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Mon 6 July 2020
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.

Maj. John McCrae, 3 May 1915

Maj. (Dr.) John McCrae, acting as a surgeon for the 1st Field Artillery Brigade, had endured 17 days treating injured men in the Battle of Ypres. Despite his extensive experience, the severity of the situation was impossible to withstand. It was the death of a young friend and former student, Lieut. Alexis Helmer of Ottawa, on 2 May that affected him the most, especially as McCrae performed the funeral ceremony in the absence of the chaplain.

The following day, McCrae, who had written many poems and medical texts, composed a verse sitting on the back of an ambulance parked beside the Canal de l'Yser in view of Helmers grave and ditches of wild poppies. Twenty minutes later, McCrae had penned a 15 line poem, but unhappy with its composition, discarded it. It was a fellow officer that retrieved the poem and sent it to London where it was published by Punch on 8 December 1915.

In Flanders Fields remains one of the most memorable war poems ever written.

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