Royal British Legion
Club & Branch
Why Poppies ?
The First World War caused widespread devstation to areas of
Northern France and Belgium, but the poppy flowered every
year, bringing colour and hope to the devestated landscape.
Colonel John McCrae, a doctor serving with the Canadian armed
forces, was deeply moved by what he saw and, inspired by the
poppies, wrote a poem entitled - “IN FLANDERS FIELDS”.
McCrae died in a military hospital on the French coast shortly
after writing this poem, but it was published in Punch magazine,
showing the world what the conditions on the battlefield were
On the 11th Hour, on the 11th Day, of the 11th Month in 1918,
the First World War ended. Thousands had died, thousands
more had been injured and scarred by their horrific experiences,
and needed support and practical help when they returned. For
those people and their families, life would never be the same
Civillians wanted to remember the people who had given their
lives for peace and freedom. An American war seceretary,
Moina Michael, was inspired by McCrae’s poem, and sold
poppies to raise money for the ex-service community...and so
the tradition began.
In 1922, Major George Howson MC, who served in the First
World War, founded The Disabled Society. He recognised
unemployed ex-service men could make artificial poppies and
approached The Legion. He founded a small factory, which was
later to become The Royal British Legion Poppy Factory.
The Cenotaph at Whitehall