Jump to content
Great War Forum

Remembered Today:

Hedley Malloch

Poppy - National symbol of remembrance or corporate brand?

Recommended Posts

keithmroberts

I have a couple of the small metal poppy badges, and tend to wear one in outdoor clothing for much of the year. I normally wear  the paper item for a few days in the run up to November 11th, (although I normally lose a few), but I see no reason at all why anyone should be criticised or otherwise denigrated for choosing not to do so. It is a personal choice, a personal statement, and there is no disrespect in those who don't wear a poppy. Our service men and women, if they fought for anything, especially in the last world war did so in order that we and others  had the freedom to choose.

 

I also share Steven's concern about small charities. many have started with the best of intentions, and turned out badly, not by any means all, but far too many. The accounts of the RBL are published each year, and yes, they have a core of very highly paid staff. They are managing a huge organisation and the salary range of the senior managers seems to be very much in line with those of other large organisations.

 

Keith

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
QGE

I cant help notice that the sacrifices of those who fought in the Great War and WWII have provided UK citizens with a wide freedom choice. Freedoms that some sections of society take for granted. There is a wide choice of remembrance flowers: red poppies, white poppies, black poppies, blue cornflowers (France) and marigolds (India). Given opium was issued to Indian troops with the rations during the war, I wonder if it might be appropriate to wear the Papaver Somniferum. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Steven Broomfield

Don't forget the purple poppies for all the animals who suffered so bravely in the wars. My colleagues ask me every year why I don't get some in for work. I forget every year.

 

(Yes - sarcasm alert: I think purple poppies are a money-making scheme for the more bonkers end of the animal loving community)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
delta

I also have some concerns about the flourishing number of Service charities. This is not  a criticism of those who seek to help veterans who are in difficulty nor members of the general public who continue to give so generously to help them.

 

The need for such volunteers, including the Help for Heroes who have done so much for those recently wounded in action, stems wholly from successive governments who have failed to provide the necessary funding to care for those injured.  The decision  by the current  Government to add pensions to the amount designated Defence spending  is a disgrace.

 

 

On the matter of Poppies, RBL are not the only charity which sells them.  I learned about the Lady Haig Poppy Factory last year and am now using them for commemorations.  They are a wonderful group of people 

Edited by delta
missing word in second paragraph

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
voltaire60
1 hour ago, QGE said:

I cant help notice that the sacrifices of those who fought in the Great War and WWII have provided UK citizens with a wide freedom choice. Freedoms that some sections of society take for granted. There is a wide choice of remembrance flowers: red poppies, white poppies, black poppies, blue cornflowers (France) and marigolds (India). Given opium was issued to Indian troops with the rations during the war, I wonder if it might be appropriate to wear the Papaver Somniferum. 

 

     Regret I would  profoundly disagree with you on the above. But it would stray into the realm of politics. The Great War saw the introduction of substantial amounts of state controls and curtailments of freedoms under DORA,etc. Many of which still live with us. It was not a war fought to boost British freedoms-quite the opposite. 

     As to opium-well, the British Army had tobacco- the Great War proved to be the greatest boost to tobacco consumption in British history-and we are still stuck with the consequences. I would suspect there was an increase in lung cancer among those who served in the Great War in the decades when they hit the 50s onwards- that is, mostly after WW2. Yet more indirect casualties of the Great War?

    "Remembrance" is an amalgam of what different people choose to remember. The Cenotaph ceremony, though profoundly respectful, is still one that is state-controlled and directed It reinforces the hierarchies of both society and state- Never quite sure why the also-ran Royals should get to lay wreaths, let alone ahead of those veterans who actually served. (Never quite work out why Lloyd George, Asquith,etc voted themselves war medals- rather self-indulgent and hypocritical- but those same politicos dictated the structures of remembrance that we still have today- they set up IWM and CWGC. Yes, respectful and solemn-but still channeled away from many awkward subjects)

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
QGE
1 hour ago, voltaire60 said:

 

     Regret I would  profoundly disagree with you on the above. But it would stray into the realm of politics. The Great War saw the introduction of substantial amounts of state controls and curtailments of freedoms under DORA,etc. Many of which still live with us. It was not a war fought to boost British freedoms-quite the opposite. 

