In Flanders Fields

Upper body of a man in a soldier's uniform. He has short dark hair parted in the middle and maintains a neutral expression.

Lieut.-Colonel John McCrae, left, author of the poem “In Flanders Fields” from the book In Flanders Fields and Other Poems (1919).

During the early days of the Second Battle of Ypres during the First World War, a young Canadian artillery officer, Lieutenant Alexis Helmer, was killed on 2nd May, 1915 in the gun positions near Ypres.  An exploding German artillery shell landed near him.  He was serving in the same Canadian artillery unit as a friend of his, the Canadian military doctor and artillery commander Major John McCrae.

As the brigade doctor, John McCrae was asked to conduct the burial service for Alexis because the chaplain had been called away somewhere else on duty that evening. It is believed that later that evening, after the burial, John began the draft for his now famous poem “In Flanders Fields”.

The poem handwritten by McCrae. In this copy, the first line ends with "grow", differing from the original printed version.

In the original, handwritten version, the first line ends with the word “grow” while in the printed version the line ends with “blow.”

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.

On Veteran’s Day and Memorial Day, this poem is often cited at remembrance services and singular poppies are still worn to commemorate the fallen.

Image result for poppy

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