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In memoriam


The world’s best loved memorial poem, for the war dead was written on the fly by an officer in the Canadian Army medical corps in World War I (1914–1919):


On May 2, 1915, John McCrae’s close friend and former student Alexis Helmer was killed by a German shell. That evening, in the absence of a Chaplain, John McCrae recited from memory a few passages from the Church of England’s “Order of the Burial of the Dead”. For security reasons Helmer’s burial in Essex Farm Cemetery was performed in complete darkness.

The next day, May 3, 1915, Sergeant-Major Cyril Allinson was delivering mail. McCrae was sitting at the back of an ambulance parked near the dressing station beside the YserCanal, just a few hundred yards north of Ypres, Belgium.

As John McCrae was writing his In Flanders Fields poem, Allinson silently watched and later recalled, “His face was very tired but calm as he wrote. He looked around from time to time, his eyes straying to Helmer’s grave.”

Within moments, John McCrae had completed the “In Flanders Fields” poem and when he was done, without a word, McCrae took his mail and handed the poem to Allinson.

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.

In Flanders Fields Poem

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

Blogging will be light for the early part of today as the entire News team (at present) is going to the Remembrance Day services at Parliament Hill, Ottawa, Canada.

Great story of the great poem. Remembrance day is to remember then men who fought for our nations causes and died or were injured. Its not about war or victims of war or peace. Its about real people and our people. The good guys. Likewise we should remember to do as they did if the times demand it. Lets remember and we many do sincerely. Robert Byers

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