Thursday, 8 November 2012

Remember Remember the 11th of November

Remembrance Day Poppy brooch from M&S

After years of buying paper poppies that fall off my coat within hours if not days, and being left with only a pin in my lapel, I was delighted to find that M&S were selling a pretty poppy brooch with the endorsement of the Royal British Legion (RBL). Sadly having bought one I found that only 30% of the price of £15 is going to the RBL for their essential and important work providing welfare for needy members and ex-members of the armed services as well as remembrance of those who have given their lives in defence of our freedoms. 

Less than £5!  Disgraceful of M&S and I have written to them about it. So far no response. I intend to buy a traditional poppy tomorrow, having been away from the UK for the last week so no opportunity to purchase in the meantime. 

However the Poppy brooch itself is a very attractive piece of jewellery and has been admired, and commented upon, by people across two continents. I am proud to wear it but have a sneaking feeling that it is a travesty of the original idea of wearing a simple representation of the fluttery and papery blossom that flowered in the Somme. They were crushed underfoot like those sad thousands of British youth (and let's face it, that of all the nations involved) who were sacrificed by their incompetent and ignorant leaders in WWI. 

Yet these bright fragile flowers were found blossoming like bloodstains or life renewed on and among their graves. A true symbol of lives lost but not wasted if we not only remember them and embrace all efforts to stop all terrible armed conflicts arising between nations and ideology, but also honour those who bravely take up arms on our behalf in modern conflicts at the behest of our current leaders who act with or without our mandate from the safety of their comfortable seats in Parliament.

In Flanders Fields
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. 
John McCrae, 1915

EDIT - Since I wrote this I have been in contact with M&S and discovered that they were selling the brooch on behalf of the Royal British Legion. The suppliers to the RBL are Buckley designers and the poor quality of the brooches ( and the low donation percentage) is their responsibility. I feel so bad for the RBL that they have been let down by Buckley - though the brooch itself is very attractive. In fact Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge was wearing the larger version on her coat today at the Cenotaph Remembrance Day ceremony.


  1. That is disgraceful of M&S to only donate a small amount to the Royal British Legion, I am surprised at them. It was a terrible war and my Great Grandfather and his brother who sadly died of his wounds in 1919 were Anzacs, we are incredibly proud of them. I always wear my poppy with pride every year.
    Jo xx

    1. Hello Jo - how interesting that your great grandfather and great uncle were both Anzacs. Did they serve at Gallipoli? As I expect you know Australia and NZ celebrate Anzac Day with a national holiday each April.

      As for M&S - they have now rejected my comment re the poppy brooch on their website. A letter to the chairman is due methinks! Cx

  2. My father was a RAF navigator in bombers during WWII and he was shot down near Berlin. But he survived, and I have always had a lot of respect for his courage at that time.

    That's why I would always wear a poppy when I lived in England. I remember one year in the early Seventies when, long-haired joint-smoking hippie that I was, I still wore a poppy. Incongruous it may have looked, but I didn't care.

    I went on to join the Royal Navy and never regretted it, and whilst serving I learned that civilians were more likely to proffer gung-ho beer-fueled 'let's stick it to 'em" opinions on possible conflicts that they would not serve in than we, who would have to, did.

    The brooch? I would prefer to see the simpler version myself although I have nothing against it, and similar ones, in general.

    But the 30% contribution to the Legion is disgracefully low. The only people who should be making profits out of poppies are the Legion. Those profits help to keep them alive. But, and whatever the price, any company with a shred of decency would ensure that their margins were enough to pay production costs and-then-a-bit-more, but no more than a few percent...

    1. Hello Frip - my father also served in the RAF in WWII, was shot down and successfully evaded capture. He remained in the RAF as a career officer and so I was brought up in the forces. I now live in a very military town (Salisbury) so Army and RAF camouflage uniforms are a common sight around. Not to mention the occasional tank!

      And re the M&S poppy brooch - see my reply above.

    2. Hi Elegance and what a coincidence! My dad was taken prisoner but apart from that he too remained as a career officer after the war and I was brought up in the forces too. Cyprus, Germany, Aden etc...

      And I am writing these words from my apartment which is just a couple of hundred yards away from the helicopter landing point in the nearby military base. There's only one helicopter a week but if I'm around I like to watch its approach, which I can see from close up when it's at about 50 meters.

      It may not be the Vulcans of Waddington, but hey ho.....

      Oh and yes, you are quite right to be giving the chairman of M&S a piece of your mind. Tell you what, I'll do the same...


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