I’m in London for a couple of days, on route to Switzerland. I got up before sunrise today to see the thousands of poppies surrounding the Tower of London to commemorate 100 years since World War 1 began.
But what I didn’t realise, until I saw a forklift unloading pallets from a truck, is that the installation is still in progress with approximately another 250,000 poppies to be installed. They were unloading the quota of poppies for the volunteers to plant today, as if there weren’t enough already. When complete there will be 888,246 unique, handmade poppies – one flower for each soldier from Britain and the colonies who died in the war.
The first of these flowers was planted on August 5, the first full day of fighting in the war. The last one will be planted on November 11, Armistice Day, when the guns fell silent. After November 11 the installation will be dismantled and the poppies sold with the proceeds going to charity.
The name of the installation comes from a poem, written by an anonymous World War 1 soldier: ‘The Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red.’