Yesterday, 19th April, was Poppy Day in New Zealand. The Red Poppy is ‘an international symbol for remembrance for all those who have fought and died in war’*. We celebrate Poppy Day on the Friday before Anzac Day ( 25th April).
When I was at our local Mall yesterday afternoon, I noticed that many people were wearing red Poppies. The sight of the Poppies reminded me that I had yet to buy my Poppy, but I couldn’t find anyone in the area who was supplying them. I expect it was a bit late in the day for the volunteers to still be at their posts, with their boxes of artificial poppies , patiently waiting for people to offer a donation in exchange for the honour of wearing a Poppy. The money raised is for the use and work of the Royal New Zealand Returned and Services’ Association which was founded in 1916.
Although I didn’t find a Poppy, I did find a wonderful new book called Anzac Day, The New Zealand Story by Philippa Werry. ( http://www.newhollandpublishers.co.nz/display.php?id=1709) It is written for young readers but it is a book that can be enjoyed by all age groups. Here is a quote from the book about the origins of Poppy Day in New Zealand.
” While the Anzacs were fighting at Gallipoli, a Canadian doctor, Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae, was caring for the wounded at Ypres (modern-day Ieper) in Belgium. One of his friends was killed in battle, and afterwards he scribbled down a poem on a bit of paper. Another officer found it and sent it to a magazine in England. The poem,‘ In Flanders Fields’ was published on 8 December 1915. It described how the red poppies quickly grew back between the rows of crosses marking the graves of dead soldiers.
John McCrae died of pneumonia in January 1918…….his poem lived on and was translated into many different languages. Today the red poppy is an international symbol of remembrance for all those who have fought and died in war*.”
Philippa Werry goes on to explain that the New Zealand RSA placed an order in 1921 for thousands of hand-made silk poppies from France to be sold on Armistice Day ( 11th November). The shipment arrived too late for Armistice Day so the Poppy Appeal Day was postponed until 24 April 1922, the day before Anzac Day. Since that time Poppy Day in New Zealand has always coincided with Anzac Day.
On Poppy Day, I happened to make Skype contact with my brother and sister-in-law at Heathrow Airport. They were waiting to board their flight to Istanbul. They are on their way to attend the Dawn Service at Gallipoli on Anzac Day. It is one of the most remarkable gatherings in modern history. Thousands of Australian and New Zealanders make the pilgrimage to the service each year. Along with those who attend memorial services at home, they honour those who went to war and they dwell a while in the sadness and futility of war. In military terms, the Gallipoli campaign was a resounding defeat for the Allied Forces, yet, today, that defeat unites us in bonds stronger than anyone could possibly have imagined on the terrible day of the Gallipoli landings, on 25 April 1915.
ANZAC is an acronym introduced during the First World War. It stands for the Australia and New Zealand Army Corps. My grandfather and several of my great uncles were Anzacs. Two of my great uncles lost their lives at Gallipoli.
Here are some statistics: 2721 New Zealanders died during the Gallipoli campaign. 1669 have no known grave and 252 were buried at sea. One of those 252 was my great-uncle. Australian deaths were 8587 and Turkey suffered 86,000 deaths. French and British casualties were also in their thousands.
Fellow blogger, Rebecca, has some lovely blogs on the Red Poppy and its significance in Canada. (http://ladybudd.com/2012/11/06/the-remembrance-poppy/#comments) If other bloggers would like to comment on my blog with Poppy photos/links I would be very grateful.
What a lovely post. I believe all of us have lost family to wars. I am glad we have a flower honouring them.
Thank you for your visit and your kind comment. Unfortunately, it is all too true that so many have lost family members to wars.
If only people did remember. They would not go to war again. It’s terrible.
Dear Gallivanta, Thank you for writing.
My very best,
A lovely post…these poppies are sweet!
Fascinating history. The Gallipoli battle was so horrific. My great grandfather apparently owned a poppy plantation in Bulagria. Poppies cover the holler. They do not contain opiates like the European varieties……Certain poppies are illegal to grow in the US due to opium content……
Oh yes, we must be careful with our poppies 🙂
I’ve never heard of this before…quite interesting. I almost immediately feel a sense of pride and respect toward anyone who served in WWII. So many gave their lives so that others could have a future.
When the First World War began the population of New Zealand was about 1 million. 100,000 troops from NZ fought in that war; that is 10% of our population. 18,000 of those troops died; 40,000 were wounded. So, as you can imagine, at one time, almost every family had a close connection to WW1. Gallipoli was just one area where our troops fought. Every year up to 10,000 people from New Zealand and Australia attend the Dawn Service at Gallipoli. As a small nation, we have a large portion of our national history buried in foreign lands.
I really don’t know. My granddad also from Fiji was in the trenches in World War I (he got trench foot, ugghh!) but he wasn’t at Gallipoli. I don’t know if there was much of a returned servicemen’s association after the first world war – my impression is that the RSA and similar organisations came about after the second world war rather than the first. But I haven’t checked that, so it’s a supposition really rather than a known fact. I must see if I can find out. So funny about ‘Irene Goodnight’ – it must be seared into your memory!
