Sunday, 11 November 2012

Poppies


I wear my poppy* for lots of reasons but mostly because it makes me think of my Grandpa**. He died almost five years ago, when Bella was one. Of course I don't need a poppy to think of him - I think of him very often. We have photographs of him around the house and he is always alive in family conversations and memories. But I deliberately buy and wear a poppy every November; it is my way of honouring him. Like many men his age he fought in World War 2. A navigator in the Royal Air Force, his plane was shot down into the sea of the French coast. He and his pilot were rescued by French fisherman then handed over to the Germans. He was then marched, with others, across Europe to Poland where he spent the remainder of the war in a prisoner of war camp. He endured things I can only begin to imagine and his war experienced shaped him in numerous ways. Some he talked about, some he didn't.

I don't talk about politics much here - it's a very personal and divisive issue. But I am thankful every day that I live in a democracy and have the right to vote and my Grandpa helped defend that right.

Bella is very interested in why we wear poppies and children at her school have been encouraged to bring in a small donation in exchange for a poppy. We've talked (gently) about the armed forces and war and why we believe it's important to remember those who have died for our country and to think about those who are fighting right now.


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 * It is customary to wear a poppy in the UK at this time of year to commemorate Remembrance Day, which falls on 11th November every year. A small donation of any value buys you a little paper poppy which you can pin to your coat and all proceeds go towards The Royal British Legion

** He was the best Grandpa ever. He had a beard and smoked a pipe and loved gardening, cricket, and his family. He doted on my sisters and I and some of my happiest childhood memories are of time spent at their house.

22 comments:

rachel said...

Me too - my Grandad never spoke of the things that happened to him in the war and I feel ashamed that its only as an adult I have come to understand and appreciate what his generation did for us, and what other people's husbands, sons and fathers are still doing.

We wear our poppies with pride here too - I did wonder about crocheting a more stylish one though!

Vintage Sheet Addict said...

It's important to keep the memories of loved one alive, it's equally important we keep remembering the real cost of war :) x

sustainablemum said...

What lovely memories you can share with your own children, he sounds like he was a special man.

Suzie Williams said...

What a very brave man your Grandpa must have been, I am sorry that he's no longer with you. Wearing a poppy is so important - I was very pleased that our school was encouraging all the children to wear one. My eldest son was the flag bearer for his Beavers group at our little town's Remembrance Parade today - nearly 60 years after my grandfather (who died when my mum was 8) was the flag bearer for his British Legion parade. I was so glad my mum & dad were here to watch him in the Parade. It is very important that we continue to remember those brave, brave souls.

Colette said...

You must be so proud of all that he did for his country, we have a lot to thank so many brave individuals for. x


Ellie Foster said...

Dear Gillian
It is so important to remember all those who have died in conflicts/wars. It would be lovely to think we could learn from the past, but sadly, while there are intolerant human beings on the planet, it seems unlikely. However, we should all say a huge thank you to those who fought to give us the freedom that we have in this country.
Best wishes
Ellie

Noelle the dreamer said...

Thank you for sharing this post Gillian! Both grandfathers fought in the trenches, one for 4 years- he lost a lung to mustard gas, the second for two. Both proudly remember their mates, many fallen, and whilst neither spoke much of their experiences, I know like you, these marked them in many ways (the first was captured, escaped to the UK and rejoined the remain of his regiment shortly after to continue the fight).
Hubby is also ex-RAF and we proudly support the Legion and wear our poppies!
Let's never forget their sacrifice...
God bless,

thelinencloud said...

What a lovely post Gillian ... and a lovely tribute to your Grandad ... he sounds like an amazing man ... Bee xx

Cheryl said...

Your Grandpa sounds wonderful. My Grandad fought in WW2 as well and we all make sure we proudly wear a poppy every year. x

Julia said...

Gillian, such a great post! You have such wonderful memories of your Grandfather and he sounds like such an amazing man!

Ocean Breezes and Country Sneezes said...

Hi Gillian, I read your comments on Ivan's post and I came by to read your post about your grandfather. I can't imagine what he endured . . . I did a post on my families veterans too. All I can say is thank you to the brave men &'women of the past & present.

We also wear poppies in the US on Veteran's Day.

trishie said...

We also wear poppies on Remembrance day, as well as rosemary. Your grandpa sounds like a wonderful man, great tribute post!

Annie @ knitsofacto said...

My family is also not without it's war stories and we all wear our poppies with pride ... but is it just me or are they ever more likely to fall off/apart? By lunch time yesterday the Mr had lost his and I just had a stalk! I think I need to learn to crochet some for next year with proper brooch backs!

Lovely post Gillian :D

Lisa said...

Grandads are such special people and the love you have for yours shines out from this post.
Lisa x

emma said...

Your grandpa was an amazing man - like so many of his generation. Such a moving post Gillian. x

Jo said...

What a lovely tribute to your grandpa. My grandpa served in the second world war too and it's just unthinkable what they went through. It's so important to remember the sacrifices that people have made over the years, and continue to do so.

Jo Shedden said...

A really moving post Gillian, thanks for sharing this, Jxx

Jenny said...

Such a sweet post and tribute to your grandpa. Today is Veterans Day here in the U.S. - very similar to your Remembrance Day. This is the first I've heard of the poppies though - and I wish we would adopt that custom. Sounds lovely. Maybe I'll have to try to start it myself.

Trudy said...

A lovely tribute to your Grandpa.

Tammy Chrzan said...

I agree with the others... a lovely tribute.
And biscuits and gravy... Are biscuits aren't sweet and the gravy is usually a white pan gravy with sausage in it. I know... us Americans and our food right? :) I'm off to London today, so I will enjoy some delicious British food, I love your food!

A Normandy kitchen said...

Hello Gillian,
What a tribute to a very brave man. I can't imagine what he had to put up with. Thank you for sharing your memories, it's so important we never forget.
Ivan x

cassie said...

yay for great grampas! my grampa was also very wonderful. he also served in ww2 and was the kindest man i have ever met. we are naming our son after him once he is born.