Islay Quilters add to Warwick poppies project

Jean Fletcher (centre ) with Carol Warren (right) from the Warwick Poppies project and Gill Benson (left). Photo by Gill Fletcher.
Jean Fletcher (centre ) with Carol Warren (right) from the Warwick Poppies project and Gill Benson (left). Photo by Gill Fletcher.

A quilters group who are based in an island off Scotland have created handmade poppies for the Warwick project.

Jean Fletcher, who lives in Warwick, recently visited the Island of Islay and connected with the Islay Quilters who subsequently made 84 poppies for the Warwick Poppies 2018 project.

Jean said: “I was originally intrigued by the story of an American flag being sewn on the Island of Islay in 1918 by four ladies who only had an encyclopedia for reference about the design of the flag.

“In February 1918, the liner SS Tuscania carrying 2,500 American troops was torpedoed by a German U-boat off the Mull of Oa. The people of Islay recovered the bodies of around 200 Americans who are now buried on the island.

“The night before the first funeral, it was realised there was no American flag on the island so the ladies worked through the night to make one and was used at the funerals.

“The flag was also used 
after islanders also recovered and buried around 400 soldiers, mainly Americans, after troopship HMS Otranta was 
in a collision off Kilchoman
in October 1918. The flag currently is back on the island until October and Islay has remembered its war heroes this year with commemorative services, which were attended by Princess Anne and American representatives.

“The current Quilters of Islay made a new flag for the commemorations. Having contacted the quilters while on the island for the commemorations, I shared about the Warwick Poppies project. They were moved about our commemorative services and made some poppies for us. One of my Islay contacts has two cousins in Leamington.

“One of the owners of Islay Ales on the island has also brewed a ‘Reconciliation Ale’ using hops from America, France, Germany and England.”