flowers as possible.
People were not so ready to give a larger sum for a small article as might be imagined, and the section leaders decided to have various types of poppies, because they were satisfied they would get better returns by that means. Particularly in places where there was great wealth alongside great poverty, it suited their purpose better to have different grades of poppies.
Mrs. Gray, representative for Yorkshire on the Central Committee, appealed to the delegates to put their heart and soul into the great national work of the British Legion. The Women’s Section grew daily, yet there were only 63 branches with a women’s section in Yorkshire out of 250 men’s branches. This was not a good percentage, but they were working hard to improve it.
TRY AND BREAK RECORD.
She appealed to them to try and break the record of last year on Poppy Day. They must look after the 262,000 fatherless children and the 16,000 orphans, the result of the war. If these were brought up with the right ideals England would still fly the free flag.
Miss Margaret Scott, one of the organisers from headquarters, gave an address on the general work of the Legion. On September 30th, 1926, she said, there were 511 women’s branches in the country, whereas now there were 680, which was a good increase. Yorkshire had 46 women’s branches last September, and now had 63.
In the coming year 60,000 of the fatherless children would come off the books of the Ministry of Pensions, as they would begin to earn their own livings. What were they going to do about them? The matter of setting up War Orphan Advisory Committees locally had been suggested, but she did not know of any committees being yet set up.
Mr. Wilce Taylor dealt with the post-war problems, and said the man who had became unemployed quickly became unemployable. There were instances where the British Legion had got jobs for men who had quickly lost them again because they had not the stamina left to keep the jobs, as they had been out of work so long.
Vote of thanks followed.”
1927: Shown below is a British Legion promotional flyer, printed in 1927. It makes for very interesting reading and, at the time, it brought the reader up-to-date with the work of the British Legion:
04.11.1927. Sheffield Independent [sic]:
“Readers’ Views. REMEMBRANCE DAY.
Sir.—With the approach of Remembrance Day, 11 November, may I once again ask the hospitality of your columns to repeat our warning to members of the public with regard to spurious poppies?
The day is set aside each year for the sale of Flanders Poppies in aid of Earl Haig’s British Legion Appeal Fund for distressed ex-Service men, their dependents and the widows and children of the fallen, but it is a lamentable fact that both on and before that day each year poppies are sold, for the commercial gain, by certain firms and individuals who choose to ignore the fact that the public demand for the Poppy was created by Lord Haig in 1921, when he instituted his appeal for ex-Service men. … …
The true Haig poppy may be distinguished by the special metal centre on which stand out in relief the words “Haig’s Fund.” Further proof may be obtained by the purchaser observing that the seller is using one of the official collecting boxes and is also displaying in a prominent position one of the official sellers’ badges issued by the Fund.
The sale of spurious poppies cannot be regarded too seriously, as we are sure that each year a very great deal of badly needed money has been lost to the Fund, and consequently to distressed ex-Service men, by the ungenerous action of those who have sold them.
G. WILLCOX, Captain, Organising Secretary, Appeal Department, British Legion.”
The above image is taken from the Dundee Courier, 14 November 1927: “Cupar Poppy Day Helpers” (Cupar in Fife, Scotland): “Mrs. Kerr, and her little son Billy, home from India, did good business for the Earl Haig Fund by selling poppies on Saturday.”
27.10.1928. Derby Daily Telegraph [sic]:
“From our London correspondent, Fleet-street, today. … POPPIES.
Speaking of ex-service men, by the way, I visited the factory near here the other day where for a year a number of disabled worker have been cutting, twinning, wiring, and pasting millions of poppies for sale on Armistice Day. I saw the last batch being carefully stowed away.
“We have made roughly thirty-two millions this time,” said an official, “and it’s now up to the readers of your paper to turn their city red. Last year, with the help of the Scottish contributions—Scotland, as you know, has a separate organisation—we just managed to exceed the 500,000 mark.
“This time, however, we’re trying to go one better. You’d really be surprised at the places we sent out poppies to. Constantinople, for instance, hardly looks a promising centre, yet we received quite a substantial haul from there last year.
“The Rhineland, too, wounds odd until it is remembered that there are British and French soldiers there. …”
09.11.1928. Aberdeen Journal [sic]:
“CITY POPPY DAY. Final arrangements have been made by the local branch of the British Legion for Poppy Day to be held in Aberdeen tomorrow. Depots have been established in all the wards of the city and at the station, and most of the leading shops are selling poppies.
Collections on behalf of Earl Haig’s Fund are to be made in all churches in the city on Sunday. The public are advised to see when purchasing poppies that the words “Haig’s Fund” are printed in the centre of the poppy.”
10.11.1928. Western Morning News [sic]:
“AT WESTMINSTER ABBEY.
A special service will be held at Westminster Abbey from 10.15 a.m. until 11.10 a.m., at which the Services will be represented. The doors of the Abbey will remain open after 11.20 a.m. until 8 p.m. A “Field of Remembrance” will be made on the grass outside Westminster Abbey in order that the relatives of the fallen and others may give their poppies to make a poppy field.”
10.11.1928. Hull Daily Mail [sic]:
“SELLERS IN FRANCE.
PARIS, Saturday.—Flanders Poppies are being sold in Paris along the Riviera and everywhere where a few British may be found to-day to-morrow and on Monday. The flowers will be offered in hotels, restaurants, churches, and British banks and business houses, and it is hoped to dispose of 25,000 and to raise a record sum.”
07.10.1929. Aberdeen Journal [sic]:
“LADY HAIG’S POPPIES WARNING.
Lady Haig warned the public against buying German and other foreign poppies when addressing a thousand poppy workers at Bristol on Saturday.
Afterwards a small curly-headed boy presented her with a bunch of French poppies in memory of his three brothers killed in the war. Lady Haig affectionately kissed the boy, and thanked his mother. She then repeated her warning, passing the French poppies and real Haig poppies among the audience.”
18.10.1929. Western Morning News [sic]:
“171,050 POPPIES. PLYMOUTH LEGION PREPARES FOR ARMISTICE-DAY. Plymouth branch of the British Legion are actively preparing for the sale of Flanders poppies on Armistice-day.
When a “Western Morning News” representative visited the headquarters of the branch in Whimple-street yesterday it was to find the place literally filled with boxes of poppies and collecting boxes.
No fewer than 171,050 poppies have been received at Plymouth from London for disposal in the city and district, and for the last fortnight six workers have given voluntary assistance in preparing them for sale, and they are likely to be engaged continually until November 11.
Last year Plymouth branch of the British Legion realized £1,435, and it is hoped to exceed that figure this year.
The Commander-in-Chief, the Hon. Sir Hubert Brand, as consented to the formation of a committee of ladies who will sell poppies in H.M. ships and establishments.
The official poppy bears the inscription “Haig’s Fund” and the public are warned against purchasing poppies which do not have that inscription.
Anyone wishing to assist in selling the poppies should communicate with the secretary of the Plymouth Branch of the British Legion.”
18.10.1929. Northampton Mercury [sic]:
“LADY HAIG’S Visit to Northampton British Legion. “A GARDEN OF REMEMBRANCE” Suggested by her Ladyship for Poppy Day.
Countess Haig came to Northampton on Saturday to inspire Poppy Day workers and to emphasise the value of the British Legion, of which her husband was the founder.
Her visit ended a week’s hard work in the East Midland area, and she was tired and weary of speaking. She addressed two meetings, and the one in the evening made the tenth for the week.
Lady Haig was the guest of Earl and Countess Spencer, and she arrived at Althorp about one o’clock on Saturday, after travelling from Derby.
Her first act on reaching Northampton, just about half-past two, was to visit the War Memorial. Accompanied by Lord Spencer, she was met at the gates by Mrs. Dover, M.B.E. (chairman of the Women’s Section of the British Legion), who was presented to her. Mrs. Dover carried a wreath of poppies. This was handed to Lady Haig, who walked with Mrs. Dover to the memorial and placed it reverently against the stonework. … …
As is her custom, Lady Haig wore a deep red Flanders poppy. Her example was followed by all who were assembled in the enclosure. Mrs. Dover, the ex-Mayoress (Mrs. Joseph Rogers), the Mayoress-elect (Mrs. Ralph Smith—who were also presented to Lady Haig—and the members of the committee of the Women’s Section of the Northampton British Legion, who were lined up by the Memorial—every one of them wore a red poppy. … …
The silk poppies cost about 1s. to make in the factories, but there was still an inclination in some parts to sell them cheaper. Each silk poppy should be sold for 2s. 6d., or a good deal more.
Lady Haig went on to suggest a thorough house-to-house collection on Poppy Day. So many better-class houses were usually left out. … …
A GARDEN OF REMEMBRANCE.
Another suggestion was the establishment of a Garden of Remembrance somewhere in the town on Poppy Day. People could buy an extra poppy and place it in the garden. “
18.10.1929. Market Harborough Advertiser and Midland Mail [sic]:
“Appeal to Increase Poppy Sales. … FROM STRENGTH TO STRENGTH. … Colonel Brown referred to the late Earl Haig’s determination that all the Flanders poppies should be made from British material by ex-Service men. It had been a difficult proposition, but they had succeeded, and four tons of cocoanut fibre were used for the stamens of the poppies. …”
26.10.1929. The Scotsman [sic]:
“LORD JELLICOE. Amazed at Armistice Day Curtailment Proposal.
THAT he had read with amazement that the national observance of Armistice Day should be curtailed, was a statement made to a gathering of Pressmen by Admiral of the Fleet Lord Jellicoe, President of the British Legion, yesterday.
“I cannot believe that the sentiment of the community inclines in this direction,” he added. Such a suggestion was contrary to the spirit which inspired the British Legion in doing its utmost for the thousands of ex-Servicemen, who looked to it, and to it alone, for assistance and advice.
There was nothing militaristic about the attitude of the Legion. They wanted peace with the sincerity of men who knew exactly what war meant, but they also knew that it was the celebration of the national day of remembrance, which kept alive the memory of the great sacrifices made by the people of this country.
