A Poppy from France (that has been blooming for 101 years)

A poppy sent by H.K. Burnett, serving in France, to his mother in Canada

With Remembrance Day less than a week away I thought I would feature the contents of a letter sent by Sgt. Harry Burnett in France to his mother in what is now Burnaby, BC. The letter was posted in July 1918 and contained a single poppy against a blank piece of notepaper. This envelope does not contain a letter however several years ago I did publish some of Harry’s correspondence to his mother.

Harry Kirby Burnett was a law student from New Westminster who served in France and Flanders with the 72nd Battalion (Seaforth Highlanders of Canada). He enlisted with the 231st Battalion (Seaforth Highlanders of Canada) on June 1, 1916 and arrived in England on April 22, 1917. After a brief spell with the 24th Reserve Battalion he was sent to France where he joined the 72nd on May 28. Within weeks of his arrival he was wounded by shrapnel and did not rejoin his unit until November 23.

On October 8, 1918, after a string of promotions, Harry became a Sergeant. Less than three weeks later he proceeded to England for training in anticipation of being granted a commission however the signing of the Armistice put an end to those ambitions. He sailed for Canada in January 1919 and was demobilized in Vancouver on February 4. Harry’s younger brother Robert, a boat builder, also served in England and on the continent with Vancouver’s 29th Battalion.

The cover containing the poppy sent from France

4 replies

  1. This is a great example of how the fragile poppy bloom became so emblematic during and after World War One. Thanks so much for sharing. Do you have the privilege of personally treasuring this?

  2. I came across this post of yours again today and I was reminded what a lovely commemoration it is. I have shared it to my ‘Poppy Lady Madame Anna Guérin’ Facebook page. Many thanks for sharing it in the first place.

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