     

 

Poppycock

 

The Representation of the People Act 1918 increased the numbers able to vote in the UK from 7.7 million to 21.4 million. To save you the maths that is a +178% increase. I would argue that the right to vote is a very basic and important measure of Freedom and was a direct consequence of the Great War.

 

Regardless of what people thought they were were fighting for, it had very profound consequences that shaped our lives;"The Great War and the British People" by  J Winter highlights the Paradox of the Great War: Just about every measure of health, mortality, life expectancy, morbidity etc improved during and after the Great War. In the aftermath of the Great War votes for men expanded, votes for women came in (Representation of the People Act 1918 and Parliament (Qualification of Women) Act allowing female MPs and Representation of the People (Equal Franchise) Act 1928). Incidentally 20 countries introduced votes for women between 1918 -1920, including Germany and a host of European nations with the notable exception of France (1944) liberte, egalite, fraternite.

 

In Blighty access to state sponsored Education improved, state sponsored National Health post WWII etc. the sort of "State Control" that half the world's population would probably desire, yet still don't have. The last time I looked there was a rather large queue of people in France trying to get into the UK. I  can only assume most believe the UK and the freedoms and broad array of social benefits such as education and health that are enshrined in its laws are attractive to them rather than those of France or the dozen other countries some of them had to struggle through to get to Calais.

 

Also I note that we don't speak German. 

 

 

 

 

Edited by QGE

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
voltaire60

   RPA 1918, the raising of the school leaving age by the Fisher Reforms, etc were not at any time "war aims". They were a CONSEQUENCE of the Great War, not what people were fighting for. There is a counter-tradition in historiography that History is not one glorious trail towards a present-day "democratic" state- that the traditional bases of power only "reform" when they have to. RPA was a minimalist change- whose greatest trigger was not any advancement of "democracy" or " "equality" but to stave off more trouble. Please remember that the coercive measures of conscription per MSA come well  BEFORE any mention of giving the men who served the vote. As far as I am aware, no conscript of 1916 was told he would get the vote at the end of service.  Coercion was tempered with concession- and the British State survived.

 

15 minutes ago, QGE said:

 

Also I note that we don't speak German. 

 

    A complete non-sequiteur.  German invasion and occupation of Britain  was not a German policy or aim in the Great War.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
John_Hartley

I'm just back from the local garden centre, where they are selling RBL poppy bird baths.

 

Call me old fashioned, but it just seems a product too far.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
pioneecorps

I wear a poppy because I want to the Remember the Generation who give their lives for this country in both World Wars, and yes I did give more when the poppy sellers were WW2 Veterans, I can remember in 2005 meeting a WW2 Veteran who served with my Dad and I wore my RBL badge, he took one look at it and said, they never did ****** all for me, yes its more of a business these days, but I will still man the poppy stand and march from and to the local Cenotaphs.

 

Regards

Gerwyn

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
QGE
1 hour ago, voltaire60 said:

   RPA 1918, the raising of the school leaving age by the Fisher Reforms, etc were not at any time "war aims". They were a CONSEQUENCE of the Great War, not what people were fighting for. There is a counter-tradition in historiography that History is not one glorious trail towards a present-day "democratic" state- that the traditional bases of power only "reform" when they have to. RPA was a minimalist change- whose greatest trigger was not any advancement of "democracy" or " "equality" but to stave off more trouble. Please remember that the coercive measures of conscription per MSA come well  BEFORE any mention of giving the men who served the vote. As far as I am aware, no conscript of 1916 was told he would get the vote at the end of service.  Coercion was tempered with concession- and the British State survived.

 

 

    A complete non-sequiteur.  German invasion and occupation of Britain  was not a German policy or aim in the Great War.

 

 

 

 

I would argue they were all inevitable consequences of the Great War. Democratic change was inextricably linked to the Great War. If Hankey is any guide, the white hot debate over the MSA was probably the hardest decision of the Great War and one that had gigantic political consequences. Conscripting men, some of whom did not have the vote had implications for the next General Election. A small factoid: Under RPA men who had turned 19 while serving in the armed forces but had not reached the age of 21 could vote in the 1918 election. This is a demonstrable link between military service and empowerment through suffrage. It reveals a strong underlying factor in the momentum behind the RPA.

