The 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, Armistice day has arrived.
Now is that unique time of year when the British media begins the annual remembrance day poppy manhunt. Everyone has to wear one, regardless of who you are or where you came from, anyone who dares refuse is ridiculed and labelled as a traitor and branded with the same contempt as if they had become public enemy number one.
Barbara Windsor said it best when she was asked during a Sky news interview in 2015 what she would say to those people who don’t want to wear a poppy? “They can go and sod off for all I care,” said Barbara with a look of foul disgust on her face; the Sky news presenter Sarah-Jane Mee found it all very amusing and responded, while laughing, “We get the sentiment”. Sarah-Jane found Barbara’s childish response very amusing, I however, did not.
I have numerous ancestors from various branches of my family tree who went off to fight and die in WW1. My great grandfather from my mothers side of the family, Herbert George Grubb, fought in the ‘Great War’ and was even mentioned in dispatches for his gallant bravery. Herbert Grubb was left badly scarred across his belly from a vicious attack while he carried important messages across the front lines; he never spoke about how he was injured or of what actually happened during that terrible war but one thing he did do was refuse to wear the red poppy and even refuse to attend major public armistice day remembrance services until his death in 1963. Should I have told my honoured great-grandfather to go “sod off”?
He refused to wear the poppy – along with many other veterans who served during WW1 & WW2 – because he hated how remembrance day had become politicised,turned into a theatre show for the elitist politicians to pretend they care about what happened to the millions of working class men they sent to the legalised slaughter in Europe. The war would later go on to be called the ‘Great War’, the war to end all wars, how naive we were.
On the graves of dead soldiers buried in Belgium, row upon row on thousands of tombstones, its written “A soldier of the great war”; if I had the chance to ask these working class Tommy’s, sent to die in the millions from across the empire – my great grandfather among them – would they have considered themselves glorious soldiers of a great war?
Those who died during WW1 largely died fighting in a war they would rather not have fought or died in at all. The soldiers who did refuse to fight in what is now remembered as an industrial scale waste of innocent human life were also mocked, ridiculed and labelled as traitors by the same establishment that once again labels anyone who dare challenge the warped legacy of the establishment’s new symbol of repression and obedience ‘The Red Poppy’.
Some innocent men who served from Great Britain and Ireland ended up not even being murdered by the enemy! Some of our lads (while wearing British uniform) were imprisoned, court-martialed, and later tied to a post and shot for cowardice when in fact they were suffering from a condition, not recognised during the early 1900’s, known now as shell shock.
I have seen with my own eyes the courtyard in the town of Ypres in Belgium which was used to shoot the so-called cowards of WW1. The bullet holes still remain on the brick wall behind which the large wooden execution post had once stood. We apparently know better nowadays but despite these costly mistakes we clearly have not carried the lessons on down the generations as our mainstream media and political elite clearly prove time and time again. I still see the same vile and odious attitude towards the Poppy ‘deserters’ that the establishment would have shown towards those poor Tommy’s shot for cowardice when in fact they were suffering from a post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
The blood of my ancestors soaked the ground which now feeds the wild poppy flowers that grow in the fields around Ypres. A second great grandfather of mine, Herbert French, fought at the battle of
Passchendaele also was known as the “The battle of mud” (due to the amount of rainfall which turned the battlefield into a massive muddy death trap). The slaughter of Passchendaele lasted 90 days, each day 3000 British soldiers lost their lives to save the small town of Ypres from falling into German hands and the rest of Belgium along with it. My great grandfather was among those hundreds of thousands who lost their lives to win what was later considered a “senseless campaign”. By the time my great grandfather was killed Ypres was already practically non-existent; the entire town, including the famous St Martin’s Cathedral which stands tall and proud at the town’s centre, had long since been flattened by relentless German artillery shelling.
On the graves of the soldiers buried in Belgium, row upon row written on thousands of tombstones is the cold, empty title of “A soldier of The Great War”; if I had the chance to ask these working class men from across the British empire – my great great grandfather among them – would they have considered themselves as glorious soldiers of a ‘great’ war? They ‘gave their lives’ is what we are told now but the fact is their lives were taken, not given.
Our generation is guilty of imposing qualities on the dead that in life they never would have wanted to have. You don’t have to read much WW1 poetry to discover that the thousands of men who were sent to fight in one of the history’s most disastrous wars did not want to be in Europe stuck in a putrid trench and certainly didn’t want to die for a cause which was described as if it was a game by the upper-class British establishment. War was made to appear, fun, adventurous and above all great but the first world war proved this was not the case to a nation who, until then, had only heard of war from British imperialist propaganda. All of Europe saw first hand the true horrors of a modern industrial war; the lies of the elite were broken but now they are being restored.
Tony Blair sent us into a war in Iraq which was based on lies. As a result of his decision, more British soldiers died in a war which could have been so easily avoided. War crimes, massive loss of life particularly for the civilians of Iraq have still not been enough to holt our Westminster parliament battle cries. They have been desperate to start a war with Syria whenever the possibility arises and our MP’s from both sides of the house have stood by our blood-soaked relationship with Saudi Arabia, despite the war crimes being committed in Yemen and continue to send weapons to aid in the murder of children.
I completely agree that the red poppy has become politicised by a corrupt and opportunistic political class which most of whom have no right to wear the poppy as far as I am concerned. This is a free country, freedom paid for by the blood of my great grandfather and millions of other men & women who fought in WW1 & WW2 so I will always stand by people’s freedom to choose to wear or not to wear the red poppy but what really concerns me is that the legacy of this powerful symbol has been hijacked by an establishment who have, and will in future, continue to make the same lies and mistakes as those from 1914-1918 war. Our media was quick to attack Channel 4 journalists Jon Snow for choosing not to allow himself to be forced to wear the poppy by the marching media brown shirts but when one of Britain’s biggest political conman, Tony Blair, befouled the legacy of what the poppy stands for by wearing one even after the lies of the Iraq war have been revealed, media silence.
These same MP’s, backed by our warmongering media giants, are eager to start wars and send the loved ones of others to fight in some loony conflict in a country far away, but would they be so eager to go and lay down their lives for queen and country? The answer is a definite no, and while the answer remains a no the poppy should be off limits to pro-war MP’s. If you are tough enough to vote for a war you better be tough enough to send your loved ones to the front line like millions of our ancestors did for a war that really mattered.
I will never stop wearing my red poppy, my British stiff upper lip won’t allow me to surrender my poppy which connects me to my long lost family, but I do promise to fight for its legacy and encourage others to help real patriots like myself who hate war and want our brave service men to be kept alive to try and wrestle away the poppy from political warmongers like Blair, Boris and Cameron who will undoubtedly be wearing their red poppies this year, as always. The poppy should be an anti-establishment symbol, one that holds corrupt politicians and sell-out media to account for costly lies that can lead to more horrific loss of innocent lives in other pointless wars. That is why I will also be wearing my white poppy with the word “peace” written in the centre.
The poppy can not be allowed to remain a symbol of state propaganda nor can we allow the red poppy to be used by the media as a means of oppression to others who have the right to choose not to wear a symbol which has been left ravaged by years of manipulation. We, the British people, must liberate the red poppy from the talons of hypocrites and use its powerful message of remembrance to avenge the many lives lost due to political incompetence and corruption which leads us to war.
I’ll end with a quote from the late Harry Patch who was Britain’s last remaining Tommy who also fought at the battle of Passchendaele. Harry passed away on the 25th July 2009 aged 111.
“I felt then, as I feel now, that the politicians who took us to war should have been given guns and told to settle there differences themselves, instead of organising nothing better than legalised mass murder.”