Each November the First World War poem ‘In Flanders Fields’ written by Lieutenant Colonel John Alexander McCrae in 1915 is remembered and recited. Largely forgotten is the moment in 1918 when, inspired by this poem, American woman Moïna Belle Michael conceived of the red common corn poppy as a symbol of remembrance. Madame Anna Guérin of France also saw the potential of the poppy symbol, and introduced the idea to British Commonwealth countries, including Great Britain in 1921.
Here are largely forgotten, women in times of war and as campaigners for peace from the First World War to conflicts of today. Each year thousands of women suffer as a result of war, their stories lost behind the bigger stories from the battlefields.
I wasn’t aware for instance of my own mother’s childhood during the Hull Blitz of the Second World War. Hull, our home town, was the second heaviest bombed city outside of London. Maureen remembered hiding in terror beneath the kitchen table as bombs rained down, emerging into daylight to broken houses and broken lives.
“You never told me,” I said. “You never asked,” she replied. I began to ask more.