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10 November 2018 / leggypeggy

Poppies remember war losses


Poppies at Australian War Memorial

Poppies at War Memorial with Lone Pine on the right (see notes at bottom)

Poppies at Aussie War Memorial

Yellow honours Aborigines, white honours nurses and purple honours animals

World War I—also referred to as The Great War—ended 100 years ago tomorrow. In the lead-up to that sobering anniversary, our Australian War Memorial has hosted a display of 62,000 wool poppies that honour the Aussie soldiers who never came home.

The display had its start five years ago when fibre artists and sisters-in-law, Lynn Berry and Margaret Knight, set out to create 120 poppies to be laid at the Shrine of Remembrance in Melbourne. These were to serve as a tribute to their fathers—Wal Beasley and Stan Knight—who fought in World War II.

Poppy display

I’ve taken many knitting classes and still can’t cast on. Could I make these?

Their gesture sparked an outpouring of interest. From across the world, people knitted and contributed their own hand-made flowers. One day, 4000 poppies arrived from an anonymous contributor. Canberra volunteers knitted about 5000.

Many of the flowers have included personal notes and items, such as buttons from soldiers’ tunics. Some are entwined with yellow stitching as a tribute Aboriginal soldiers, while others include swathes of white, for nurses, and purple, in honour of animals involved in the war.

A field of poppies in Australia

Poppies with the tall Lone Pine on the right

Poppies with buttons

Poppies with buttons

This poppy field, designed by architect Philip Johnson, is part of a wider series of public events known as the 5000 Poppies project.

An estimated 1 million poppies have been crafted by people from around the world, for displays not only in Australia, but also England and France. Prior to coming to Canberra, many of the poppies have been displayed at London’s Chelsea Flower Show and at Cobbers Memorial in Fromelle, France.

Another 270,000 poppies have been spread out in front of our Australian Parliament House. They’ll be on display for another week and I’ll try to get up there for another pic.

Fellow blogger—boomingon—also did a great post on this display. You can see it here.

Sir John Monash statue

Keeping things tidy around the statue of Sir General John Monash

P.S. My heart goes out to you if you lost a family member in that ‘great’ or any other war. When will we learn?

P.P.S. A brief comment about the Lone Pine (mentioned in captions). In 1915, there was a huge battle over Lone Pine Ridge in Gallipoli. An Aussie soldier found a cone on one of the branches used by the Turks as overhead cover for their trenches. He sent the cone to his mother. She planted it and raised a tree that she presented to the War Memorial in honour of her son and others who fell at Lone Pine.

P.P.P.S. Another comment about Sir General John Monash (the statue shown above). He is often considered to be one of Australia’s most outstanding military and civilian leaders, and one of the greatest commanders of the Great War.

Field of poppies

More than 62,000 knitted poppies honour Australias fallen soldiers


Leave a Comment
  1. Anna / Nov 10 2018 10:48 pm

    how lovely!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Popping Wheelies / Nov 10 2018 10:49 pm

    A terrible tragedy. The British people lost almost an entire generation of men. Your poppy project is amazing and quite beautiful. I hadn’t realized that tomorrow was 100 years; there will be nothing on American news media about it. You ask, when will we learn? I don’t know. When we ignore history and don’t stand up for our freedoms, things like that make this happen to us. I truly hope never again. Prayers for all. 😎

    Liked by 2 people

    • leggypeggy / Nov 10 2018 11:01 pm

      Your comment is so moving. Let us know if the US media makes a comment about the day.

      Liked by 2 people

      • ralietravels / Nov 11 2018 6:54 am

        Our community on the west coast of Florida has Veteran’s Day events today, tomorrow and Monday. At least locally there is coverage — but while theoretically on the US coast, most of our community has its roots in mid-America, the media-reviled “red states”. Also, the Wall Street Journal this morning had two articles on the impact of World War I. But having said that, the focus is really now on veterans of all wars, not just that one.

