During the First World War (1914–1918) much of the fighting took place in Western Europe. Previously beautiful countryside was blasted, bombed and fought over, again and again. The landscape swiftly turned to fields of mud: bleak and barren scenes where little or nothing could grow.
Bright red Flanders poppies (Papaver rhoeas) however, were delicate but resilient flowers, and grew in their thousands, flourishing even in the middle of chaos and destruction.
In the spring of 1915, shortly after losing a friend in Ypres, a Canadian doctor, Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae was inspired by the sight of poppies growing in battle-scarred fields to write a now famous poem called 'In Flanders Fields'.
In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.
After the First World War, the poppy was adopted as a symbol of Remembrance.
In Hitchin, members of Hitchin Stitchin’, and pupils from Hitchin Girls’ School, and Biggleswade Academy, have been hand crafting poppies in remembrance of the Hitchin men who were killed in WW1. At Festiwool, 20017, there will be an exhibit containing poppies for each of the men who were killed in 1917, almost 1/3 of those killed between 1914 – 1919.