- A town in Hampshire will recreate the Belgian battleground's landscape
- Thousands of poppies will be planted in a park as an act of remembrance
- The act will commemorate the centenary of the Great War
Plans are under-way to recreate the famous Flanders fields of poppies to mark the centenary of the outbreak of the First World War - in England. The Belgian battlefields, which saw some of the conflict's bloodiest fighting, were immortalised in Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae's iconic war poem. And the image of fields strewn with graves and poppies 'row on row' became an international symbol of remembrance for all those who died.
Now England is set to get its own version, as civic leaders in Gosport, Hampshire, plan to fill a country park with the blood-red flowers. They already have bought thousands of poppy seeds and are looking for an historic aircraft to scatter some of them in a fly-past next year. It's hoped the idea would serve as a poignant reminder of those who sacrified their lives in the 'war to end all wars' from 1914 - 1918. And it could boost tourism as people flock to pay their respects. Gosport Borough Councillor Derek Kimber is leading the project. Cllr Kimber said: 'Having our own Flanders Field this side of the English Channel would be wonderful. 'It's in the very early stages at the moment but Hampshire County Council would like to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the start of the war. 'Here in Gosport we are keen to be involved with that, especially since we have a great number of veterans amongst us.
'We've identified an area in the Alver Valley where we would like to plant some poppy seeds. 'And we've made enquiries about possibly getting an aircraft to drop more poppy seeds in a ceremony as well. 'I will be talking to various groups and organisations over the coming months to see how we can go about taking the idea further.' The town of Gosport has the highest ratio of veterans in the country - with 68 veterans per 1,000 people, Local Government Association figures reveal.
Gosport has a rich military history and is the home of the Royal Navy Submarine Museum
Cllr Kimber, a Falklands Royal Navy veteran, said: 'We have a higher than average number of veterans, having been a garrison town for over 250 years. 'All the Armed Forces have operated from Gosport at one time, so there's quite a background and I want to make sure they're looked after. 'I believe it's extremely important that we don't forget the millions of people who gave their lives from 1914 - 1918. 'And also those people who subsequently suffered a miserable life after fighting.' Cllr Kimber has already had an offer of a Sopwith Pup, a single seat bi-plane, to take part in the flypast and drop more seeds and poppies, but more could join in. Cllr Kimber said 'I am sure that a lot of people in Hampshire will have fairly historic planes and would like to take the opportunity to fly over this area. 'The idea of our own Flanders Field is a truly exciting prospect.' The proposals form part of a 10 -15 year project to revitalise the 150-plus hectare Alver Valley site, which has two lakes and three walking areas. National plans to mark the 100th anniversary of the outbreak of World War One include a five million pound education programme for schoolchildren. They include trips to the battlefields in Belgium and Northern France. And there's backing for an overhaul of the Imperial War Museum, south London, Prime Minister David Cameron has said. The Heritage Lottery Fund is also inviting applications for support to mark First World War centenary events. Read more: Dailymail news