(It is important to support these people as we own them a lot. WEN)

Mr Blair says:  “It is important that we take some time each year to
reflect for a moment on the ultimate sacrifice made on our behalf by all
those who have lost their lives in warfare.  11th November provides us
with that opportunity to remember the great courage they displayed and
the contribution they made to provide us with the freedoms we enjoy
today.   They must never be forgotten and we honour their memory by
keeping the Two Minute Silence.”

Please support the Poppy Appeal:


How the Poppy Appeal began

Canadian doctor John McCrae was serving in Flanders with the Canadian
Armed Forces when, having seen the poppy survive the bloody conflicts in
northern France, he wrote his 1915 poem 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.

Moina Michael, an American War Secretary with the YMCA, was moved by
this poem to buy poppies with money collected from her work colleagues,
and sold them to friends to raise funds for ex-Servicemen. Her French
colleague, Madame Guerin, suggested the sale of artificial poppies to
the Legion in August 1921 in order to help the ex-Service community in

The first donations for artificial poppies were given in Britain on 11
November 1921, raising £106,000 – an equivalent spending power of more
than £3.1million in today’s terms, a huge sum for the time.

Major George Howson, a young infantry officer, had formed the Disabled
Society to help disabled ex-Service people from World War One. Howson
suggested to the Legion that Society members should make poppies, and
the artificial flowers were designed so that someone who had lost the
use of a hand could assemble them with one hand – a principle that has
endured. This suggestion led to the foundation of the Poppy Factory at
Richmond, Surrey, in 1922, where poppies are still made today.



Across the nation, more than 45 million people - in airports and buses,
in law courts and football clubs, at railway stations and banks, radio
and television stations, in superstores, schools and colleges and those
at home - are expected to fall silent for two minutes at 11am on
Armistice Day, Monday 11th November.   

The Two Minute Silence marks the moment the guns fell silent at the end
of the First World War - the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the
eleventh month in 1918.  It is a moment to remember all those who have
given their lives for their country in the conflicts of the last century
and in the early years of this new millennium.  

The Royal British Legion, which has long campaigned to have the Silence
reinstated in the national calendar, is delighted that what is by far
the biggest annual spontaneous demonstration of public support for any
cause in the country will continue this year - and on a working day.  

“We are proud to have led a strong resurgence in observance of the Two
Minute Silence over the last eight years,” a spokesman says.
“Remembrance is being taken more and more seriously and the Silence has
introduced a poignant annual moment of reflection into people’s lives.
Indeed, independent research commissioned by the Legion revealed that 92
per cent of adults think that Remembrance events and observing the Two
Minute Silence should be an important and permanent feature in the life
of the nation.  

“Ninety-one per cent of those in the 16 to 24 age bracket agreed with
this sentiment - demonstrating that Remembrance is felt to be as
important by younger people as by the older generations. It suggests
strong support for Remembrance in the future.”

The Prime Minister’s Message

The Prime Minister has expressed his support for the Two Minute Silence
on the 11th November. In a message to the Legion, Mr Blair says:  “It is
important that we take some time each year to reflect for a moment on
the ultimate sacrifice made on our behalf by all those who have lost
their lives in warfare.  11th November provides us with that opportunity
to remember the great courage they displayed and the contribution they
made to provide us with the freedoms we enjoy today.   They must never
be forgotten and we honour their memory by keeping the Two Minute

Court Rooms, Companies and Customers join the Silence

The Lord Chancellor, Lord Irvine of Lairg, has invited all courts to
mark the anniversary of Armistice Day by having a Two Minute Silence
observed in courtrooms and offices throughout England and Wales.

In broadcast media, the BBC will lead the way across both television and
radio, providing the cue for silent reflection, wherever people may be,
as time signals sound 11 o’clock.   Independent television and radio
networks the length and breadth of the country will also be marking the

More than 100 major companies will join the nationwide silence by
encouraging staff and visitors to take part.  They include such
household names as: Abbey National, Asda, Barclays Bank, Cadbury
Schweppes, Consignia, Dixon Group, Euro Tunnel, Imperial Tobacco, Kodak,
MFI Next, Powergen, Railtrack, Safeway, Sainsbury’s, Severn Trent Water,
Tesco, WPP Group and the Yorkshire Building Society.

Local Authorities declare their support

Nearly 300 local authorities throughout the land have declared their
support for the Two Minute Silence.   Councils throughout the United
Kingdom will be halting meetings.  And, many will signal the start and
end of the Silence by firing maroon rockets, by bugle call, by sounding
fire alarms and by making announcements over their public address


The Two Minutes Silence is being observed by people from all walks of
life … on land, sea and in the air.  

In Hampshire, the officers and crew of Her Majesty's Customs Cutter
“Sentinel” - a 34 metre Island Class vessel, one of fleet of seven which
patrol UK waters intercepting other vessels and protecting society -
will mark the Silence in a special ceremony in the middle of the Solent.
Sentinel’s engines will be turned off while the men observe the Silence.
Then a special wreath in memory of those who died in conflict will be
placed on the waters.