        Liked by 2 people

      • leggypeggy / Nov 11 2018 8:01 am

        Yes, it is only right that these days the focus must be on those who have most recently served or who are serving now.

        Liked by 2 people

      • John Mass / Nov 25 2018 8:26 am

        Nice baby

        Liked by 1 person

      • Popping Wheelies / Nov 12 2018 12:00 am

        To answer your question, only one ran anything about remembrance of the tragedy. 😢


      • leggypeggy / Nov 12 2018 7:52 am

        How extraordinary! Sad too!

        Liked by 1 person

  3. beetleypete / Nov 10 2018 10:53 pm

    That’s a touching tribute indeed, Peggy. We have had some wonderful commemorations of the centenary here, including some outstanding BBC documentaries. I just hope it is still remembered one hundred years from today.
    Best wishes, Pete.

    Liked by 2 people

    • leggypeggy / Nov 10 2018 11:04 pm

      Neither of us will the here to note whether the day is noted in another 100 years. I wonder if someone will find and click on this blog post?????

      Liked by 2 people

      • beetleypete / Nov 10 2018 11:17 pm

        We can live in hope, Peggy. 🙂 The memorials have stood for almost 100 years, so may stay for another 100.


      • leggypeggy / Nov 10 2018 11:23 pm

        Sometimes 100 years can seem very short.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. jeanleesworld / Nov 10 2018 11:02 pm

    Are those poppies preserved? What an amazing labor of love to battle the viciousness of human nature. Just bought my own little paper poppy from a vet yesterday in tribute to my own grandfather who served. Beautiful photos, Friend, to give us a scope of such craftwork. xxxxxx

    Liked by 3 people

  5. Derrick / Nov 10 2018 11:20 pm

    I don’t know how true it is, but there isn’t going to be any more commerations at Gallipoli any more, no more dawn parades, apparently last year or this year might be the last

    It’s such a sad place to visit, both the commonwealth faves and the Turkish grave (most of the Turks are buried in mass graves)

    Last time I was there I met a couple of kiwis who performed a haka for their fallen relatives and friends if their relatives, that was really something to see

    I think every Aussie should go to Gallipoli at least once (if not in person, maybe a virtual tour)

    There are some vignettes showing how close the trench’s were (they could have spat at each other, they were that close)

    There is a huge statue of a Turkish soldier carrying a wounded Aussie, that is right in the town center

    I have been there twice, the second time I actually got to see all the graves and a hill called lone pine (maybe that’s where the pine cone was picked up from)

    Istiil think it was a crazy way to fight a war (there isn’t a good way to fight any war) but to go straight into machine guns, time and time again is just madness

    As was said after the event “Lions led by donkeys”

    Being an ex soldier myself, I feel for these poor buggers going out of a trench into certain death, I am surprised how many actually survived this slaughter

    WEAR YOUR POPPY WITH PRIDE for all those fallen young men, they gave their tomorrows for our today’s

    Liked by 2 people

    • leggypeggy / Nov 10 2018 11:25 pm

      Love your comment, Derrick. Like you, we have been to Gallipoli twice. Such an incredible and moving experience. By the way, I have my poppy and will wear it with pride. Hugs to you and Anne.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Eliza Ayres / Nov 10 2018 11:38 pm

    Reblogged this on Blue Dragon Journal.

    Liked by 3 people

  7. janowrite / Nov 11 2018 1:17 am

    Wonderful, nostalgic and very touching post. The poppy field is unique and apt. Thanks so much for this timely and thoughtful reflection.

    Liked by 3 people

  8. Barb / Nov 11 2018 1:47 am

    Thankyou for posting this. I had not heard about these poppies before. What a wonderful tribute .

    Liked by 3 people

    • leggypeggy / Nov 11 2018 11:47 am

      You are most welcome. It is a wonderful tribute. So pleased I could share it.

      Liked by 2 people

  9. afterthelasttime / Nov 11 2018 2:51 am

    Beautiful! And the terrific War Memorial is worth a visit any day.

