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.


Battle of Gheluvelt commemoration in association with....

Worcester Warriors websiteThe audio documentary at the heart of this Battle of Gheluvelt commemorative project would not have been possible without the support of Worcester Warriors and The Duckworth Worcestershire Trust. Please click the logos for more details

Gheluvelt: The documentary

Worcetershire Regiment cap badge 1914Find out how the Gheluvelt documentary happened by following this link, and start reading the remarkable stories that didn't make the final cut.... 

The visit you ought to make

Gheluvelt 1914 detailLet's set you on your way so that you, too, can research your family connections to Gheluvelt, or visit the other battlefields of Flanders... and you should. 

Please tell us about your hero

Ypres cornflowerFamily or feedback? If you're related to a Gheluvelt hero, email and share his story with a grateful nation