May 3rd 1915: ‘In Flanders Fields’ written
On this day in 1915, Canadian Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae wrote the famous war poem ‘In Flanders Fields’. He wrote it sitting in an ambulance after presiding over the funeral of his friend who had died at the Second Battle of Ypres. Originally he was not happy with his poem, but once it was published it became very popular, and still is today considered one of the great poems of the First World War. Its references to red poppies growing over the graves of soldiers led to the use of the poppy as a symbol of remembrance for fallen soldiers.
“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.”