    Liked by 2 people

    • leggypeggy / Nov 11 2018 7:58 am

      People outside Canberra don’t always realise that the War Memorial is also a vast museum. You could spend days there.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Lynette d'Arty-Cross / Nov 11 2018 3:12 am

    Beautiful tribute post. My WW I veteran grandfather was killed in WW II as he “spotted” enemy aircraft on the channel coast. He was strafed. My parents were both WW II veterans and my mother lost not only her father but two brothers and a sister-in-law. Another brother was captured. We owe “the greatest generation” so much.

    Liked by 3 people

    • leggypeggy / Nov 11 2018 7:59 am

      Your family has felt such huge tragedy from these wars. My thoughts are with you today.

      Liked by 2 people

  11. GP Cox / Nov 11 2018 6:56 am

    Liked by 2 people

  12. Vicki / Nov 11 2018 10:54 am

    Such an inspiring sight and memorial to those who lost their lives.

    (BTW There are 2 ways to cast on in knitting that I know about).

    Liked by 3 people

  13. gerard oosterman / Nov 11 2018 11:49 am

    A most impressive sight. We should not forget that wars are overcome by those that give their lives.

    Liked by 2 people

  14. onecreativefamily / Nov 11 2018 11:53 am

    Beautiful memorial to all who served, but sadly I doubt much will be learned.

    Liked by 3 people

  15. Brian Lageose / Nov 11 2018 12:10 pm

    Gorgeous and profound.

    Liked by 3 people

  16. Doggedly Yours / Nov 11 2018 1:40 pm

    Let us always remember.

    Liked by 2 people

  17. forwardtogloryquartet / Nov 11 2018 3:07 pm

    A profound and amazing tribute, Peggy, thanks. I’ve always thought the poppy, whatever colour, is an eloquent and dignified way to remember the fallen. The glory of war is excluded, and the solemnity reminds us, in poetic terms, yet again, of what a failed enterprise warfare is when all’s said and done. Today, Syria and Yemen – complete and utter failures, signifying nothing but death and destruction. It’s generally considered that WWII wouldn’t have occurred if WWI hadn’t happened. Granted, it was cause-and-effect, but one thing that’s emerged from a reassessment of WWI is, why did it happen at all? The nations involved were all prosperous and astoundingly rich from their imperialism. Some say it was because, when King Ed VII died, the entente cordiale frayed. It’s super-complicated, but it’s almost as if the big boys were saying, ‘We haven’t had a jousting in a while, why not now?’ And of course things got totally out of hand. Germany & Austria-Hungary were tidy little empires, and then when the Ottoman Turks were stupid enough to join in, they thought hegemony would’ve been a walk in the park. And of course, the deeply-flawed Treaty of Versailles gave rise to the Nazis, and the rest is well-known. I think that WWI’s effects in the US are lesser because the doughboys didn’t enter until the last year of the war, which was bad enough, but nowhere near the drasticness of the Somme, and all that. The great architect, Sir Edwin Lutyens, designed many of the war’s finest memorials, including the Cenotaph in Whitehall. The design of the Cenotaph in Calcutta, as well as in many other places, was inspired by it. Musically, I think the most powerful and brilliant tribute is John Herbert Foulds’ gigantic masterpiece, ‘A World Requiem’ – a work unlike any other (easily found on YouTube). Personal notes: My paternal grandfather was in WWI – on the German side, but because he was a man of the cloth, he served in the Red Cross. I can’t imagine what he saw. After the family emigrated to the US in ‘23, when WWII came around, my uncle served in the US Army, European theatre, from N. Africa all the way through to the Bulge. My dad, also Army, covered the Pacific theatre (including malaria in New Guinea) all the way through to Japan. Both draftee brothers made it home, and lived into their 90s. Regarding the war, they were as modest as they come. Dad pretty much limited things to humourous anecdotes. I totally understand why. When Vietnam came along, Dad was adamant about my brothers and I declaring Conscientious Objector status, or Canada, so opposed to the war was he. (The war had peaked just then, so the draft lessened dramatically.) Finally, my maternal great-grandfather was a teen soldier from Minnesota – in the US Civil War. My mom remembered him as a kindly elder with a long beard in which she used to tie bows for fun. And she told me many times that he would never, ever, despite requests, say ONE WORD (my mom’s emphasis) about the war. Not one. So, here’s to the many who paid the supreme sacrifice, and those who paid, but lived on, still paying.

