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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.

Alexis Helmer ..... John McCrae ..... Lawence Cosgrave

On 2nd May 1915, Lieutenant Alexis Helmer was killed by German artillery fire and was buried that day. In the absence of the chaplain. his friend, Major John McCrae, brigade-surgeon with the First Brigade of the Canadian Forces Artillery, conducted a simple service at the graveside.

It is believed that John McCrae began his famous poem In Flanders Fields that evening, writing it on a scrap of paper upon the back of fellow officer, Lawrence Cosgrave during a lull in the fighting.

Alexis Helmer’s grave was lost in later fighting and so he is one of the 54,896 names commemorated on the Menin Gate Memorial.

John McCrea’s poem was published in Punch that December and became the most famous poem of the Great War. It was the inspiration for poppies being sold in remembrance of the War Dead. He never returned home, dying in France of pneumonia in 1918.

Lawrence Cosgrave went on to become the Canadian signatory to the Japanese Instrument of Surrender at the end of the Second World War.

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