It all started when the National Army Museum made the “patriotic call to yarn” to all knitters and crafters throughout New Zealand. Using patterns provided, the aim was to produce one hand crafted poppy for each person lost - 18,166 poppies in all. The knitting needles started clicking away and over 30,000 were soon received. Museum staff have been touched by the overwhelming response and the numerous stories of personal tributes to family members who served. As a result of the response staff decided it was appropriate to extend the initial ‘call to yarn’ with another project named “The Last Post”. This is to become a tribute to all other men and women who have been lost to war and conflict outside World War One and represents a further 12,309 based on the museum’s Tears on Greenstone roll of honour database from all services, Army, Navy, Air Force and Merchant Navy.
Poppy Project Co-ordinator Alison Jones said, “Thank you New Zealand, but it is now time to lay down your needles – Armistice is called on the Patriotic Call to Yarn Project. Please send in any poppies you currently have, we will accept all poppies.”
The poppies have been carefully hand sewn onto specially made hessian panels, and I was thrilled to get to see them on display at the museum's greenstone memorial wall a few days prior to Anzac Day.
The hand crafted poppies were made in all shades of red, with a sprinkling of white poppies here and there, and a few touches of green. Most had dark centres, as requested, and some had notes attached, no doubt related to the family member they were made for.
Closer to home at our local library, Te Takere, the call went out for crotcheted and knitted poppies for display. I’m an avid library user and called in to see how the poppies had been displayed. There was a large panel hanging in the library. The photo does not do the poppies justice – the colour is really a deep red.
During the First World War, red poppies were among the first plants to spring up in the devastated battlefields of northern France and Belgium. In soldiers' folklore, the vivid red of the poppy came from the blood of their comrades soaking the ground. The sight of poppies on the battlefield at Ypres in 1915 moved Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae to write the poem ”In Flanders Fields”.
Poppies have such a special meaning at Anzac Day, and this one in particular, being the 100th Centenary of Anzac Day. The many poppies contributed to the library have been very well displayed indeed by the hard working staff and volunteers.