Poppy Appeal 2018 Launch

This Poppy Appeal, The Royal British Legion is leading the Nation in saying ‘Thank You’ to the First World War generation who served, sacrificed and changed our world.

To launch the appeal a six metre high poppy installation has been unveiled to the public at the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich, London. Poppy red threads featuring messages from the First World War generation reach out from this central point and are positioned to face in the exact direction of poignant partner locations across the UK.

The installations aim to highlight how the legacy of the First World War is woven through the fabric of the nation, often in unexpected places. The messages written on the threads and the locations have been chosen to acknowledge the wide range of contributions from across the First World War generation.

National Maritime Museum, Greenwich

The central poppy is located in the heart of Greenwich, a place in our nation's capital indelibly marked by the First World War. In the National Maritime Museum, the former Greenwich Hospital, the records of Royal Navy and Merchant sailors lost in the war are held; men whose service and sacrifice denied them a resting place on land. Overlooking the Museum is the Royal Observatory, the home of Greenwich Meantime (GMT). It was during the First World War that daylight saving time was first used nationally to help conserve coal reserves. The Germans adopted it first and Great Britain followed suit only weeks later.

This installation is open to the public and will remain on display until Monday 29th October.

The Response Memorial, Newcastle

The Response monument captures the moment a generation of Newcastle's men put down the tools of their trade and marched to war; from the tragically young drummer boys to the sons, brothers and fathers leaving their families behind even the women stoically remaining at home. The Response immortalises a moment repeated across thousands of tightknit communities up and down the country. The Regiment depicted is the 5th Northumberland Fusiliers, now the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers.

Thread message: "We are going back to where we came from, the Land of Hell, for it’s nothing no more than Hell on Earth" Bill (Soldier of the Great War, surname and regiment unknown).

This installation is open to the public and will remain on display until Monday 29th October.

Training Trenches, RAF Halton, Aylesbury

Formerly part of the Rosthchild Estate, during the war land at Halton was given over to the training of recruits in preparation for the Western Front. Training trenches were dug and veteran NCOs and Officers, rotated back from France, would have drilled new recruits in trench routine and discipline. By 1916 over 20,000 troops were being trained at Halton at any one time and the following year Halton became the home of technical training for the Royal Flying Corps. When the Royal Air Force was formed in 1918, RAF Halton became the home of the new RAF Apprenticeship Scheme.

Thread Message: “Thank You to the Armed forces of the First World War who helped shape our world.”

The Big Pit National Coal Museum, Blaenavon

The Big Pit was a working coal mine from 1880 to 1980 that saw its workforce decimated by war, it's men transplanted to the mining units and Welsh battalions on the front, and its elderly, women and children forced to take up the trade of the men. The site, now dedicated to the preservation of the heritage of Welsh coal mining, represents one of the many working pits across the coalfields of Great Briatin that fuelled a nation engaged in a scale of industrialised war never before seen. The skills of the miners were repurposed in the dark, silent battle underneath no man's land with men like Capt Arthur Edwards pioneering this unenviable tactic to break the stalemate and winning a Military Cross in the process.

Thread Message: "Cos we’d been miners, biggest part of the battalion or the division were miners, the majority– Irving Jones, Welsh Regiment.

This installation is open to the public and will remain on display until Monday 29th October.

Ballyclare Football Club, County Antrim

Home of Ballyclare Comrades FC, formed in 1919 by men of C Company, 12th Royal Irish Rifles (now Royal Irish Regiment) returning from WW1. They realised that they were missing some of the camaraderie that had brought them through the terror of the trenches and found football, the soldiers game, to be the perfect way to find this again. The Ballycare Comrades FC are still going strong and will celebrate their centenary next year.

Thread Message: "Would you believe it, by mutual consent our Battalion and the Germans opposite had a little armistice and didn’t fire a shot all day" Marmaduke Walkinton on the Christmas truce Birmingham, Library of Birmingham.

This installation is open to the public and will remain on display until Monday 29th October.