Very seared! Ratu Sir Lala Sukuna served in World War 1, at first with the French Foreign Legion and then with the British Army. He was awarded the Croix de Guerre by the French. He happened to be at Oxford when the war broke out. So I guess Fiji more than did its part in both WW1 and 2.
Oh, I love poppies! I guess this day must mean a lot to you.
Yes it is a very important day.
Oh, I love poppies!
Yes I love them too.
Thank you for the touching background details of the poem “In Flanders Fields.” Beautiful!
I am glad we have these lovely stories to share.
Poppies were an important part of Memorial Day when I was growing up. the Ladies Auxiliary handed them out in my small town of 3,00 people in Connecticut. I attended the parade a couple of years ago and I think they are still handing them out but I would have to check on that. I recall at least one poppy in the house that never got thrown out (not that much did with my my mother, there was also a palm frond that got stuck behind a mirror and stayed there for several years.) thanks for giving the New Zealand version of the poppy story.
I am smiling about the poppy that never got thrown out! I have a collection of poppies; I can’t throw them out either! Other stuff can be thrown out but the poppies stay.
We have Poppies here in Minnesota. I get a Poppy every year. I have not seen them yet. I think we have Poppy Day in May. I will have to note the date.
And please tell me when you buy one. I would love to know.
Here are two links you might find interesting, one is from the national level and the other is from the state of Michigan (sounds like what we do in Minnesota ).
Those links are so interesting. Thank you very much. It seems that, even though we wear Poppies on different days, we share a common history in the beginnings of the Poppy Day appeal. Who would think that the humble poppy could unite so many in Peace?
We have the rememberance day in November with poppies, in UK. I was asked to talk about hte war and what my dad told me to the schoolchildren in my primary school. As I have old games and money to show them too. I just wonder what they will ask, as my dad was actually England’s enemy. Strange thought. Now that my dad passed away it is only what he told me and what I remember from his war stories… that can be told to the children. Whateve side you were on it was awful!
I am glad you have an opportunity to tell the children about your father. One of the reasons I like the film War Horse is because it tells the story of the soldiers on both sides of the war.
Thank you for your lesson. I learned a lot. My father was a veteran and taught history. Blessings, Ellen
He would have had a very deep and personal understanding of history. I am sure he was a wonderful teacher.
Every time I see a poppy, I feel the tears come for all of those who had to face the prospect of war and who continue to live with the memories and loss. The poppy is a reminder to me that we must seek peaceful solutions, even in our smallest daily interactions. They say everyone of us leave footprints. Let us make every step count. Thank you for your remarkable blog. I come away refreshed every time I visit.
I get more tearful as each year passes. The area so fought over in Gallipoli is now a Peace Park.
Me, too! A profound and moving outcome…
Thanks for reminding me of the symbol for “remembrance.” Have not seen them in the states for a few years.
I wonder why? Are there other more popular symbols carried at times of remembrance? Flags, maybe?
Great Day and Great Memory to all the soldiers who lost their life in the wars.
The Salvation Army (I believe) or the Vets used to give red poppies here when you made a donation. I haven’t seen them in a while. Thank you for an interesting story! Joanne
Glad you found my story of interest.
It is interesting how different flowers are symbol for the same thing… thanks for sharing – nice to learn something new about other countries! Wish you all the best!
Thank you Irena.
what a great post, Gallivanta. Your writing is very interesting and I need to find the book about the First WW since I have limited knowledge on this war in NZ.
Thank you. I hope to write a little more in another post. I hope you can find a book on the subject but this is a website that may be helpful http://www.anzac.govt.nz/
Oh, thanks a lot. I would like to spare my time to see the site. regards 🙂
Thank you for sharing about your traditional Poppy Day! I’m learning something new everyday 🙂
I keep learning new things too. The book I refer to has so much information in it that I didn’t know before.
Poppies will always tell the world that it cannot bear the weight of war without a price – nice thoughts. I wasn’t aware that your poppy day was in the spring! 🙂
Yes, we have our Poppy Day when there are actually no poppies around at all, except the artificial ones. I would love it if we still had the silk poppies of the early Poppy Day appeals.
Gallipoli is such an important element in the cultural memory of New Zealanders and Australians – and also people from Fiji. My great uncle from Fiji was at Gallipoli on the 25th April 1915- it was his 18th birthday.
I am so pleased to hear this story of your great uncle. In the book I mention, there is a chapter dedicated to the Pacific Islanders who served in the First World War. They travelled the furthest of anyone to fight. Did your great uncle survive the First World War?
Yes he did, he lived to a grand old age – I wonder if we visited him with you that time you came to Suva with us? I can’t remember exactly.
Me neither. Mostly I remember being entertained by you lot singing “Irene Goodnight’ and none of us actually getting to sleep. 🙂 It’s great he survived but I suppose he didn’t say much about the experience. Do you know if he met up with others who went from Fiji?