In Flanders Fields – The History

History Contributed by: Claudette Llovelace

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

Yes – not written as a song, but thoughts of a young Canadian medical officer named John McCrae born in Guelph, Ontario.

The lines were written in a daze as he and his comrades were being bombarded by the Germans in Ypres, France in April 22nd in 1915 in a region called Flanders.

The first battle lasted 17 days without a rest as the young soldiers were buried in makeshift trenches marked by simple wooden crosses.

The poppies were beginning to bloom and rose in the muddy ditches between the crosses.

The spontaneous writing and his reaction as he looked towards the sky – The larks still bravely flew singing but scarcely heard amid the guns below.

In December 8, 1915 the poem was published in a newspaper called “Punch” in England.

John McCrae gave a voice to hundreds of Canadian-French-British, courageous men to this war – with casualties estimated at 100,000 deaths.

Soon after it was written McCrae was transferred to a Canadian Hospital in Boulogne France.

He died soon after in January 28, 1918 of pneumonia and meningitis.

In Flanders Fields – The Poem
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.