    Liked by 3 people

    • leggypeggy / Nov 11 2018 6:47 pm

      Oh Brian, what an eloquent and heartfelt comment. I so appreciate your efforts and the thoughts and history you have shared. My dad served in the US Air Force in North Africa. He, too, shared only the amusing anecdotes.
      I gasped when I read your references to the disasters that are Syria and Yemen. You may remember that our first daughter was born in Syria. A dear friend has enormous ties to Yemen.

      Liked by 1 person

  18. Emma Cownie / Nov 11 2018 6:20 pm

    That’s a beautiful war memorial. I love the scale and humanity of it.

    Liked by 2 people

    • leggypeggy / Nov 11 2018 6:48 pm

      Thanks. One day I should share a post about the Australian War Memorial. It’s also a vast museum.

      Liked by 2 people

  19. etiliyle / Nov 11 2018 6:49 pm


    Liked by 2 people

  20. thewonderer86 / Nov 11 2018 7:37 pm

    What a fantastic display. I am so moved by this and all the tributes around the world today. There is much talk about how to remember/honour the fallen as we move forward into generations so far removed from it. I think, like this from the heart, with gratitude and creativity – it will always go on, as we focus on the beauty and joy of life, and feel for those who gave this up, for all of us.

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Nov 11 2018 8:13 pm

      Like you, I hope the worldwide tributes today help people to remember those who served us in the past and those who serve us now.

      Liked by 1 person

  21. Phil Huston / Nov 12 2018 3:47 am

    My dad was a bombardier and navigator on a B-17 in WWII. 25 missions. Man. What those guys were doing at 17 (because they lied) and 18 compared to whining about girls and where to buy beer after a drive thru burger…We should cover the planet in wool poppies, engorge the headstones of the fallen with them to remind us all that war is stupid and painful and an egregious affront to the very concept of humanity. War is the ultimate argument that no one wins. What would history be without wars and victors? Where might we be now? Great post. Better postcard. Thanks!

    Liked by 2 people

  22. Son of a Sailor / Nov 12 2018 6:14 am

    Thank you for this story with all it’s details. This is great, appreciate the time it took for write-

    Liked by 1 person

  23. J.D. Riso / Nov 12 2018 9:08 am

    What a beautiful way to remember.

    Liked by 1 person

  24. Sheryl / Nov 12 2018 9:59 am

    What a beautiful way of remembering WWI. It’s wonderful how so many fiber artists joined together to create this.

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Nov 12 2018 10:53 am

      It’s amazing. Poppies were knitted all over the world.


  25. Alison and Don / Nov 12 2018 2:30 pm

    Oh I love this! What a heartfelt outpouring. I’ve never heard of it. It must have started after I left Canberra (well I have been living in Canada now for 34 years). And your photos really capture it. Somehow it reminds me of Floriade. It’s such a Canberra thing to do even though it started in Melbourne.

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Nov 12 2018 4:29 pm

      It’s a wonderful display and you’re right. It is so Canberra and does remind me of Floriade.

      Liked by 1 person

  26. BoomingOn / Nov 12 2018 8:25 pm

    Thanks for linking to my post, Peggy. I didn’t know that about what the purple and yellow means. I’m disappointed that I won’t be able to see the display at Parliament House as that looks really spectacular.

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Nov 12 2018 8:51 pm

      So glad you did your post, so I could link to it. I plan to head to Parliament House tomorrow and will get a few pics.

      Liked by 1 person

  27. pvcann / Nov 12 2018 10:45 pm

    Wonderful post for Remembrance, so enjoyed the photos – what a great idea. And loved your words very much.