Many ex-Servicemen were in distress through unemployment, and the selling of poppies on Armistice Day was what the Legion depended on to be able to assist them. The need was greater on the eleventh anniversary than ever before, and they hoped to get a greater response than they had yet done.
A new production this year from the poppy factories was in the form of a large poppy mounted as a motor mascot, which would be sold at 2s. 6d.”
09.11.1929. Driffield Times [sic]:
“The “Field of Remembrance.”
Last year, in the precincts of Westminster Abbey, a “Field of Remembrance” was instituted, when a small plot of grass was marked off, and upon this plot poppies were placed by the general public as an act of “Remembrance.”
Throughout the country this year “Fields of Remembrance” are being arranged in order to give everyone an opportunity to pay their act of silent homage to the fallen.
In Driffield the “Field” will be placed in the Market Place, and everyone is invited to plant their poppy in the “Field.”
It was thought that many people would like to purchase two poppies, one to plant in the Field and one to wear, so the Committee have arranged for a larger number of poppies to be on sale than in previous years.”
Above is a set of three British Legion promotional Magic Lantern slides. The middle slide echoes Madame Guérin’s sentiments: “A MESSAGE FROM F.M. EARL HAIG. As a tribute to those who fell in action,— and as a means of helping their widows and orphans as well as their comrades who survived, only to suffer the hardship of poverty — I ask you to buy and wear a Flanders Poppy on Remembrance Day 11th November. Haig. F.M.”
10.11.1930. Northern Whig, Northern Ireland [sic]:
“BEWARE OF SPURIOUS POPPIES: In view of rumours regarding the sale of spurious poppies the British Legion ask the public to see that the emblems they buy have the usual black metal centre bearing the words “Haig’s Fund” in the larger poppies and the letters “H.F.” in the smaller ones. … …”
08.11.1930. Nottingham Evening Post [sic]:
“… There were two novelties introduced this year. One was a mascot for motor cars, a waxed poppy which would stand the weather, and sold at 2s. 6d., and the other was a small five poppy button-hole. The latter sold so readily that although a second supply was requisitioned they went so quickly that all available supplies were disposed of quite early in the day. … …”
30.10.1931. Sevenoaks Chronicle and Kentish Advertiser [sic]:
“POPPY DAY. Nearly 300 men, badly disabled from injuries received in the Great War, have been working for the past year making Haig Poppies for Remembrance Day, November 11th. These Poppies are a replica of the Flanders poppies seen, by our troops, growing in profusion in the cornfields of Belgium, when the British Army arrived in Flanders in 1914. On a metal centre in raised letters the poppies bear the words “Haig’s Fund.” The Haig Poppies are offered for sale on Remembrance Day on behalf of Earl Haig’s British Legion Appeal Fund, and are sold to the public to be worn for a two-fold purpose: (1) As a tribute of remembrance to those who died in the Great War; (2) to provide funds to enable the British Legion to help the survivors who are in need. To be very generous on Remembrance Day is the plea of the many thousands of beneficiaries of the Fund who are in distressed circumstances.”
15.9.1932. Sheffield Daily Telegraph [sic]:
“FEARED SHORTAGE OF POPPIES.
A shortage of shilling and sixpenny poppies throughout the country on Poppy Day, November 11th, is probably following the serious fire last May at the British Legion poppy warehouse, King’s Cross, London.
Captain W. G. Willcox, organising secretary of the Legion appeals department, speaking last night last night at the Manchester and Salford Poppy Day Committee, stated that 20,000,000 poppies had been destroyed, and as a result the staff had been augmented by 100 more disabled men, all working overtime to equal a year’s normal out-put in six months. Nevertheless a shortage of 1s. and 6d. poppies was probable, and supplies of these might have to be rationed out to the various centres.
“The men have been specialising in turning out threepenny poppies,” he added, “as these can be made much faster. A man can make half-a-dozen 3d. poppies while he is making one 1s. poppy.”
“We hope that the public will be just as generous in paying for 3d. poppies on November 11th as they would be for shilling ones.”
Regarding the possibility of money being extracted from collecting boxes, Captain Willcox said that arrangements were being made this year for boxes with “bridges which left very little chance of getting money out of them illegitimately.”
26.11.1932. Lincolnshire Standard and Boston Guardian [sic]:
“A POPPY PROBLEM. Danger of New Kind Being Issued. EXPLANATION DEMANDED.
The matter of alleged bogus poppies was mentioned by Capt. H. Bettison, Vice-President of the Boston British Legion.
Mr. H. E. Strickland, the Boston delegate to the meeting, asked that Capt. Bettison be allowed to speak on “a matter of first-hand importance” regarding Poppy Day, and the Chairman, Sir Ernest Sleight, Bart., of Grimsby, gave permission for the Captain to speak. “I must thank you for allowing me to speak to-day, because I am not a delegate,” said Capt. Bettison. “if you look at the back of your Poppy Day report, you will see the official poppy described there and it is stated ‘None other is genuine.’ I want you to bear that in mind. One day last week a member of ours from the Wrangle district produced in my office a certain poppy which I have here. He said, ‘Our people are very upset about this. We think somebody has been selling bogus poppies in our district.’
“NEVER SEEN ONE LIKE IT.”
“I had a look at this poppy and had never seen one like it before. We got out a genuine one and compared them and it is not like this. I said, “I don’t think that is a genuine poppy.’ I submitted it to various other people in our branch, as I have done this afternoon here, and it does not comply with the specifications given here by the Poppy Day Organiser.
“Therefore, as a ‘Lincolnshire Standard’ reporter happened to be handy, I told him about it. He very kindly—to help us, of course—decided to give publicity to this matter, the idea being that then we could get out at once and bag the person selling these bogus poppies. I rang up the Poppy Day Organiser at Alford, who said he had distributed these poppies to his sellers in the Mumby district. We mentioned no names at all, we simply wanted information, wanted to find out where the poppy had come from, so that we could investigate the matter.”
He rang up London that morning and, after three calls, got through to the Poppy Day Organiser and asked him if any poppies had been distributed without the proper Legion button in the centre.
After a little bit of back-chat the Organiser admitted that some poppies had gone out with a button in the centre which did not contain the words “Haig’s Fund” and which did not comply with instructions issued to Legion branches to turn down any that had not a particular centre button.
“I asked him,” continued Capt. Bettison, “if the branches had been informed that a poppy other than the regulation one had been issued. He said, ‘No,’ but that the Poppy Day Organisers had. I then got hold of our (the Boston) Poppy Day Organiser, who had no information that anything was going out that was not regular.”
Capt. Bettison added that they in Boston took strong action when people some years ago started selling poppies made in Germany and, naturally, when their suspicions were aroused this time, they got busy to find out where the apparently bogus poppy had come from.
“BADLY LET DOWN.”
“I am going to pass round an official poppy and this other thing which does not comply with regulations. I say, I contend at any rate that we have been badly let down, and that, if any alteration is to be made in future in the poppies, we ought to be informed beforehand, otherwise we shall be hitting the wrong man in the ear. I want your support if you will give it me.”
The Spalding delegate remarked that, evidently, Capt. Bettison had got one of the sprays which came out this year with “H.F.” on it.
BOSTON ORGANISER’S SUPPORT.
The Rev. J. Beanland, Vicar of Holy Trinity, and Poppy Day Organiser for Boston and District, said he could tell them emphatically that last year no official poppy came into the Boston District with the letters “H.F.” on the button.
The Chairman (Sir E. Sleight, Bart.): I am almost certain that these poppies came under my notice last year. They were made up as ladies’ buttonholes, and they certainly came to us from the right source. But, of course, the whole trouble is that we were never advised that these poppies were coming out with the letters “H.F.” on instead of “Haig’s Fund.” They were issued at 1s. 6d. as button-holes, but we were never advised.
“OPEN TO SWINDLING.”
Capt. Bettison: Mr. Chairman, as you say, we were never advised. If they are going to issue all sorts of things like this, they are laying themselves open to a good deal of swindling next year.
The County Secretary (Capt. Entwistle, of Gedney) suggested that a resolution be sent to the Area Conference stressing the point that they, as Poppy Day organisers, strongly resented the fact that they were sent poppies not in accordance with the regulations and description of the official poppy as sent from headquarters.
The Chairman said that Capt. Bettison was right in taking this matter up with headquarters and threshing it out. It was one of those things one was sorry to know, but the best of us made mistakes at times.
Mr. Strickland said he was strongly in support of, and would second, Mr. Entwistle’s resolution that a letter be sent to headquarters in this matter.
Mr. Reeves supported the motion. “I think we ought to support Capt. Bettison in some practical way by having an apology made.” he said.
Capt. Richardson (Spilsby) said he thought that, if Mr. Entwistle wrote to Capt. Wilcox and put the case before him, it would be better done by correspondence than by resolution.
In further discussion, Capt. Bettison said that all he wanted was a letter from the Poppy Day Organiser admitting the mistake.
Mr. Strickland proposed that the resolution moved and seconded be now put to the meeting.
The following resolution was then carried.—“Capt. Bettison having brought to the notice of this Council the fact that poppies have been sold at Mumby which are not of official pattern, and he having brought this to the notice of Capt. Wilcox, we desire to be informed why these poppies were put into circulation without proper notification from Appeal Headquarters, as their sale has been question by Capt. Bettison, and in the opinion of this Council rightly so.””
04.11.1932. Derby Daily Telegraph:
“… GARDEN CEREMONY. Small wooden crosses bearing a poppy in the centre are to be sold for planting there, and the Mayor and Mayoress of Derby are to place their crosses in the garden at 11.30 a.m. on Friday, immediately after the service in the Market Place. …”
08.11.1932. Hartlepool Northern Daily Mail:
“… On Remembrance Day itself a “Field of Remembrance” will be found in the grounds of Christ Church (by kind permission of Canon R. H. J. Poole, M. A.), and in this “field” small wooden crosses carrying poppies and the inscription “In remembrance” may be placed to the memory of fallen Servicemen. The “Field of Remembrance” will eventually be placed at the foot of the War Memorial, Victory Square. The small wooden crosses will be on sale in Church Square on November 11, price 6d. each.”
