On this day 95 years ago, officers and soldiers from the Hampshire Regiment gathered at the War Memorial in Winchester to lay wreaths on Armistice Day. They were among the first to lay wreaths there when the War Memorial was unveiled in 1921, and yesterday, on Remembrance Sunday 2019, Veterans of the Regiment laid wreaths there again in an unbroken commitment spanning 98 years.
What many people do not realise, is that it was Major George Howson, a WW1 veteran of the 11th (Service) Battalion of the Hampshire Regiment, who started the Poppy Factory in London in 1922 to provide employment for disabled ex-soldiers. He used his own personal money to start the enterprise, later taken on by the British Legion, and to move it to larger premises a few years later when demand for the poppies had outstripped the supply. Without the vision of Moina Michael in America and Anna Guerin in France who pressurised the Governments to adopt the poppy as an official symbol of Remembrance, together with Major Howson’s factory, the poppy as an emblem would not be so prevalent today around the world.
In Flanders’ fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place: and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders’ fields.
Take up our quarrel with the foe;
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high,
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders’ Fields.