John McCrae Memorial / McCrae House / Guelph, Ontario
John McCrae Memorial / McCrae House / Guelph, Ontario
I will definitely be around to see you on Tuesday, but I may be around as early as late tomorrow. My youngest grandson, Gavin Jenkins, is having tubes inserted into his ears tomorrow morning, and we’re heading over to Cambridge today. Gavin has a fluid build up in his ears, and his speech is also somewhat delayed. I think the surgery will go far toward correcting both problems.
I look forward to uploading the images I promised and to telling the stories of my two uncles, killed in two wars almost thirty years apart.
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…
Videos related to the writing of the poem
Armistice Day occurs next Tuesday… “at the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month”. My father’s brother, John Barber, died in 1917 when a stove exploded in a Belgian army camp. My mother’s brother, Bill Watson, was killed on July 23, 1944, when the Wellington Mk X bomber in which he was navigator ditched into the Irish Sea while on a training mission. All on board were killed.
I decided it would be fitting to travel the short distance to Guelph, Ontario, to visit the birthplace of Lt. Col. John McCrae, who penned “In Flanders Fields” on a piece of paper held tightly to the back of his friend, Colonel Lawrence Cosgrave while they were in the trenches during a lull in the bombings on May 3, 1915. McCrae had witnessed the death of his friend, Lieutenant Alexis Helmer, the day before. The poem was first published on December 8, 1915 in Punch magazine, London.
The light wasn’t the best for my photoshoot, since the front of the house receives very little sunlight at any point during the day. Did my best. Someday I’ll redo it when the skies are overcast.
Over the next week, I will be posting images taken during the visit. I will also be posting pictures of Uncle Bill and Uncle John, as well as of Bill’s flight crew. I will tell as much of their stories as I know.
From my set entitled “John McCrae Birthplace” (under preparation)
In my collection entitled “Places”
In my photostream
Reproduced from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Lieutenant Colonel John Alexander McCrae (November 30, 1872 – January 28, 1918) was a Canadian poet, physician, author, artist and soldier during World War I and a surgeon during the battle of Ypres. He is best known for writing the famous war memorial poem In Flanders Fields.
McCrae was born in McCrae House in Guelph, Ontario, the grandson of Scottish immigrants. He attended the Guelph Collegiate Vocational Institute. John became a member of the Guelph militia regiment.
McCrae worked on his BA at the University of Toronto from 1892-3. He took a year off his studies at the University of Toronto due to recurring problems with asthma.
He was a member of the Toronto militia, The Queen’s Own Rifles of Canada while studying at the University of Toronto, during which time he was promoted to Captain and commanded the company.
Among his papers in the John McCrae House in Guelph, Ontario is a letter John McCrae wrote on July 18, 1893 to Laura Kains while he trained as an artilleryman at the Royal Military College of Canada in Kingston, Ontario. "…I have a manservant .. Quite a nobby place it is, in fact .. My windows look right out across the bay, and are just near the water’s edge; there is a good deal of shipping at present in the port; and the river looks very pretty.’ 
He was a resident master in English and Mathematics in 1894 at the OAC in Guelph, Ontario. 
He returned to the University of Toronto and completed his B.A. McCrae later studied medicine on a scholarship at the University of Toronto. While attending the university he joined the Zeta Psi Fraternity (Theta Xi chapter; class of 1894) and published his first poems.
He completed a medical residency at the Garrett Hospital, a Maryland children’s convalescent home. 
In 1902, he was appointed resident pathologist at Montreal General Hospital and later also became assistant pathologist to the Royal Victoria Hospital Montreal. In 1904, he was appointed an associate in medicine at the Royal Victoria Hospital. Later that year, he went to England where he studied for several months and became a member of the Royal College of Physicians.
In 1905, he set up his own practice although he continued to work and lecture at several hospitals. He was appointed pathologist to the Montreal Foundling and Baby Hospital in 1905. In 1908, he was appointed physician to the Royal Alexandra Hospital for Infectious Diseases.