08.11.1932. Edinburgh Evening News [sic]:
“EDINBURGH POPPY DAY. A “FIELD OF REMEMBRANCE”. SALE OF WOODEN CROSSES.
In connection with the Poppy Day arrangements in Edinburgh, on Friday there is to be, for the first time, a “Field of Remembrance.” For this scheme, which will be similar to that in London, the vestry of St. John’s Church in Princes Street have kindly granted the use of a grass plot at the east end of the church, and, in addition to the usual poppy emblems, small wooden crosses bearing a Haig poppy in the centre will be on sale. Before being placed in the ground the cross may be inscribed with the name of any soldier who lost his life in the war and to the memory of whom the purchaser of the cross wishes to pay homage. Some 4000 crosses have been made in the Haig workshops, and they will only be on sale outside the “Field of Remembrance.” From seven o’clock on Friday morning till about 10 o’clock at night there will be lady attendants outside St. John’s Church, and arrangements have been made for the “Field of Remembrance” to be illuminated by floodlights during the week-end. … ”
01.11.1933. Lincolnshire Echo [sic]:
“Poppy on Every Motor-Car. Emblems of Waterproof Material.
Every motor-car should be wearing on Armistice Day the cluster of poppies made especially for cars by the disabled men at the poppy factory at Richmond.
Great skill and care have been spent in the manufacture of this distinctive emblem, which it is hoped all motorists will use as a mascot for the day.
The poppies are made of waterproof material, and are provided with a clip for fastening the cluster to any type of radiator.
Nearly all of the 40,000,000 poppies, which have given continuous work for 360 men since last November, have already been distributed to the centres where they will be offered for sale by 300,000 voluntary saleswomen.
More than 50 designs are being used in the construction of poppy wreaths, on which the factory is now working. These will be supplied to the Royal Family, Old Comrades’ Associations, and other organisations of ex-Servicemen.
The Dominions provide their own supplies of poppies, but many thousands have been sent from Richmond to Kenya, the West Indies, and smaller British possessions in all parts of the world.
Every country, large and small, where the Union Jack is flown, is always anxious to get supplies, and this year the demand has been greater than ever.”
04.11.1933. Bury Free Press [sic]:
“Sir, — May we again appeal through your columns to employers in Bury St. Edmund’s to grant time for ex-Service men in their employ to attend the services on Armistice Day at the War Mrmorial?
May we also appeal to the public to buy only British Legion poppies? These may easily be recognised by the copyright button bearing the words “Haig Fund.” … …
Yours faithfully, On behalf of the Committee, A. E. MARLOW, Chairman. 65, Guildhall Street, Bury St. Edmund’s. 30th October, 1933.”
10.11.1933. Western Daily Press [sic]:
“POPPY DAY APPEAL. SIR.—The distress of Bristol ex-Service men and their dependants, due to unemployment and disablement, appeals to the continued generosity of their fellow-citizens, and it is hoped that all who have any gratitude for the self-sacrifice of these men will take this opportunity for its expression.
During the past year, after careful investigation assistance has been given by means of grocery and coal tickets, and board and lodging notes in 4,976 cases.
Purchasers should see that on Saturday next they buy no other than the Poppies marked in the centre “Haig Fund”.”
07.8.1934, The Scotsman [sic]:
“BRITISH VISITORS AT YPRES. Ashes of Miniature Crosses Scattered.
Ypres. August 6.—Hundreds of British pilgrims flocked to Ypres during the holidays to lay wreaths on the cemeteries there.
They included parties of St. Martin’s Association of Disabled Men, who visited Tyne Cot, on Passchendael Ridge, early this morning. Other parties were from the Austin Motor Co., the 46th Division, and the Ypres League.
A touching feature yesterday afternoon was provided by the 200 visitors of the British Legion Poppy Factory, who attended the ceremonial scattering of the ashes of the miniature crosses from the “Field of Remembrance” outside Westminster Abbey.—Reuter.”
01.11.1934. The Berwick Advertiser [sic]:
“Remembrance Day SALE OF POPPIES in Borough streets, Sat., NOVEMBER. 10th. REMEMBER HOUSE-TO-HOUSE COLLECTORS WILL CALL UPON YOU DURING THIS WEEKEND. KINDLY HAVE YOUR CONTRIBUTION. HOWEVER SMALL, READY. Your generous help is needed on behalf of local ex-Service men, their widows and dependants. See that the words “Haig Fund” or letters “H.F.” are on the poppy.”
05.11.1934. Portsmouth Evening News [sic]:
“EARL HAIG’S BRITISH LEGION APPEAL FUND.
By kind permission of the City of Portsmouth Watch Committee a sale of POPPIES will be held in the streets of PORTSMOUTH on SATURDAY, 10th NOVEMBER, 1934, in order of the above Fund, which exists to help Ex-Service men of all ranks (and their dependants) who may be in distress. Please give generously for your Poppy and wear it “IN REMEMBRANCE.”
All authorised sellers will wear the Official badge and you are asked to buy only the Official Poppy, which contains a centre stamped “HAIG FUND” OR “H.F.”
The assistance of ladies and gentlemen to sell poppies in all parts of the City of Portsmouth on the above date is very urgently needed. Would those willing to help please communicate with the Hon. Secretary, Poppy Day Committee (Portsmouth), 318a, Commercial Road, Portsmouth.”
Shown, above, are two British Legion “Thank You” letters, sent to one Mrs. Crappe in gratitude for her help in the 1934 Remembrance Day/Poppy Appeal, for the Earl Haig’s Fund. No provenance of these letters, bearing beautiful pieces of artwork, is known.
07.11.1935. The Berwick Advertiser [sic]:
“Remembrance Day SALE OF POPPIES in Borough streets, Mon., NOVEMBER 11th. REMEMBER HOUSE-TO-HOUSE COLLECTORS WILL CALL UPON YOU DURING THIS WEEKEND. KINDLY HAVE YOUR CONTRIBUTION. HOWEVER SMALL, READY. Your generous help is needed on behalf of local ex-Service men, their widows and dependants. See that the words “Haig Fund” or letters “H.F.” are on the poppy.”
08.11.1935. Dover Express [sic]:
“… The following are some of the materials used for the this year’s Poppies and other Poppy Day material made in the Legion’s factory:- 42 miles of artificial silk, 24 miles of cotton materials, 77,000 sheets of red crepe material, 136 tons of card-board, 42 tons of metal plate for poppy centres, 6 tons of glue and paste, 1½ tons of flour. Apparently, a quarter of a million Poppy motor mascots have been distributed to local Poppy Day Committees. … …”
1935: Shown below is a 1935 British Legion promotional flyer – it notes that poppies would only be sold on two days. The front and back pages are identical to the 1927 flyer but the centre pages differ – they briefly answer the question “What is the British Legion Doing?” and document the “Coventry Area Appeal”.
02.11.1936. Portsmouth Evening News [sic]:
“POPPY DAY. Earl Haig’s British Legion Appeal Fund.
A sale of POPPIES will be held (by kind permission) in the streets of Portsmouth on WEDNESDAY, 11 NOVEMBER, 1936, in aid of the above Fund which exists to aid Ex-Service Men (Royal Navy, Army, Royal Air Force) of all ranks and their families who may be in distress. Please give generously for your Poppy and wear it. “IN REMEMBRANCE”
Authorised sellers will wear the official badge, and you are asked to buy the poppy which contains a centre stamped “HAIG’S FUND” or H.F.”
Sellers are urgently needed. Will those ladies and gentlemen willing to sell poppies please communicate with the Hon. Secretary, Poppy Day Committee, 318a, Commercial Road, Portsmouth.
Poppy Wreaths will be on sale (or order) at No. 73, Osborne Road, Southsea, and at the British Legion Disabled Ex-Service men’s staff at the Industries Exhibition, Connaught Drill Hall from the 4th to 11th November.”
06.11.1936. Dundee Evening Telegraph:
“YELLOW POPPIES FOR ARMISTICE. Paris.
The Flanders poppies which will be sold in France on Armistice Day in aid of Lord Haig’s Fund will be yellow this year instead of red.
The change is due to a suggestion that those who wear a red flower may be taken for Communists.—Times.
04.11.1937. The Berwick Advertiser [sic]:
“Remembrance Day SALE OF POPPIES in Borough streets, Thurs., NOVEMBER 11. REMEMBER HOUSE-TO-HOUSE COLLECTORS WILL CALL UPON YOU DURING THIS WEEKEND. KINDLY HAVE YOUR CONTRIBUTION. HOWEVER SMALL, READY. Your generous help is needed on behalf of local ex-Service men, their widows and dependants. See that the words “Haig Fund” or letters “H.F.” are on the poppy.”
06.11.1937. Gloucestershire Echo [sic]:
“Letters To The Editor. WHITE POPPIES. To the Editor of the “Echo”.
Sir.—I have been informed that White Poppies will again be on sale this year in parts of the County of Gloucestershire on or about November 11th.
I do not think it is generally understood that the proceeds from the sale of these poppies do not in any way help Earl Haig’s Fund, which holds its one and only public appeal of the year on that day, for the relief and assistance of ex-Service men who fought in the Great War. Owing to their increasing age and the strain of war years telling more and more on their constitutions, the calls on Earl Haig’s Fund are increasing every year.
May I add that the genuine Haig Fund Poppy is distinguishable by a metal centre embossed with the words “Haig Fund”.
CHARLES F. THORP (Admiral), Chairman, Gloucestershire Legion.”
02.11.1938. Portsmouth Evening News [sic]:
“POPPY DAY. Earl Haig’s British Legion Appeal Fund.
