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The Tower of London Poppies and a tribute

Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red

Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red, the art installation at The Tower of London, will be completed on 11 November when the last of the poppies are set in place. The poppy installation, by Paul Cummins, commemorates the centenary of the start of the First World War in 1914. 

Over five million people visited the display of 888, 246 handmade ceramic poppies ‘planted’ in the moat surrounding the Tower of London. The poppies have now all been sold with proceeds going to Service charities.

The Tower of London Poppies

Tower of London Poppies

Tower of London Poppies

I visited the installation in October and quietly pondered the sea of red around the Tower. People gazed solemnly at the poppies and many shed a quiet tear or two. 

The thought that every poppy represents a British, Australian, or Commonwealth fatality from the First World War made the waves of poppies a powerful sight.

Tower lf London Poppies and Tower BridgeTower of London Poppies and Tower Bridge

I hadn’t realised until this year that my grandmother lost two uncles during WW1. My Dad and brother, while researching our family tree, have found out a little about them so I’m going to share a small piece of our own family history with you today in my own tribute to them this Remembrance Sunday.

Brothers Jasper Botting and George Botting  died whilst fighting in France in 1915. We know little about Jasper except that he served with the Royal Sussex Regiment and lost his life on 31 July 1915. He has a memorial in Houplines Old Military Cemetery in northern France. I’m told that my grandmother, now long gone herself, remembered her Mother being inconsolable when the news broke of the loss of her two brothers.

The Battle of Loos, France

We know a little more about George Botting, known as ‘Sim’ to his family. He served with the 7th Battalion East Surrey Regiment and died during active service aged 29 at the Battle of Loos on Friday 8 October. 

A Letter Home

He’d already had a near miss, as described in a letter home, and had endured the terrible mud in the trenches.

Letter home from WW1Letter from Great, Great, Uncle Sim (George)

Transcript of part of George’s letter home…

Dear Min and Chas

Just a line in answer to your letter which I received quiet safe and to say that I am still able at present.

Sorry that I have not answered your letter before but I have been back in the company for a while to let some learners get used to the guns. We have had a good lot of rain lately and there was plenty of mud about, I am really fed up with it, shall be glad when it is all over.

I have had one narrow escape, had a bullet through my hat, plenty close enough; it really made me drop a bit.

Thank Chas for the tobacco. I always look forward to your letters because you are the only one that sends a few cakes.

From your loving brother Sim xxx

George’s name is inscribed in the Loos Memorial in France.

George Botting

Private George Botting who died in active service in the Battle of Loos 8/10/1915

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.

Robert Laurence Binyon (1869-1943)

Poppy Installation Tower of London

The Weeping Window and Wave segments of the exhibition will remain in place until the end of November 2017 before touring the country. They will then be placed in an exhibition at the Imperial War Museum until November 2018.

 

elpadawan

Wednesday 26th of November 2014

100 years already... Such a poignant homage. And you'd think that half a century after the last world war ended, people would have learned their lesson and stopped fighting... If only...

Suzanne Jones

Wednesday 26th of November 2014

If only indeed....

Johanna Bradley

Saturday 15th of November 2014

I think that if you could go and see them, then you would, Suze. The concept is simply amazing. That war touched so many lives! George, just 29, and 'miserable' but trying to put a good face on it. What must it have been like? Unimaginable!

Goodness knows when I'll get to grips with Instagram, Suze. Hope fully before Christmas :)

Suzanne Jones

Sunday 16th of November 2014

I had a look for you Jo but couldn't find you on Instagram - let me know when you're all set up and I'll pop by :)

Lucy

Tuesday 11th of November 2014

Such a powerful and moving display isn't it? Thanks for sharing your family story too – the events 100 years ago touched so many families and it's good that they haven't been forgotten.

Suzanne Jones

Tuesday 11th of November 2014

There have been differing views about the Tower Poppies but I believe anything that helps us remember is a good thing. Lest we forget.

Just Add Attitude

Monday 10th of November 2014

That's a poignant letter from your great-great uncle. The images of the installation look amazing, I imagine it must look spectacular when it's seen in situ. I was reading in the papers recently that its time at the Tower has been extended which is great as more people will have the opportunity to see it. ;)

Suzanne Jones

Monday 10th of November 2014

I'd like to find out more about both brothers so will have a chat to my Dad when I next see him. I'm so glad to hear that the installation's been extended. I'm going to add some more photos to the post shortly - I was away and took the wrong memory stick with me so just had my phone pics and really wanted to get it published for Remembrance Sunday.

Kathryn Burrington

Sunday 9th of November 2014

Thanks for the glimpse into your families history. And the poppies do look amazing. I saw them when not that many were in place but sadly I won't be able to see the full display before they are taken down - they're a powefrul sight.

Suzanne Jones

Monday 10th of November 2014

The Weeping Window and Wave segments of the exhibition will remain in place until the end of November before touring the country and will then be placed in a permanent exhibition at the Imperial War Museum so you have a little more time yet...