Fields of red in Kings Park

Published on LEUT Gary McHugh (author), LSIS Kylie Jagiello (photographer)

Location(s): State War Memorial, Kings Park, WA

Topic(s): Remembrance Day

Handcrafted poppies laid at Kings Park State War Memorial for Remembrance Day 2018 in Perth, Western Australia. (photo: LSIS Kylie Jagiello)
Handcrafted poppies laid at Kings Park State War Memorial for Remembrance Day 2018 in Perth, Western Australia.

The usually deep green lawns of Kings Park overlooking the city of Perth were transformed into a sea of red as part of the Centenary of Armistice commemorations.

Organised by the Returned and Services League Western Australia (RSLWA), the Poppy Project involved the planting of 62,000 knitted and crocheted poppies in the gardens surrounding the State War Memorial in time for Remembrance Day on November 11.

With each poppy taking up to two hours to knit, the project took hundreds of thousands of hours to complete with work starting four years ago during the Centenary of Anzac commemorations.

Representing Navy at the event, Surface Combatant Group Capability Manager’s representative Captain Michael Turner said the fact that each of the poppies represented an Australian life lost in World War I was a sobering thought.

“Standing in front of a field of 62,000 poppies brings home to me the scale of the sacrifice our servicemen and women made for our country,” he said.

“When you look out and realise that every poppy represents a person who died in WWI in the service of our country...well, it’s very overwhelming.”

HMAS Arunta Maritime Warfare Officer Lieutenant Patrick Holmes participates in planting handcrafted poppies at Kings Park State War Memorial for Remembrance Day 2018 in Perth, Western Australia.

HMAS Arunta Maritime Warfare Officer Lieutenant Patrick Holmes participates in planting handcrafted poppies at Kings Park State War Memorial for Remembrance Day 2018 in Perth, Western Australia.

As the four-year project began to near its critical deadline, RSWLWA put out the call to the community to volunteer to ‘plant’ the poppies, and the Australian Defence Force stepped forward.

On November 9, around 100 Navy members joined their RAAF and Army colleagues in Kings Park at 0700, and a couple of hours later the job was done.

Captain Turner said it was encouraging to see so many younger members volunteering to be part of the project.

“The fact that so many young sailors, soldiers and airmen are out here today demonstrates that we haven’t forgotten the sacrifices of those who went before us,” he said.

The poppy has particular significance for Australians as they were among the first flowers to grow along the battlefields of northern France and Belgium during WWI.

In time, the vivid red of the poppy came to represent the blood of the fallen soldiers that had soaked the ground.