A sale of POPPIES will be held (by kind permission) in the streets of Portsmouth on FRIDAY, 11 NOVEMBER, 1938, in aid of the above Fund which exists to aid Ex-Service Men (Royal Navy, Army, Royal Air Force) of all ranks and their dependants who may be in distress and need.
PLEASE GIVE GENEROUSLY FOR YOUR POPPY AND WEAR IT. “In Remembrance”.
Authorised sellers will wear the official badge, and you are asked to buy the poppy which contains a centre stamped “HAIG’S FUND” or H.F.”
Sellers are urgently needed. Will those ladies and gentlemen willing to sell poppies please communicate with the Hon. Secretary, Poppy Day Committee, 318a, Commercial Road, Portsmouth.
Poppy Wreaths will be on sale (or order) at 67, Palmerston Road, Southsea from the 5th to 11th November.”
14.10.1939. Surrey Advertiser [sic]:
“POPPY DAY. Poppy Day is going ahead in spite of the war. Indeed, war is a reason why these events should be doubled. … … The interesting suggestion is made that this year British people might buy two poppies, one as a tribute to the men of 1914-18 and the other to their sons who are serving today.”
04.11.1939. Evening Despatch, Birmingham [sic]:
“POPPIES FOR ALL DEMANDS.
Many sympathisers of the Poppy Day appeal may be rather concerned because they cannot obtain certain types of emblems, such as sprays and motor-mascots. Unfortunately, owing to the existing circumstances Birmingham headquarters of the appeal only received restricted supplies, and these have been carefully distributed to the 43 local depots and some of the larger works.
Mr. W. H. Keppy, organising secretary, appeals most earnestly to the public that if they are unable to obtain these particular emblems to help the appeal by purchasing another type, such as the 1s. and 6d., of which ample have been supplied.
It is hoped that the sellers on Armistice Day will have the types of poppy to meet all demands. … …”.
04.11.1939. Hull Daily Mail [sic]:
“NEW DESIGNS FOR THIS YEAR’S POPPY DAY.
“Buy your poppy wreaths and sprays at the Poppy Shop to-day” –this is my slogan at the present time, for the “Poppy Shop” at No. 45, Savile-street, Hull, is now open and has been doing a very brisk trade during the past day or so. Walking down Savile-street you cannot miss the window, for the blood-red poppies attractively displayed make a brilliant show … …
The main source of revenue comes from the sale of poppies for “Remembrance Day”—Nov.11. Thousands of pounds have been raised by this means and millions of poppies made in the factory at Richmond. This has again ensured the employment of an average of 400 ex-Servicemen all the year round. … …
The more poppies sold, therefore, the more employment for ex-Servicemen and the more money for the Legion funds. … … No one has the welfare of the ex-Serviceman more at heart than Mrs. James Walker, who some time ago resumed her chairmanship of the women’s section, Hull branch, British Legion … … Meeting her again this week in the Poppy Shop, where she is carrying on with the assistance of many willing helpers, it is good to see her full of enthusiasm and energy which has enabled her to run this shop so successfully during the past eight years.
Arranged on the counter are a selection of what we will wear next Saturday—small silk poppies made up into attractive sprays for our coats, the familiar single ones of all sizes … …”
06.11.1939. Lancashire Evening Post [sic]:
“THE KING’S WISH FOR POPPY DAY.
The King has given instructions that French cornflowers as well as Haig Fund poppies are to be used in his wreath for November 11th.
The cornflowers to be used will be some of a consignment of one hundred thousand which have been sent as a gesture of friendship and remembrance by French ex-Service men who are members of the Confederation Nationale des Anciens Combattants, and are to be sold on November 11th entwined with Haig Fund poppies in aid of the British Legion.
As a reciprocal gesture, the British Legion has despatched 100,000 poppies to Paris, and these also, entwined with French cornflowers, will be sold there on November 11th to help French ex-Service men.”
11.10.1940. Birmingham Daily Gazette [sic]:
“FEWER TYPES OF POPPIES IN CASE FACTORY IS BOMBED.
Now that we are at war again, it becomes certain that Poppy Day will be needed as long as any of us live,” said Colonel J. L. Mellor, presiding at a meeting of Poppy Day depot organisers in Birmingham.
Because the effort now helped war-suffers of two generations, the need for support was greater than ever.
By giving generously the public were helping to pay the debt of honour they owed to the men of 1914-18 and to their sons who are serving to-day.”
07.11.1940. Birmingham Daily Post [sic]:
“Wreaths for Poppy Day.
An official of the British Legion tells me that though there is to be no ceremony at the Cenotaph on November 11, people are very far from forgetting Poppy Day. … …
The Field of Remembrance at Westminster Abbey will be open as usual for poppy planting, but the space reserved is not as large as formerly. … …
In other years large consignments of poppies have gone to British communities overseas, including fifty-three foreign countries. Now that, in most cases, despatch to foreign places is difficult or impossible, it is hoped that the loss of revenue will be made up by purchasers here.”
08.11.1940. Liverpool Evening Express [sic]:
“Members of the public are urged to buy two poppies this year—one in memory of men who died in the Great War, and one in tribute to sons who followed their fathers’ heroic example”.
01.11.1941. Cheshire Observer [sic]:
Sir.—On Sunday, November 9th, British people will have the opportunity of hearing the voice of General Wavell, who is to broadcast a special appeal from India on behalf of the British Legion, at 8.45 p.m. There will be no shortage of poppies this year, but there will be fewer of the more expensive types. Those who normally purchase the larger silk poppies are, therefore, asked to help by accepting smaller emblems on Remembrance Day should they be unable to obtain the type they prefer. A slight reduction in the numbers of the more expensive poppies has been made necessary this year because of the difficulty in obtaining the necessary material.
Many more volunteers are needed to fill the places of those poppy sellers of previous years now engaged on War work. I shall be very grateful if offers of assistance can be made as quickly as possible to all local Poppy Day Committees, or if the address of these should not be known, to Haig’s Fund, Cardigan House, Richmond, Surrey, when offers will be at once passed to the appropriate districts.
W. G. WILLCOX, Captain, Organising Secretary, Earl Haig’s British Legion Appeal, 27th October, 1941.”
07.11.1941. Nottingham Evening Post [sic]:
“POPPY DAY IN NOTTINGHAM. Fewer Silk Emblems. There will be fewer silk poppies on sale in Nottingham to-morrow because of shortage of material. Silk is used for the 2s. 6d. motor waxed sprays and poppies retailed at 1s. and 6d. The cheaper type of poppy is made from lawn.
Owing to the decreased number of higher emblems the public are asked to give even more generously this year.
Nottingham’s quota of poppies will be about the same as last year—from 200,000 to 250,000. There has been a good demand for poppy wreaths. Helpers have come forward in large numbers. … …”
29.10.1942. Birmingham Daily Post [sic]:
In the factory of the British Legion, as well as in the workshops of mantle-makers and milliners, there is a shortage of materials that imposes austerity. Armistice Day poppies will be plainer this year. From the headquarters of the Haig Fund it is announced that only four million out of forty million poppies will be of silk, and even these will be smaller and may have fewer petals. Cardboard will replace wire in the stalk, and the centre will consist of printed paper instead of metal. Some of the small poppies have been made of printed card. But these war-time economies afford no pretext for less generous giving. The responsibilities of the British Legion have been vastly extended, for it offers its help, in many forms, to members of all the Services in this war no less than those who served in the last war—and also to their dependants. Not only is the need to give generously more than ever pressing, but those who buy poppies can help the British Legion and the country still further. Short as is the supply of materials for making poppies this year, next year it may be shorter still. An effort will, therefore, be made to salve as many poppies as possible after November 11. Local organisers have been asked to place receptacles at convenient spots, where buyers can deposit their poppies. If these are in good repair, they will be reconditioned at the Legion’s factory. If they are past further service, the fabrics, paper and metal are of value for salvage. We are assured that the disabled workers in the factory will not be deprived of employment by this economy; on the contrary, more labour will probably be needed to renovate the old poppies than to make an equal number of new ones. Those who respond to this further appeal, therefore, can rest assured that they are also helping to ensure the success of next year’s Poppy Day.”
31.10.1942. Burnley Express [sic]:
““AUSTERITY” POPPIES – AND BURNLEY NEEDS SELLERS FOR THEM.
The Haig Fund poppies this year will be “austerity poppies.” Because of the urgent need for economy n the use of materials, changes have been necessary. Of the 40 million emblems to be sold, only four millions will be of the more attractive silk types. And even these will be smaller than usual.
The wire stalk is giving place to an ingeniously contrived cardboard stalk, while the well-known metal centre is being replaced by a painted paper centre.
It is suggested that buyers this year should hand back their poppies after November 11th and so help the plans for the manufacture of next year’s supplies.
OUT TO BEAT RECORD
The 4,000 Poppy Day Committees are aiming at a gross collection of £800,000 this year. This will mean beating last year’s record total by six per cent. The first essential for success is to have plenty of poppy sellers
Burnley’s aim is to raise £850, or £69 above last year’s total. There is here a great need for sellers, and many new volunteers will have to come forward if the 200 or so helpers asked for are to be recruited. Those willing to help should give in their names and addresses at 173, St. James’s-street, or at 20, Albert-street.
Supporters of the effort are asked to give more generously than ever. The supply of poppies is greatly down, and to reach the target aimed at, purchasers are asked to subscribe liberally and without too much thought for the value of the poppies they will receive in return.”
Above: An advertisement promoting the 1942 poppy appeal, to benefit the Haig’s Fund. It was sponsored by the ‘Nuffield Organization’, appearing in the ‘Punch’ publication of 04 November 1942.