 

Separately, one only has to look at the Irish Question to understand the causal link between decisions by the UK Govt in August 1914 and their direct political consequences. Freedoms in the shape of a promise on the timing of Home Rule were exchanged for a reciprocal promise from Irish Nationalists to enlist as just one example.  I would argue that the introduction of the MSA had gigantic  political consequences that were (unsurprisingly) understood at the time by the Govt and (equally unsurprisingly) enshrined in Law in 1918 and exercised in the General Election in December 1918 only one month and three days after Armistice Day. These were not coincidences. The Conscription Crisis of 1918 would also suggest the Government understood their inability to forcibly link conscription with Home Rule.   One might also argue that Ulster Unionists bought their separation from the rest of Ireland through its voluntary service and bloodshed during the Great War. ...so the motives of a few hundred thousand can be directly linked to political factors.

 

At the simplest level 'Freedom' was ejecting the Germans from Belgium and France (twice) as a War aim. To me the Poppy is a symbol of Freedom and Democracy (with all its imperfections). The choice not to wear a poppy is also a freedom and a consequence of the sacrifices made by prior generations.  

 

Unfortunately I suspect the decision to wear (or not wear) a red Poppy is no longer a free choice in some organisations. The idea that everyone in the BBC suddenly decide to start wearing a poppy on the same day seems to suggest an element of diktat.  I believe at least one BBC presenter last year chose not to wear a poppy on TV because of this, but wore one privately. Freedom of choice. 

 

 

Edited by QGE

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
voltaire60

 And the new Irish PM  seems to have done something sensible after a century of grief about Irish soldiers of the Great War.  Taken from the BBC News website, with acknowledgements and thanks:

 

Irish PM wears 'shamrock poppy' in parliament

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar wears a 'Shamrock Poppy' in parliament in Dublin. Photo: 7 November 2017Image copyrightPA Image captionTaoiseach Leo Varadkar appeared with the "Shamrock Poppy" in parliament

The prime minister of the Republic of Ireland has worn an Irish-themed red poppy badge to remember Irish soldiers who fought in World War One.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar appeared with the "shamrock poppy" in the Dáil - the parliament in the capital, Dublin.

He is the first leader of Fine Gael political party to do this.

The move has triggered debate about how more than 200,000 Irish soldiers who served in the British army are remembered.

Between 1914 and 1918, some 35,000 of them died.

"The Shamrock Poppy recognises Irish soldiers who fought in World War One," a spokesman for Mr Varadkar said.

"It was commissioned to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Great War by the Irish branch of the Royal British Region.

"Proceeds from the Shamrock Poppy go to Irish veterans and their families, and towards the upkeep to memorials to Irish soldiers in Ireland. All money stays in Ireland," the spokesman said.

In 2012, Mr Varadkar's predecessor Enda Kenny attended a Remembrance Sunday service in Enniskillen, Northern Ireland.

A green shamrock is traditionally used as a symbol of the Republic of Ireland.

A red poppy - known as the remembrance poppy - has been used in the UK and several other countries to commemorate servicemen and women killed in all conflicts.

In April 1916, Irish republicans led an armed insurrection to end British rule.

The Anglo-Irish war in 1919-21 led to the creation of an independent Republic of Ireland.

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Lawryleslie
On 29/10/2017 at 19:23, Medaler said:

It's easy really,

 

1/ If you don't like the RBL, don't buy their merchandise.

2/ If you do like the RBL but don't like poppies, just send them a donation.

3/ If you don't like either, keep the money in your pocket.

 

If you feel "left out" because your not wearing a poppy - having gone for any of the above options......

 

1/ Change your mind.

2/ Stay at home until 13th November.

3/ Have the same courage in your convictions as those who flocked to join the largest volunteer army that Britain has ever put into the field. If it hadn't been for them, we wouldn't be having this debate..

 

" We also have a culture of my-bigger-poppy-is-better-than-your-smaller-poppy". I think there might be some confusion here about another word that begins with "P", but as flowers go, it is actually more like a Tulip.

