John McCrae was born in Guelph, Ontario, on November 30, 1872. His illustrious career could certainly not have been foreseen at that time.However, his father, David , and his mother, Jane, both born in Scotland, must have relished the fact that their second son had come into the world on St. Andrew's Day.
In 1899 he enlisted as a Lieutenant in the Canadian Artillery for service in the South African War. He wrote several poems during the South African Campaign probabley the most well-known being 'The Unconquered Dead'.
When the thunder of guns in Europe reverberated in the 1914 August nights, John McCrae immediately volunteered his services to his country either as a doctor or a gunner. He achieved both desires as he was appointed surgeon to the 1st Bridage Artillery which was lead by his old comrade-in-arms (E.W.B. Morrison) from South Africa. He would often direct the fire of the batteries in his sector when time permitted and when there was a lull in his duties as a doctor.
The brigade was in position in Flanders in the spring of 1915, within sight of of the village of Ypres and John McCrae had his dressing station on the banks of the Ypres Canal. It was then he wrote 'In Flanders Fields'; the poem that was literally born of fisre and blood during the heaviest fighting of the second battle of Ypres. From his dressing station he could see - day by day - the crosses springing up in the Canadian Cemetery.
In Boulogne, on January 28, 1918, Colonel John McCrae died of pneumonia. He was buried on January 29th with full military honours at the cemetery in nearby Wimereux. In the funeral cortege, his horse Bonfire went first, led two grooms and decked in the regulation white ribbons.Please follow one of the text links:
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