06.11.1943. Coventry Standard [sic]:
Next Thursday is Poppy Day, the anniversary of the signing of the Armistice which led to the end of the last Great War, and the day on which an appeal is made to the people of this country on behalf of the men, and their dependants, who saved us from the German hordes twenty-five years ago. Those men have never been forgotten, and the revival of the German menace and the readiness with which the men of our country have again rallied to the defence of civilisation help to remind us of the continued debt we owe to those who have served and are serving. Their interests are watched by the British Legion, which is particularly concerned about the success of the annual Poppy Day. Coventry has supported this effort with consistency and increasing generosity, and there is every reason why that generosity should be greater than ever this year.
Most of the 40 million poppies which disabled ex-Service men have made in readiness for November 11 are in the war-time “austerity” type. The one-time wire stalk has given place to an ingeniously designed cardboard stalk. The well-known “Haig Fund” metal poppy centre is now replaced by a printed paper centre. The petals are smaller, while some of the poppies which previously had two layers of petals now have one layer only. These economies, simple as they may appear, make for other larger economies. There is the saving of many tons of cardboard effected by closer packing, and the economy in transport brought about by a reduction of 50 per cent, in packing space needed. These are just a few of many war-time economies made by Haig’s Fund.
Poppy wreaths may still be obtained, but in rather smaller sizes. More than 40,000 wreaths have already been ordered for Remembrance Day ceremonies. There are six new and attractive war-time designs. … …
Because of the great shortage of materials the British Legion appealed last year for the return of poppies after November 11. Many thousands of poppies were returned by public-spirited people, and it was possible to renovate a large proportion for use again, thus saving much valuable material. A similar appeal is made this year. The best plan is for one householder to collect used poppies from as many others as possible and to hand them over to the local Poppy Day Committee, Legion Branch, or collecting depot.
The Legion has plenty of work for the disabled men in its Poppy Factory, and they include, incidentally, a number of men disabled in the present war. The only reason the return of poppies is asked for is to save material. Actually, it takes more time to renovate a used poppy than to make a new one. Therefore returning used poppies helps to provide more employment.
What women are doing to help win the war can easily be seen in the daily post at Poppy Day Headquarters. Tens of thousands of helpers of last year are in the Services, the factories, or otherwise working full-time for victory. Their services are therefore not available for Poppy Day. But there must be more sellers if a million pounds is to be raised this year, and so help to safeguard the future of our fighting men. Those ladies who can spare an hour or two to sell poppies on November 11 should write quickly to their local Poppy Day Committees or to Haig’s Fund, Richmond, Surrey. Their help is urgently needed.”
27.10.1943. Lincolnshire Echo [sic]: DECORATED CROSSES.
“A new feature of the British Legion’s Armistice Day Garden of Remembrance at Westminster Abbey will be miniature wooden crosses decorated with the emblems of the United Nations, the occupied countries, and the Dominions and Colonies. Here are shown the crests of the U.S.A., China, U.S.S.R, Free French, Czechoslovakia, and the British Colonies. The crosses have been made at the Legion’s Poppy Factory at Richmond, and the crests have been hand-painted by one of the 300 ex-Service-men engaged in the making of poppies.”
1943 ‘Remembrance Day’ Collection Tin
This 1943 British Legion ‘Remembrance Day’ Collection Tin has endured a very tough life, since it was proudly carried by an enthusiastic Poppy-Seller. Those days of neglect are over now though. All images show its current condition but those following enlighten us to Second World War ingenuity.
The internal side of the tin has Spanish writing on it but the base has a dragon illustration and “DRAGON”, with the Spanish words: “Simbole de la optimo de calidad. Producto de la cas….; plus, in English: “Silvertown Lubricants [Ltd] London”, which was a company based at Minoco Wharf, on the River Thames in London – lubricating oil and associated works. This particular tin was probably intended to be an oil can originally. It is deduced that all concerned were using any piece of tin they could get its hands on – given the austerity in the War years.
The base twists and the outer wrapper stays still – the rip, in this outer wrapper, reveals a secret round hole through which donations can be retrieved.
Who would have thought that a 75 year old tin could tell us so much?!
Another British Legion Collection Tin bares all
The three trio images above depict another British Legion Collection Tin, owned by collector Andy Chaloner. As yet, the date is unknown.
With the side aperture closed, and with a wrapper covering the tin, the money collected during a ‘Poppy Day’ would have been secure inside. When the time came for the tin to be emptied, these instructions would have to be followed: grip the top in one hand; grip the bottom in the other hand; turn the top and bottom in opposite directions; and the aperture will open, to reveal a circular hole. The wrapper could be left on and pierced through, when it was felt the aperture was open, or the whole wrapper could be taken off beforehand.
20.10.1944. Derby Daily Telegraph [sic]:
“LEGION FACES “POPPY SELLER” SHORTAGE.
RELAXATION in civil defence duties means that the British Legion in Derby will not have the support of first-aid posts as selling centres in this year’s Poppy Day effort.
An appeal was made at a __?__ meeting of the Derby Central Branch men’s and women’s sections last night for as many voluntary workers as can find time to sell poppies in the streets on November 11. The military authorities are also being are also being asked to allow available members of the Services to act as sellers, and the hope was expressed that the public would give even more generously this year to make up for any shortage in the number of sellers.
The branch president, Mr. R. J. Nason, has agreed to act as organiser on behalf of the men’s section, following the recent departure of the former branch secretary, Mr. C. H. Humphreys, who has taken up an appointment at British Legion headquarters. The women’s part in the appeal will be organised, as in past years, by Mrs. A. F. Neal and Mrs. R. Porter.
Large quantities of wreaths and poppies are already in stock at Haig House, Green-lane, and while the majority will be of the same austerity make as last year, some are of better quality than on former wartime Poppy Days.
The Central Branch set up a new record of £2,150 last year.”
07.11.1944. Hull Daily Mail [sic]:
“Poppy Day.—Saturday next is Poppy Day, when everyone, regardless of religion or politics, wears an emblem as a tribute to the men who died or were wounded in the last war, and gives a coin for it in support of the British Legion, which looks after the welfare of ex-Servicemen and their relatives, as well as attending the interests of those fighting in this war.
In Hull everything is ready, but unfortunately there is a dearth of helpers. Will those who can give an hour or more during the day please communicate with the Legion headquarters, 44, Beverley-road, Hull? Last year the Hull branch members and their friends collected £3,300. This year £4,000 is the target, and in view of the growing demands on the Legion the sum will be needed.
I am told that the shilling silk poppies on sale this year will be an improvement on those available hitherto, though some* of last year’s will be in circulation. … …” [* “austerity” poppies]
19.10.1945. Liverpool Echo [sic]:
“A Woman’s Note. For Remembrance Day.
Poppies will again be worn on Remembrance Day, November 11, and the Liverpool depot in Whitechapel, for the display and sale of wreaths—for which already many orders have been received—was officially opened yesterday by the Lord Mayor of Liverpool, the Earl of Sefton, who was accompanied by the Lady Mayoress. They specially admired the Royal Air Force wreaths, which are made of laurel leaves in the shape of wings and bear the R.A.F. badge with an embellishment of poppies.
In addition to the Service wreaths there are special designs for the Boy Scouts and Girl Guides, besides the orthodox shapes, and the poppies seem to me to be of a much better quality than they were during the late war years.
Although the large poppies for use on cars are missing, there are some smaller waxed ones intended for cycles, and these, one of the workers told me, can be made into sprays for motorists if required. Mary Ventris.”
1.11.1945. Manchester Evening News [sic]:
“Million Poppies for Motorists. Nearly 1,000,000 poppy emblems for motorists alone have been made by the British Legion for the 25th anniversary of Poppy Day this year. They differ from previous years in that the emblem is now a large single poppy instead of the former three small ones.”
British Legion Large Membership Lapel Badge: The back of this badge, shown below, bears the Membership Number 763814, along with the Registered Design No. 684409. It seems this large version was produced during the period 1928 -1946 … the number suggests it may date to 1945 (?).
The above photograph appeared in The Star (Sheffield, England), 9 November 1946: “Mr. Taylor, a legless collector, selling Flanders poppies in Fargate. Other sellers were busy throughout the city. It was hoped to raise £7,000 for the British Haig Fund.”
Above: This is the beautiful front cover of the October 1956 edition of the British Legion Journal. Inside, Madame Guérin was only given two sentences – that is better than none at all, of course!
18.10.1955. In Scotland: Berwickshire News and General Advertiser [sic]:
“One type of poppy. Poppies have been standardised—only one type will be sold in aid of the Earl Haig Fund when Poppy Day comes along on Nov. 5 this year.
In previous years, three types of poppy were on sale-generally costing 1d, 6d or 1s.
“It is an experiment,” said Sir Reginald Graham, general secretary of the Fund, at a meeting of the Poppy Day conveners in Edinburgh.
“The new poppy looks like the old 6d type. But is has no set price. If anyone puts a penny in the collecting box we will have to take a penny. It is the spirit behind the giving of money, that we appreciate,” he said.
“The change has been made to avoid invidious distinctions and to simplify distribution.”
28.10.1955. In Scotland: Jedburgh Gazette [sic]:
“”Poppy Day”. The change from three types of poppy formerly available to one “Emblem,” will be made all over Scotland this year. By a special arrangement, however, in order to reduce some o the old stock, a few places in the North, East and Border Areas have agreed to take part of their supplies in the old small, poppy. The change to this “Emblem” has not caused any men in Lady Haig’s Poppy Factory to be put out of work, but has been made to avoid invidious distinctions and to simplify distribution.
It is intended that the “Emblem” should have a green leaf attached, but owing to a fire in Lady Haig’s Poppy Factory which interrupted production, a considerable proportion of the “Emblems” to be issued this year will not have a leaf. It is hoped that the public in the places where the poppy is distributed without a leaf will accept this explanation.
It is also hoped that those who subscribe will not relate the “Emblem” to any particular price but will give as generously as they can.
Large mascot poppies for motor cars are still available at a minimum of 3/-.”
