The people of Whittlesey gather to remember the fallen for Remembrance Sunday
- Credit: Archant
People lined the streets of Whittlesey to bow their heads in silence to show their respect to those who died during the two world wars.
The town’s service of remembrance attracted a big crowd who watched as local civic dignitaries, British Legion, cadets and local children marched to the memorial where wreaths were laid.
Mayor, Councillor Alex Miscandlon, said: “With the advancing years of the veterans it’s encouraging to see all the youngsters coming along to pay their respects to their forefathers.
“It’s fantastic to see. Some of the little ones in the parade were only around five years old.”
He added it was the most wreaths he had seen laid at the memorial including some made by children from local schools.
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This year is particularly moving at it is the 100th anniversary of the Battle of the Somme in 1916.
The poppy became a symbol of remembrance after the First World War (1914–1918) where much of the fighting took place in Western Europe.
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Previously beautiful countryside was blasted, bombed and fought over and the landscape swiftly turned to fields of mud where little or nothing could grow.
Bright red Flanders poppies (Papaver rhoeas) however, were delicate but resilient flowers and grew in their thousands, flourishing even in the middle of chaos and destruction.
In early May 1915, shortly after losing a friend in Ypres, a Canadian doctor, Lt Col John McCrae was inspired by the sight of poppies to write the now famous poem called ‘In Flanders Fields’.
The poem inspired an American academic, Moina Michael, to make and sell red silk poppies which were brought to England by a French woman, Anna Guérin.
The (Royal) British Legion, formed in 1921, ordered nine million of them and sold them on November 11 that year.
The poppies sold out almost immediately and that first ever ‘Poppy Appeal’ raised more than £106,000 which was used to help WW1 veterans with employment and housing.
The following year a poppy Factory was set up to employ disabled ex-servicemen.
Today, the factory and the Legion’s warehouse in Aylesford produces millions of poppies which raises hundreds of thousands each year.