Purple poppies inspire tributes to animals in war

poppies 2In November, the Oundle War Memorial was made ready for remembrance commemoration events with the addition of a display of purple poppies alongside the familiar red poppies. Although little known, the purple poppy has been adopted to pay tribute to the animals that have served in conflicts around the world.

The purple poppy was first introduced in 2006 by the charity, Animal Aid. Since 2016, animal charities, Murphy’s Army and Blue Cross for Pets have joined the purple poppy campaign to raise funds, whilst Animal Aid have turned to raising funds with the sale of purple enamel paws.
The former director of Animal Aid, Andrew Tyler, said: “Animals used in warfare are indeed victims, not heroes. They do not give their lives; their lives are taken from them.”

A menagerie of animals including horses, dogs, pigeons, elephants, camels, cats, canaries have contributed to the war efforts of the 20th century. Over eight million horses died in World War One, alone. In memory of their service to conflict zones, Oundle included purple poppies in the knitted decorations of the Oundle and Ashton War Memorial.

Stephen Abbott, press officer for the Oundle British Legion, said: “The Oundle Royal British Legion are delighted with the positive response to the addition of the purple poppies to the bollard cover display around Oundle’s war memorial.”

The Knit and Natter group responsible for the display, meet regularly at Fletton House, and were inspired to commemorate the contributions of animals to the two world wars by their own appreciation for animals. Other displays in towns across the country encouraged the group to do something to honour them.

They first began decorating the war memorial for the Remembrance services around four years ago. It took two months for the knitters to create the current memorial display, which will be permanently included in Oundle’s remembrance events.

Over the years, they have knitted elaborate decorations for over twenty events, some just for fun and some to raise awareness for a number of causes. One of the most notable was the Great Oundle Yarn Bomb, when the Market Place was completely decorated with fanciful, bright creations.

Millicent Riordan
December 5, 2019