In Flanders Fields: Who is the man behind the world's most famous war poem?

McCrae enjoys a brief moment of peace at the front. Yet at this War Graves Commission cemetery there are no ranks of gleaming white memorials standing to attention. The headstones of the 2,847 war dead – including 170 Germans – lie flat, so unstable is the sandy soil. But a clue to the importance of the medic – who survived the hell of Ypres only to be felled by pneumonia – is an engraving on the cemetery wall. It is a verse from McCrae’s most famous poem, which has become an anthem of wartime remembrance. Devastated in 1915 by the loss of a close friend at the Second Battle of Ypres he wrote one of the most quoted poems in the English language – In Flanders Fields – where "the poppies blow between the crosses row on row". It was first published anonymously in Punch magazine in December 1915 but the author’s identity soon emerged, making him a household name as he continued to do his bit for King and Empire. More than 100 years later the sentiments of McCrae’s poem still resonate. Bank of England governor Mark Carney – a fellow Canadian – says in his homeland children […]

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