My poppy arrived broken, but I didn’t want it replaced. I had bought it, and I display it proudly, in remembrance of the fallen, but also in remembrance of the broken survivors, and especially of one very old soldier whom I met briefly over 30 years ago, an encounter I have never forgotten.
He had fought in WW1 as a teenager and became stranded, injured, in a shell hole in no man’s land for days. He suffered very severe frostbite to his hands, feet and face, was attacked by rats, helplessly watching his friend die beside him before he was totally blinded by gas. Eventually he was rescued, but came home a broken man. His fiancée could not cope and left him, and he was all his long life an invalid, never achieving his humble ambitions of a happy marriage and raising children. Worst of all, over 70 years later, the thoughts uppermost in his mind were the horrors of that shell hole – it seems, his war never ended.
If you read this, please take a moment to reflect and wish him peace.