As we once more reach the time of year for the launch of the Poppy Appeal and the recognition of Armister day there are murmurings on social media for the Poppy to be white, and Piers Morgan interviewed a Mr Hill who is spearheading a campaign to change the colour.
The following are my thoughts which I wrote a year ago.
It is with some misgiving that I see that the noble red Poppy with its black centre, which has represented years of bravery by our Armed forces, that there are murmurings on social media and in the press that some would like to replace it. When I read that they want it to be changed to white, I thought the item was some fake news, as in reality a white one could not be a stand-in and would be further from the events the red version represents.
The colour ‘White’ or noncolour as some would say, isn’t it the symbol of surrender? The white flag used by one side giving in instead of continuing in a conflict, whether it be a pretend game or war games. The white feather for many years has been the sign of cowardice. So a similar colour Poppy is not very appropriate to represent the bravery of the men and women ‘who gave their today so we could have our tomorrow.’
How is it possible to fully understand the sheer hell of an infantryman living night and day in the mud and polluted filth on the front line, while the other side rained missiles down on them. What did these men think of as they lay in limbo waiting to fight to protect a dirty muddy plot of land? Was it their wife or girlfriend back home, wondering what she or his family were doing. How did they cope with the slaughter happening around them? They must have continually wondered when they would be able to return home and then the thought of what they would find when they got there. The Poppy represents their bravery, not the conflict, and that is why it is red.
What must it have been like for an airman of Bomber Command, receiving every night instructions of where they were to fly that night over enemy territory, full of gunfire and fighter aircraft, which had one thought in mind and that was to shoot you out of the sky. Imagine their thoughts as they walked out to the aircraft, climbing into it…having a quick look round thinking to themselves if they would ever see the sight again. Or perhaps they would be lucky tonight and maybe it would be tomorrow when it was their turn not to come home. Then going aboard the machine and once more the sheer discomfort of it; where the noise is deafening and the cold is so intense you go numb with it. At the same time, you have to fly the device keeping it on a course and eventually aim the bombs loaded in the belly of the aircraft and pray the other side don’t get you in their sights before you can make a change of direction to return home.
We must not forget the Royal Navy and the Merchant Navy who throughout the conflict of the Second World War suffered serious losses as they continued sailing to far off places to bring provisions to the home front ensuring the supplies were adequate for the war machine. How did they feel on a windy dark rainy night, bitterly cold standing on an open bridge scouring the waters looking for the sign of a ‘U’ Boat, or a torpedo streaming through the dark waters towards them? Or perhaps watching one of the merchantmen in the convoy being destroyed as it exploded and sank in seconds.
On two occasions, 1914 – 1918 and then the Second World War starting in 1939. But for the bravery of our Armed forces, it is very possible we today would be living under the yoke of the ‘SS’ and the ‘Gestapo’ of Germany’s Armed forces.
This is what the Red Poppy represents, the bravery of these men and women. It has nothing to do with glorifying the horror of war or any conflict. It represents what these thousands of Service personnel went through to protect their homeland. It is a symbol of determination and above all it is a means, and has been for the last ninety seven years, of a way for the Royal British Legion to raise money to look after during their lifetime, the injured, the needy, and their families who have been hurt, as a result of protecting us from the insurgents determined to destroy our way of life.