1.12.1958. Western Mail [sic]:
“Foiling poppy cheats. To prevent people using the same British Legion poppy emblem year after year and pretending they were subscribing to the Earl Haig Fund, the Legion headquarters are to be asked to introduce a colour scheme.
A resolution adopted by Caernarvonshire and Anglesey women’s section at Pwllheli recommended that the black button in the centre of the poppy should be blue and yellow, the Legion colours, on alternate years.
The proposer, Mrs. Mary Jones Griffith, said, “It is no wonder poppy sales are going down. I went to a Pwllhwli shop and the shopkeeper had a silk poppy in his buttonhole. I told him he could not have bought it this year because the Legion stopped making silk poppies ten years ago.
“This sort of pettiness is unfair. We are losing revenue because of this practice.” In her annual report the secretary, Miss C. Gillespie, Llanberis, said that television was becoming a strong competitor to Legion interests.
Because of it one branch in Anglesey was unable to call meetings. The only way the branch chairman could get members together was by whist drives.”
1959: “HAIG FUND”. It is believed that the “Haig Fund” Remembrance Poppy, already shown above, once belonged to “Flight Officer Peter Walter Clark (906757)”. It is made from two layers of scarlet red felt. It is deduced that it could date between 1959 and 1966.
When the poppy was acquired, it was accompanied by two metal Volunteer Reserve Training badges and documentation dating to September 1958 – the latter linking Flying Officer P.W. Clark to O. C. No. 1379 (Leiston) Squadron Air Training Corps. Thus, it is deduced that the poppy could date to that year.
Peter Walter Clark 906757 was born on 09 September 1921 Cambridge, Cambridgeshire. His parents were Walter Clark and Ethel Ellen Elisabeth Latham (m October 1915 Epping, Essex).
In the 2nd Quarter of 1950, Peter married one Barbara M P Hockin at Ely, Cambridgeshire. Peter Walter Clark died in January 2001 at Ipswich, Suffolk.
British Legion Haig Fund: “How each £1 was spent in 1961”
The following four pages belong to the British Legion flyer “How each £1 was spent in 1961”. Top left is the front page; top right is the back page; and bottom is the centre-fold. The pages are very informative and make an interesting read.
19.5.1967. The Tewkesbury Register, and Agricultural Gazette [sic]:
“STANDARD POPPY. After being elected Poppy Day organiser Mr. H. Goodwin told the committee that as from this year the Legion would be introducing one standard poppy, which would, in time, replace all existing types.”
5.10.1967. Liverpool Echo [sic]:
“LEGION APPEALS FOR POPPY DAY HELPERS.
An appeal for 800 collectors for this year’s Poppy Day campaign in Liverpool, was made yesterday by Lord Lonsdale, president of the British Legion’s north west area.
He said at a Press conference that the British Legion needed £1,250,000 in order to meet its commitments, although they were hoping that the figure would be nearer £2,000,000.
“We need “125,00 in the north western area and £10,000 in Merseyside, and 5,800 collectors are needed in the area, including 600 in Liverpool,” he said.
Mr. Dennis Cadman, the national vice-chairman, said that this year the standard poppies would have plastic stems. About 35,000,000 are sold every year and this will save £12,000,” he said.
NEW BOXES. The tray and collecting tins are also on their way out. A new water resistant earner bag for collectors and a new plastic collecting box will be brought into use this year.”
1.11.1967. Aberdeen Press and Journal [sic]:
“New-look poppies. Poppy sellers on Remembrance Day next week will have a new carrier bag slung from the shoulder and will selling new-style poppy, made with plastic stem and one-piece petal. They will hold new blue torch-shaped collecting boxes.”
3.11.1967. Birmingham Daily Post [sic]:
“Traditional Poppy Day. Sir.—There may be some misunderstanding about the “new look” Poppy Day so far as collecting boxes, poppies and trays are concerned because of previous publicity. In fact, only a very limited experiment with a new type is being conducted and in Birmingham each of our 32 depots will have, at the most, only one or two each to test public reaction.
The traditional collecting boxes and trays of poppies will be used this year and as we still have a considerable supply of last year’s poppies, the traditional emblems will be on sale in the city in the usual way.
I might add that, because of the roadworks in Easy Row, the usual Remembrance Day Parade will not be held at the Hall of Memory on November 12, but will take place in the Gardens of Colmore Circus, but the traditional wreath-laying ceremony will take place at 11 p.m. on Saturday November 11.
(Maj.) DOUGLAS M. KING, British Legion Poppy Appeal, Thorp Street, Birmingham 5.”
4.11.1968. Belfast Telegraph [sic]:
“Why the poppy has a ‘new look’
I WOULD be glad of the opportunity to explain to the public why this year’s poppy is slightly different from the emblem we have had in previous years. The new poppy was introduced experimentally in some districts last year, but this year it will be almost universally used.
For some time the average age of our severely disabled men, who make the poppies in the Legion factory at Richmond, has been increasing, as have their absences through illness due to the deterioration of their war injuries.
In addition, we have found it increasingly difficult, largely because of the housing shortage, to persuade disabled ex-Servicemen to come from other parts of the country to work in the factory.
At the same time our factory plant, installed many years ago, had become out of date, and the manufacture processes included unpleasant work with hot bitumen to make the button at the centre of the poppy. The problem of producing 40 million poppies and 70,000 wreaths each year was becoming a major problem.
We therefore decided to install new machinery which would make the disabled operative’s task much easier, more hygienic and more productive. This involved a change from bitumen and wire to a Plastic button and stem. The fabric petal has been retained, although the design has been slightly altered.
This change of pattern of the poppy will inevitably mean that it will be almost impossible for out helpers to make the poppy “sprays” which have always been so popular in Northern Ireland, but I am quite certain that the people of our province who have proved their generosity so often in the past, will understand that the new poppies means far better working conditions for the disabled men in our factory, and they will continue to subscribe as generously as ever.
In this connection, may I add that the poppy money is subscribed for the benefit of all ex-Servicemen and women and their dependents, and not only for those who are members of the Legion. The Legion is entrusted with the task of administering the fund and 90 pc of beneficiaries are not Legion members. Each year the Legion has to find approximately £175,000 from other resources to subsidence the Haig Fund in order that all benevolent demands can be met.
There is, therefore, a great need to increase the appeal fund, and more and more collectors are required, of all ages, but particularly from among young people who are looking for an opportunity to serve a worthwhile cause. If any of your readers would like to help, would they please contact the area organiser, British Legion, War Memorial Building, Belfast, 1. (Tel. 218113).
(Colonel JAMES HUGHES, Vice-chairman, British Legion, Northern Ireland Area.”
The following three stitched images depict plastic Royal British Legion ‘Poppy Appeal’ money-related boxes, of the “twenty-tens”: a well-known, common-shaped collecting box is shown first; the second box is made in the shape of a poppy; and the third shows a poppy-shaped money box, sold as fund-raising merchandise.
The following stitched image shows a small selection of various modern-day ‘Poppy Appeal’ merchandise, largely collected in the “noughties”.
Donations to the Royal British Legion are welcomed from any source. In this instance, British ale breweries are found promoting, and donating to, the R.B.L. Poppy Appeals:
Eldridge Pope & Co. Ltd., Dorchester, Dorset, England:
REMEMBRANCE ALE Poppy Day: 1979-1981. “Brewed in aid of THE ROYAL BRITISH LEGION POPPY APPEAL”. “Eldridge Pope will donate to The Poppy Appeal 2p for every bottle sold.”
BRITISH BEST BITTER: pre-2003. “For every barrel sold Eldridge Pop & Co. will make a contribution to the R.B.L. Poppy Appeal”.
Charles Wells Ltd., Bedford, England:
POPPY: 2016. “A crisp, nutty, amber bitter.” “TO CELEBRATE HM THE QUEEN’S 90th BIRTHDAY we will be donating 10p from every pint sold to The Royal British Legion.”
FOOTNOTE: The White Poppy, followed by British Flower Days
THE WHITE POPPY
In June 1933, the Women’s Co-operative Guild’s Jubilee Congress was held in London. About 1600 delegates attended, including Central Committee member Mrs. Beresford – who appealed to members to wear white poppies instead of red ones on Armistice Day.
Some of the WCG branches asked that an emblem be adopted that could be worn at the Armistice, and at other times, by “those definitely and unreservedly renouncing war and standing emphatically and firmly for peace”.
To put it simply, there was an air of apprehension in Europe at the time. On the 30 January 1933, Adolf Hitler had been appointed the Chancellor of Germany; in the March of 1933, the Reichstag passed the Enabling Act – basically, making Hitler the Dictator of Germany; and the relations between Germany and Poland were deteriorating.
You can imagine why some people would be anxious about the future: given it was less than 15 years since the World War One Armistice of 11 November 1918 and only 14 years since the Treaty of Versailles was signed – bringing the War to an official end.
A prominent promoter of the white peace poppy was Women’s Co-operative Guild member Mrs. Eleanor “Nellie” Barton (nee Stockton). Nellie is credited with the idea that women should wear both the red and the white poppy. In her time, Nellie was a WCG Central Committee member; a pacifist; and a Co-operative and Labour Party activist. Additionally, Nellie is described as “prime mover” in the W.C.G.’s Peace Pledge card.
The Women’s Co-operative Guild’s Central Committee of the 1933 Congress asked the British Legion Headquarters if it would accept an order for 10,000 white poppies. The Guild stated quite clearly that the profits from these white poppies would go to disabled men, just as they did from the sale of red poppies. However, the British Legion refused.
It was reported in the Western Daily Press (22 June 1933) that General Secretary, Nellie Barton, had said that “It would need courage among members to start the new movement. A resolution against was urged the withdrawal of all war loan investments by the Co-operative Wholesale Society, and suggested that co-operative stores should refrain from making and displaying for sale any sort of warlike toys.”
