It is believed to be the oldest surviving poppy from WWI’s battlefields and now, it has come up to be auctioned…almost 100 years after it was picked up by a WWI soldier.
Poppies…these bright scarlet flowers grew abundantly in the battle grounds of France and Belgium and had become the symbol of remembrance in those times.
17-year-old Private Cecil Roughton picked one particular flower growing from the trenches of the Arras, northern France front lines in 1916.
Stationed with the Royal Warwickshire Regiment, the young soldier took it from among the handful that survived the Great War as a souvenir after a savage skirmish with the Germans. He then pressed it flat in his notebook and brought it home with him to Birmingham.
In there, he had a fan, a 13-year-old girl who also was a neighbor, Joan Banton.
1923 – Joan asked the soldier to sign her autograph book. Instead, he gave her the pressed poppy. That was two years after the flower was adopted as the official emblem of remembering WWI.
He fastened it on a page in her book and underneath wrote these words:
“Souvenir from a front line trench near Arras. May 1916. C. Roughton 1923.”
That memorable keepsake stayed with Mrs. Banton’s family since that year until now. The poppy is to be auctioned by Mrs. Banton’s daughter, Sue Best.
The said memorabilia will be sold this December 6 in Dorchester and is expected to fetch more than £1,000.
“His (Private Cecil Roughton) gift was a wonderful gesture and one that my mother cherished dearly. My mother gave it to me 20 years ago. I want it to go to someone who will value it like we have,” The Dorset resident poignantly said.