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100-year-old battlefield poppy set for war auction

By Burton Mail  |  Posted: April 09, 2014

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A POPPY from the battlefields of the First World War – believed to be one of the oldest in the world – is to be auctioned after being discovered in South Derbyshire.

Charles Hanson, manager of Hansons Auctioneers in Heage Lane, Etwall, revealed the unique item was set to go under the hammer later this month after being found in a secret location in the area.

The flower was accompanied by a letter written by an American soldier that was destined for his sweetheart back home, but it never arrived.

Mr Hanson said: “The red flower was sent back by an American serviceman with a letter, signed Chas (Charles), to his dearest girl, capturing all the love and affection this serviceman bestowed on his girl back home.

“The letter and pressed poppy really are an important symbol, not just representing First World War servicemen who fought, but a symbol of the courage and support the French and British forces received from their American counterparts.

“I am unaware of any other First World War French poppies in American collections or museums, and certainly I feel the endearing nature of the letter, containing such romance and affection, together with the French poppy representing love and remembrance, is something to be preserved for posterity.

“While we will never know whether Chas survived, his words live on – reminding us of those brave men and their families from the conflict.”

Sadly nothing is known about Chas, who was sent to Europe during the First World War, or his ‘dearest girl’ back home.

The United States campaigns in the First World War saw forces fight in France alongside the French and British Allied forces in the last year of the war.

It is believed the poppy could have been picked from the battlefields of Northern France and Flanders.

Mr Hanson added: “Value is in the sentiment and what the letter represents. I hope the letter finds a new home – value is hard to assess. I hope it fulfils its heartstrings. While the poppy will clearly create worldwide interest, we feel it ought to be purchased by a collector or museum who may wish to put it on display.”

Hansons will be holding a sale of military items on Monday, April 28.

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