In 1910, he accompanied Lord Grey, the Governor General of Canada, on a canoe trip to Hudson Bay to serve as expedition physician .
McCrae served in the artillery during the Second Boer War, and upon his return was appointed professor of pathology at the University of Vermont, where he taught until 1911 (although he also taught at McGill University in Montreal, Quebec)
When the United Kingdom declared war on Germany at the start of World War I, Canada, as a Dominion within the British Empire, declared war as well. McCrae was appointed as a field surgeon in the Canadian artillery and was in charge of a field hospital during the Second Battle of Ypres in 1915. McCrae’s friend and former student, Lt. Alexis Helmer, was killed in the battle, and his burial inspired the poem, In Flanders Fields, which was written on May 3, 1915 and first published in Punch Magazine, London.
From June 1, 1915 McCrae was ordered away from the artillery to set up No. 3 Canadian General Hospital at Dannes-Camiers near Boulogne-sur-Mer, northern France. C.L.C. Allinson reported that McCrae "most unmilitarily told [me] what he thought of being transferred to the medicals and being pulled away from his beloved guns. His last words to me were: ‘Allinson, all the goddam doctors in the world will not win this bloody war: what we need is more and more fighting men.’"
‘In Flanders Fields’ appeared anonymously in Punch on December 8, 1915, but in the index to that year McCrae was named as the author. The verses swiftly became one of the most popular poems of the war, used in countless fund-raising campaigns and frequently translated (a Latin version begins In agro belgico…). ‘In Flanders Fields’ was also extensively printed in the United States, which was contemplating joining the war, alongside a ‘reply’ by R. W. Lillard, ("…Fear not that you have died for naught, / The torch ye threw to us we caught…").
For eight months the hospital operated in Durbar tents (donated by the Begum of Bhopal and shipped from India), but after suffering storms, floods and frosts it was moved up to Boulogne-sur-Mer into the old Jesuit College in February 1916.
McCrae, now "a household name, albeit a frequently misspelt one", regarded his sudden fame with some amusement, wishing that "they would get to printing ‘In F.F.’ correctly: it never is nowadays"; but (writes his biographer) "he was satisfied if the poem enabled men to see where their duty lay."
On January 28, 1918, while still commanding No 3 Canadian General Hospital (McGill) at Boulogne, McCrae died of pneumonia. He was buried with full honours in the Commonwealth War Graves Commission section of Wimereux Cemetery, just a couple of kilometres up the coast from Boulogne. McCrae’s horse, "Bonfire", led the procession, his master’s riding boots reversed in the stirrups. McCrae’s gravestone is placed flat, as are all the others, because of the sandy soil.
McCrae was the co-author, with J. G. Adami, of a medical textbook, A Text-Book of Pathology for Students of Medicine (1912; 2nd ed., 1914). He was the brother of Dr. Thomas McCrae, professor of medicine at John Hopkins Medical School in Baltimore and close associate of Sir William Osler.
McCrae was the great uncle of former Alberta MP David Kilgour and of Kilgour’s sister Geills Turner, who married former Canadian Prime Minister John Napier Turner.
Several institutions have been named in McCrae’s honour, including John McCrae Public School (part of the York Region District School Board in the Toronto suburb of Markham, Ontario), John McCrae Public School (in Guelph, Ontario), John McCrae Senior Public School (in Scarborough, Ontario) and John McCrae Secondary School (part of the Ottawa-Carleton District School Board in the Ottawa suburb of Barrhaven). The current Canadian War Museum has a gallery for special exhibits, called the The Lieutenant-Colonel John McCrae Gallery. Guelph is home to McCrae House, a museum created in his birthplace.
The Cloth Hall of the city of Ieper (Ypres in English} in Belgium has a permanent war remembrance called the In Flanders Fields Museum, named after the poem.
There are also a photograph and short biographical memorial to McCrae in the St George Memorial Church in Ypres.
PS Elements 5: slight posterization