Poppy - November ceremonies training on HMS Excellent 311008 CREDIT Royal Navy
Remembrance

Why We Wear Poppies On Remembrance Day

The poppy remains to this day an "enduring symbol of remembrance of the First World War".

Poppy - November ceremonies training on HMS Excellent 311008 CREDIT Royal Navy

A photograph of the November Ceremonies party prior to the Remembrance parade for Armistice Day (Picture: Royal Navy).

Often associated with Armistice Day on 11 November, the poppy's origin as a symbol of remembrance remains in the landscapes of the First World War.

Helen Mavin, curator at the Imperial War Museum, explained the reasons behind the symbol:

"Poppies were a common sight, especially on the Western Front. They flourished in the soil churned up by the fighting and shelling."

The flower provided inspiration for Canadian doctor and Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae, author of inspirational poem 'In Flanders Fields', written whilst serving in Ypres in 1915.

"Artificial poppies were first sold in Britain in 1921 to raise money for the Earl Haig Fund in support of ex-servicemen and the families of those who had died in the conflict."

The flowers were originally supplied by Anna Guérin, a French manufacturer who aimed to raise funds for charity to support war orphans.

Poppies were in such high demand from that point on that their manufacture and sale went from strength to strength.

Poppy - HMS St Albans Executive Officer bows his head in prayer 050315 CREDIT Royal Navy
An officer bows his head in prayer on HMS St Albans (Picture: Royal Navy).

In 1922, the British Legion founded a factory run and maintained by disabled ex-servicemen, to produce its own, marking the dawn of a tradition that continues to this day.

"Other charities sell poppies in different colours, each with their own meaning, but all to commemorate the losses of war.

"White poppies, for example, symbolise peace without violence and purple poppies are worn to honour animals killed in conflict.

"The poppy continues to be sold worldwide to raise money and to remember those who lost their lives in the First World War and in subsequent conflicts."