The white poppy was NEVER meant to replace the Haig Fund poppy. It was an addition, which was promoted as a symbol of a commitment to work for peace and that war should never happen again. The white poppy was meant to be placed beside the scarlet Flanders Poppy. To quote Nellie Barton: “The Guild was most anxious that nothing should be done that would prejudice the help given to disabled soldiers.” … “both will tell the message: the red poppy for remembrance; the white poppy to say “No More War.””
British Legion officials were strongly opposed to the emergence of the white poppy and the two following quotes (made public in newspapers) demonstrate the hostility [sic]:
“WHITE POPPY PROTEST. Considerable feeling has been aroused among British Legion members in Northamptonshire in consequence of the decision of Co-operative Women’s Guilds in the county to organise sales of a white poppy as a peace emblem on Armistice Day. British Legion officials strongly oppose the suggestion that another emblem should be sold in competition with the Flanders poppy, and unless the proposals are withdrawn protest demonstrations are likely to be organised.” The Aberdeen Press and Journal (30 October1933)
One Legion official said “… There is no need for a peace emblem in addition to our poppy. Not only does it stand as a memory of the sacrifice of millions, but of those who fought and still live to do all possible to prevent a future war. … This is an insult to the Flanders poppy and all it stands for. …” (Sheffield Independent, 30 October 1933)
On 13 November 1933, the U.S.A. was hearing about the white poppy. The Courier News of Bridgewater, of New Jersey, printed an article headed “White Poppies For Red. [sic]:
Red poppies, as they grow on Flanders Field, red as the blood of the world’s youth that was spilt there during the Great War, have come to be a symbol of Armistice Day. In England, especially, red poppies are worn on November 11 as a tribute to the memory of war dead.
But this year the Women’s Co-operative Guild of Great Britain has set a new example. Members of the Guild have worn, and have urged others to wear, white poppies instead of red, for white is the color of peace, and though the dead be unforgotten, not the war that has been, but the peace that is to be should be stressed and glorified on Armistice Day.”
Some Guildswomen did wear the white poppies alongside their red ones. Nellie Barton wrote: “it is safe to say that no one who in previous years has worn the red Flanders poppy in memory of husband, son, father, or friend who lost his life in the Great War is likely to cease wearing that Flanders poppy.”
It is interesting to observe the photograph shown below, of a Quaker schoolgirl wearing a home-made white poppy, From knowing the wearer, her family date it to “about 1935” but perhaps it may actually date to 1933? In this 21st Century, people consider that knitting and/or crocheting poppies is a new, modern trend but this schoolgirl is wearing one or the other and many were home-made.
In 1934, the Co-operative Wholesale Society made some white poppies (bearing the word “Peace” on the metal centres) and sold them, at cost price, to the branches of the Women’s Co-operative Guild. In some places, Guilds acquired permission to have street sales; but in other places the white poppies were only available in their local Guild Room.
There was a tremendous stigma attached to the white poppy and, as the aforementioned June 1933 quote suggested, it appears that it did need courage of conviction to wear one. Wearers experienced prejudice and discrimination, in varying degrees and wearers lost their jobs. An example of this was printed in The Belfast Telegraph (23 Nov 1937) [sic]:
“WHITE POPPY WEARERS, TO LOSE THEIR LONDON JOBS.
Because they refused to remove white (peace) poppies from their buttonholes on Armistice Day, two young men employed by a London firm have been given a month’s notice.
The men, who are 23 and 24, both live at Leigh-on-Sea. The elder has been employed by the firm for seven years, the younger four years. One maintains a widowed mother, the other supports a relative.
Both are members of the Peace Pledge Union and had taken the Union’s advice to wear Haig poppies as well as the Union’s white emblems.
The manager of the firm said to the reporter—“The men were given a month’s notice not because they wore the white poppies but because they refused to take them off when it was suggested to them that they were an insult to the community who lose relatives in the war.
“They declined to remove the poppies, and they were told that the alternative was to leave their employment. If they had taken the poppies out of their coast they would not have been dismissed.”
One of the young men said—“Both our fathers fought through the war, and we bought out Haig poppies like everyone else. We consider that our private actions are no concern of anybody else and that we are perfectly entitled to show that we are supporters of the peace movement.”
It would be wrong to say that all Guildswomen were in favour of the white poppy. Also in 1937, when Guildswoman the Mayoress of Leeds wore a white poppy and stated that the white poppy was the Women’s Cooperative Guild emblem, another Leeds Guildswoman wrote that the Mayoress did “an injustice to many Guildswomen, who would scorn to wear one. The white poppy plan was originated by the Labour section of Guildswomen, and far from being a demonstration of peace, has caused nothing but strife and discord in a movement where thousands of women have suffered during the war.”
As members of the Women’s Co-operative Guild; Peace Pledge Union; Quakers; etc chose to wear the white poppy as a sign of their commitment to peace in the 1930’s, feeling they had a right to do so without criticism, so do people today.
Animosity still prevails, on occasion, though – for instance, Bristol’s 2018 Remembrance Day’s white poppy wreaths were vandalised for the fourth year running. However, as a rule, white and scarlet poppies co-exist side-by-side within a more harmonious environment:-
In Whitehall, London, at the 2018 Armistice Day commemoration, some Gulf War veterans laid a wreath consisting of red, yellow and white poppies – the colours symbolised the colours of blood; the desert sand; and peace, respectively.
In Ottawa, Canada, the nominated National Silver Cross mother laid a wreath of all white poppies at the 2018 Remembrance Day Memorial Service. Today, the Royal British Legion states that it “defends the right to wear different poppies” – indeed, it states that some of its volunteers wear different coloured poppies side by side.
Peace Pledge Union: “WHITE POPPIES FOR A CULTURE OF PEACE. The White Poppy symbolises the belief that there are better ways to resolve conflicts than killing strangers. Our work, primarily educational, draws attention to many of our social values and habits which make continuing violence a likely outcome. …” Read more about the Peace Pledge Union here: https://ppu.org.uk/remembrance-white-poppies
Australian War Animal Memorial Organisation Purple Poppy
To commemorate all the deeds and sacrifices by animals in war, the ‘Australian War Animal Memorial Organisation’ issues an artificial purple poppy … not to replace the scarlet bloom of remembrance, but to be worn beside it. The aim is to remind us that animals served during conflicts, and continue to do so.
BRITISH FLOWER DAYS
Before Poppy Lady Madame Guérin brought her artificial Remembrance Poppies to Great Britain in 1921, there had been a tradition there to distribute artificial flowers (carried out by women and girls) for donations to benefit charities. Who knows, because Madame Guérin lived in Great Britain from 1911 to 1914, perhaps she remembered this when she needed to raise funds for her own charity work?
Several examples of artificial flower emblems were distributed for charitable means in Great Britain before; during; and after the First World War.
‘Forget-Me-Not Days’ occurred throughout Great Britain: before, during, and after World War One. The dainty spray, shown below, was discovered entwined with a British Legion “Remembrance Day” Poppy. It is believed that the original wearer would have acquired them separately and carried out the entwining. A hint of the original forget-me-not-blue colour can just be seen on the left flower’s petals. The span of flowers is very fragile and is only a fraction over one inch wide.
The Burnley Express, on the 6th & 9th November 1912, mentions “London crippled children” (the girls of the John Groom’s Crippleage and Flower Mission perhaps?) making the Forget-Me-Not flowers that would be distributed in Burnley on the 16th [sic]:
“FORGET-ME-NOT DAY.—Weather permitting, a number of Burnley ladies are hoping to make a street collection on Saturday next, on behalf of providing warm clothing, toys, and a tea for the poor crippled children of Burnley at Christmas. The contributors will be given a “forget-me-not” made by the London crippled children and the ladies concerned confidently appeal for a hearty response.”
The following article in the Western Times (07 September 1915) gives some of idea of why they were held – in this case, why Exeter wants to raise funds from them [sic]:
“FORGET-ME-NOT DAY. What Has Been Done and What Must Be Done. HELP WANTED.
No doubt in your town or village you have already had your Rose Day, and your French, Belgian, Serbian and Russian Flag Day, and your Daisy Day and no end of other “Days.” The point is, have you had your Forget-me-Not Day? If not, some public-spirited and energetic lady or gentleman would be doing a real service by writing to the Hon. Organizer of Forget-me-Not Day, the Guild-hall, Exeter, and offering to take the necessary steps to have one.
There may be some individual, away in some obscure corner, who does not know what Forget-me-Not Day is, and for the benefit of such it may be explained that Forget-me-Not Day is a day given up for the sale of artificial forget-me-nots in aid of the Mayoress of Exeter’s Hospitality Fund. This fund provides refreshments for soldiers on their way to the Front, each man being given a bag containing a large sandwich, an orange, a large piece of cake, and a packet of cigarettes. In addition, his water bottle is filled with steaming hot tea. … …
“You must not forget, and your readers must not forget, that, great as is the organization of the Army, it has one weak point. When the men leave their depots for the Front they get no food till they arrive on the troopship. Many—the majority—of the men fed by the Mayoress have been travelling for from twelve to twenty hours. It may be said—indeed, it has been said—that the Government ought to do this work. The point is they do not do it, and the situation resolves itself to this: Either the Mayoress has to go on feeding them, or the men must go hungry. That, of course, is unthinkable. … …”
On 05 November 1927, Lincolnshire’s Grantham Journal printed the following poem written by “M.S.”:
Forget me not. With breaking hearts,
We craved this boon of thee
Before we took an active part
On land, and air, and sea
Return no more to those we love;
Ah! Sad indeed our lot;
Our sacrifice will not be vain
If thou forget me not.
Forget me not. Have mothers’ sons,
Who gave the best of life
And who for king and country left
Home, and friends, and wife;
Time softens grief, and heals our wounds,
And futile are our tears,
Yet still will we remember thee
Throughout the endless years.
Forget me not. With heads bowed low
We turn our thoughts once more
To those who in the battle fell,
Who sleep to wake no more.
Time cannot dim those glorious deeds
Of thou, our honoured dead,
Whose graves are scattered far and wide
Mid Flanders poppies red.