 

Mike

 

 

Thank you Mike. Without a doubt the best post on this thread. Particularly Point 3 of the second list. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
PaddyO

I also dislike the Beeb and football poppy pressure that emanates at this time of year as if it's getting some kind of corporate tick on a public image check list. I would actually prefer to see the Remembrance Day services observed on the 11th. Sadly by the time most of the nation has got out on the Sunday to go shopping it's long over..

I wear a shamrock poppy to remember my Irish forebears from Tipperary who volunteered to serve in the British Army and gave their lives in both wars.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Steven Broomfield

I see that both Germany and En-ger-land will be wearing black armbands adorned with a poppy at their football international on Friday.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
depaor01

I saw that today. Whatever about the England team, why would a German wear a poppy? It makes no sense. The German nation has a patchy relationship with their war dead. A member of AfD was pilloried recently when he suggested that Germans should be proud of their armies in both world wars.

 

Dave 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
PaddyO

Yes interestingly German football managers and players over here in the Premier League also wear poppies which always strikes me as a little odd.. i wonder if they have a choice about it? 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Ron Clifton

Presumably, Germans wear poppies for the same reason that British people do - to remember the sacrifice and suffering on all sides during the Great War and WW2.

 

Good decision by FIFA, by the way. They have realised how indefensible their position was last year.

 

Ron

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Steven Broomfield
4 hours ago, PaddyO said:

Yes interestingly German football managers and players over here in the Premier League also wear poppies which always strikes me as a little odd.. i wonder if they have a choice about it? 

 

There is a player for West Brom - an Irishman - who refuses to wear a Poppy, so I suspect they could say no if they wished.  However, the charabanc of self-righteous indignation would rumble into overdrive if one did. Can you imagine the nonsense on FB or the red-top Press?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
depaor01
3 hours ago, Ron Clifton said:

Presumably, Germans wear poppies for the same reason that British people do - to remember the sacrifice and suffering on all sides during the Great War and WW2.

 

The poppy is not worn in Germany. The team obviously  have been asked nicely and agreed, or they have been told.

More here:

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
PaddyO

Apparently the national flower of Germany is the cornflower which is interesting given its use by the French in this context and their national symbol is the oak leaf..

I understand the wearing of poppies to commemorate the fallen in the Great War was initiated by the American Legion. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
NigelS
16 hours ago, depaor01 said:

...The team obviously  have been asked nicely and agreed, or they have been told.

 

According to a Daily Telegraph piece 'Germany will join England in wearing poppies for Wembley friendly' (9/11/17), the former with the president of German equivalent of the FA (the DFB), Reinhard Grindel, commenting “I positively welcome the decision to allow both the English and the German national teams to wear poppy armbands, because these are not about political propaganda in any way!

“They're about remembering the kind of values that were kicked to the ground in two World Wars but are cherished by football: respect, tolerance, and humanity.”

 

Pity that FIFA couldn't have adopted  this attitude when the matter first blew up last year.

 

NigelS

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
depaor01
1 hour ago, NigelS said:

 

According to a Daily Telegraph piece 'Germany will join England in wearing poppies for Wembley friendly' (9/11/17), the former with the president of German equivalent of the FA (the DFB), Reinhard Grindel, commenting “I positively welcome the decision to allow both the English and the German national teams to wear poppy armbands, because these are not about political propaganda in any way!

“They're about remembering the kind of values that were kicked to the ground in two World Wars but are cherished by football: respect, tolerance, and humanity.”

 

Pity that FIFA couldn't have adopted  this attitude when the matter first blew up last year.

 

NigelS

 

That is fair enough. Thanks for the clarification.

I do think that most Germans will be wondering what they are though.

 

Dave

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
stevem49

I do not give a monkeys what people wear or do not wear. Without the RBL helping me, I would have been done out of 30% of my war pension.

The majority of military charities today seem to cater for all those ex squaddies from 1991 on.  Perhaps if we had one charity, much more would go to those who need it.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
robins2
On ‎2017‎-‎10‎-‎30 at 06:53, John_Hartley said:

I'm just back from the local garden centre, where they are selling RBL poppy bird baths.

 

Call me old fashioned, but it just seems a product too far.

 

I'll go one up from that, a Local donut /coffee shop (Tim Hortons) is selling poppy shaped/colored donuts

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

×