No.10 Downing Street, London

On the 11th of November 1918 Mr Loyd George, the Prime Minister, came out of Number 10 Downing Street to address a jubilant crowd. He said: "I am glad to tell you that the war will be over by 11 o'clock today." He returned inside with a wave but before long the crowd demanded more. He returned to the steps and said: "The people of this country and our allies, the Dominions and of India, have won a great victory for humanity. The sons and daughters of the people have done it. They have won this hour of gladness, and the whole country has done its duty." It is this hour of gladness of which Lloyd George spoke on the steps of Number 10 Downing Street which is embodied in the Thank You movement, and the echo of his words 'The sons and daughters of the people have done it'.

Thread Message: “Thank You to the First World War Generation that served, sacrificed and changed our world.

This installation is not available to visit. 

Women's Land Army Tribute, National Memorial Arboretum, Staffordshire

The Women’s Land Army (WLA) was first formed during World War One – the Land Girls, as they became known, worked on the land, freeing the male workers to go to war. With their uniform of green ties and jumpers and brown felt slouch hats, they worked from dawn to dusk each day, milking cows, digging ditches, sowing seeds and harvesting crops. When women became a crucial part of the nation's workforce during the war they stepped closer to the right to vote which they were given in 1918.

Thread Message: “And it came for his man to come back from leave and then he said ‘Oh, he’d - rather keep the girl driver" Dolly Shepherd, WAAC driver to the Captain.

This installation is open to the public and will remain on display until Monday 29th October.

Deepdale Stadium, Preston

Deepdale Stadium was the location of the Christmas Day football match played by Dick, Kerr Ladies Football Team in 1917. Dick, Kerr Ladies team was formed at a munitions factory Dick, Kerr & Co in Preston during the First World War in order to raise funds for wounded soldiers from the Western Front who were being treated at the town's military hospital. The Christmas Day football match raised £600 (some £40,000 in today's money).

Thread Message: "Not only WRNS, but the other two services, also, pioneered the beginning of votes for women and freedom for women more" Beatrice Browne, typist with the Women’s Royal Naval Service.

This installation is on display until Thursday 25th October.

The Royal Pavilion, Brighton

When war broke out in 1914 the British Expeditionary Force was too small, so huge numbers of Indian Army troops (1.5 million) were brought to the Western Front to plug the gap while fresh battalions were raised. With consequent Indian casualties, Brighton Pavilion was one of the locations chosen as a hospital for these troops. Between 1914 and 1916 several thousand Indian casualties passed through the Pavilion's wards. This included Muslims, Sikhs and Hindus, all with their own cultural and religious nuances to feeding, washing, praying and even burial  all of which were overcome in ingenious ways. It became one of the most famous military hospitals in Britain until 1916 when the Indian Army were redeployed to the Middle East theatre.

Thread Message: "Don’t be grieved at my death because I shall die arms in hand wearing the warrior’s clothes" Jemadar Indar Singh, Indian Cavalry.

This installation is on display until Thursday 25th October.


African and Caribbean War Memorial, Brixton, London

The National African and Caribbean War Memorial in Brixton, unveiled in 2017, is the first of its kind in the UK. It commemorates the service of Africans and Caribbeans who fought in the First and Second World Wars. In the First World War many Caribbean men paid their own passage to join the war. Such were their numbers that The British West Indies Regiment was formed. By the end of the war it had 11 Battalions (some 15,000 men) and had won 81 medals for gallantry.

Thread Message: “Thank You to the Commonwealth, which answered the call in the First World War”.

This installation is open to the public and will remain on display until Monday 29th October.

Neasden Temple, London

Neasden Temple is the first authentically built Hindu Temple in Great Britain. 100 years ago such a place would have been beyond imagining, but throughout the war soldiers from the Indian Army fought side by side with British and white commonwealth soldiers and, from the chaos of war, cooperation, understanding and mutual respect took root. The sacrifice of the Indian Army in defence of a foreign land was extraordinary. Over 1.5 million served in the war, 70,000 were killed and 11 Victoria Crosses were awarded to Indians.

