John McCrae

Born in Canada, John McCrae (1872 – 1918) was a poet, doctor and artist. He was appointed as a field surgeon in the Canadian Field Artillery in 1914, treating wounded soldiers on the Western Front, and serving on the guns. Exhausted by the long years of the War, McCrae fell ill with pneumonia and meningitis and died while commanding a hospital in France in January 1918. McCrae wrote ‘In Flanders Field’ in May 1915, during the Second Battle of Ypres, shortly after burying his friend, Lieutenant Alexis Helmer. The poem was published anonymously in Punch magazine later that year, and so captivated the public imagination that the poppy was adopted as a symbol of remembrance after the War.