The poppy has been engrained in the world’s minds as the symbol of sacrifice and mourning ever since it was adopted by the Haig Fund.
But it wasn’t the first flower to be worn as a reminder of the lives lost.
The cornflower was worn by members of the Ypres League – 1914 survivors, so not many of them – during the years immediately after the Armistice, gradually going out of favour when the poppy established itself.
The flower was chosen because of the sheer profusion of the plant that was growing in Flanders when the British Expeditionary Force arrived in the early autumn of 1914. It symbolises the crisis point of First Ypres – Saturday, October 31 – and was worn by all veterans of the Gheluvelt regiments.
Twelve of the old infantry regiments carry the battle honour on their colours, a reminder that the Worcesters' charge at Gheluvelt was a counter-attack, not a battle proper.
Technically, Gheluvelt refers to the three-day German assault on the British lines across the Menin Road that ended with the Worcesters’ gallantry.
The First Battle of Ypres had three stages – Langemarck (Kinderschlacht), Gheluvelt and Nonne Bosschen, where the Prussian Guard was shot flat by the surviving remnants of the BEF and the war became bogged down in a sea of mud and ice as the onset of winter brought a close to First Ypres.
INSIGHT COURTESY OF JOHN PHILLPOTT