World War I—also referred to as The Great War—ended 100 years ago tomorrow. In the lead-up to that sobering anniversary, our Australian War Memorial has hosted a display of 62,000 wool poppies that honour the Aussie soldiers who never came home.
The display had its start five years ago when fibre artists and sisters-in-law, Lynn Berry and Margaret Knight, set out to create 120 poppies to be laid at the Shrine of Remembrance in Melbourne. These were to serve as a tribute to their fathers—Wal Beasley and Stan Knight—who fought in World War II.
Their gesture sparked an outpouring of interest. From across the world, people knitted and contributed their own hand-made flowers. One day, 4000 poppies arrived from an anonymous contributor. Canberra volunteers knitted about 5000.
Many of the flowers have included personal notes and items, such as buttons from soldiers’ tunics. Some are entwined with yellow stitching as a tribute Aboriginal soldiers, while others include swathes of white, for nurses, and purple, in honour of animals involved in the war.
This poppy field, designed by architect Philip Johnson, is part of a wider series of public events known as the 5000 Poppies project.
An estimated 1 million poppies have been crafted by people from around the world, for displays not only in Australia, but also England and France. Prior to coming to Canberra, many of the poppies have been displayed at London’s Chelsea Flower Show and at Cobbers Memorial in Fromelle, France.
Another 270,000 poppies have been spread out in front of our Australian Parliament House. They’ll be on display for another week and I’ll try to get up there for another pic.
Fellow blogger—boomingon—also did a great post on this display. You can see it here.
P.S. My heart goes out to you if you lost a family member in that ‘great’ or any other war. When will we learn?
P.P.S. A brief comment about the Lone Pine (mentioned in captions). In 1915, there was a huge battle over Lone Pine Ridge in Gallipoli. An Aussie soldier found a cone on one of the branches used by the Turks as overhead cover for their trenches. He sent the cone to his mother. She planted it and raised a tree that she presented to the War Memorial in honour of her son and others who fell at Lone Pine.
P.P.P.S. Another comment about Sir General John Monash (the statue shown above). He is often considered to be one of Australia’s most outstanding military and civilian leaders, and one of the greatest commanders of the Great War.