Are there Poppy Blooms in France and Flanders?

Zouave Valley Cemetery

Lone poppy near Zouave Valley Cemetery, Souchez, France.
(P. Ferguson image, September 2010)

I wonder…

Each night I walk. A steady jaunt through the neighbourhood, choosing to walk when fewer people are about…there is less risk that way. As I walk the road the 7 PM salute to our first responders builds. I watch as one curious robin hops across a lawn, his ear openings wizened to these new sounds that interrupted his internal “geophone” in search of prey. Our robin, in a single direction tango, listens, darts forward, stops, tilts, listens, darts forward. The pattern repeated again and again.

With each step I ponder the colours of spring against backdrops of green. Small and large – colourful petals of varieties I cannot name, but amongst them, the eagerly identifiable daffodils clustered together… to dance in the spring breeze. Towards the shore, gulls sweep across the waterscape tilting with the wind to touch, I wonder, the hand of god… It is spring and yet all the while I have wondered, are there poppy blooms in France and Flanders? This time, this day? Stay safe and remember them well.

Private Edward Atherton
4th Canadian Infantry Battalion
Awarded the Military Medal

He was employed as a stretcher bearer during the attack on Observatory Ridge on 13th June 1916 and showed great gallantry and devotion to duty. When all other stretcher bearers of his Company were wounded he kept moving over the ground from one flank to another dressing the wounded of other units besides this Battalion, also several wounded Germans. He remained with his Company for 48 hours until relieved, under continuous shell fire often very intense, and under the most trying weather conditions, and his endurance and care undoubtedly assisted in saving many lives.

About The Author

Paul has worked with the Paradigm Motion Picture Company since 2009 as producer, historian and research specialist. Paul first met Casey and Ian WIlliams of Paradigm in April 2007 at Ieper (Ypres), Belgium when ceremonies were being held for the re-dedication of the Vimy Memorial, France. Paul's sensitivity to film was developed at an early age seeing his first films at RCAF Zweibrucken, Germany and in Sardinia. Paul returned to Canada in 1967 and was further amazed by David Lean's "Lawrence of Arabia" and "Bridge on the River Kwai". Film captivated Paul and with time he became increasingly interested in storytelling, content development, character, direction, cinematography and soundtracks. At the University of Victoria, Paul studied and compared Japanese and Australian film and became interested in Australian film maker Peter Weir and his film "Gallipoli" (1981). Paul was entranced when he learned Weir had visited the beaches, ridges and ravines of the peninsula. The film "Gallipoli" alone led Paul on many journeys to sites of conflict in England, France, Belgium, Holland, Germany, Malta, Hawaii and Gallipoli. It was, however, when Paul watched documentary filmmaker Ken Burns, "The Civil War", that Paul understood how his own experience and insight could be effective and perhaps influential in film-making. Combining his knowledge of Museums and Archives, exhibitions and idea strategies with his film interests would be a natural progression. Paul thinks like a film-maker. His passion for history and storytelling brings to Paradigm an eye (and ear) to the keen and sensitive interests of; content development, the understanding of successful and relational use of collections, imagery and voice. Like Paul's favorite actor, Peter O'Toole, he believes in the adage “To deepen not broaden.” While on this path Paul always remembers his grandmother whose father did not return from the Great War and how his loss shaped her life and how her experience continues to guide him.


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