Glasgow & West Scotland

Poppy picked on Flanders fields found in Glasgow

Ahead of Armistice Day, a Glasgow family have come forward to talk about a poppy which was picked by a World War I soldier as a memento of the battlefields of France - then came to light decades later during a house move.

The Canadian doctor John McCrae wrote the poem which turned poppies into a symbol of remembrance:

"In Flanders' fields the poppies blow

Between the crosses, row on row,

That mark our place: and in the sky

The larks, still bravely singing, fly

Scarce heard amid the guns below."

But when Corporal James Fergusson picked and pressed a poppy on the battlefields of France, in July 1916, it didn't carry any of those overtones.

He simply wanted it to remind him of his last days in the trenches.

Like many veterans he never talked about his experiences, either during the first world war or when he served again during World War II.

But the flower he saved has been found. And it speaks volumes.

Corporal, later Captain, Fergusson's grand-daughter Henrietta Hales told BBC Radio's Good Morning Scotland programme: "It came to light when my mother was moving house, from the family home down to a smaller flat."

Image caption James Fergusson went on to serve as a Captain in World War Two

"In a small cupboard under the stairs was a tin trunk that belonged to my grandfather. There were lots of papers and newspaper cuttings in there."

"And sorting through all that we came across this little piece of paper, and attached to it was a dried poppy."

The flower is attached, by a perforated strip of paper from a sheet of postage stamps, to a hand-written note.

It reads: "This French poppy was plucked from the battlefield in France by me, as a memento, to remind me of the last day I ever spent in the trenches."

James Fergusson had been working as an apprentice in one of the shipyards of the Clyde when the Great War broke out.

Image caption The family want to donate the memento to Poppyscotland

But he joined up in time to serve in the British Expeditionary Force for its first major action, the Battle of Mons, and be awarded the Mons Star.

The family don't know why he left the trenches in the summer of 1916, and whether or not he returned to the front before the end of the war.

But they are thankful that they went through that trunk, rather than just throwing the contents away.

James Fergusson's daughter, and Henrietta's mother, Nanette Hales told the BBC: "It (the poppy) just brings back so many memories, of all the people that we remember. And we will never forget."

The family have come forward now, after news coverage of another poppy from the First World War which was found in Birmingham.

They say they intend to donate their flower to Poppyscotland.

"That will enable people to see it", Henrietta explains, "and I'm anxious it should be preserved. It's such a fragile object."

More on this story

Related Internet links

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites