20 million poppies will honour Somme war dead in Doncaster field

A Doncaster field is set to be transformed this summer to mark the 100th anniversary of the Battle of the Somme.

Saturday, 12th March 2016, 8:00 am
Steven Abel, Facilities Manager, pictured scattering Poppy seeds at Ashworth Barracks. Twenty Million Poppy seeds are to be planted along with 2000 plants, shrubs and trees to help create the Memorial Garden. Picture: Marie Caley NDFP Ashworth Poppies MC 2

This summer marks the anniversary of the notorious battle, which started on July 1, 1916.

On the first day of the battle alone, the British suffered more than 57,000 casualties.

And by the end of the campaign, which lasted until November, the fighting armies would lose more than 1.5 million men.

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Now the Victoria Cross Museum, in Balby, has revealed plans for 20 million poppies to bloom on its site on Cedar Road.

It is an extension of a similar scheme last year.

Gary Stapleton, chairman of the Victoria Cross Trust which is behind the museum, said: “We have planted 20 million poppy seeds on what was a trench line in the grounds, which has been filled in, and in the memorial garden.

“We put a million in last year, but because this year is the 100th anniversary of the Battle of the Somme, we are going to put in 20 million seeds.

“In addition we will be planting 2,000 plants, trees and shrubs in the memorial garden.

“We are expecting them to be coming into full bloom in July, the anniversary of the start of the battle.

“The comments that we have had from people about what we’re doing have been very positive.

“We will have a huge poppy field that people will be able to see from the road. It is not something that you usually see in the UK.”

The museum draws heavily on World War One artefacts, as many Victoria Crosses were awarded during the conflict.

Last year it received the contents of a World War One museum in Ypres, which was closing and needed a new home for its collection.

Meanwhile, it has also seen the arrival of a number of armoured cars which will be among its exhibits.

They will be on display in the grounds, meaning there are now six on the site. More are expected to be delivered in the next few days, which will mean there will be 11 by the summer.