Poppies bloom in Bath square.

Bath’s Terry Basson writes to the Virtual Museum to remind us that:

‘This year we celebrate the centenary of World War 1. Britain declared war on Germany on the 4th August 1914. It’s amazing and humbling to know that 1,117,077 Commonwealth servicemen and women were killed during !914 -18.

Poppies bloom in Queen Square
Poppies bloom in Queen Square

With all this in mind I decided to carry out some guerrilla gardening around the perimeter iron railings in Bath’s historic Queen Square – in memory of our own last Tommy, Mr Harry Patch.’

Harry Patch by Dan Llewelyn Hall © Bath & Somerset Museums
Harry Patch by Dan Llewelyn Hall
© Bath & Somerset Museums

Director’s note:  Harry, who died in 2009 aged 111 years, was the last surviving soldier known to have fought in the trenches. He had been born in Combe Down, Bath – the son of a stone mason – in 1898.

Terry’s email continues: ‘I purchased 40,00 poppy seeds and sowed them in February – dressed in my best camouflage kit – to remain, I thought, unnoticed.

Until some tourists enquired if I was feeding the birds.

After sowing the seeds all around the narrow earth margins which are normally kept weed free, I decided to own up to Mr Mark Cassidy the Horticultural Officer in charge of our City Parks, just in case I was caught on CTT cameras!

Queen Square poppies
Queen Square poppies

Mark proved very supportive and promised to inform his crews of groundsmen not to spray or strim the weeds near the iron railings surrounding the square.

In the last month Mark has instructed that more poppy seeds are to be sown by his own maintenance staff (bless him).

My poppy plants are now about to bloom, a goodly number have survived, showing on the corner of the square facing La Brasserie Blanc.

The Ghost’s of WW1 in the company of Harry Patch will now see them on their nightly walks when they stroll around the Square enjoying their lost, life-giving sweet summer night air.

They will know, we have remembered them!’