‘Rose Day’, also known as the ‘Queen Alexandra Rose Day’ began in 1912, when the Danish-born Queen wanted to commemorate 50 years since her arrival in Great Britain. Thus, a tradition began whereby artificial silk wild roses were distributed for donations which would benefit various charities. Initially, ‘Rose Day’ was only held in London but, then, it spread. Additionally, in 1912 and 1913 (at least) the roses were made of paper.
On 24 June 1915, the Exeter and Plymouth Gazette described a recent Rose Day in Exeter (Devon, England), mentioning John Groom’s ‘Crippleage and Flower Girls’ Mission’ of Clerkenwell, London [sic]:
“Rose Day. EXETER’S EFFORT. NEARLY £280 REALISED.
“Wear a rose and do honour to her Majesty Queen Alexandra and also benefit the hospitals and kindred institutions.” Thus were the citizens of the Kingdom yesterday invited to join in Rose Day. So great was the demand from all parts for artificial wild roses that the Crippleage, Clerkenwell, where so many blind and cripple girls are employed in producing them, was unable to cope with the orders. Consequently, the assistance of numerous firms had to be engaged. Queen Alexandra herself drove through the principal streets of London yesterday, and evinced the deep interest she takes in the movement, and, by so doing, graciously acknowledged the help of thousands of voluntary workers in a deserving object. Throughout Devonshire the fair sex of all classes displayed the greatest enthusiasm in the work, and there is not the slightest doubt that many philanthropic institutions in the country will considerably benefit as a result of their efforts. The movement was supported on a more extensive scale than in previous years at Exeter, and the ambition of the ladies entrusted with the sale was to raise £250, but they succeeded in reaching the splendid total of close on £280. Of this sum £40 was realised in the sale of wreaths in various establishments in the city during the last few days.
Mrs. Kendall King, who won such high praise by the admirable work she performed as Mayoress last year, was the hon. Secretary and treasurer of the organisation at Exeter, and was supported by a large number of other ladies who worked their hardest to make the sale a success. They included Mrs. Robertson (President of the Executive), the Mayoress, Mrs. Bradley Rowe, Mrs. Vlieland, Mrs. Balsom, Mrs. A. Thomas, Mrs. C. Walters, and Mrs. A. Rogers.
Numerous meetings had been previously held with a view to arranging that every thoroughfare in the city had one or more ladies allotted to it. As a consequence every main street seemed well provided with sellers who were in dainty cream and white dresses with hats trimmed with roses. They displayed keen business qualities, and men found it impossible to decline an invitation to buy a buttonhole or a spray. The roses on sale included 1,750 6d sprays, 1750 3d sprays, and 36,720 1d blooms. The whole of the proceeds will go to the Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital. There were nearly 20 depots in different parts of the city, and about 250 helpers. Among them was Trooper Waller, of the 10th Hussars, a native of Cambridge, who is a patient at No. 2 Voluntary Aid Hospital. He sold from his bedside and obtained £1 18s.
Last year the total obtained was £168. The ladies who sold roses were:- … …”
‘Violet Day’ was another charity day in Great Britain. It may have been a day which originated as a commemoration of the death of Queen Victoria (?). It occurred throughout Great Britain. The Church Army was associated with holding these days but other charities have been discovered benefiting from ‘Violet Day’ collections, such as the Red Cross. It is not known what year these ‘Days’ began – although references are made to Violet Day in 1912 newspapers.
The following is an article about one ‘Violet Day’ held in Bath – the Bath Chronicle and Weekly Gazette (06 October 1923) enlightened readers [sic]:
“CORRESPONDENCE. CHURCH ARMY VIOLET DAY.
To the Editor. “Bath Weekly Chronicle.” Sir.—Will you kindly allow us this hospitality of your columns in which to express our thanks and appreciation of the services of all who sold emblems for the Church Army on Saturday last, and our equal sense of the kindness of those who patronised the effort? The total sum raised was £132 12s. 2d., which will be devoted to Church Army work in Bath.
We desire to especially thank the proprietors of the “Bath Chronicle” for giving publicity to the undertaking, and for their willingness to report our meetings, and advertise our needs.
Also we are much indebted to various shops, and friends who kindly provided us with prizes for the draw, and Mr. T. J. Dyte has placed us under a great obligation in lending a room in his house as a depot and the use of his shop window.
KATE F. EAST (hon.sec. for Bath). U. CYRIL EDINGTON (clerical sec.), 15, Lansdown Place, E., Bath, October 4th 1923.”
The image above shows four beautiful British ‘Flag Day’ artificial flower badge pins. Together they illustrate the growing popularity, before and during the First World War, of offering artificial flowers in exchange for donations to benefit a variety of causes. These four flowers were acquired together, from the same collection.
The two different pansies(?), shown on the left, were paired together above the one description “Y.M.C.A. Brighton. July 14, 1917” – this has been duplicated within the image.
Pansy Days: Earliest references to ‘Pansy Day’ are to be found in 1912 newspapers. Seamen’s charities were amongst the causes that benefited.
The collector’s other quotes, for the marguerite daisy and the dog rose, are also duplicated:- for the daisy: “May 21, 1917” and for the rose: “Rose Day, 1917”.
Rose Days: From June 1912, Queen Alexandra’s ‘Rose Day’ occurred each year and benefited a variety of charities. Some people doubted its success but they were wrong. The girls of John Groom’s ‘Crippleage and Flower Girls Mission’ made this Queen Alexandra’s ‘Rose Day’ rose and the daisy – perhaps they made the other two flowers shown above too. The ‘Rose Day’ has already been covered above.
Daisy Days: The ‘Daisy Day’ started in 1913, in the wake of the success of ‘Rose Day’ in 1912. The Day appears to have benefited local charities (specifically hospitals) and the ‘National Children’s Home and Orphanage’ charity. John Groom’s Crippleage appears to have been involved again – “… manufactured for the occasion by the crippled children.” (Manchester Courier and Lancashire General Advertiser, 28 July 1913)
At the same time, there was also a ‘Cornflower Day’. In 1912 and later years, references suggest that the Royal National Lifeboat Institution was the only cause that benefited. The idea may have come from Germany – in 1911, there was a ‘Cornflower Day’ in Kiel – to benefit “veterans and orphanages”. The First World War seems to have brought about the demise of this ‘Cornflower Day’.
An early “Flower Day” the author has discovered is ‘Primrose Day’ – this was founded on the first anniversary of the death of British Prime Minister, and Politician, Benjamin Disraeli … 19 April 1882. It is reported that the primrose was Disraeli’s favourite flower because a wreath of primroses was sent by Queen Victoria to his funeral – with the message “His favourite flower”.
However, in a 1913 newspaper article, it was suggested that the word “His” referred to Prince Albert, rather than Disraeli but supporters of the latter “adopted the notion”. With no evidence discovered, to the contrary, it appears that people wore a fresh primrose, or a spray of them, in their lapel on each ‘Primrose Day’ as a tribute to Disraeli and not as a result of exchanging charitable donations for artificial versions.
SOUTHEND-ON-SEA HOSPITAL DAY … Poppy Pin
As the author understands it (after research), Hospital Days began in the latter half of the 1800’s. In the beginning, the Days seem to have been “Hospital Sundays” – with churches and chapels taking the lead and handing over collections to the local hospitals; infirmaries; and dispensaries etc.
These Hospital Days gathered momentum in the 1890’s, it seems … with Friendly Societies; Mayors/Mayoress’; etc becoming involved in organising them.
The ethos of ‘Hospital Sun/Day’ became “Hospital Saturday”; “Hospital Day at the Circus” on a Wednesday evening; a “Hospital Day in the Cricket Field”; any day of the week; etc. to raise funds for this good cause.
The Days were held in all parts of the UK, as a means of raising funds for the local hospitals; infirmaries; and dispensaries etc. because healthcare was not funded until the National Health Service came into existence in 1948. Prior to this, going to the doctor and receiving healthcare all had to be paid for.
A ‘Hospital Day’ has been discovered in Southend-on-Sea as early as 1892, for the benefit of its Victoria Hospital; and in Colchester, for the benefit of its Essex and Suffolk Hospital (Essex County Hospital). There was no mention of them being Flag or Tag Days though – just collections.
It is believed that the ‘Southend-on-Sea Hospital Day’ Poppy, shown above, pre-dates the first British Legion Remembrance Day Poppy Day of 1921. The poppy became an evocative symbol during World War One and, thus, the question is asked “Would any institution or fund-raiser use the poppy after that year – and tread on the toes of the British Legion?”
N.B. The author is happy to be enlightened, if someone can shed further light on the history of Hospital Days.
Artificial Carnations: 1917 Soldiers’ Day
This image shows famous soldiers’ wives ready for Queen Alexandra’s 1917 ‘Soldiers’ Day’, which was held on 3rd May in Greater London, in aid of the Queen’s ‘Field Force Fund’. In exchange for money, women distributed artificial carnations (as seen in this image); miniature flags; and imitation parcels, representing the parcels of comforts which the Fund sent out to servicemen.
The women shown above are: Viscountess French, President of the Fund is seated, front. Standing left to right are: Lady Murray (wife of General Sir Archibald Murray); Lady Macready (wife of the Adjutant-General); Lady Allenby (wife of General Allenby); Mrs. W. L. Sclater (wife of William Lutley Sclater, ‘Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Families Association’; Mrs. Milne (wife of British G.O.C. at Salonika); and Lady Hanbury-Williams (wife of General Sir John Hanbury-Williams).
Patriotic ‘Red, White and Blue’ charity pin, c1916
The above patriotic charity pin bears characteristics of the previously-shown flowers, given its petal formed layers. It is deduced that it was used for a patriotic flag day, of some kind, during the First World War years but, in reality, nothing else is known about it.
All transcribed articles sourced from: http://www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk/
Further enlightenment or correction will be welcomed ….