Royal UK Navy sailors have played their part in ‘planting’ a stunning tribute to the fallen of World War 1.
Volunteers from HMS Bristol put in a shift at the Tower of London, creating some of the 888,246 ceramic poppies for the Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red installation, each bloom representing the life of a British, dominion or colonial military combatant.
The group – nine ratings, including one from HMS St Albans and two volunteers from the Royal British Legion – formed a work party led by PO Jess Owen, buffer of HMS Bristol, the former Type 82 destroyer that now acts as a training and accommodation ship permanently moored at Whale Island in Portsmouth Harbour.
Their volunteering day saw the sailors creating the poppies – the blooms were produced in the Staffordshire Potteries – by placing wire stalks in carefully-planned patterns and attaching the blood-red flowers at the required height.
“We felt very humble at the time while we were working, and it does hit home – it is a strange feeling, but I think you just do not realise how many people died,” said PO Owen.
“880,000 is just a number, but here you could see that each one represents a person.
When finished, a red tide of poppies will appear to flow from into the moat and surround the iconic London landmark.
Every poppy is available to buy at a cost of £25 during the creation of the installation, and Historic Royal Palaces hope the sale will raise millions of pounds for six Service charities – Cobseo, Combat Stress, Coming Home, Help for Heroes, the RBL and SSAFA.
After November 11 the poppies will be ‘picked’ and sent to a distribution centre to be posted on to purchasers.