10 Quick Facts on… In Flanders Fields
- Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae was the Canadian army doctor who wrote the world famous poem In Flanders Fields.
- John McCrae was born in Guelph, Ontario, on November 30, 1872.
- He attended the University of Toronto Medical School. He liked to write and some of his poems and short stories were published in a variety of magazines. He completed his degree in 1898.
- He led a battery with the Canadian Field Artillery during the South African War.
- When the First World War broke out in 1914, McCrae was 41 years old. He enlisted and was appointed brigade-surgeon in the First Brigade of the Canadian Field Artillery.
- In April 1915, McCrae was stationed near Ypres, Belgium, in the area called Flanders.
- On May 2, 1915, McCrae’s friend, Lieutenant Alexis Helmer, was killed in action and buried in a makeshift grave. Wild poppies were already beginning to bloom between the crosses marking the many graves and he was inspired to write In Flanders Fields the next day.
- In Flanders Fields was first published in England’s Punch magazine in December 1915. Within months, this poem came to symbolize the sacrifice of all who were fighting in the First World War.
- John McCrae died on January 28, 1918, of illness and is buried in Wimereux Cemetery, near Boulogne, France.
- Today, people around the world continue to recite the famous poem.