In London, the British Airways London Eye will stop in mid flight at
10.55am to mark the Silence. David Sharpe, the General Manager of the
London Eye and and young member staff will stand in silence in a pod at
the top of the Eye remembering the sacrifice of those who died in
conflict.    The British Airways Poppy Plane, a Boeing 757, bearing the
image of the Poppy and the message “Pause to Remember” on its fuselage
to commemorate Remembrance officially took to the air today.  It will
continue to fly throughout the month of November. 

At Manchester Airport’s three terminals, all aircraft movement will stop
and staff and those passing through the airport will be invited to
observe the silence.  At the same time, a Service of Remembrance will be
held at the four Regimental Commemorative Stones near Terminal One with
representatives of the Airborne Forces, the Glider Pilots’ Regiment,
Polish Airborne forces and 613 (City of Manchester) Squadron RAAF in
attendance.  A trumpeter from GM Police will sound the Last Post and

Ian Townsend, Secretary General of The Royal British Legion, said: “We
are very pleased so many people consider that the 11th November and the
Two Minute Silence to be important both personally and nationally.  As
the nation’s de facto custodian of Remembrance, we will always support
the traditional Remembrance Sunday services and silences.  But we
believe that when 11th November falls on days other than Remembrance
Sunday, Remembrance should be brought into the everyday life of the
nation on those days as well. The Two Minute Silence is a moving annual
moment of reflection in our otherwise busy lives which allows us to
remember the high price paid for the freedoms we enjoy today.” 


About the poem:


McCrae's "In Flanders Fields" remains to this day one of the most
memorable war poems ever written. It is a lasting legacy of the terrible
battle in the Ypres salient in the spring of 1915. Here is the story of
the making of that poem: 
Although he had been a doctor for years and had served in the South
African War, it was impossible to get used to the suffering, the
screams, and the blood here, and Major John McCrae had seen and heard
enough in his dressing station to last him a lifetime. 

As a surgeon attached to the 1st Field Artillery Brigade, Major McCrae,
who had joined the McGill faculty in 1900 after graduating from the
University of Toronto, had spent seventeen days treating injured men --
Canadians, British, Indians, French, and Germans -- in the Ypres

It had been an ordeal that he had hardly thought possible. McCrae later
wrote of it: 

"I wish I could embody on paper some of the varied sensations of that
seventeen days... Seventeen days of Hades! At the end of the first day
if anyone had told us we had to spend seventeen days there, we would
have folded our hands and said it could not have been done." 

One death particularly affected McCrae. A young friend and former
student, Lieut. Alexis Helmer of Ottawa, had been killed by a shell
burst on 2 May 1915. Lieutenant Helmer was buried later that day in the
little cemetery outside McCrae's dressing station, and McCrae had
performed the funeral ceremony in the absence of the chaplain. 

The next day, sitting on the back of an ambulance parked near the
dressing station beside the Canal de l'Yser, just a few hundred yards
north of Ypres, McCrae vented his anguish by composing a poem. The major
was no stranger to writing, having authored several medical texts
besides dabbling in poetry. 

In the nearby cemetery, McCrae could see the wild poppies that sprang up
in the ditches in that part of Europe, and he spent twenty minutes of
precious rest time scribbling fifteen lines of verse in a notebook. 

A young soldier watched him write it. Cyril Allinson, a twenty-two year
old sergeant-major, was delivering mail that day when he spotted McCrae.
The major looked up as Allinson approached, then went on writing while
the sergeant-major stood there quietly. "His face was very tired but
calm as we wrote," Allinson recalled. "He looked around from time to
time, his eyes straying to Helmer's grave." 

When McCrae finished five minutes later, he took his mail from Allinson
and, without saying a word, handed his pad to the young NCO. Allinson
was moved by what he read: 

"The poem was exactly an exact description of the scene in front of us
both. He used the word blow in that line because the poppies actually
were being blown that morning by a gentle east wind. It never occurred
to me at that time that it would ever be published. It seemed to me just
an exact description of the scene." 

In fact, it was very nearly not published. Dissatisfied with it, McCrae
tossed the poem away, but a fellow officer retrieved it and sent it to
newspapers in England. The Spectator, in London, rejected it, but Punch
published it on 8 December 1915. 

Thanks to Mack Welford for reminding me of this great poem.


In London alone, around 100 unemployed ex-Service people sleep rough
each night, with another 500 living in hostels for the homeless.

Today, the UK's men and women continue to serve their country, in the
Falklands, the Gulf, Rwanda, Bosnia , Kosovo, Northern Ireland and now
in Afghanistan. They need to know that The Royal British Legion will be
there to help them when they need it most.

The Legion provides help to the ex-Service community on a number of
different fronts. We provide accommodation in seven care homes, as well
as three homes dedicated to providing much needed breaks for those
recovering from illness or bereavement.

We also answer over 300,000 urgent calls for help each year. Our work
ranges from emotional support for someone coming to terms with the loss
of a loved one, financial help for a family struggling to make ends
meet, or rehabilitation and advice for ex-Service men and women starting
life as a civilian with the scars of their wartime efforts.

But often it is the little bits of kindness that we provide on a regular
basis that can make all the difference. Like welfare advice, or
friendship visits to an isolated or disabled ex-Service person.

Without your help we won't be able to respond to all these requests and
provide the support that makes the lives of these individuals more
bearable. Please help us in our work with a gift of £20, or whatever you
can afford now. 


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