In Flanders Fields
In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place: and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie,
In Flanders fields.
Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch: be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders Fields.
by Royal Canadian Army Medical Corp officer, Dr. John McCrae [1872-1918]
John McCrae was born in Guelph, Ontario and attended the Guelph Collegiate Vocational Institute. He then studied medicine on a scholarship at the University of Toronto.
McCrae served in the artillery during the Second Boer War.
When the British declared war on Germany at the start of World War I, Canada, as a Dominion within the British Empire, declared war also.
McCrae was appointed as a field surgeon in the Canadian artillery and was in charge of a field hospital during the Second Battle of Ypres in 1915. McCrae's friend and former student, Lt. Alexis Helmer, was killed in the battle, and his burial inspired the poem, In Flanders Fields, which was written on May 3, 1915.
'In Flanders Fields' appeared anonymously in Punch on 8 December 1915, but in the index to that year McCrae was named as the author. The verses swiftly became one of the most popular poems of the war, used in countless fund-raising campaigns and frequently translated. 'In Flanders Fields' was also extensively printed in the USA, which was contemplating joining the war, alongside a 'reply' by R. W. Lillard, ("...Fear not that you have died for naught, / The torch ye threw to us we caught...").
In late January 1918, while still commanding No 3 Canadian General Hospital (McGill) at Boulogne, McCrae died of pneumonia.