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Nov 12 2018 11:37 pm

      Thanks so much. I’m so glad we visited. They started dismantling the display today.

      Liked by 1 person

  28. Lynz Real Cooking / Nov 13 2018 1:03 pm

    This is totally amazing and stunning! Wow

    Liked by 1 person

  29. shawnthompsonart / Nov 13 2018 1:55 pm

    Very interesting poppies.

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Nov 13 2018 2:45 pm

      Especially interested because every one was different. No mass production here.


      • shawnthompsonart / Nov 13 2018 3:39 pm

        the Poppies the Legion give out here for Remembrance Day are so Generic Looking, with like a little pin in them to put on your jacket. I know Canada, and Great Britain wear Poppies for Remembrance Day, but I am unsure about the Americans.


      • leggypeggy / Nov 13 2018 9:07 pm

        Trust me, the poppies given out/sold here in Australia are generic looking with a little pin or wrap-around stem. But the display at the War Memorial was at a whole new level. Really magnificent and moving.


  30. Green Global Trek / Nov 13 2018 2:36 pm

    Incredible poppy display ~ very touching too with all the notes included and very dramatic. Lovely photos, well captured.


    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Nov 13 2018 2:46 pm

      Thanks. I wonder if the poppies will ‘tour’ again next year.


  31. adventuredawgs / Nov 16 2018 11:23 am

    Those photos have me in tears. That is such an incredible tribute to all of those that have been lost and the ones that made it home.

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Nov 16 2018 1:13 pm

      It was such a brilliant idea and then so wonderful to have so many more contribute.


  32. Christy B / Nov 18 2018 8:28 am

    Oh beautiful!

    Liked by 1 person

  33. Forestwood / Nov 18 2018 4:11 pm

    Someone commented on how Britain lost an entire generation of men, and I think that of Australia too. We lost our best, brightest and most athletic and eager! Such a loss to our small nation.Many men returned home half the men they were, mentally or physically, or both. Many of my older relatives died or only barely survived this terrible conflict. I was not overseas for the memorial, but am happy to see that there was much recognition of the event. They will not be forgotten. The poppies are always a reminder.

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Nov 18 2018 5:43 pm

      World War I was a terrible loss of Australia’s youth and, as you say, a particularly huge tragedy for such a small nation. The poppies are a good reminder.


  34. paolsoren / Nov 19 2018 2:55 pm

    They are beautiful Peggy. The same crocheted poppies were at the Shrine in Melbourne on ANZAC day this year.

    Liked by 1 person

  35. indianeskitchen / Nov 22 2018 3:34 pm

    What a wonderful thing to do!

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Dec 23 2018 12:46 pm

      A lot of love was knitted into those poppies.


  36. Sartenada / Dec 4 2018 9:00 pm

    Oh my… This is awesome, so beautiful. I do love Your post and its photos. Thank You.

    Liked by 1 person

  37. milliethom / Dec 7 2018 3:44 am

    A very beautiful post, Peggy. I always become emotional when I read about so many deaths during this war. The figures are so hard to take in. “When will we ever learn…?” certainly sums things up. The knitted poppies are wonderful and a great tribute to the fallen. Even today, many families (including mine) still have stories to tell of family members who died about this awful war. “Lest we forget”.

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Dec 7 2018 7:05 am

      Thanks Millie for your heartfelt comment. ‘When will we ever learn?’ is right, but the forgetfulness seems to be on the part of our leaders and not those who must go to fight.


  38. Gilda Baxter / Dec 11 2018 8:39 pm

    Remembrance day is big here in the UK, as it should be. The atrocities of war should never be forgotten, new generations need to learn from the past. Beautiful displays of poppies 😄

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Dec 11 2018 10:04 pm

      You are so right. It’s amazing how much the new generations in Australia have embraced Remembrance Day. There is hope.

      Liked by 1 person

  39. America On Coffee / Dec 22 2018 11:47 pm

    I totally hate war, Peg. Excellent review of facts. Hope it will not repeat. Cheers!

    Liked by 1 person

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