POPPIES are on sale again across France in the Royal British Legion’s annual appeal to help wounded service personnel and their families.
Supported by RBL branches across France, the appeal runs until Sunday November 11.
This year the date unites both the British Remembrance Sunday (the second Sunday of November), which honours service people killed in the world wars and conflicts since then, and the French commemoration of the end of fighting in the First World War on November 11, 1918.
The time of 11am is significant for both countries’ events, as that is the time the 1918 armistice came into force. It followed the 5.00 signing of the document in a railway carriage in the Forest of Compiègne in Picardy (a similar one now stands on the site).
The RBL adopted the poppy in 1921, inspired by the poem In Flanders Fields, by John McCrae.
One of the appeal organisers for France, Anne-Campbell Towler of the Boulogne and Pas-de-Calais RBL branch, said: “We have boxes of poppies and collection tins spread around all over France, though they may be less accessible in some remote areas. If you have difficulty getting some, you should contact your local RBL branch, who should be able to post some out.”
As in previous years, Commander Michael Healy of the Nice-Monaco RBL states he is happy to send around 20 poppies anywhere in France. A cheque should be sent after November 11 for the amount you raised.
Commander Healy said the need to support the charity has been increasing with Britain’s continuing commitments in Afghanistan and “there are plenty of other risky operations going on”.
Poppies can be found at such venues as British food shops, Anglican churches and English libraries. If necessary, contact your nearest RBL branch (see: www.rblfrance.org).
Because ceremonies by the RBL and Anglican churches will coincide with events at French war memorials the RBL is seeking non-churchgoers to represent Britain at the French events.
Appeal organisers around France include:
Nice-Monaco: Michael Healy email@example.com (tel: 04 93 01 30 00)
Bordeaux: Gordon Merrett firstname.lastname@example.org
Somme : Christine Berridge email@example.com
Nord Pas-de-Calais: Anne-Campbell Towler firstname.lastname@example.org
Poitou-Charentes: Kenneth Checkett email@example.com
Central Brittany: Kate Curtis firstname.lastname@example.org
Lyon: Tony Brittain: email@example.com
Another British charity helping ex-servicepeople, SSAFA Forces Help, also has several branches in France. It helps people in need and their families if they ever spent time in the British forces and is keen to help people and to find new volunteers in France.