In Flanders Field

by John McCrae, May 1915

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.

During the early days of the Second Battle of Ypres a young Canadian artillery officer, Lieutenant Alexis Helmer, was killed on 2nd May, 1915 in the gun positions near Ypres. An exploding German artillery shell landed near him. He was serving in the same Canadian artillery unit as a friend of his, the Canadian military doctor and artillery commander Major John McCrae.

As the brigade doctor, John McCrae was asked to conduct the burial service for Alexis because the chaplain had been called away somewhere else on duty that evening. It is believed that later that evening, after the burial, John began the draft for his now famous poem “In Flanders Fields”.

One hundred years ago today the battle of Passchendaele started during the First World War or what became known as The Great War to those who fought in it. Who knew that a mere 22 years later some of them and certainly their sons would be stuck fighting the same foe in World War II. 

Since then, that foe has become our ally and though we haven’t fought on the scale of those wars again we have still sent our sons (and daughters off to be killed). In the First World war Nurse Edith Cavell was shot as a spy. There were brave men and women fighting in the resistance during both wars.

Today I watched a commemoration of the start of Passchendaele from Tyne Cot Cemetery in West Flanders, Belgium. Queen Mathilde of Belgium was there as were Prince Charles and The Cambridges,William and Kate. It was a very emotive programme with readings from people who had lost members of their family during this period and others who read letters from the period including one from a mother who had lost her only son and was writing to members of his company, his friends, for details of when it happened but also to thank them for being his friends and to wish them well in the battles to come. I don’t mind admitting the tears were rolling down my face. The Brits, Irish, French, Canadians, Australians and New Zealanders all lost a good part of a generation during this war as we all lost more in the next one. The Germans and their allies also lost many young men during these wars.

Surely there has to be a time when sanity takes over. We have to let our Governments know that we no longer want to send off our children to die. No more missing generations, no more of the hate that makes us follow our leader’s words and rush off to battle. They must work harder on the diplomatic front or at the most send our strongest man to fight their strongest man with a finale that doesn’t end in a death. Peace must have a chance so we can concentrate on looking after the planet too.

Hugs to all



About davidprosser

Retired Local Government Officer who started to write at age 60 and hasn't looked back. Writes a humorous diary on the life of a member of the gentry.......and the village he lives in with his sadistic early morning alarm cat Oscar and his wife the formidable Lady J.
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23 Responses to In Flanders Field

  1. I’ve read, or seen that poem dozens of times – and now I know the story behind it. Thank you, and here’s to peace.


  2. TanGental says:

    Yes please. Yes please to the power N


  3. jilldennison says:

    Reblogged this on Filosofa's Word and commented:
    My very dear friend David Prosser, whose blog Barsetshirediaries always brings a smile to my face, recently introduced me to his second blog, The BUTHIDARS. This second blog (you’ll have to ask David where he got the name, as I have no idea) is one of peace, love and hugs. It is based on kindness to all, and is a place where “smiling and hugging are the order of the day”. The most recent post on this blog begins with a poem we have all hear many times, In Flanders Field by John McCrae. Reading the story behind the poem, and then David’s beautifully written commentary brought a tear to my eye, but not in a bad way. David calls for peace, for an end to wars so that we can direct our attentions to more important things. Please take a few moments to read this exceptional post … and if you feel so inclined, give his blog a follow! Thank you, David, for pointing me toward this excellent blog and for permission to share! And … HUGS!


  4. Gronda Morin says:

    Dear David Prosser,
    Thanks for sharing and reminding us what’s really important. We will all be in a place like Flanders.

    I would have needed a few hankies as those loving letters were read. This way those heroes will never be forgotten by those who are grateful for their sacrifice.
    Hugs, Gronda


    • davidprosser says:

      They will never be forgotten Gronda for all they lie in a foreign field, nor will those who lived on but still sacrificed long years in the fight. The best memorial we can give to these brave people is to make sure we stop sending our children off to war. During these conflicts we lose men and women who might have been destined to go on to great things like cancer cures or future politicians who could have led their countries in peace. We have to bring ou men home from wherever they are. We can keep them employed to ensure our borders are safe but no longer use them to attack other Nations, other cultures.
      xxx Huge Hugs xxx

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Tina Frisco says:

    It breaks my heart, David, to see so many die in war ~ especially the young, who have yet to really live. Beautiful post, my friend. Hugs ♥♥

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Reblogged this on Smorgasbord – Variety is the spice of life and commented:
    It is the 100th anniversary of the battle of Passchendaele from July 31st through to the November.. David M. Prosser remembers the start of this dreadful battle of the First World War that robbed young men of their lives from many of the commonwealth countries. The poem In Flanders Field written earlier in the war by John McCrae is very emotive. Please head over to The Buthidar blog and share your thoughts with David. #recommended


  7. paulandruss says:

    A very moving post David… It is so sad that history cannot find any moral reason for the Great War (to end all wars) except the greed of Empires. But then I suppose in truth how many wars are morally justifiable.


    • davidprosser says:

      Thanks very much.I can’t say that no wars are morally justifiable but I can say that no wars created just to satisfy the greed or Empire building of one are just. Germany’s invasion of Poland wasn’t just but the action by Poland’s allies against Hitler were. How Hitler came to power and was able to create his brownshirt army and create so much hate for the Jews is a question I’d hoped we’d never have to ask again. The hate being shown towards people of colour, of different religion and of sexual preference is how Hitler started and the signs are there in the U.S. I just hope there are no signs of global expansionism through war as well.


  8. These horrific conflicts would come to a screeching stop if the presidents, prime ministers, and their government advisors had to fight on the front lines against their counterparts. Passchendaele was especially awful for all the soldiers who fought in the mud there.


  9. olganm says:

    I agree with John. Thanks for the reminder, David.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I could not put it any better than that. All the best, David. Be well!

    Liked by 1 person

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