In the very early days of November 1923, an article in the Gazette was appealing for ladies to help with ‘Poppy Day’ in Tiverton which was to take place on Saturday 10th November. Ladies were asked to help with the sale of poppies in aid of ‘Earl Haig’s appeal for ex-servicemen’. The article also outlined the events for Armistice Day on the 11th. Later in the month, the results of the collection were revealed and the amount that each lady collected is listed. The total raised on the day, with contributions from local organisations, was ‘over £80’ which today would be equivalent to almost £6,000
The first ‘Poppy Day’ was held in 1921, so it was still a new event in 1923. The poppy emblem was inspired by a poem written by a Canadian doctor on the front line in 1915:
‘In Flanders’ fields the poppies blow, Between the crosses row on row’.
In 1921, the first poppies were made in France but very soon a factory, staffed by disabled servicemen, was set up in London and they produced 30 million poppies for the Appeal in 1922. These sold out very quickly and in the following years very few poppies made it to Scotland. In 1926 another factory opened near Edinburgh and produced a poppy with four petals with no leaf. This is distinct from the London poppy with only two petals and leaves. The difference remains today.
In 2005, during repairs, this collecting tin was found in the roof of Halberton Village Hall. The poppies were sold for many years by Earl Haig’s Fund within the British Legion becoming known as the ‘Poppy Appeal’ in 1994.
The Museum holds the banner of the Women’s Section of the Royal British Legion, the Standard is in St Peter’s Church. Our archives also house the Minutes of the section which was active in the town from 1926 until 2016 when it closed, with just 14 members.