A small town it may be tucked away off a bypass, boundaried by its castle of stone and Gwendraeth Fawr and Gwendraeth Fach rivers meandering out into Carmarthen Bay. Home to a female warrior who in 1136 tried in vain to keep out a marauding army. A splendid church and a place where the great artist J M W Turner took time to paint.

On a Sunny Sunday in November this small town came together as one to remember those who fought and died for their country. Those whose names are etched on a memorial.

Surnames familiar to generations of families, battles fought in what were then far off lands, foreign soil, which saw men from Kidwelly marching to engage with an enemy in an attempt to liberate the victims of a dictatorship.

After all the fighting and bloodshed, Peace. A peace we have come to enjoy as we go about our daily business.

Young and old alike stood in silence for a minute under blue sky wearing poppies of red. The flower which has come to symbolise the act of remembrance. A poppy, which grew in fields in the worse conditions.

Little known to some, the poppy of remembrance was born out of a need to raise funds for orphans of war. Madame E. Guérin  was the originator of the Remembrance Poppy Day.

Initially, her Poppy Days benefited the widows and orphans of the war devastated regions of France. She was christened “The Poppy Lady from France” after being invited to address the American Legion, at its 1920 convention, in Cleveland, Ohio, about her original ‘Inter-Allied Poppy Day’ idea  for all World War 1 Allied countries to use artificial poppies, made by French widows and orphans.

The poppy was to become an emblem for remembering those who gave their lives during the World War 1 and, at the same time, creating a method of raising funds to support the families of the fallen and those who had survived, thereafter. Now, the Remembrance Poppy encompasses all conflicts that have occurred since.

Madame Guérin would surely have been pleased to see how far her idea has come and how wide it has spread. From those humble beginnings in France to the lapels of the men, women and children of a town called Kidwelly on a sunny Sunday in November.

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All Photos: Ryan Milsom

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