Wear your poppies with pride

Detours has been contacted by several readers who want to know which is the correct side for wearing military medals and memorial poppies.

Mosgiel Memorial RSA board of trustees chairman Noel Graham says the protocol for wearing medals is ''if you have won the medals yourself, you wear them on the left side''.

If you are wearing a relative's medals they go on the right side.

There is ''no hard and fast rule'' for wearing poppies.

''I always wear mine on the left, but some wear them behind their RSA badge, which always goes on the right,'' he says.

Trying to find common ground on which side the poppy is worn is ''like herding cats'', he says.

The BBC published in 2009 a guide to poppy etiquette which states ''Some people say left, as it's worn over the heart ... others say only the Queen and Royal Family are allowed to wear a poppy on the right, which isn't true. Then there is the school of thought that says men should wear theirs on the left and women on the right, as is the traditional custom with a badge or brooch ... there is no right or wrong side other than to wear it with pride.''

Former Royal New Zealand RSA official historian Dr Stephen Clarke says the poppy has become the international symbol of remembrance thanks to the work of Madame E. Guerin.

''Madame E. Guerin conceived the idea of widows manufacturing artificial poppies in the devastated areas of Northern France which then could be sold by veterans' organisations worldwide for their own veterans and dependants as well as the benefit of destitute French children. Throughout 1920-21, Guerin and her representatives approached veteran organisations in the United States, Britain, Canada, Australia and New Zealand and urged them to adopt the poppy as a symbol of remembrance,'' he says.

• While we are on the subject, Dunedin's Doris Anderson wrote to us about Anzac Day, and her late brother going off to World War 2, and raised a poignant point: ''I think of all the young men and wonder what they must have been feeling sailing into goodness-knows-what.''

He enlisted at the outbreak of war, at the age of 23, and went overseas with the 27th Machine Gun Battalion.

His diary entry the day he left Dunedin on Friday, January 5, 1940, read:''Reveille at 4.45am. Up and gear packed by 5.20am. Breakfast at 6.30am. It's a funny feeling, packing for the last time in New Zealand. Light lunch 1000 hours. At 10.45am, we assembled on battalion parade and left for railway station. Entrained and, after the usual interminable wait, train pulled out. We got a great reception at the places we passed through, with cheering, waves, etc.''

He was wounded at the Battle of Orsogna on December 7, 1943.

''He had to walk with two sticks and a splint on one leg for the rest of his life, but was able to hold down a responsible job and retired as chief mechanical engineer of the New Zealand Railways,'' Mrs Anderson said.

''One regret he has was that because of his injuries he was not able to have children; which is just another of the horrible effects war has.''

• Cromwell reader Alwyn Landreth was interested in last week's item about the location formerly known as Pleasant View, in Waikouaiti. Reader Mel Littlejohn discovered a Pleasant View reference in a 1885 Otago Daily Times birth notice to ''the wife of Geo. R. Fry, a son''.

Mrs Landreth's grandmother, Mary Fry, was also born in Pleasant View. She grew up with her parents, John and Helen Hallum, on a Waikouaiti farm known to all as ''Maybank''.

''My grandmother was Mary Jane Fry and she was born at Pleasant View, which was probably the name of the farm,'' Mrs Landreth recalled.

''Several properties around Waikouaiti had these types of names, instead of being just `Smith's' or `Brown's'. Examples were Ocean View, Lamb Hill and Maybank.''


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