... Then, last summer, I saw some honest-to-goodness red poppies growing in the fields of northern Europe--in Flanders, as it happened. 1,000,000 soldiers from 50 different countries were wounded, missing or killed in action at Flanders Fields from 1914 to 1918. Newsreel, photographs and commentary introduce the Canadian Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae, who wrote the famous poem 'In Flanders Fields'. The death of one of his friends in May 1915, buried in the cemetery outside his dressing station, affected him severely and he wrote his poem as a way of expressing his anguish at the loss. Flanders fields stretches out under the sun as seen from … Interestingly, P. rhoeas is an annual plant (hardy to USDA Zone 8) considered to be an agricultural weed throughout much of Europe, northern Africa and temperate Asia. The biggest event at the front in Flanders was the Third Battle of Ypres, known by the name of its final phase, the Battle of Passchendaele. In Flanders fields. And it all clicked. The poem was written by a Canadian Medical Corps doctor, Major John McCrae, who was serving with a Field Artillery Brigade in Ypres. It was seen as representing the souls of those who died between 1914 and 1918, transformed into a million blood-red flowers. From The Great War Seen from the Air in Flanders Fields, 1914-1918 (Brussels: Mercatorfonds in cooperation with In Flanders Fields Museum, Ypres, Imperial War Museums, United Kingdom, and The Royal Museum of the Armed Forces and of Military History, 2013).. One hundred years ago, the world was ensnared in the largest war mankind had ever … In Flanders fields. The imagery used in this poem creates an exceptionally clear picture in the mind’s eye of what actually happened ‘In Flanders fields’. The poppy became the symbol of the war dead. With a death toll of at least 150,000 between 7 June and 17 November 1917 (perhaps as many as 175,000 – the counting continues), it is the largest massacre ever to have taken place on Belgian soil. In Flanders fields. The city of Ypres, Belgium, in 1917. Writers know that words hold power. The saying goes, the pen is mightier than the sword, and while McCrea’s pen could not win the war, it did cement the fields of Flanders, and what happened there, into the very fabric of what it is to be a Canadian. From 1914 to 1918 Flanders Fields was a major battleground in the First World War. In Flanders Fields was published on 8 th December 1915 in Punch and became an immediate sensation in the trenches and around the English-speaking world. Speaking as from the dead to the living, “In Flanders Fields” was to become the most famous poem of the Great War—perhaps of any war. Some of the most brutal fighting of World War I happened in the fields of Flanders, and a few surprising secrets were left behind. As did my new appreciation for Flanders--bitter, bloody battleground of Europe so long ago.
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