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POETRY OF WW1: REMEMBERING THE SOMME

On the 100th anniversary of the end of the Battle of the Somme, we share the final instalment in our commemorative series of poignant poems, kindly provided by the Scottish Poetry Library. Predicting the coming waves of war tourism, poet J.E. Stewart indicates that the prospect of people visiting the battlefields feels too intrusive. But 100 years later, we do, and should, still visit the fields of battle in order never to forget what happened there.

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End of Year Reflections

Norman Drummond CBE FRSE – Chair, Scottish Commemorations Panel

As the opening commemorative year of the centenary of World War One draws to a close, one cannot but reflect with humility and gratitude at the number and quality of commemorative occasions and events which have taken place here in Scotland and across the United Kingdom and internationally as well.

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About the Poppy

Lieutenant General Sir Alistair Irwin KCB CBE – President of the Royal British Legion Scotland and Poppy Scotland

By the time of the Armistice on 11th November 1918 the poppy had already entered the iconography of the Great War, not least through the moving words of Colonel John Macrae’s poem In Flanders Fields: “In FlandersFields the poppies blow/between the crosses row on row/ that mark our place…”.  Now, 96 years on from the end of the War, the red poppy has firmly established itself as the symbol of remembrance. Scotland’s poppies are made in the Poppy Factory in Edinburgh by a dedicated team of ex-servicemen.  Each year they make an astonishing 5 million poppies and 10,000 wreaths.  The poppies that they produce are worn by so many of us both to demonstrate our own personal acts of remembrance and to record our own contributions, sometimes no more than £1 and sometimes much more, to the annual fund raising effort in November each year.

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A Moment of Quiet

Brigadier David Allfrey MBE – Chief Executive and Producer, The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo

From August 1914, out of sight and earshot of the civilian population, servicemen and women would have moved away from their ‘home base’ to the theatres of war where they had been assigned. For most, this would have been the first time abroad. Some would have travelled over many months to the ends of Empire while others would have been shipped by foot, train and ship across the English Channel to ports and railheads on the Continent. The conditions they endured on these journeys would have respected social position to a degree, and as practicality allowed, but the closer to the Front, the less differentiation would have been possible. Each man, regardless of social class and upbringing would have needed to come to terms with his new situation and deal with it appropriately. Unlikely friendships would have formed with special bonds created by tension and misfortune. This in itself would have tested the social fabric of the constituent parts of the Nation and set the conditions for much greater upheavals to come in the 1920s and 1930s. Age old certainties and ideas would be under scrutiny and test each and every day.

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