U-turn as Tower of London poppies are allowed beside war graves

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WAR grave chiefs have U-turned on their controversial ban on placing Tower of London poppies on the resting places of fallen heroes in France and Belgium.

 

Some relatives of the dead purchased the £25 poppies specifically to place them on graves in official cemeteries near where the fighting happened.

 

But they angrily hit out at the Commonwealth War Graves Commission last month after the organisation warned it would remove the poppies.

 

Yesterday (mon) the commission confirmed it had had a change of heart and the poppies would be allowed a permanent place on the graves.

 

Private Walter Newman signed up to fight in 1914 and was just 33 when he was killed by a sniper.
Private Walter Newman signed up to fight in 1914 and was just 33 when he was killed by a sniper.

 

The news comes just days before the astonishing display of 888,246 poppies surrounding the Tower of London is due to be dismantled.

 

The poppies each represent a member of the British military killed during the Great War have and become a hugely popular memorial viewed by more than four million people including the Queen and Duke of Edinburgh.

 

The money raised is being divided among charities that help former servicemen and women.

 

On October 20, the commission confirmed that any poppies left on graves would be removed “when maintenance was required”.

 

Yesterday, a spokesman said they would “never remove” the poppies unless they were broken.

 

Allan Burgess, North Regional Secretary of the Parachute Regimental Association, which covers Scotland and Northern Ireland, welcomed the change of heart.

 

Allan, who has himself bought a Tower of London poppy to place one at the private grave of his father in law, said: “I did think it was ridiculous.

Mike Elkins  tweeted that he had been told by the commission he was ‘not allowed’ to leave the ceramic tribute at the grave in Belgium.
Mike Elkins tweeted that he had been told by the commission he was ‘not allowed’ to leave the ceramic tribute at the grave in Belgium.

 

“The public have shown their strength of feeling about this.”

 

Twenty-eight-year-old Mike Elkins, whose great-uncle was shot by a sniper in the First World War, said he is “really, really pleased” about the sudden U-turn.

 

Mr Elkins, from Salisbury, Wilts, tweeted that he had been told by the commission he was ‘not allowed’ to leave the ceramic tribute at the grave in Belgium.

 

His great Uncle, Private Walter Newman of the Wiltshire Regiment, signed up to fight in 1914 and was just 33 when he was killed by a sniper on the 5th of February in Kemmel.

 

Speaking of the u-turn Mr Elkins said: “Hopefully this will encourage other to leave Tower of London poppies by war graves. It’s symbolic in a way, it keeps the display alive.”

 

Mr Elkins said: “They have really captured the imagination of the public. It would be a shame if all the poppies were shut away in people’s homes.”

 

He said the removal of the ban has “taken away any doubt in our minds”. He continued: “There was always that thought of should we do it anyway but we didn’t want to upset anyone.”

 

Nigel Wickenden, from Spalding, Lincs, also bought a Tower of London poppy to place on a war grave and said the U-turn was “absolutely brilliant”.

 

Nigel Wickenden, from Spalding, Lincs, also bought a Tower of London poppy to place on a war grave and said the U-turn was “absolutely brilliant”.
Nigel Wickenden, from Spalding, Lincs, also bought a Tower of London poppy to place on a war grave and said the U-turn was “absolutely brilliant”.

His great uncle, John George Sidney Lawrence, a Private in the Norfolk Regiment ninth Battalion, died in 1918 aged 23. He was killed during the battle of Epehy by either machine gun fire or shell fire and buried in the Brie British Cemetery in France.

 

Mr Wickenden, formerly of the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers and the Lincolnshire Police, said:”It was ill thought out by the commission. I don’t think they had thought about what they were saying.”

 

A spokesman for the commission confirmed they were “clarifying” their position on the ceramic poppies.

 

He said: “We wouldn’t stop someone from leaving one. Our advice is not to leave things of a permanent nature but we would never remove it. We would only remove it if it deteriorated.”

 

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