Thread Message: “Do not be anxious my dear friend. Every man whom God created is bound to die someday Sepoy Waris Khan, 22nd Regiment, Nowshera.

This installation is open to the public and will remain on display until Monday 29th October.

Queen Mary's Hospital, Sidcup, Kent

In 1916, 'The father of plastic surgery', Harold Gillies founded a cutting edge facility at Queen's Hospital (later Queen Mary's), Sidcup, and pioneered life changing surgery techniques to repair the horrific facial wounds inflicted on servicemen during the war. By 1925, over 5,000 facial injury patients had been treated at Sidcup and Plastic Surgery was well established.

Thread Message: "Before the Great War, men with shattered faces died of wounds or broken hearts. Now they go to a special hospital, where marvels of surgery are performed" Nurse, about her work with Harold Gillies.

This installation is open to the public and will remain on display until Monday 29th October.

The Library of Birmingham

J. R. R. Tolkien was born in South Africa before returning to his family home in Birmingham. It was as a young boy exploring the countryside around Birmingham that Tolkien found inspiration for some of the scenes in his books including Bag End, based on his Aunt's House. When war broke out he finished his degree at Oxford and joined up. It was at the Plow and Harrow Hotel in Birmingham in 1915 that he said farewell to his family and left for the front. Less than a mile from that point, the Library of Birmingham now stands and contains Tolkien's works, many of which include elements inspired by his experiences serving as an Officer in the Lancashire Fusiliers. After Tolkien was medically evacuated from the Somme in 1916 almost his entire battalion were killed.

Thread Message: “My ‘Sam Gamgee’ is indeed a reflexion of the English soldier, of the privates and batmen I knew in the 1914 war, and recognised as so far superior to myself J.R.R Tolkien.

This installation is open to the public and will remain on display until Monday 29th October.

Edinburgh Napier University, Craiglockart Campus

Wilfred Owen arrived at Craiglockhart Hospital on 26th June 1917 after being invalided home, severely traumatised by his experiences of front-line trench warfare. Whilst recuperating there, Owen met Siegfried Sassoon, who had been sent to the hospital following his declaration against the continuation of the war after serving on the front. As well as their formal treatments with medical staff, patients at Craiglockhart were encouraged to be as active as possible. Captain Brock, Owen’s doctor, encouraged him to write and edit The Hydra, the hospital magazine. But it was through the poetry he produced at Craiglockhart that Wilfred Owen created his literary legacy. Encouraged by Sassoon, Owen began to write the poems that he was to become most famous for, composing his most iconic works including ‘Anthem for Doomed Youth’.

Thread Message: "Their flowers the tenderness of patient minds, And each slow dusk a drawing-down of blinds.” Anthem for Doomed Youth, Wilfred Owen: The War Poems.

This installation is open to the public and will remain on display until Friday 23rd October.

Jack Cornwell Memorial Park, Leyton, London

Jack Cornwell, a former Boy Scout from Essex, joined the Royal Navy aged 16 as Boy (2nd Class) Cornwell, and within a year found himself on HMS Chester at the largest naval action of the First World War: The Battle of Jutland. When the Chester was surrounded and engaged by four enemy ships, Jack was part of a gun crew manning a 5.5 inch gun. Within minutes his entire gun crew were killed and Jack had received horrific shrapnel wounds to the stomach and legs. Despite this, he remained at his gun awaiting to receive orders and it was only after the Chester had withdrawn that his wounds were seen to. He died of his wounds days later in Grimsby Hospital. Such was his story that the nation demanded he be awarded the Victoria Cross and that he be reburied in a memorial park named after him.

Thread Message: "He stayed there, standing and waiting, under heavy fire, with just his own brave heart and God’s help to support him" Captain Robert Lawson RN of HMS Chester in a letter to Jack Cornwell's mother.

This installation is open to the public and will remain on display until Monday 29th October.